The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed Islamic organisation Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind to become a respondent in a petition challenging the constitutional validity of anti-conversion laws enacted by Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Live Law reported. The court also permitted to make Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh parties to the petition, according to PTI.
A bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian was hearing two petitions challenging the laws. Senior Advocate Ejaz Maqbool forwarded an impleadment application, asking to make Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind a respondent.
“What is your locus,” Bobde asked Maqbool, according to Live Law. “How are you aggrieved?”
“A large number of Muslim youths have been harassed by these laws,” Maqbool responded. “We want to assist your lorsdships.” The chief justice then allowed the application.
Meanwhile, Senior Advocate Chander Uday Singh, appearing for one of the petitioners, non-government organisation Citizens for Justice and Peace, informed the court that an amendment application has been filed to the main plea, to incorporate challenge against similar laws passed by Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.
The court posted the matter for next hearing two weeks later.
On January 6, the Supreme Court had agreed to examine the constitutional validity of the laws enacted by Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, but refused to stay the legislations. The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, has been challenged in the Allahabad High Court as well, which the Adityanath government sought to transfer. However, the Supreme Court refused to do so last month.
The laws passed by multiple Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states are intended to target “love jihad” – a pejorative term coined by the right-wing groups to push the conspiracy theory that Muslim men charm Hindu women into marrying them with the sole purpose of converting them to Islam.
The Centre itself told the Lok Sabha in February 2020 that no “case of ‘love jihad’ had been reported by any of the central agencies”. Investigations by the National Investigation Agency and the Karnataka Criminal Investigation Department have turned up no evidence for this alleged conspiracy either. The National Commission for Women maintains no data about “love jihad” as well.