Communalism and secularism


Demands for Delinking of State and Religion

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Synopsis:

Some religious groups in Tamil Nadu are demanding delinking of state from religious affairs. However, minimal state intervention to promote justice and equality is permitted by the constitution.

Background:
  • Amidst the electoral process, some Religious groups are demanding delinking of state and religion in Tamil Nadu.
  • They are opposing laws like Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Act 1959. The law allows the state to intervene in the affairs of Hindu public endowments.
    • Under this, the government can appoint a State Commissioner for general superintendence over all Hindu religious endowments.
    • The commissioner will further appoint executive officers to temples. They will ensure that the funds are being properly applied. 
Arguments by protestors in favour of delinking:
  • Firstly, intervention by the state is against the secular and democratic credentials of India.
  • Secondly, intervention undermines their freedom of religion which is guaranteed by the constitution under Articles 25 and 26.
    • Article 25 gives the freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion.
    • Article 26 protects group rights. It grants to every “religious denomination” the right: 
      • to establish institutions; 
      • to manage its own affairs in matters of religion; 
      • also, to own and acquire property; and 
      • administer that property in accordance with law
  • Thirdly, there is an unequal degree of control amongst religions. They argue that the states show a lenient attitude towards other religions like Islam and Christianity.
Arguments against Delinking:
  • Firstly, No credible successor: Apart from the state, no institution or group can curtail the evil practices surrounding a religion.
  • Secondly, Strengthening Evil practices: Delinking might uphold the interest of dominant communities and strengthen the evil hierarchical division in society. 
    • For instance, the government of Madras formulated a law in 1927 to intervene in the management of religious establishments. As powerful castes and communities within the Hindu fold appropriated control over them.
  • Thirdly, Indian Concept of Secularism: The constituent assembly adopted a model based on the notion of principled distance and not complete isolation like the western model. It allows intervention for establishing a free and egalitarian society.
  • Fourthly, Constitutional Provisions: Articles 25 and 26 are subject to public order, health, and morality. This gives ample scope to the state to frame a law regulating any economic, financial, or other secular activity associated with religion.
    • Using this, the government of Madras enacted a Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act in 1951. The 1959 Act later replaced it.
  • Fifthly, Judicial Backing: The supreme court in Shirur Mutt Case (1954) case upheld the 1951 Act. The court said the act was in consonance with the state’s power under Articles 25 and 26.
  • Sixthly, Laws for other religions: There are laws for other religions as well. The amount of intervention depends on the gravity of the situation.
    • For instance, the Waqf Act 1995 gives the government substantial supervisory control over the management of properties dedicated for religious purposes under Muslim law.
Way Forward:
  • Complete state isolation is not possible as per the constitutional directives. Although the deficiencies in HR&CE law must be re-examined on its merits.
  • People should constantly demand transparency and hold the state responsible to the administrative standards prescribed under the law.

Source: The Hindu 

Posted in 9 PM Daily Articles, PUBLICTagged

Report on Racial Discrimination against Northeast People

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What is the News? Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) releases a study on racial discrimination and hate crimes against people from the northeastern States.

About the study:
  • Conducted by: The Centre for Criminology and Victimology at the National Law University(NLU), Delhi conducted the study, under the aegis of the ICSSR.
  • Purpose: The study analysed the prevalence of hate crimes against the people of the North East region in six metropolitan cities — Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
Key Findings of the Study:
  • Racial Discrimination: Around 78% of the interviewed people from the region believes that physical appearance was the most important reason for prejudice.
    • Mumbai (44.7%) reported the highest number of racial hatred incidents against the North-East People.
    • Further, the acts of racial discrimination, against people from the North-East Region, increased after the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020.
  • Offensive and abusive language were most common across all six cities. Mumbai recorded the highest offensive and abusive language-related crime(74%). It was followed by Chennai (72%), Pune (67.3%), Delhi (64%), Hyderabad (48.7%) and Bengaluru (43.3%).
  • The incidence of non-reporting of the incidents was 32.3%. Further, as many as 34% of persons faced a common issue of refusal to file FIR by the police.
  • Impact: More than 60% said their studies and work hampered seriously by such experiences.
Suggestions against Racial Discrimination against Northeast People:

M.P. Bezbaruah Committee was set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs. It looked into the concerns of the citizens from the North Eastern States. Thus, It suggested remedial measures including legal measures that government could take. The important recommendations are:

  • Policing: It recommended amendments to the IPC by creating new offences under Section 153C and 509A. Sections will deal with comments, gestures and acts intended to insult a member of a particular racial group.
  • New law: Either a new law should be promulgated or the offences should be made ‘cognizable’ and ‘non-bailable’. It should have imprisonment extendable up to three years or five years with a fine.
  • Social media: Government should set up dedicated Facebook, WhatsApp, helpline and email support for reaching out to North-Eastern people living in the rest of India.
  • Dedicated Public Prosecutors: Set up a dedicated panel of lawyers to fight cases for North Eastern victims.50% of these lawyers should be women.
  • Nodal Police Stations: Nodal police stations for North Easterners. So that the police officer can immediately register FIR instead of asking the victim to go to other stations.
  • Fast-track courts: The Committee suggests the creation of fast-track courts for handling the cases relating to the North East people.

Note: The Supreme Court in Karma Dorji & Others vs Union of India & Others (2014) has also made several recommendations for the prevention and monitoring of racial hatred and violence. However, not much seems to have been done.

Source: The Hindu

 

Posted in Daily Factly articles, Factly: Polity and Nation, PUBLICTagged

People are Free to Choose Religion: Supreme Court

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What is the News?

The Supreme Court refused to entertain a PIL seeking directions to the Centre to ban black magic, superstition, and deceitful religious conversion.

What was the case?
  • A petition was filed in the Supreme Court seeking to control black magic, superstition & mass religious conversion of SC/STs. The petition also mentions the religious conversions through intimidation, threats & gifts.
  • The plea argued that such forceful religious conversions by use of black magic are common throughout the country.
  • These incidents are against Articles 14 (right to equality), 21(right to life), and 25 (right to religious freedom). Also, they are against the principles of secularism(part of the basic structure of the Constitution).
  • The plea also said that the Centre and States are obligated under Article 46 to protect the SC/ST community from social injustice and other forms of exploitation.
  • The petitioner also referred to the 1977 Stanislaus vs State of Madhya Pradesh and Others case.
    • In this case, the Supreme Court Constitution bench explained the “word ‘propagate’ used in Article (25). The court held that it means transmitting or spreading information from person to person or from place to place.
    • Further, the court also held that the Article does not grant the right to convert another person to one’s own religion.
What has the Supreme Court said?
  • The Supreme Court refused to entertain the petition. It observed that there is no reason why a person above 18 can’t choose his religion.
  • The Court observed that the fundamental right under Article 25 provides people to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion. It is subject to public order, morality, and health.
  • Further, the court said that the Religious faith is a part of the fundamental right to privacy. Hence, every person is the final judge of their own choice of religion. Courts cannot sit in the judgment of a person’s choice of religion or a life partner.

