Introduction:

It is difficult to travel a day without seeing at least one vehicle that has undergone modifications from the automotive aftermarket sector because automobile modifications have become such an intrinsic part of car culture. However, the mere fact that modifications are common does not imply that all of them are within the bounds of the law. Over the course of its history, the aftermarket business has developed a reputation for making changes that violate several state and central government regulations. This article seeks to make a comparative review of the status of modification laws, both in India and the USA.

 

The automobile modification Industry in India is estimated to be worth about 50 crores ( 500 Million in rupees), and it is seeing strong year-on-year development, with the exception of the last year. The cost of modifications may range anywhere from a few lakhs to a few crores, depending on the nature of the work being performed.

 

The Automotive Research Association of India in Pune, the Vehicle Research and development establishment in Ahmednagar, and the Indian Institute of planning and management in Dehradun are the three testing centers that are permitted to evaluate modified automobiles in accordance with the norms established by the government. However, the government must take into consideration the possibility of making these inspections accessible on a local level. In order to carry out these kinds of certifications, however, the municipal and regional transport agencies need to enhance their infrastructure.

 

Tinted Windows in India:

According to Section 100 of the Central Motor Vehicles Act (CMVA) of 1988, the minimum visibility through the glass of the windshield and rear windows of all automobiles in India shall be at least 70 percent. Additionally, when operating a car, the owner is required to have auto insurance in accordance with the Motor Vehicle Act. Further, the side windows of automobiles are required to have a minimum visibility of fifty percent. This is a legal requirement under the statute, and it is a different issue altogether that this rule (among others) is being flouted.

 

This is one of the most typical illegal modifications that individuals make to their vehicles, and a lot of car-owners do it, regardless of whether they have any other modifications. Hence, where it is against the law in India to install tint film on the window panes of your vehicle if it limits visibility by more than 50 percent; the exceptions to this rule are only made for VIPs and VVIPs. According to the most recent legislation on this matter, the owner of a car is not even allowed to use sunshades on the window panes of their vehicle.

 

USA: On tinted windows and rational nexus

However, in the USA, tinted windows may be beneficial during periods when the sun is very intense; however, tinting on the rear and side windows may, in many instances, be so dark that it creates a safety hazard. This is especially true during times of snowstorms, when the driver's visibility has already decreased.

When it comes to how much tinting may be done to the side and rear windows of a vehicle, the laws in each state are different and have various restrictions. However, it appears that these restrictions are based on a rational nexus between the permitted level of  tinting and the weather conditions of the state in question. Should they be judged to be too dim, the driver runs the risk of being pulled over by the police in your community. For example, window tinting in Alaska must allow for a minimum of 70 percent light transmission through the front side windows and a minimum of 40 percent transmission through the rear side windows.

 

Light and tyre modifications:

To improve the overall appearance of their vehicle, many individuals choose to replace the tyres and lights on their vehicle. However, in order to do so, the automobile owner must first have a solid understanding of the relevant traffic rules and regulations. A car's tyres may be replaced in accordance with the regulations of the CMVA; however, the size of the replacements must fall within the allowable range for the particular category.

 

For instance, if one drives a vehicle that falls somewhere in the middle of the price spectrum, you have the option of purchasing tyres that are designed for more expensive iterations of the same make and model of automobile. In a similar vein, you are able to modify a car's headlights and taillights; however, you are not permitted to break the limits placed on color variations. The headlight of your vehicle may be upgraded from halogen lights to white LED lights, but you are not able to choose among red, green, or blue lights as an alternative.

 

However, in the USA, modifying a vehicle's lights is arguably the alteration that is done on a car the most often and treated with the most leniency. In these jurisdictions, it is previously established that using lightbars on frequented roads and highways is against the law, but fortunately, lightbars are lawful to use in locations with less people and in the realm of off-roading. Regrettably, the use of red, white, and blue lights, sometimes known more colloquially as "police lights," is prohibited. If a person is found driving an unmarked vehicle while employing police lights, they could expect to pay a hefty fine and it is likely that more severe cases of usage could invite prison sentences.

