In defence of its anti-conversion law, the Uttar Pradesh government has said that “community interest will always prevail over individual interest”, Live Law reported on Monday.
The Adityanath government made the submission in an affidavit filed in the Allahabad High Court. The state government was responding to a batch of petitions challenging the law.
Uttar Pradesh is among a host of Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states that have enacted anti-conversion laws to penalise “love jihad”. The pejorative term has been coined by the right-wing groups to push the conspiracy theory that Muslim men lure Hindu women into marrying them with the sole purpose of converting their brides to Islam.
In its affidavit, the Uttar Pradesh government claimed that the law sought to prevent forced conversions.
“When there is fear psychosis spread in the community at large and the community itself is endangered and succumbs to the pressure resulting in forceful conversions,” the affidavit stated. “Under the said circumstances it becomes necessary that the interest of the community as a whole requires protection and no microanalysis of individual.”
The affidavit also contended that in case of interfaith marriage, individuals are required to give up their religion. This amounts to “loss of dignity”, the Uttar Pradesh government submitted.
“This conversion will be against the choice of the individual who wants to remain in the society with the member of the other religion but does not want to leave his faith,” the affidavit stated, according to The Indian Express.
The affidavit argued that fundamental rights mentioned in the Constitution are not absolute. The Uttar Pradesh government also mentioned a Supreme Court ruling which said that the right to practice, profess and propagate a religion does not include a right to convert.
The affidavit pointed out that eight other states in the country and neighbouring nations like Myanmar, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan too have passed anti-conversion laws.