Note: In Justice K.S. Puttaswamy vs. Union of India(2017), the Supreme Court ruled that Fundamental Right to Privacy is intrinsic to life and liberty. Thus, it comes under Article 21 of the Indian constitution.

Source: The Hindu

Posted in Daily Factly articles, Factly: Polity and Nation, PUBLICTagged ,

Gyanvapi Mosque dispute and the Places of worship Act 1991

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Synopsis: The recent ruling by Varanasi civil court in the Gyanvapi Mosque dispute threatens the secular feature of India.

 Background
  • Earlier, the representatives of the Hindu faith had filed a petition to reclaim the Gyanvapi mosque land.
  • Now, a civil court in Varanasi directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a survey. In that, the ASI will confirm whether the Gyanvapi mosque was built over a demolished Hindu temple or not.
  • But any attempt to bring back the buried disputes is a threat to secularism and peaceful coexistence
What does the Place of worship act 1991 say in this regard?
  • The Places of worship Act declares that the religious character of a place of worship shall continue to be the same as it was on August 15, 1947.
  • It says no person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section.
  • Exemptions under the Act: There are few exceptions under the Act. Such as,
    • The Act will not apply to ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites. This is because these are covered under the  Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
    • The Act exempted the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.
Challenges with the recent Case:
  • One, it will open the floodgates for another prolonged religious dispute.
  • Two, the order is a gross violation of the Place of worship act that prohibits any litigation over the status of places of worship.
  • Three, the Allahabad High Court reserved its order on the maintainability of the suit on March 15. Further, the High Court is yet to pronounce its ruling. So, the implementation of the judgement might change after the High Court Judgement.

Source: The Hindu

Monuments in India: issues and Challenges

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Increasing Racial Discrimination: Causes and Way Forward

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Synopsis: The use of the internet has increased the prevalence of Racial Discrimination. The only way to overcome racism is by anti-racism action.

Introduction

Every year March 21 observes the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This is a global movement to fight prejudice and intolerance. It provides an opportunity to explore the causes and consequences of modern racism and helps in fighting discrimination.

  • Racial discrimination is a breach of human rights. It has harmful effects on human health and well-being. It leads to wider disturbances to social unity.
  • In this context word of the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan are still relevant

“Our mission is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated.”

What are the types of racism faced by people in society?

Recent forms of racism and discrimination are complex and often hidden. The facelessness of the Internet allows racist stereotypes and incorrect information to spread online.

  1. Firstly, traffic to hate sites and posts against Asians grew by 200% in the US during the pandemic. Social media groups and messaging platforms assist in social and economic boycotts of religious minorities. Minorities were falsely accused of spreading the virus in India and Sri Lanka.
  2. Secondly, structural forms of discrimination which include micro-aggressions and everyday indignities are widespread. The use of new technologies and artificial intelligence in security raises the threat of techno-racism.
    • This is because facial recognition programmes can misidentify and target racialised communities. A study by The Lancet focussed on the social dimension of the COVID-19 pandemic and the vulnerability of ethnic minorities.
  3. Thirdly, the World Health Organization has warned about the dangers of outlining and defaming communities. It can lead to fear and the subsequent cover-up of cases and delays in detection.
  4. Fourthly, women and girls also experienced racial and gender-based biases.
Suggestions to tackle Racial discrimination

UNESCO suggested steps against racism through education, the sciences, culture, and communication.

  1. Firstly, UNESCO emphasizes the role of education. It provides young people with an understanding of processes that tolerate racism and encourages them to stand up for human rights.
  2. Secondly, UNESCO offers master classes to help students to become campaigners of anti-racism in their schools and communities. It will be helpful to remove harmful stereotypes and raise tolerance.
  3. Thirdly, the International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities provides a platform for city-level planning and a laboratory for good practices in the fight against racism.
  4. Fourthly, renewed commitments are required to mobilize for equality. Racism must be fought with anti-racist action. A global culture of tolerance, equality, and anti-discrimination should be built in the minds of people.
  5. Fifthly, UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris hosted a Global Forum against Racism and Discrimination on March 22, 2021.
    • Policymakers, academics, and partners were present at the Forum to initiate a new multi-stakeholder partnership on anti-racism. The new proposed map to tolerance calls for a multi sectoral effort to control the root causes of racism through anti-racist laws, policies and programmes.

Source: click here

Posted in 9 PM Daily Articles, PUBLICTagged

Why the Places of Worship Act, 1991 has been challenged?

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Synopsis: The enactment of the Places of worship act, 1991 is an act of colourable legislation. Further, it is against the liberty of belief, faith, and worship to all.

Background
What is Colourable Legislation?

The government can enact a law within the power of the legislature. When the government enacts a law, It can hide a provision (illegal provision) within the provisions under the government’s legislative competence. This legislation is called Colourable Legislation.

The SC in the State of Bihar vs Kameshwar Singh case, used a doctrine of Colourable legislation. Under this, the court held that whatever is prohibited directly is prohibited indirectly also. 

