A petition was filed before the Bombay High Court on Wednesday seeking a direction to remove Rekha Sharma, the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), over her tweet on ‘love jihad’.
Saket Gokhale, a social activist, filed the petition stating that NCW is meant to be an independent body for protection of women’s rights, and its Chairperson engaging in such blatantly communal and divisive discourse casts aspersions on the body’s ability to act in a non-partisan and secular manner. The invocation of “rising cases of love jihad by the Chairperson, when no such cases even exist, points to a communal dog whistle policy which is intended to target the Muslim community, vilify inter-faith couples, and create discord in society”, it said.
The plea quotes the tweet by Ms. Sharma: “Our Chairperson @sharmarekha met with Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari, His Excellency, Governor of Maharashtra & discussed issues related to #womensafety in the state including defunct One Stop Centres, molestation & rape of women patients at #COVID centres & rise in love jihad cases.”
The petition mentions, “The last part of this tweet refers to something called “love jihad”, which is not an officially recognised term under Indian law. This term is usually used in an informal context to refer to a baseless conspiracy theory that Muslim men are waging “jihad” (holy war) against Hindus by making Hindu girls fall in love with them, with the sole intention of converting them to Islam.”
Mr. Gokhale, petitioner-in-person, also adds, “There are old tweets of the Chairperson which are extremely misogynist and sexist for the purpose of making political attacks.”
He adds, “There has been a violation of Articles 14 (equality before law), 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) and 25 (all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health) of the Indian Constitution by Ms Sharma.”