No Plan for Nationwide ‘Love Jihad’ Law, Religious Conversions Concern of States: Govt Tells Parliament

The central government has no plans to enact an anti-conversion law to curb interfaith marriages, the Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said issues related to religious conversions are primarily the concerns of state governments, adding that law enforcement agencies take action whenever such instances of violation come to the fore.

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Reddy said in a written question that the central government has no plans to enact a central anti-conversion law to curb interfaith marriages. “Public order and police are state subjects as per the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution and hence, prevention, detection, registration, investigation and prosecution of offences related to religious conversions are primarily the concerns of state governments and Union Territory administrations.

“Action is taken as per existing laws by law enforcing agencies whenever instances of violation come to notice,” he said.

Last year, BJP-ruled states – Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka – had called for laws to curb “love jihad“. Consequently, UP, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and MP came out with laws seeking to curb “forced conversions”. Haryana has formed a three-member committee to draft an anti-conversion law.

Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa had in November last year reiterated taking “strong measures” against “reports of religious conversions in the name of love jihad” in the state.

Love Jihad‘ is a term coined by right-wing groups to accuse Muslim men of ‘forcibly converting’ women from other religions under the ‘guise’ of love.

In January, the Supreme Court agreed to examine controversial new laws of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand regulating religious conversions due to inter-faith marriages.

A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde refused, however, to stay the controversial provisions of the laws and issued notices to both state governments on two different petitions. The pleas, filed by advocate Vishal Thakre and others and an NGO Citizen for Justice and Peace, have challenged the constitutional validity of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020 and the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018 which regulate religious conversions of inter-faith marriages. A Muslim body has also moved the apex court seeking to be made a party in the batch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of controversial new laws.

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