Why the Places of Worship Act, 1991 is said to be unconstitutional?
  1. First, The Places of Worship Act, 1991 is against the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. Because it restricts the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Also, it nullifies the Fundamental Right(s) guaranteed by the Constitution of India as per Article 32.
    • According to Ambedkar, Article 32 is the very soul of the Constitution. It states that “enforcement of fundamental rights” cannot be suspended except as stated in the Constitution.
    • Under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court has the power to issue writs for enforcement of all the Fundamental Rights.
    • Also, the SC on several occasions ruled that no Act of Parliament can exclude or curtail the powers of the Constitutional Courts with regard to the enforcement of fundamental rights”.
    • Hence, the act is appropriately called an Act of colourable legislation. As it limits the powers of constitutional courts though there is no scope for such powers.
  2. Second, the Places of Worship Act, 1991 is against the liberty of belief, faith, and worship to all citizens.
  3. Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all citizens under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution.
  4. It also includes Rights to pray and perform the religious practice. Therefore, prohibiting citizens from approaching appropriate courts with respect to handover the land of any temple of certain essential significance is arbitrary.
What is the way forward?
  • The exclusion of the Mathura and Varanasi disputes as being additional exceptions from the Act of 1991 is unacceptable.
  • The Act provides an exception to the “Ram-Janmbhoomi matter”. The need and importance of resolution of such a controversy.
  • The Supreme Court can increase the number of exceptions in Section 5 of the Places of Worship Act, 1991, to three.
    • Including, the Gyanvapi Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi and the Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple in Mathura along with Ram-Janmbhoomi
    • It can be done through the use of the Supreme Court power under Article 142 of the Constitution.
  • Under Article 142, the Supreme court can pass any order to carry out for doing complete justice being in the public interest, while upholding the Constitution of India.

Source: The Hindu

Posted in 9 PM Daily Articles, PUBLICTagged ,

Plea Challenges “Places of Worship Act,1991” in SC

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What is the news?

The Supreme Court asked the Centre to respond to a plea challenging the Places of Worship Act, 1991.

About Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991:

  • The Act was passed in 1991. It seeks to maintain the “religious character” of places of worship as it was in 1947. The Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute was exempted from the Act.

Key Provisions of the Act:

  1. Sections 3: It says that no person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section.
  2. Section 4(2): All cases for converting the character of a place of worship that were pending on August 15, 1947, will stand abated with the enforcement of this act. No fresh proceedings can be filed after that.
    • However, legal proceedings can be initiated if the change of status of religious character of worship place, took place after the cut-off date of August 15, 1947.
  3. Section 6: It prescribes three-year imprisonment and a fine for breach of the provisions of the act.

Exemptions:

  • Section 5: It says that the Act shall not be applied to Ram Janma Bhumi Babri Masjid dispute. Other than that, the Act also exempts:
    • Any place of worship, that is an ancient and historical monument or an archaeological site. It must be covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958;
    • a suit that has been finally settled or disposed of;
    • any dispute that has been settled by the parties or conversion of any place that took place by acquiescence before the Act commenced.

Supreme Court on the Act:

  • In the 2019 Ayodhya verdict, the Constitution Bench led by former Chief Justice of India has referred to the law and said it manifests the secular values of the Constitution and strictly prohibits retrogression.

What are the key objections to the act by the petitioner? The petitioner has challenged the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act,1991 on the following grounds:

  • The act violates secularism. It prohibits Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs from reclaiming their places of worship which were invaded and encroached upon by fundamentalist barbaric invaders.
  • The Centre has no power to legislate on “pilgrimages” or “burial grounds” which is under the state list.
    • However, the government had said it could make use of its residuary power under Entry 97 of the Union List to enact this law. Entry 97 confers residuary powers to the Centre to legislate on subjects that are not enumerated in any of the three lists.
  • The cut-off date of the act is the date of Independence. It means that the status quo determined by a colonial power is considered final.

Source: Indian Express

 

Posted in Daily Factly articles, Factly: Polity and Nation, PUBLICTagged ,

Inter-caste marriages can reduce caste tensions: Supreme Court

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What is the news?

The Supreme Court in a judgement has said that Inter-caste marriages will possibly reduce caste and community tensions.

Background:

  • This judgement came on a petition filed by a girl who fled from Bengaluru to Delhi to marry a man who was from a different caste.
  • The police officer on a complaint filed by her relatives directed the girl to leave her husband. However, she refused to comply with the statement that they were legally married by her choice.

Key Observations made by the Supreme Court:

  • The consent of the family or community is not necessary, once the two adult individuals agree to enter into a marriage. Their consent has to be given primacy.
  • Educated youngsters are showing the way forward by tying the knot in inter-Caste-marriages. It will reduce caste and community tensions in India. Possibly, this is the way forward where caste and community tensions will reduce.
  • The court also emphasized the need for specific guidelines and a training module for the police personnel. It will train them to handle cases of inter-caste marriage.

The court quoted B.R. Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste in which he said, “I am convinced that the real remedy is intermarriage. The fusion of blood can alone create the feeling of being kith and kin, and unless this feeling of kinship, of being kindred, becomes paramount, the separatist feeling — the feeling of being aliens — created by caste will not vanish.”

Dr. Ambedkar Scheme for Social Integration through Inter-Caste Marriages

  • The scheme was launched in 2013 by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • Objective: This scheme was launched to extend the financial incentive to the intermarriage couples. It will enable them to settle down in the initial phase of their married life.
  • Incentives: Every such couple that involves a Schedule Caste is eligible to get a one-time incentive of Rs 2.5 lakh from the Centre. It is Irrespective of their total annual income.

Source: The Hindu

Posted in Daily Factly articles, daily news, Daily News Updates, Miscellaneous, PUBLICTagged

UK  Report classified India among ‘difficult four’ countries

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Synopsis: The report released by the Royal Institute of International Affairs (UK) recommends an arm’s length relationship with India due to rise of religious intolerance. 

Back ground 

  • Recently, the Royal Institute of International Affairs (UK) have proposed a blueprint titled “Global Britain, Global Broker”, for Britain’s future foreign policy after Brexit. 
  • As a matter of concern for India, the report has paid less attention to India’s role in the futuristic vision of a “Global Britain”. 
  • The report has classified India as one of the “difficult four” countries along with Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. India will be counted among the UK’s “rivals” or “awkward counterparts”. 

What was the reason given in the report for classifying India as one of the “difficult four” countries? 

The report highlights two major issues for that 

  • First, according to the report the rise of Hindu nationalism in India is weakening the rights of Muslims and other minority religious groups. 
  • This rise in intolerant majoritarianism is damaging the vision of a secular, democratic India envisioned by Nehru. 
  • Second, the report labels India as half-hearted supporter of liberal democracy and a country with mixed approaches to human rights abuses. 

Why the report’s criticism towards India is meaningless? 

Criticism of India over growing religious intolerance and the suppression of critique and dissent is not a surprise. Most of the diplomats from various countries have consented regarding this. For example, the Canada has voiced against the Kashmir internet shut down.  

