On 6th January 2021, the Supreme Court of India with a three-judge bench headed by CJI SA Bobde refused to put a stay on the Love Jihad laws rolled out by the Yogi-leg UP government despite the heavy controversy surrounding the bills.
This comes in response to the petitions that have been filed by various persons on the issue including one by Advocate Vishal Thakre, who also heads an NGO called Citizens for Justice and Peace, where it has been stated that the laws were being used to harass inter-faith couples.
The petitioners mention a situation ahead that would have other states like Madhya Pradesh, Haryana also take up similar legislation.
The Supreme Court also suggested that the petitioners applying to their respective High Courts instead of the Supreme Court directly would have been ideal. The court hence issued notices notifying the state governments to focus on the petitions filed on the same issue.
The Love Jihad Bill, formally titled “Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religious Ordinance, 2020” formed on November 24th only states the law be used in conditions where religious conversions are done by coercion, deceit, and other such mal-intentions.
The law states a strict punishment for those it finds guilty under it- a jail term of one to five years and a fine of 15,000 and the punishment goes up to 10 years with a fine of 25,000 in the case of an SC/ ST woman or a minor.
Critics of the law have also previously said the law is sexist as it is said to assume no real intelligence of her surroundings from a woman’s mind and already assumes her too weak to understand manipulation from a man who wants to dupe her into marriage by making the woman a victim in these situations. The victims of all cases so far have been women.