NEW DELHI: Two people moved the Supreme Court Tuesday seeking to be made a party in matters related to controversial new laws of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand regulating religious conversions due to inter-faith marriages.
The apex court earlier this month issued notice to both the state governments on petitions filed by advocate Vishal Thakre and others as well as an NGO, 'Citizen for Justice and Peace', even though it refused to stay the controversial provisions of the laws.
The petitioners had challenged the constitutional validity of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020 and the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018 which regulate religious conversions of inter-faith marriages.
In the intervention petition filed on Tuesday, Bihar resident Wasim Ahmad and Ram Lakhan Chaurasiya from Uttar Pradesh said the "ordinance attempts to regulate a personal decision of each human being by encroaching upon an individual's choice to convert to a religion of his/her choice".
"It is submitted that scrutiny by the state of such a personal decision is a grave assault on the personal liberty of an individual and is violative of Article 21 (of the Constitution)," the petition said.
It said the Act and Ordinance seemed to be premised on conspiracy theories and assume that all conversions are illegally forced upon individuals who may have attained the age of majority.
The petition sought the court's permission to assist it in the matter.
The counsel for the petitions filed earlier had on January 6 sought a stay on the provisions of the law and said that people were being "lifted" by authorities in the middle of wedding ceremonies.
Some provisions of these laws are "oppressive and horrible" in nature and require prior consent of the government to marry which is "absolutely obnoxious", the counsel had added.
The bench had said that it was issuing notice and sought response from both the states within four weeks.
The Uttar Pradesh Ordinance was cleared by the state Cabinet in November and ascent was given by Governor Anandiben Patel on November 28 last year.
It relates not only to inter-faith marriages but all religious conversions and lays down elaborate procedures for those who wish to convert to another religion.
The Uttarakhand Act entails a two-year jail term for those found guilty of religious conversion through force or "allurement", which can be in cash or in-kind -- employment or material benefit.
The petitioners had said they were aggrieved by the ordinance which curtailed the fundamental rights of the citizens provided in the Constitution.
Their pleas said the laws passed by Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand against 'Love Jihad' and punishments thereof may be declared ultra vires and null and void because it disturbs the basic structure of the Constitution as laid down by the Law.
They said the ordinance passed by Uttar Pradesh and the law passed by Uttarakhand was against the public policy and society at large.
Besides seeking to declare the laws as null and void, the pleas have sought a direction to the two states to not to give effect to impugned provisions/ordinance and withdraw the same.