But second criticism is particularly pointless. Despite being the world’s largest democracy, labelling India as a half-hearted supporter of liberal principles and institutions abroad is not correct, because, 

  • India for long been unwilling to step up on the global stage to the responsibilities of “committed democracies” due to uneven playing field in today’s international order. 
  • The 21st century Global order produces unevenly distributed rights, obligations, and burdens for post-colonial nations and the principle of equality and sovereignty of states still remains as a myth. 
  • Even today, the post-colonial states such as India, do not enjoy full political and economic independence on how they make decisions at home, nor in their efforts to shape the agendas of international institutions. 

Thus, 2nd criticism of India can be precisely summarised in the words of Former Indian foreign secretary and national security advisor Shivashankar Menon. He said, “Encouragement by western international partners for India to “behave responsibly” usually means doing what they would like us to do”. 

 What is the way forward for India? 

  • First, India need not look into the issue of UK distancing from India too seriously. No nation today can move forward without factoring in India. Even the report has highlighted this. 
  • Second, India’s high-profile international activity in the next 2 years as elected member of the UN Security Council and as host of the 2023 G20 Summit should be effectively used to leverage India’s positions of influence in the international sphere.  
  • Third, India needs to build on the critical and normative resources to inspire greater equality, legitimacy and inclusivity in the international sphere.  

 

 

 

 

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Importance of Allahabad HC judgment on Special Marriage Act

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Synopsis: The Allahabad high court’s recent decision to strike down the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 that make it mandatory for couples to publish a 30-day public notice of their intent to marry is a significant and much-needed correction.

About the Special Marriage Act

    • The Special Marriage Act was originally enacted in 1872 to provide a framework for inter-caste and inter-religious marriages.
    • The Act allows the solemnization of marriages (performing the public ceremony/rites of marriage) without any religious customs or rituals. The law solemnizes marriages by the way of registration.
    • As per Section 5 of the Special Marriage Act, marriages irrespective of the religion of the couple require parties to give a 30-day public notice of their intention to marry before solemnizing their marriage
    • The provision of mandatory 30 days’ notice period ended up giving vigilante groups, families hostile to inter-faith and inter-caste unions with disproportionate powers to police young couples.
    • The Act is applicable to all Indian citizens and Indian nationals who live in abroad.
    • Allahabad High Court observed the Special Marriage Act as ‘one of the earliest endeavours towards Uniform Civil Code.

About the case 

Recently, in response to a writ petition filed, Allahabad High Court gave a judgment that would have far-reaching impacts.

    • In its conclusion, the HC stated, though the couple wanted to marry under the Special Marriage Act, the mandatory provision for 30-day notice, under section 5 of the act, compelled them to take the easier route of religious conversion.
    • Thus, Section 5 acting as a barrier to inter-faith couples, willing to marry under the secular SMA rather than taking religious conversion routes.
    • On this basis, the Court allowed couples not to publish the mandatory 30-day notice of their intention to marry.
    • Also, the court allowed the individuals, who desire to have more information about their counterparts, to opt for publication of notice under Section 6 of the Act. Such publication of notice under free will not be a violation of fundamental rights due to free choice.
    • The court also noted that when marriages under personal law do not require a notice or invitation for objections, such a requirement for inter-faith couples’ is obsolete in secular law and cannot be forced on a couple.
    • As a result, many preferred to convert and marry under personal laws, rather than under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 to prevent themselves from harassment.

Why the Allahabad high court’s decision is regarded as a significant step?

The high court’s ruling against the mandatory need for couples to publish a 30-day public notice has been praised for the following reasons,

    • First, the decision comes at the right time where the anti-conversion ordinances in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have endorsed the state intrusions on inter-personal relationships.  The decision will protect the primacy of individual autonomy.
    • Second, the HC ruling is in line with The Law Commission of India report in 2012 that recommended keeping a check on the unnecessary interference by caste assemblies in sagotra, inter-caste or inter-religious marriages.
    • Third, The HC judgment reaffirms the constitutional protection to minorities as even today a minuscule of the minority of marriages are, inter-faith unions.
    • Fourth, it is in line with a series of landmark Supreme Court judgments that are against societal and state interference in personal affairs and firmly establishes personal liberty and privacy to be fundamental. For example,
      • Puttaswamy v Union of India, that recognise the right to privacy as a fundamental right
      • The Hadiya case, right to choose one’s partner.
      • In Navtej Singh Johar case: The ruling that decriminalised homosexuality.
    • It will be a body blow to Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 which have provisions such as
      • Declaring conversion of religion by marriage to be unlawful
      • Mandating a 60-day notice to the District Magistrate
      • Requiring the Magistrate to conduct a police inquiry to know the real intention behind the conversion.
    • As the Special Marriage Act is a central legislation, couples across the country seeking to marry under the law will benefit from the liberal ruling of the provisions.
    • It paves way for abolishing and cleansing obsolete Victorian-era protectionist provisions in other laws as well.

The Allahabad High Court judgement is a reminder and a warning that the constitution remains the bulwark against an overreaching state policy such as the anti-conversion ordinance in UP and MP.

 

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NIXI Offers free Domain in Local Indian Languages

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News: The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) has announced that it will offer a free IDN (Internationalized Domain Name) in any of their preferred 22 official Indian languages along with every IN domain booked by the registrar.

Facts:

  • NIXI: It is a not for profit Organization established under section 8 of the Companies Act 2013 in 2003.
  • Purpose: It was set up for peering of ISPs among themselves for the purpose of routing the domestic traffic within the country, instead of taking it all the way to US/Abroad thereby resulting in better quality of service (reduced latency) and reduced bandwidth charges.
  • Objectives:
    • To promote the Internet.
    • To set up, when needed, in select location(s)/parts/regions of India Internet Exchanges/Peering Points.
    • To enable effective and efficient routing, peering, transit and exchange of the Internet traffic within India.
    • To continuously work for enhancing and improving the quality of Internet and Broadband services.
    • Set up. Internet Domain Name Operations and related activities.
  • Managed by: NIXI is managed and operated on a Neutral basis, in line with the best practices for such initiatives globally.
  • India’s Country Code: “.IN” is India’s Country Code Top Level domain (ccTLD).The Govt. of India delegated the operations of INRegistry to NIXI in 2004.

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‘Using God’s name to sell articles illegal’

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News: The Bombay High Court has held that the sale of items, claiming that they possess miraculous or supernatural powers via television advertisement is illegal.

Facts:

What was the matter?

