New Delhi, Jan 5 (SocialNews.XYZ) The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has moved the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of conversion laws in five states - Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh.
The Muslim body's plea, filed through Ejaz Maqbool, said that the compulsory disclosure of one's religion in any form amounts to violation of the right to manifest his/her beliefs as the said right includes the right not to manifest one's beliefs. Therefore, such disclosure is unconstitutional and amounts to violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed to every individual, it argued.
The Muslim body filed the PIL challenging the constitutional validity of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021, the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018, the Himachal Pradesh Freedom Of Religion Act, 2019, the Madhya Pradesh Freedom Of Religion Act, 2021, and the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021.
The plea said, "The provisions of the impugned acts which entitle the family members to lodge an FIR, virtually give them a fresh tool for harassing the convert. It is submitted that the impugned acts are being misused by the disgruntled family members."
The plea contended that inter-faith couples often bear the brunt of being ostracised from the community, so much so that the families engage in the crime of "honour killing", thereby murdering their very own kith and kin, who have dared to marry outside their faith. It further added that in majority of cases, even if a person converts out of his/her own free will, the family members of the convert object to such conversion.
The plea said: "The impugned acts are also liable to be set aside for defining 'allurement' to include undue influence. It is submitted that the phrase 'undue influence' is too wide and vague and the same can be used to prosecute any person who is in a stronger position vis-a-vis the converted person. The phrase 'undue influence' has been borrowed from Section 16 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 which makes it one of the grounds for voiding a contact."
It argued that the extremely broad nature of the doctrine of undue influence may be used by elders, parents, and other such persons who wield a degree of influence over a person. "It is submitted in light of the above, that 'undue influence' is a doctrine rooted mainly in contract law and it is entirely unsuited to matters of religion. It is submitted in light of the above that the impugned acts are in teeth of the law laid down by this Hon'ble Court in Shakti Vahini vs Union of India (2018) 7 SCC 192 (in the context of honour killings) that when two adults choose each other as life partners, it is a manifestation of their choice which is recognized under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution," added the plea.