[:en]“love Jihad” bill is unconstitutional infringes on the rights of women, polarizes the society along lines of religion[:]


[:en]National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) Gujarat

Gujarat Office: Bhoomiputr Karyalay, Hingalaj Mata ni aadi, Hujarat Paga, Vadodara 390001 Contact No.: 9426608075, 9408309197

DATE: 13-04-2021
The Honourable Governor of Gujarat
Raj Bhavan,

Subject- ‘Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill 2021’
Honourable Governor Shri Acharya Devrat,
The Gujarat assembly recently passed the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill 2021 which seeks to regulate religious conversions under the garb of inter-faith marriages. We, the signatories of this memorandum, as part of civil society, would like to express our deepest concern and objection to this Bill which in our view is unconstitutional infringes on the rights of women and polarizes the society along lines of religion.
The Bill, which has been passed by the Legislative Assembly, was driven by the vicious propaganda of “love Jihad”, a conspiracy theory by Hindutva supremacists which propagates the falsehood that Hindu women are “lured” into marriages by Muslim men. This premise itself is outrageous and flawed at multiple levels. It is public knowledge that the Union Ministry in February 2020 had admitted that the term “Love Jihad” is not defined by law and thus not recognized legally. Consequently there is no data or evidence to show cases where any crime is committed. This notwithstanding there is a concerted effort by Hindu supremacist to normalize this imaginary narrative by constant and persistent public rhetoric sans any reliable data. This emotive issue is used to stigmatize the Muslim community by portraying the Muslim men as predatory. Equally of concern is the fact that the Bill infantilizes women and robs them of agency. Women as equal citizens of the country are perfectly capable of making their own decisions about their choices in the matters of marriage, sexuality and control over their own bodies. In fact it is their constitutional prerogative.
This above prerogative is upheld in numerous landmark judgments by the High Courts and Supreme Court in India. Very recently, ironically in the face of a similar law in the State of Uttar Pradesh, High Court of Allahabad observed, “Right to live with a person of his/her choice irrespective of religion professed by them, is intrinsic to right to life and personal liberty. Interference in a personal relationship would constitute a serious encroachment into the right to freedom of choice of the two individuals.” The Supreme Court in the judgment in KS Puttaswamy v Union of India upheld the right to privacy. Who the consenting adults have relationships with and marry is matter of their privacy and cannot be intruded upon. Similarly, the SC in the famous Shafin Jahan v Ashokan KM judgment not only observed that there was no evidence to support the dubious theory of “Love Jihad” but also upheld that the right to marry the person of one’s own choice is integral part of article 21 of the Constitution. Article 21 of the Constitution states, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law”. Article 25 states, “All persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health”.
Just recently, on 9th April, 2021, while dismissing as withdrawn a PIL seeking, among other things, to control ‘mass conversion through intimidation’, the Supreme Court Bench made the observation that “every person is the final judge of their own choice of religion or who their life partner should be. Courts cannot sit in judgment of a person’s choice of religion or life partner”.
The passing of this Bill by the Gujarat Legislative Assembly is alarming as it has been passed despite the clear legal jurisprudence on the matter of “love Jihad”. It is adequately clear that the Bill seeks to address an alleged wrong or a situation that doesn’t exist. In fact the real intent of the Bill is to give legitimacy and institutionalize a sectarian campaign which could lead to communal conflicts and criminalization of the already marginalized Muslim community. That the narrative of “love Jihad” which the Bill wants to counter is a hoax, is clear from the arguments placed in the Assembly by Shri Pradipsinh Jadeja, Gujarat’s Minister of State for Home. The real intent is to nurture a form of political and ideological assertion and intimidation; and this is sufficiently demonstrated by the fact that that the term “love Jihad” doesn’t find a mention even once in this Bill! The Bill has adverse implications on personal liberty, the rule of law and equality before law – the ideas which are the very soul of the Constitution. This Bill seeks to blatantly destroy constitutional morality.
Keeping the above in mind, the signatories to this letter urge Your Excellency to reconsider the said Bill which has been passed by the Legislative Assembly. This Bill, if finally granted assent by the Hon’ble Governor and becomes a piece of legislation, would do irreversible damage to the struggle for women’s rights, harmonious inter-community relations and the respect for diversity within the society. As the Guardian of the Constitution, we plead that Your Excellency reserve the bill for the consideration of the President using the power bestowed on you under Article 200 of the Constitution.
May the truth and constitutional morality prevail!