  • A petition was filed seeking a direction and injunction to prevent advertisements on television channels that promote the sale of articles like Hanuman Chalisa Yantra.
  • The petitioner had come across advertisements in 2015 on TV claiming special, miraculous and supernatural properties/qualities in Hanuman Chalisa Yantra prepared by one Baba Mangalnath who had achieved ‘siddhi’ (supernatural powers) and was blessed by Lord Hanuman.

What is the Judgement?

  • The court held that using the name of any God and claiming that it has supernatural qualities is “illegal” and falls under the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act.
  • The court observed that the objectives quoted in the Black Magic Act can be achieved mainly through education.
    • Section 3 of the Black Magic Act prohibits not only commission of acts of black magic, evil practices but also propagation and promotion of such practices and magic. Section 3(2) of the Act provides that abetment of such propaganda is also an offence.
  • Quoting the fundamental duty to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry, the Court said that the reformists like Mahatma Phule and Babasaheb Ambedkar who worked to remove evil practices and spread awareness against superstition, were born on this soil.

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Laws against Inter-faith marriage and Fundamental rights

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Synopsis– Uttar Pradesh recently passed an ordinance which criminalizes inter­faith marriages, which is against the exercise of the free will of individual citizens in India. 

Introduction-  

  • UP ordinance which criminalizes inter-faith marriages has set an extreme example, being followed by other states like MP.  
  • In these states’ other laws on slaughter of cattle, marriage, and religious conversions have been enacted targeted at minorities of the state.  
  • In Uttarakhand, a recent divergent view attracted an enquiry over a press release by district social welfare department that highlighted a scheme incentivizing  inter-faith and inter-caste marriages. 

How interfaith marriages were seen in the past  

  • First, Nehru’s view– Chaudhary charan singh in 1994, Sends a proposal to Prime Minister Nehru to pass a law that would ensure only those youth who married outside, or were prepared to marry outside, their caste be recruited in gazetted government services. 
  • Charan singh believed the intractable issue of caste required drastic measures to start the process of its disintegration.  
      • But Nehru disagrees with his proposal on account of freedom of choice of individuals to choose their life partner. 
  • Second, Kusubh Chandra sen’s view– The very first debate for legal marriage in India dates back to the 1860s, when the colonial State received a petition signed by Keshub Chandra Sen of Brahmo Samaj, to legitimise marriages amongst the members of Brahmo Samaj. The motive was to provide the Samaj the right to freely marry as per their ‘rites of conscience’. 
  • Third, Special Marriage Act, 1954– SMA is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to provide a special form of marriage for the people of India and all Indian nationals in foreign countries, irrespective of the religion or faith followed by either party. 

However, States such as Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh framing laws that target inter-faith marriage. 

The procedural requirements of the SMA such as the need to give prior notice, and allowance for objections, seem to be undermining its original intent by opening the doors to violent moral policing by vigilante groups. 

What are the issues related to these new laws? 

Interference by the State in an adult’s right to love and marry has a ‘chilling effect’ on freedoms

  • First, against personal liberty- These new laws intervene in the citizens’ personal liberty by interfering with the choice of their spouse.  
  • Second, Against the Right to Privacy– The level of state interference in a civil union, which is a solemnization of a relationship between two individuals, breaches the basic structure of the Constitution.  
  • Third, Hinder the individual’s Right to choose faith– According to Articles 25 to 28, an Indian citizen is guaranteed the freedom to practice any religion of his or her choice. The ordinance is a conflict with these rights as it limits the choice of the religion of a prospective spouse. 
  • Lastly, Patriarchal Roots- This shows the law has deep-seated patriarchal roots, wherein women are infantilized, placed under parental and community control, and denied the right to take life decisions, should those decisions not be agreeable to their guardians.

Constitution of India offers high principles for citizens to aspire for. Citizens may not have been lived up to these principles but it was the intent that individual try to achieve those principles by doing better to the society. Laws in questions are doing exact opposite by going against these principles.

Way forward-

Based on the judicial pronouncements it is clear that the Right to marry a person belongs to another faith is a Fundamental Right 

  • It is for the court to suo motu strike these laws down if it wants to preserve the basic structure of the constitutional edifice.
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Religious Freedom and Personal Choices

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Context: The Allahabad High Court verdict in ‘Salamat Ansari’ is a reminder of the Constitution’s most cherished values.

What did the court say?
  • Religious conversions, even when made solely for the purposes of marriage, constituted a valid exercise of a person’s liberties.
  • The High Court ruled that the freedom to live with a person of one’s choice is intrinsic to the fundamental right to life and personal liberty.
  • It held that the judgment in Noor Jahan was incorrectly delivered. Marriage is a matter of choice, and every adult woman has a fundamental right to choose her own partner.
What is the issue?
  • Legislation: Various State governments undertaking projects to outlaw what they describe pejoratively as “Love Jihad”.
  • Petitioners vs. State:
    • The petitioners had approached the High Court seeking orders to quash a First Information Report (FIR). This FIR alleged that crime was committed under Section 366 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises the abduction of a woman with an intent to compel her to marry against her will.
    • The State argued that the partnership had no sanctity in the law, because a conversion with a singular aim of getting married was illegitimate.
What are the other related judgements?
  • Noor Jahan v. State of U.P. (2014): the High Court had held that a conversion by an individual to Islam was valid only when it was predicated on a “change of heart” and on an “honest conviction” in the tenets of the newly adopted religion.
    • Burden of proof: the High Court had ruled that the burden to prove the validity of a conversion was on the party professing the act.
  • Stainislaus v. State of Madhya Pradesh: the Court upheld, on grounds of public order, two of the earliest anti-conversion statutes in India: the Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam, 1968, and the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967. These laws required that a District Magistrate be informed each time a conversion was made and prohibited any conversion that was obtained through fraud or illegal inducement.
What does the judgement signify?
  • Right to religious freedom: it is neither the province of the state nor any other individual to interfere with a person’s choice of partner or faith.
  • Right to privacy: It held that an individual’s ability to control vital aspects of her life inheres in her right to privacy. Puttaswamy judgement, has recognised that every individual possesses a guaranteed freedom of thought.
  • Right to live with dignity: It includes the preservation of decisional autonomy, on matters such as “personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, the home, and sexual orientation”.
  • Freedom of conscience: Article 25 of the Constitution expressly protects the choices that individuals make. It guarantees to every person the freedom of conscience. The idea of protecting one’s freedom of conscience goes beyond mere considerations of religious faith.

