Investigate Love Jihad and Religious Conversions: Kerala HC To Top Cop
The Kerala High Court has ordered the Director General of Police of the state to conduct “comprehensive” investigation into cases of ‘Love Jihad’ and have the incidents of forcible conversion probed thoroughly.
Women associated with India Against Love Jihad hold placards and form a human chain to protest against ‘love jihad’ and conversion in Bhopal on September 12, 2014. (Getty Images)
New Delhi: Underlining that “national interest is at stake”, the Kerala High Court has ordered the Director General of Police (DGP) of the state to conduct “comprehensive” investigation into cases of ‘Love Jihad’ and have the incidents of forcible conversion probed thoroughly.
The High Court took a stern view of two such cases that came up before it and said that the DGP must supervise and monitor investigations into such instances and bring guilty to the book “as expeditiously as possible”.
A bench of Justices K Surendra Mohan and Abraham Mathew asked the DGP to inquire into the role of organisations facilitating such conversions while noting that the top cop should be obligated to do this since the entire state was within his jurisdiction. It emphasised “the existence of an organizational set up functioning behind the scenes” in such cases of ‘Love Jihad’ and conversions.
The bench entrusted the DGP with this task when it held as “null and void” the marriage of a 24-year-old Hindu girl, who converted to Islam and wedded a Muslim man in December 2016.
“Are there any radical organizations involved, are questions that plague an inquisitive mind. But sadly, there are no answers available in this case,” said the HC as it reproached the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Perinthalmanna, the Investigating Officer in this case.
“The investigation in this case was entrusted to him considering the seriousness of the issues involved, the widespread allegations of forcible conversion that were coming up and the national interest that is at stake,” rued the bench, stating he has not examined various aspects of the matter, including role of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the National Front or one or the other of its sister organizations. SDPI is the political arm of right-wing Muslim outfit Popular Front of India.
The HC highlighted: “A Single Bench of this Court has in Shahan Sha Vs State of Kerala taken note of the functioning of radical organizations pursuing activities of converting young girls of Hindu religion to Islam on the pretext of love. The fact remains that such activities are going on around us in our society.”
The father of the woman had approached the HC in August, 2016 with a habeas corpus petition, alleging his Hindu daughter had been radicalised by some organisations and they also influenced her to marry a Muslim man so that she is out of the parents’ custody forever. He also apprehended that there could be a scheme to send her to Syria to work with extremist organisations such as ISIS since the man she married had been working in the Gulf.
Although the woman testified before the bench that she had converted to Islam on her free will and that the marriage was also her own decision as a major, the bench declared the marriage as a “sham in the eyes of the law”, and gave her custody to her parents.
It said that the woman was a “gullible person”, who has no consistent stand or a clear idea about her life or future, and “hostility to her parents also has been instilled into her.”
The bench wondered why a 20-something woman who was doing a professional course in Homeopathy would leave everything to convert to another religion and also marry a man from the other religion.
“It is not normal for a young girl in her early 20s, pursuing a professional course, to abandon her studies and to set out in pursuit of learning an alien faith and religion. The normal youth is indifferent towards religion and religious studies,” held the HC.
It added that this was certainly not a case of a person converting to another religion for love but it was a case where the woman was under control and influence of others and there had been reports of girls taken out of the country after such conversions and therefore, it was not safe to let the woman decide what she wants in life.
“The person who is alleged to have married her is an accused in a criminal case. He is also a person who has radical inclinations as evident from his Facebook posts,” said the court.
It further said: “A girl aged 24 years is weak and vulnerable, capable of being exploited in many ways. This Court exercising parens patriae jurisdiction is concerned with the welfare of a girl of her age. The duty cast on this Court to ensure the safety of at least the girls who are brought before it can be discharged only by ensuring that the woman is in safe hands.”
The bench mentioned her father’s affidavit that he would support his daughter if she opts to follow Islam and said “she requires the care, protection and guidance of her parents.”
“She is the only child of her parents. There are no other persons in this world, who would consider the welfare and well being of their daughter to be of paramount importance than her parents. The nature provides numerous examples of even animals taking care of and protecting their progeny sacrificing their very lives for the purpose,” the HC also noted while granting custody to her parents.
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