Signatories on behalf of the National Alliance of People’s Movements:
Krishnakant, Surat, NAPM (Gujarat)
Dev Desai, Ahmedabad, Anhad (Gujarat)
Hozefa Ujjaini, Ahmedabad, Buniyaad (Gujarat)
Prasad Chacko, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Khairunnisha Pathan, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Samina Malek, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Hiren Gandhi, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Johanna Lokhande, Pune
Jimmy Dabhi, Vadodara, Gujarat
Mohammad Sharif Malek, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Dakxin Chhara, Ahmedabad, Filmmaker & Dramaturge (NHRC Awardee)
Sheba George, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Aziz Minat, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Atish Indrekar Chhara, Ahmedabad, Theater Activist
Janisar Shaikh, Anand, Gujarat
Waqar Qazi, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Saroop Dhruv, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Sejal Dand, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Mahesh Trivedi, Journalist, Vadodara, Gujarat
Mushatqueali Shaikh, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Sophia Khan, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Rafi Malek, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Ghanshyam Shah, Former Professor at JNU, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Vijay Parmar, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Bhargav Oza, Surat, Gujarat
Nayan Patel, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Ajaz Shaikh, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Swati Desai, NAPM (Gujarat)
Anand Mazgaonkar, NAPM (Gujarat)
Rohit Prajapati, Vadodara, Environment Activist
Irfan Engineer, Mumbai, Maharastra
Macwan Ritesh Jashubhai
Catherine. Fernsndes .Candolim Goa