This is high time that we need to respect people’s choices. When we fail to acknowledge and respect the most intimate and personal choices that people make,we undermine the most basic principles of dignity.

 

Link to our 7PM editorial of similar article (ISSUE OF INTERFAITH MARRIAGES AND LAWS IN INDIA)

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ISSUE OF INTERFAITH MARRIAGES AND LAWS IN INDIA

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The article is based on The Big Picture: Special Marriage Act and Indian Express Explained, Roll it back appeared in the month of November. 

Context: The Uttar Pradesh government has cleared an ordinance that enables the state to police and punish inter-faith marriages with “the sole intention of changing a girl’s religion”.

Important provisions of Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religious Ordinance, 2020:

  • Law prohibits conversion from one religion to another by “misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, coercion, allurement or marriage”.
  • Marriage will be declared “shunya” (null and void) if the “sole intention” was to “change a girl’s religion”
  •  The persons forced the girl to change religious conversion may face jail term of up to 10 years if the girl is minor, a woman from the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, if the person involved religious conversion on a mass scale. For the rest of the cases, the jail term ranges from 1 to 5 years.
  • The law also provides for the way to conversion. The person willing to convert to other religion would have to give it in writing to the District Magistrate at least two months in advance.
  • The burden to prove would be on the person who caused the conversion or the person who facilitated it. If any violation is found under this provision, then she/he will face a jail term from 6 months to 3 year
  • ·If any person reconverts to his immediate previous religion, then it shall not be deemed to be a violation of the ordinance.

Why Uttar Pradesh drafted such an ordinance?

  • In the past few months, cases of alleged “love jihad” have been reported from different parts of the state, especially eastern and central UP especially Lakhimpurkheri.
  • a group of parents from a particular locality in Kanpur had complained that their daughters are being allegedly trapped by Muslim men
  • In some cases, girls refused to accept that they were tempted into marriage.

Criticisms against the law

Many critics of the law have put forward a few issues regarding the law:

  • Allowing the police to examine subjective “intentions” of men and women entering a marriage veers into thought control — and sets the law up for rampant abuse.
  • Law against fundamental rights: By clearing the ordinance, the state government has trespassed the fundamental right to marry guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. 
What is the term ‘Love Jihad’ or ‘Romeo Jihad’?:

  • The term itself is based on a conspiracy Theory. It simply means that the Islamic men target non-Islamic women for religious conversion by feigning their love.
  • This theory is completely unproven. The theory got national attention with the alleged conversions first in Kerala and later in Karnataka in 2009.
  •  In 2010, the speech of then CM of Kerala creates widespread allegation (Source)

 Anti-conversion law at central level:

Central government proposed various bills but none of them passed and became a law. They are:

  • Indian Conversion (Regulation and Registration) Bill 1954
  • Backward Communities (Religious Protection) Bill 1960
  • Freedom of Religion Bill in 1979

In 2015, the Law Ministry said passing of any law on religious conversion is purely a “State subject” and Central government has no role in it.

Is Uttar Pradesh being the only state to initiate law for forceful conversion?

  • No, after the central government failed to pass 1960 bill, Odisha government moved on and passed the first anti-conversion law in 1968
  • After that so far 10 states have had passed anti-conversion laws in India.
  • The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2019, and the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018, both prohibit conversion by misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, inducement, allurement and ‘by marriage’.

But Uttar Pradesh has become one of the first State to pass forcible conversion only during Interfaith marriages as special legislation. States such as Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka have also sought to bring such legislation.

Interfaith Marriages:

  • It simply means the matrimonial relation between individuals who follow different religious faiths.
  • Marriage between the same faiths has been governed by the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, Muslim personal Law. But to rectify and include interfaith marriages Centre passed the Special Marriage Act 1954.
  • Special Marriage Act considers Interfaith Marriages as secular.
Few important provisions of the Special Marriage Act of 1954:

  • The law allows the solemnization of marriages without any religious customs or rituals. The law solemnizes marriages by the way of registration.
  • The consenting couple (Men above 21 years and women above 18 years) who were going to get married have to provide 30-day Notice at the Marriage Registrar’s office.
  • After 30 days they can get married. If there are any objections raised then the Marriage Registrar will investigate the objection
  •  The Act is applicable to all Indian citizens and Indian nationals who live in abroad.
  • Allahabad High Court observed the Special Marriage Act as ‘one of the earliest endeavors towards Uniform Civil Code. (Source)

 Judicial pronouncement regarding interfaith marriages and forcible conversions:

  • The Rev Stanislaus vs Madhya Pradesh case: Supreme Court said Article 25 does provide freedom of religion in matters related to practice, profess and propagate, but the word propagate does not give the right to convert and upheld the laws prohibiting Conversion through force, fraud, or allurement.
  • Based on the above case it is clear that forcible conversion or conversion through fraud and allurement is against the Right to Freedom of Religion.
  • Sarla Mudgal case: The court had held that the religious conversion into Islam by a person from non-Islamic faith is not valid if the conversion is done for the purpose of polygamy.
  • Lily Thomas case: In this case Court observed that marrying another woman after converting to Islam is punishable under the bigamy laws.
  • Hadiya Case: Supreme Court said that the right to marry a person of one’s choice is integral to Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution
  • Allahabad High Court, in the case, Noor Jahan Begum @ Anjali Mishra and another vs. State of U.P. and Others observed that one shouldn’t change one’s faith just for the sake of matrimony. As two persons professing different religions can marry under the Special Marriage Act.
  • But in the most recent judgment, Allahabad High Court itself overturned its previous judgment, calling the decision “bad in law”. The division bench of the Allahabad high court said on November 11, that judgment does not take into account the right to life and personal liberty of mature adults.

Way forward:

Based on the judicial pronouncements it is clear that the Right to marry a person belongs to another faith is a Fundamental Right but that does not have to be associated only with personal laws or religious conversions. It is the Right of the individual’s personal liberty to involve in Interfaith Marriage either by the Special Marriage Act of 1954 or by Personal laws (after getting himself converted).

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Issue of “love jihad”: Right of “free consent” for Marriage

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Context: Many state governments have announced that they are considering enacting an appropriate law to stop marriages which they term as “love jihad”.

What are the recent cases?

