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Lawyers association writes to Karnataka CM to stop making marriage notices public

Hindu Janajagruti Samiti state spokesperson Mohan Gowda doxxed four couples by posting their marriage notices on social media and claimed it was a case of “love jihad.”

The All India Lawyers Association for Justice (AILAJ) on Monday, March 25 wrote to Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah seeking to prohibit the practice of uploading ‘notices of intended marriage’ under the Special Marriage Act, outside the offices and on the website of the Registration Department. 

The letter also criticises the right-wing outfit member Mohan Gowda for sharing the marriage notice of an interfaith couple claiming ‘love jihad’. ‘Love jihad’ refers to a bogus claim made by the Hindu right-wing that Muslim men are ‘luring’ Hindu women into marriages to convert them to Islam. 

The notices revealed the names and addresses of the couples-to-be, making them vulnerable to targeting. Altogether, Gowda has doxxed four couples by posting the marriage notices of three couples on March 23. 

The letter urges the government The association also said that Section 6 of the Special Marriage Act was discriminatory and arbitrary, noting that the Hindu Marriage Act or other personal laws do not have such requirement as it violates Article 14 (Right to Equality) of the Constitution. 

All the couples have applied to register under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, which allows couples to marry without changing their religion. However, under Section 6 of the Act, it is mandatory for the government to put up a notice for a period of 30 days and under Section 7 people can file objections to the intended marriage. These provisions make couples vulnerable.

On March 24, civil society group Bahutva Karnataka drew the attention of the Karnataka Police to a social media post by Hindu Janajagruti Samiti state spokesperson Mohan Gowda, with pictures of marriage notices of a couple from Mysuru, along with claims of ‘love jihad’. 

He claimed it to be ‘love jihad’ as the couple’s name suggests the woman might be a Hindu and the man might be a Muslim. His posts were along the lines of a Hindu vigilante, which reads to be “Save Hindu girls from love jihad incident.” 

Condemning this act, AILAJ said that it is a concerted effort to demonise inter-faith marriages, and the communal groups who get access to the notices, then proceed to bully these couples, creating disharmony. The association also observes this as a patriarchal notion, where women need to be “saved” from “predatory” men, thus dismissing the agency and autonomy of the woman.

Many right-wing groups get access to these notices, screen out the marriages between a Hindu man and a Muslim woman, upload it on social media and brand these relationships ‘love jihad’.

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