A public interest litigation (PIL) petition has been filed before the Allahabad High Court challenging the ordinance stating that the ordinance promulgated by the Uttar Pradesh cabinet on Unlawful Conversion of Religion and inter-faith marriages is motivated by communally divisive agendas with the object to polarise communities and reap electoral benefits.
The petitioner mentioned that the ordinance against Unlawful Conversion of Religion violates the privacy and individual autonomy guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
“The aforesaid ordinance requires every religious conversion to be scrutinized and certified by the state. The very concept of forcing an individual to explain and justify a decision, which is closely personal to him/her, before an officer of the State is contrary to Constitutionalism,” the plea stated.
A similar petition was filed before the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the ordinance. The petition stated that the ordinance will be misused to falsely implicate people and will lead to chaos and fear.
Contentions in the plea
The Plea stated that the ordinance against Unlawful Conversion of Religion leads to an unreasonable intrusion into the domain of a personal autonomy, it has been submitted.
“The provisions mandate an advance notice of a 60 days to the District Magistrate before the intended conversion, which is to be followed by a police enquiry into the circumstances of conversion. The religious priest doing the conversion is also required to give such prior notification. After the conversion, the person has to appear before the District Magistrate for confirmation. The authority will notify the conversion and will invite public objections, before confirming the conversion,”
The plea alleged that the ordinance against Unlawful Conversion of Religion is to merely serve a political purpose and is motivated by communally divisive agendas which could impact the societal peace and harmony.
“The issue is emotive and seeks to divide communities. It is yet another way to polarise our polity and reaping electoral dividend,” the petitioner has contended.
It has been stated that the practice of converting religion just for the sake of marriage might at worst be termed as “ethically objectionable” and penal provisions in the ordinance go against the core concepts of criminal jurisprudence.
The petitioner sought a stay on the operation of the impugned ordinance.