The Yogi Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday approved the draft ordinance dealing with forced religious conversions, also known as ‘love jihad’.
Interestingly, the ordinance does not mention the term ‘love jihad’ and the draft has been named ‘Vidhi Virudh Dharmantaran 2020’.
The cabinet meeting held on Tuesday gave its nod to the proposed draft. The Bill is considered to be an anti-conversion law and it will stop individuals from converting people to other faiths by enticing or threatening.
Justice Aditya Mittal, the Chairman of the Law Commission, said, “The term ‘love jihad’ has not been used in the Bill, and conversions related to all religions will be covered under the new law. To be precise, it will not just be focused on Hindu-Muslim conversions or conversions for the specific purpose of marriage.”
In the proposed Bill, there is a provision of five to 10-year jail term for a person convicted in such a case.
Mittal, however, added that under the prospective law, inter-religious marriages will be encouraged to go through the Special Marriage Act.
Under the Act, a consenting couple needs to reach out to the district magistrate’s court expressing a desire for marriage. Subsequent to such a request, the administration will issue a 30-day notice during which objections can be raised to such a proposed marriage.
Under the proposed legislation, anyone found guilty of having lured another person for conversion through marriage could face trial in the court after registration of an FIR by the police.
In case the charge is proven, the accused can be awarded rigorous imprisonment for up to five years, if the woman is from the general category. The quantum of punishment can go up to 10 years in case the victim is a minor or a Dalit.
In another important provision, the family courts will have the power to adjudicate under the proposed law. An aggrieved person will be able to approach a family court in case he or she feels cheated. The court in turn will have the power to nullify such a marriage.
The Uttar Pradesh Law Commission had submitted a draft for the proposed law in November 2019. It was under the consideration of the Home and Law Ministry over the last year.
Last week, the Yogi Adityanath government had given its consent to the draft of the new law.
Some saffron groups and BJP leaders have used the term ‘love jihad’ to target interfaith marriages, accusing Muslim men of engaging in a mass conspiracy to turn Hindu women away from their religion by luring them.
Earlier, the Allahabad High Court had struck down its previous judgement in which it had held that religious conversion “just for the purpose of marriage” was unacceptable.
The court said that essentially it does not matter whether a conversion is valid. The right of two adults to live together cannot be encroached upon by the state or others.
“To disregard the choice of a person who is of the age of majority would not only be antithetic to the freedom of choice of a grown up individual but would also be a threat to the concept of unity in diversity,” the court said.
The right to choose a partner irrespective of caste, creed or religion is intrinsic to the constitutional right to life and personal liberty, the Allahabad High Court held, adding that two previous judgments that objected to religious conversion for the purpose of marriage did not ‘lay down good law’.
Meanwhile, the saints of Ayodhya have welcomed the new law and said that this should have come years ago. Mahant Paramhans Das of Tapasvi Chhavni thanked Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and said that the new law would protect girls and women against exploitation.
Narendra Modi and Shah to visit poll-bound Assam on Saturday
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah will visit poll-bound Assam on Saturday to attend different government events to campaign for the assembly polls, likely to be held in April-May.
Officials and BJP sources said that Modi and Shah do not have any common programme in the Bharatiya Janata Party ruled state.
The Prime Minister on Saturday would launch a mega programme of the Assam government to distribute land “patta” (land allotment permit) to over one lakh landless indigenous people at a function at Jerenga Pothar in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar district.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who visited the PM’s meeting venue to review the preparations, said that the Prime Minister would ceremonially start the distribution of land ‘patta’ to more than one lakh indigenous people who have been living uncertain lives for decades. “No government in Assam has carried out such a people-friendly initiative in the past.”
He said many pieces of government land were encroached by suspected illegal settlers and the BJP government would evict those illegal encroachers and provide the land rights to the indigenous people, comprising tribals, ex-tea garden labourers and other backward communities.
According to the officials, the state government headed by the Chief Minister Sonowal has already issued “land patta” to more than one lakh landless indigenous families.
