New Delhi: The Allahabad high court has ordered the Amethi police not to take any coercive action against an interfaith couple, married for the last three years and having a child from the wedlock, under the newly promulgated anti-conversion ordinance.
A Lucknow bench of the high court restrained on police on a plea by the Amethi-based couple alleging harassment by the local police under the provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020.
A bench of Justices R.R. Awasthi and Saroj Yadav also sought the UP government’s stand on the couple’s plea. The notice to the government was accepted by the state government counsel.
The petitioners’ lawyer, A.K. Pandey, alleged that couple was married three years ago and also have a child but after the promulgation of the stringent anti-conversion ordinance, the police have been harassing them on the basis of an FIR lodged by the woman’s family.
The couple said in their petition that the woman’s parents had lodged an FIR with the police accusing the husband and others of his family of kidnapping their daughter for marriage in 2017.
“Considering the entire aspect of the matter, it is hereby provided that till the next date of listing, the petitioners shall not be harassed by the police on the basis of the impugned FIR,” the bench said, according to the Times of India.
Ever since the UP government passed the new ‘anti-conversion’ ordinance, interfaith couples from around the state have been facing harassment from the police and right-wing groups. The Hindu Right claims that a “love jihad” conspiracy – or Muslim men wooing Hindu women to make them convert – is underway, despite there being no evidence to support this theory. Meanwhile, consenting adults in interfaith relationships are having to bear the brunt of the new law.
Legal observers have also noted that the new law is vague and uses ambiguous language, making it easier for the police and other authorities to target minorities and interfaith couples. As retired IPS officer N.C. Asthana wrote in The Wire, “The UP law is teeming with legal blunders that strongly indicate the real intent of the law is to harass people so much that conversion per se is discouraged.”