Himachal 'Love Jihad' law clashes with 2012 HC ruling

Himachal HC had struck down marriage clause in anti-conversion law in 2012

At the time, a two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Rajiv Sharma noted that the provision violated an individual's fundamental rights

Representative Image. Credit: iStock

The newly enacted Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2019 requires a person to inform the authorities before they change their faith and outlaws religious conversion solely for marriage, something the Himachal High Court had termed unconstitutional and in violation of fundamental rights in 2012.

The northern state's High Court had struck down a law which sought to monitor (and penalise) the intention behind converting.

The BJP was in power in Himachal Pradesh at the time. The Indian Express reported that the party was looking to make provisions similar to the ones that have been made now, to an earlier version of the law that the Congress party had passed in 2006, which did not include laws related to marriage conversion. 

At the time, a two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Rajiv Sharma noted that the provision violated an individual's fundamental rights. They questioned why they must disclose their religious identity and why the authorities needed to be intimated regarding the same.

The law in its present form states that an individual held guilty of violating it will be sentenced to jail for a period of three months to one year, and the priest officiating the conversion will be sentenced for a period of six months to two years. 

Those charged under the new law cannot seek bail as a right but can do so while appealing to a magistrate. It also states that police can launch an investigation or make an arrest without a court-issued warrant.