  • A Muslim girl by birth converted to the Hindu religion and just after a month, she married a Hindu man according to Hindu rites and rituals.
  • The Allahabad court directed the girl to appear before a magistrate to record her statements.
  • The purpose was to check whether the girl converted with her consent or not.
  • In another matter, a Hindu girl by birth converted to Islam and married a Muslim. The High Court recorded her statement and after its subjective satisfaction that she, being a major, had acted of her own volition.

What was the basis of observations?

  • Lily Thomas (2000) and Sarla Mudgal (1995): In both the cases, the issue was of Hindu married men committing bigamy to avail a second marriage, without dissolving the first just by converting from Hinduism to Islam.
  • Section 494 and second marriage: Both judgments concluded that the second marriage of a Hindu husband, after his conversion to Islam, would not be valid in view of Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code. The Court clarified that a marriage solemnised as a Hindu marriage cannot be terminated by one spouse converting to another religion.

What are the arguments against such laws?

  • No legal basis: The concept of “love jihad” has no legal or constitutional basis, it has been concocted for the last few years.
  • Fundamental right: The right to marry a person of one’s choice is a guarantee under Article 21. At the same time, freedom of conscience, the practice and propagation of a religion of one’s choice, including not following any religion, are guaranteed under Article 25.
  • Avoid mixing of issues: Polygamy, polyandry, kidnapping, coercion, etc. are separate issues covered under existing provisions of the IPC.
  • Fundamental freedoms: The right to marry a person of one’s choice flows from the freedom of individuality, naturally available to any individual.
  • Supreme court views: The view of the Supreme Court (1965) that a marriage is not approved unless the essential ceremonies required for its solemnisation are proved to have been performed can only be read if one partner denies the marriage.
  • Marriage is the very foundation of civilised society: the observation that “marriage is the very foundation of civilised society” and without which no civilised society can exist have become obsolete given the recent judgments by larger benches of the Supreme Court.
  • Sub-judice: The legality of legislation like the Citizenship Amendment Act, which excludes only one religion from its purview, criminalisation of pronouncements of triple talaq and taking away the special status of Jammu & Kashmir are pending consideration in the Supreme Court.

The Courts needs to examine if the individual concerned has exercised their right of “free consent”.

Social Justice : news and updates

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Hate speech: A misused freedom | 31st October, 2020

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What is hate speech? 

The term hate speech is understood as any kind of communication in speech, writing or behavior that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis of their collective identity, be it race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexuality.

Hate speech threatens two key doctrines of democracy-

  • The guarantee of equal dignity to all
  • The public good of inclusiveness.

Criteria to identify hate speech:

  1. The extremity of the speech.
  2. Incitement
  3. Status of the author of the speech.
  4. Status of victims of the speech.
  5. Potentiality of the speech.
  6. Context of the Speech.

Regulation of Hate speech in India

  • Constitutional provisions: Article 19(2) of the Constitution gives all citizens the right to freedom of speech and expression but subject to “reasonable restrictions” for preserving inter alia “public order, decency or morality”.
  • Statutory provisions:   India prohibits hate speech by several sections such as Section 95 of CRPC Section 124A or Section 153A or Section 153B or Section 292 or Section 293 or Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code.

Various Causes of hate speech-

  1. Historical underpinnings- Any historical enmity between various religious or societal groups can motivate them to do hate crimes. During the independence struggle, both communities were divided which still has an impact. For example; the divide and rule policy.
  2. Vote bank politics: Often vote bank politics, use various communal or emotional tools to garner the vote of few groups by inciting hatred in them. They use false stories, news, etc to incite such incidents.
  3. Acceptance of hate by society: Sometimes society, in general, accepts hatred against a particular group or nation based on past experience of atrocities. E.g many groups see refugees or migrated people as their enemies and islamophobia in European countries.
  4. Illiteracy-Lack of education prevents the overall development of an individual. Still, about 23% of the population in India is illiterate. This prevents the development of tolerance and understanding of individuality in them.
  5. Consensus in society: Increasing unemployment lead to the development of feeling of hatred against a particular group especially refugees and migrated one. People see them as an enemy and one who snatches their rights. This phenomenon is worldwide. For eg, thousands of people of the northeast living in Bangalore headed to Guwahati, following rumors of violence targeting them.
  6. Prejudice and bias-Bias toward a particular group can be a reason for hate crimes. E.g 704 cases of crimes against Northeast people in Delhi in 3 years. It can incite hate crime against them without making any difference between culprit and innocent.
  7. Patriarchy-This hold true mainly in case of hate crime against women. Honour killing of women is mainly due to patriarchal mindset where women are attached to one’s falsified honour and women seen as an object tied to family respect.
    • For instance, in 2010 when Nirupama, a student of journalism, was killed by her family members in Jharkhand for planning to marry her boyfriend from another caste.
  8. Lack of strong laws-lack of strong and clear laws, poor implementation results in low conviction rate. So, culprits are let to roam freely.
  9. Social media: Fake news, propagandais often invoked on social media against a particular group to destabilise a society. For example, Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013.

Challenges in regulating hate speech

  • Freedom to speech-Any regulations for social media content should follow globally accepted norms of freedom of speech and impartiality which is hard to apply with the restrictions on the content.
  • Independent Regulator– An independent regulator can be misused in geographies where the idea of impartiality is used to the wish of the ruling regimes.
Social Media & hate speech

Impact of social media: Social media spreads messages way faster than other forms of mass media.

  • Nearly 60,000 posts are shared on Facebook in just one second across the globe.
  • Nearly 8,00,000 messages are sent in just one second across WhatsApp.
  • Almost 70,000 searches are made on Google in just one second.

How social media aids hate speech?

  • Unregulated Information sharing on platform– As exposed in a report by an international media organisation, Facebook is symptomatic of a larger infection of unregulated information dissemination through social media.
  • Hate speech against Rohingya minorities– A Reuters investigation found that Facebook didn’t appropriately moderate hate speech and genocide calls against Myanmar’s Rohingya minorities.
  • Prioritise business interest over common good– It is even accused of conducting a psychological experiment on its user’s emotions and more aspect of their personality.   For example, Recently Facebook was accused of conducting a psychological experiment on its user’s emotions and more aspect of their personality.
  • Insensible approach– Google has been accused of delaying the removal of malicious content even after volunteer groups had reported it.
  • Privacy Regulation– The introduction of privacy regulations such as the European Union’s General data protection regulation (GDPR) signaled the fact that self- regulations of the platforms didn’t work in the desired way.

