The Central government on Tuesday, in a written reply to the opposition, said that it has no plans to bring nationwide anti-conversion law to regulate interfaith marriages.
The reply from the centre comes as a big blow to states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, who have recently passed unconstitutional ordinances to regulate marriages or the prevalence of ‘love jihad’ in their respective states.
Himachal Pradesh has a similar law. Assam, Karnataka and Haryana have announced they plan to bring similar legislation.
The answer by the government comes as a reply to a query by five members of parliament (MPs) in the ongoing Budget session. Union minister of the state of home affairs, G Kishan Reddy, when asked if the government would implement an anti-conversion law across the country, the minister in the Lok Sabha said – “No, Sir”.
However, when asked by the opposition if the government believes that interfaith marriages are happening in the country due to forceful conversion, the government said that religious conversion is a state matter and law enforcement bodies must take action if there are any such instances.
“Public order and police are state subjects as per the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India. Hence, prevention, detection, registration, investigation and prosecution of offences related to religious conversions are primarily the concerns of state governments and Union Territory administrations. Action is taken as per existing laws by law enforcing agencies whenever instances of violation come to notice,” Reddy said.
The question and answer come amidst the rucks around the passage of anti-conversion laws in the BJP-ruled states. The laws imply stringent punishment against a Muslim man (mostly) if he tries to marry a Hindu woman and objections are raised against the same.
The law also bars a Hindu woman from converting her religion (despite consent) if it is only for the sake of marriage. The law clearly breaches one’s fundamental rights as the constitution gives everyone, who is above the age of 18, the right to choose whoever they want to be with.