A Patrick Arockiam
Aamir Ali Ansari, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Aaris Mohammed
Abuzar Choudhary, Anhad
Aditya Mukherjee, Retired Professor
Adv. Pratik Rupala, Lawyer
Ajin K Thomas, Researcher
Albert Fernandes
Altaf Hussain saiyed, Democratic youth federation of India
Amir Rizvi, Visual Communication Designer
Amit bhai
Amit modi
Amita, KEOS
Anahita S, Educator , Activist
Anand Mathew, Cultural Activist, Varanasi
ANIL PANNIKKER, Clinical Pshycologist
Anjan Dasgupta, Retired Central Government Officer
Anna Joseph, Chetana Bharati
Anuckriti, Student
Arun Kumar, Retired Proffesor
Asha Saxena Ahmad, Retired Opthalmologist
Ashish Ranjan, National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM)
Ashwin Kumar, Educator
Atul mhase, Business
Azhar Saiyed, Architect
Badi uz Zaman Fazlur Rehman Khan
Beena Jadav, Rehthan Adhikar Manch (Gujarat)
Bencita, Community Health Care
Bhautik Savaliya, Teacher
Bhavna Sharma, New Delhi
Bizeth Banerjee, Retired Academic
Br.M.K.Mathew, Social Worker
Brinelle D’souza, TISS, Justice Coalition of Religious – West India
C.Kishore, Educationist
Chacko Anthony, Tribal Culture Centre
Deepak Sanan, Retired Civil Servant
Dinesh Braganza, Ahmedabad
Dr. Maskoor Ahmad Usmani, Former President, Aligarh Muslim University Student’s Union
Faizan Alam, Social Activist
Faraz Ahmad, Freelance journalist
Francis, Retired Academician
Gopi Menon
Harry, Student
Hindal Tyabji, IAS (Retd.)
Hitesh Ambedkar, AISF
Huma Nizami, Teacher
Jag Narayan Mahto, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Delhi
Jawwad Khan, Designer
Jay P. Chavda, Bhagatsinh kranti dal – Gujarat
Jayanti Panchal, Socialist party ( India)/  Trade unionist.
Jayeeta Dasgupta, Ex A & T
Jaykumar Patel, Business
Jigna, Social Worker
Kalpana, Teacher
Kantilal d bavarva, Setu bandh foundation morbi
Karen Gabriel
Kiran Moras, Engineer
Koninika Ray, National Federation of Indian Women
Leena, Human Rights Activists
Leo Anthony Singh, NAPM Jharkhand
Lucky Raulji, Student
Maansi Shah, Columbia University
Manish kumar Begusarai Bihar, Anhad
Manju Kulapuram, Activist
Marcia DCunha, Indian Christian Women’s Movement (ICWM)
Margaret Gonsalves
Martina Dsouza
Maya Sharma
Meenakshi Joshi, Movement For Secular Democracy (MSD), Gujarat
Meera Sanghamitra, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)
Meghna Mehra, All India Queer Association
Mehboob M Siddi, Fashion Designer
Michael, Radhanpur
Minakshi Singh, Unity in Compassion UIC
Mithun Gameti
Mohammad Khalid Farooque Siddiqui, Engineer
Mridula Mukherjee, Professor
Mrs. V Saldanha, Indian Christian Women’s Movement
Mukund M Parikh
Nandita Narain, Delhi
Navaid Hamid, President All India Muslim Majlis e Mushawarat, Delhi
Nik maheriya, Student
Niranjan Takle, Journalist
Nirjhari Sinha, Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM), Gujarat
Nirmala ekka, Seva kendra silchar
Noorjahan, Gujarat
Noorjahan Diwan, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Nuzhat Kazmi, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
Persis Ginwalla, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Peter  K P, Priest
Prarthana, Researcher
Prem Verma, Jharkhand Nagrik Prayash
Pulkit Christian
Raghavan Rangarajan, Professor, Ahmedabad
Raj, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Rajiv Gupta , Former Professor of Sociology University of Rajasthan Jaipur
Ramesh Dixit, Former Professor at Lucknow University.
Ravji Sondarva, Cinematographer
Raza Quadir, Combined Action Foundation
Razaiwala Mohammed Hammad Hussain, Student
Ronak Sharma, PUCL
Roop Rekha Verma
Rosaria, Seva Kendra Silchar
Royston Fernandes SJ, Priest
Ruchir Joshi, Writer, Film maker

S Raghunandana, Kannada poet, playwright, stage-director
S. A. Kadri, Rtd. Trade union leader banking industry former G. S. N. C. B. E
Sabiha hashmi, Retd. Teacher
Sachidanand Sinha, Professor
Sandip Sharma, Jagrut Yuva seva samiti
Sanghamitra Jena, President of AISF Odisha
Sanjoy says
Saravanan V, PHD Student, JNU
Satya Oza, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad, Delhi
Shaji Jacob, Gurjarvani
Shalini Dhawan, Designer
Shanti Picardo, Teacher
Shrikrishna Kachave, Advocate
SHRIRAM DUBEY, Azad Foundation
Shweta Sundar, Architect
Sohail Hashmi, Writer, Film maker
Sonia, Student
Svati Joshi, Academic
Swati Goswami
T. U. Rosamma  Sr. Jyoti
Teresa Pereira
Tony PM Ranchi, NDWM
Umesh Chandola, Government medical College Haldwani
Uttama Singh, Teacher
Varadharajan r
Varghese Manimala, Professor
Vipul Macwan
Vishal Arora, Newsreel Asia
Wasi haider, Rtd. Teacher
XAVIER JOHN BOSCO, Neighbourhood Community Network
Xavier Manjooran, Shakti Lahrc
Yuvraj s Gatkal, NAPM/SARVODAY