Way forward 

  • Code of conduct: the European Union has also established a code of conduct to ensure non-proliferation of hate speech under the framework of a ‘digital single market.’It requires collaborative, independent and inclusive regulation that is customised to regional and cultural specifications while adhering to global best practices of content moderation and privacy rights.
  • The Law Commission of India recommended that new provisions in IPC are required to be incorporated to address the issue of hate speech.
  • Punitive action: The legislature and political parties should suspend or dismiss members who are implicated in hate crimes or practise hate speech. Strict disciplinary act should be taken against such individuals and parties.
  • The electronic and print media should stop showing or publishing hateful comments and threats. Any act of incitement of hatred should be punished by cancelling license or through imprisonment or fine.
  • Imbibing values: Values of tolerance and respect that are common to all religions should be preached and schools should revitalise courses on the directive principles of our Constitution.
  • If the speech or statement or art of work have an element of incitement of hate, it should be treated as a hate speech under section 153(a) of IPC and not as a Blasphemy.
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What is blasphemy law?

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Sacrilege: violation or misuse of what is regarded as sacred.
Blasphemy Law
: Deals with the matter pertaining to lack of respect toward God, religion, a religious icon, or something else considered sacred.

Arguements for blasphemy law

  • To value and respect for sanctity of the God, Religion and Religious belief.
  • Religion affects the actions of human beings. Legal protection provided by state to protect religious belief and sentiments leads to stable society and governance.
  • Most of the countries implement Blasphemy laws as a reasonable restriction for the maintenance of communal harmony.
  • Blasphemy law is required by the states that have an official religion like Pakistan

Argument against blasphemy law

  • Blasphemy has been described as irreverence towards God or Religion, however the term “Religion‟ itself lacks a proper definition for itself.
  • Against the spirit of Fundamental right of Speech and Expressions. USA has no blasphemy law to protect freedom of speech and expressions.
  • Blasphemy laws are incompatible with the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • Blasphemy law is often be used as a tool for the majority to oppress the minority.

The allegations of blasphemy have been used by vigilante groups and non-state actors to justify and instigate incidents of interreligious violence.

Judgments

Ramji Lal Modi v. State of Uttar Pradesh

  • The case challenged the constitutional validity of law.
  • Case argues that Art. 19(2) only put reasonable restrictions but section 295 A casts its net much wider by criminalizing all speech that was intended to outrage religious feeling.
  • A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Section 295 A
  • Supreme court observed that section 295A did not cover all type of Insult but only intentional insults

The Superintendent, Central Prison, Fatehgarh v Ram Manohar Lohia

  • Under this case supreme court observes that speech which is prohibited should have a direct connection to disrupt public order and it should not be just a remote connection
  • This is contrary to previous judgment (Ram ji Lal Modi case) which gave the order that a slight connection of freedom of speech with public disorder fall under Section 295 A.
  • New Punjab law

    • Under new proposed law any “injury, damage or sacrilege to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Srimad Bhagwad Geeta, Holy Quran and Holy Bible with the intention to hurt the religious feelings of the people” a crime punishable with life imprisonment

    Need for Law

    • Several incidents took place in various part of Punjab related to sacrilege of Holy book of Sikhs.
    • Existing provisions of the said Act in Section 295, 295A and 296 though deal with these matters but do not provide deterrent punishment for incidents

    Issues with the law

    • Protecting Holy book of one religion is anti-secular and discriminatory against other religion.
    • Most importantly, section 295-A of IPC deals with religion and religious beliefs, punishment under section 295-AA explicitly for religious text would be disproportionate
  • Misuse of law in the guise of protecting religion sentiments may inflict violence.

 

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Issue of Hate speech in India

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In News- Sudarshan TV case will have several implications for the regulation of free speech.

What is hate speech? 

The term hate speech is understood as any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis their collective identity, be it race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexuality.

Hate speech threatens two key doctrines of democracy-

  • The guarantee of equal dignity to all
  • The public good of inclusiveness.

Criteria to identify hate speech:

  1. The extremity of the speech.
  2. Incitement
  3. Status of the author of the speech.
  4. Status of victims of the speech.
  5. Potentiality of the speech.
  6. Context of the Speech.

Regulation of Hate speech in India

  • Constitutional provisions: Article 19(2) of the Constitution gives all citizens the right to freedom of speech and expression but subject to “reasonable restrictions” for preserving inter alia “public order, decency or morality”.
  • Statutory provisions:   India prohibits hate speech by several sections such as Section 95 of CRPC Section 124A or Section 153A or Section 153B or Section 292 or Section 293 or Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code.

Committees on Hate Speech

  1. K Viswanathan Committee recommendations.
  • A committee headed by former Lok Sabha Secretary General T.K. Viswanathan submitted a report recommending stricter laws to curb online hate speech
  • The panel was formed after Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, was scrapped by the Supreme Court in 2015.

Bezbaruah Committee

  • The Bezbaruah Committee was constituted by the Centre in February 2014 in the wake of a series of racial attacks on persons belonging to the northeast
  • Though the committee submitted its report in July 2014, the Home Ministry sent out letters to States for their opinion almost four years later, in February this year.

Laws against hate speech:

  • Section 295A was also introduced to control series of communal violence.Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished.
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Assam and Mizoram conflict

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Background of Assam and Mizoram conflict

    • The boundary between present-day Assam and Mizoram is 165 km long and the issue over that dates back to the colonial era when Mizoram was known as Lushai Hills, a district of Assam.
    • Assam-Mizoram conflict

  • The genesis of present conflict is rooted in the British led demarcated internal boundaries on grounds of administrative needs.
  • Government of Mizoram demands that present boundaries must be demarcated based on the 1875 notification, which was notified under Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873, also known as the Inner Line Regulation (ILR). Whereas the Assam government follows the 1933 demarcation.
  • While 1873 notification demarcated a line between the plains of Assam (Cachar) and neighbouring hill areas (Lushai) inhabited by tribal communities in Mizoram, 1933 notification was issued after the annexation of the Lushai Hills demarcates a boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur.

What is the present Issue? 

  • According to an agreement between governments of Assam and Mizoram some years ago, the status quo should be maintained in no man’s land in the border area.
  • As per the recent info., People from Lailapur (Assam) broke the status quo and allegedly constructed some temporary huts, in response people from Mizoram side went and set fire on them.
  • Mizoram civil society groups blame “illegal Bangladeshis” on the Assam side who came and destroyed huts, cut plants and pelted stones on policemen.

 

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