Religious identity is generally not acquired but imposed by the parents of the respective individual. It is the first and foremost hurdle in the freedom of thought. It starts from the stage of childhood. The religious identity of most of the people has not resulted from well thought out belief. Many of them are casual in its adherence but also are not bothered of its breach knowingly and unknowingly. It depends upon the respective individual’s choice to shed down the identity completely or convert to the religion of the other partner of the marrying pair. The option or switch over to another religion is entirely one’s choice based on readiness. No one should interfere including the State.
In 1954, the Special Marriages Act was legislated for according legal validity to inter religious marriages by keeping the significance of religious identity at bay. Under this marriage there is no need for any religious conversion on either side. It is ideal, suitable and advisable in a secular State like India. But the recently promulgated Ordinance in Uttar Pradesh and the Cabinet approved Bill in Madhya Pradesh are against inter faith marriages is a regressive and retrograde move for the liberal minded wedding couple. In the case of inter- faith marriage, the euphemistic form of inter religious marriage, any person on the side of the female partner’s family can lodge a complaint against the male partner.
The religious conversion for the sake of marriage despite the wholehearted willingness of the respective adult person is considered as a crime and the nature of the offence is made as both cognizable and non- bailable. Besides the burden of proof of innocence for not having committed the alleged offence is vested with the accused. This sort of legislation based on accusatorial principle is against the usual criminal jurisprudence mode that is rested on inquisitorial principle whereby the prosecution has to prove the charge levelled against the accused. The whole motive behind the legislation is punitive on ‘Love Jihad’ couple and posing a threat to the prospective couple too. All these legal features are not ideal to a civilized country where religious freedom has been in vogue. The law makers should not be law breakers by making mockery of Article 25 of the Indian Constitution that guarantees religious freedom to every citizen as fundamental right that is fortified as the basic structure of the Constitution.
The weak identity i.e. religious identity under the influence of religious fanatics cannot spoil the harmony and peace in the society. The legislative move both in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and its prospective move in other BJP ruled States must be stopped at once. It is against the Constitutional provision, guaranteeing the fundamental right of the freedom to profess and practice religion for every citizen of the country. In case of deliberate failure on the part of the respective State governments, it is the duty of the Supreme Court of India to take suo moto, ensure the fundamental right and protect the possible dream of the young wedded couples who have planned to lead a happy, peaceful and loving life.