Officials said Shah would launch the Ayushman Bharat healthcare scheme for central paramilitary force personnel in Guwahati in presence of Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan here on Saturday.
After attending the Guwahati event, Shah would go to Shillong where he would chair the 69th plenary session of the North Eastern Council (NEC), the nodal agency for the socio-economic and infrastructural development of the eight states of the region.
Shah would come back again in Assam on Sunday and attend a programme to celebrate the first anniversary of the signing of the Bodoland Territorial Region Accord, which facilitates political autonomy and address a gathering in western Assam’s Kokrajhar, bordering West Bengal.
In all, 1,615 cadres of four National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) factions had laid down their arms on January 30 last year after the signing of the Bodo peace accord with the central government on January 27, 2020 in New Delhi in the presence of Union Home minister Amit Shah.
Shah would also address an election rally at Kendukuchi in Nalbari district.
Team India’s win over Australia highly inspirational for youth: Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday again lauded the stellar performance of the Indian cricket team which registered a remarkable Test series win over Australia Down Under, saying the victory is highly inspirational for the youth of the country.
Addressing the 18th Convocation of Tezpur University, Assam via video conferencing, the Prime Minister said the team, despite facing a number of challenges, overpowered the Australia team with their talent and temperament.
“Indian team faced a lot of challenges in the recent tour of Australia. They suffered crushing defeat yet recovered equally fast and won the next match. The players showed determination despite injuries. They took the challenge head on and looked for fresh solutions instead of getting frustrated by difficult conditions,” Modi said.
“There were inexperienced players but their morale was high and they grabbed the opportunity given to them. They overpowered a better team with their talent and temperament,” he added.
The Indian team, after facing an embarrassing loss in the first Test in Adelaide where they were bowled out for their lowest Test score of 36, came back strongly in the next three matches to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy in an emphatic manner. The series saw Indian team register their first win at the Gabba in Brisbane – a venue where Australia last suffered a defeat in 1988.
The prime minister stressed that the stellar performance of our players is important not just from the point of view of the sports field.
First, we should have faith and confidence in our ability; second, a positive mindset begets positive results. Third and most important lesson, said Modi, is – if one is facing two options, one safe and the other is an option of a difficult victory, one must surely explore the option of victory.
“There is no harm in occasional failure and one should not refrain from taking the risks. We need to be proactive and fearless,” he said.
“If we overcome the fear of failure and unnecessary pressure, we will emerge fearless. This new India, confident and dedicated to goals, is evident not only in the cricket field, all of you are part of this picture,” Modi added.
Earlier, after the three-wicket win in the last Test on Tuesday, Modi had congratulated the Ajinkya Rahane-led side and tweeted: “We are all overjoyed at the success of the Indian cricket team in Australia. Their remarkable energy and passion was visible throughout. So was their stellar intent, remarkable grit and determination. Congratulations to the team! Best wishes for your future endeavours.”
Gujarat government to abolish police RR Cell
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Friday announced that the Rapid Response (RR) Cell of the state police will be abolished.
Active since 1995, the RR Cell’s chief task was to keep a tab on the functionings of organised crime in the state.
“We have decided to abolish the RR cell of the police department from today. This decision has been taken because in a new era of technology and mobility, there’s no requirement for such a set-up,” Rupani said.
In response to a query, Minister of State for Home (MoS) Pradipsinh Jadeja said: “The decision to abolish RR Cell is unrelated to the recent incident in which Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) had nabbed an RR Cell Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) for receiving a Rs 50 lakh bribe.”
The ASI, Prakashsinh Raol, was caught red handed by the ACB while accepting the bribe at an eatery in Vidyanagar, Anand, on December 31, 2020.
According to the police sources, the working of the RR Cell was to monitor the suspected illegal activities in the state.
It was functional at the seven range divisions of the state.
But according to sources, the main objective was scarcely used, whereas it was more of a use to settle personal scores amongst police personnel and for corruption.
“Now we will be giving more powers to the District Superintendent (SP) so that they can perform better,” the Chief Minister added.
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