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SC refuses petition against M.P. ordinance

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

SC refuses petition against M.P. ordinance:


Context:

The Supreme Court has declined to entertain a petition challenging the validity of the controversial Madhya Pradesh ordinance regulating religious conversions through inter-faith marriages. Instead, it asked the petitioner to approach the High Court.

What did the petitioner say?

The plea said the law, which followed a similar ordinance made by Uttar Pradesh, infringed a person’s right to privacy and freedom of choice, leading to violations of fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19(1)(a) and 21 of the Constitution. Similar law is in force in Uttarakhand.

Key Provisions of the Madhya Pradesh Dharmik Swatantrata (Freedom of Religion) Bill 2020:

  1. Seeks to regulate inter-faith marriages in the state.
  2. Exempts reconversion to parental religion from its purview.
  3. Jail term of up to 10 years and a fine of ₹1 lakh for “conversion through marriage or other forcible means”.
  4. Seeks to prohibit religious conversions or an attempt of conversion by means of misrepresentation, allurement, threat, undue influence, coercion, marriage, and any other fraudulent means.
  5. The conspiracy and (the act of) abetting a person for conversion has also been prohibited.
  6. Forceful conversions and marriages will be a cognizable offence and be non-bailable.

Supreme Court on Marriage and Conversion:

  • The Apex Court of India in its several judgements has held that the state and the courts have no jurisdiction over an adult’s absolute right to choose a life partner.
  • The Supreme Court of India, in both the Lily Thomas and Sarla Mudgal cases, has confirmed that religious conversions carried out without a bona fide belief and for the sole purpose of deriving some legal benefit do not hold water.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Article 21.
  2. Article 25.
  3. What has the Allahabad High Court said in Salamat Ansari-Priyanka Kharwar case.

Mains Link:

The right to choose a partner or live with a person of choice was part of a citizen’s fundamental right to life and liberty. Discuss.

 

Sources: the Hindu.