 

Light Bars in particular are renowned for their ability to provide an exceptionally strong and brilliant light. That is good news for drivers if they are off-road or in dark areas without traffic; however, if they use light bars on populated roads and highways, they are inviting danger for others and trouble from law enforcement authorities.

 

Court decisions: India

Earlier, a division bench of the Kerala High court said that the structural modifications made to motor vehicles are acceptable according to the provision of the Kerala motor vehicles rules of 1989. These regulations were established in Kerala. As a result, Kerala is home to a large number of customized automobiles, and the number of people who like these kinds of vehicles is quite high even now.

 

The verdict of the Supreme Court, which overturns the judgment of the Kerala High Court, was specific in some instances, yet unclear in others. After careful consideration, the court came to the conclusion that the Division Bench of the High Court of Kerala in the decision at issue failed to give effect to the requirements contained in Section 52(1) and instead placed emphasis primarily on the Rules. This ruling was handed down by a bench consisting of Justices Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran of the Supreme Court of India.

As a result, the judgment that was handed down by the Division Bench cannot be considered to be one that appropriately lays out the law. The Act's requirements take precedence over the Rules, and the information included in a certificate of registration may also be altered, with the exception of any entries that were included there in accordance with the specifications that were first drafted by the manufacturer. Circular No. 7/2006 should also be viewed with this frame of reference in mind.

 

Rulings on modification in the USA:

On the other hand, 2021, recently saw an inadvertent ban on vehicle modifications. In the case brought by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) against Gear Box Z. Inc (GBZ), The United States District Court for the District of Arizona, although accepting the basic problem that was highlighted by SEMA, chose not to make a judgment on the matter. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made statements in its court filings while pursuing GBZ for allegations of tampering that the Clean Air Act (CAA) does not allow a motor vehicle to be converted into a racing vehicle used solely for competition and that the equipment installed to make the conversion is illegal.

 

These statements were made while the EPA was pursuing GBZ for allegations of tampering. This apparently incorrect reading of the CAA was first stated by the EPA in 2015, and it is now being repeated in the court file. SEMA contested this interpretation.

 

The court decided that the EPA had presented proof indicating the items at issue, which were marketed by GBZ, were being used on highway cars, but the EPA failed to show evidence that the products were being used on motor sports vehicles. As a result of this, the Court did not make a decision regarding whether or not the CAA prohibits the conversion of street vehicles into dedicated racing machines because there was no evidence that road vehicles had been converted into race cars. If there had been such evidence, the Court would have been required to address the issue.

 

SEMA's submission of the amicus brief was significant for a number of reasons, despite the fact that the street-to-race car conversion problem was not resolved by it. First, it demonstrates that the United States Congress needs to pass the "Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act'' (RPM Act), which is a piece of legislation that is supported by both parties and makes it clear that it is legal to produce, market, and install racing equipment as well as make conversions of this kind. Second, the opinion of the Court in this case did use language that was not entirely hostile, with the Court confirming that it is the burden of the EPA to produce evidence that emissions-related equipment is being used illegally on highway vehicles when making such a claim. This was one of the more positive aspects of the opinion. 

Conclusion:

The industry of automotive manufacturing in India is massive. It is speculated that the automobile manufacturers of India may approach the government with a request to modify the motor vehicles Act in order to permit some degree of customization. As of right now, the Supreme Court of India guarantees the highest possible level of safety in the cars and need to be aware that none of the alterations are inherently harmful. Additionally, these manufacturers should also promote aftermarket components that do not push their vehicles' safety standards beyond what is considered acceptable for such vehicles.

 

This Blog is Authored by Shruti Avinash, a third year student of the NALSAR University of Law.

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Modern democracies have long held that freedom of speech is a foundational concept, one that must be upheld in order for individuals to grow and flourish.

What's wrong with the internet these days?

When it comes to free speech and the internet, it's not just a matter of "same old issue, new technology." Almost everyone in the Western world may theoretically use the internet to communicate with people across the world and hear what they have to say, thanks to its low entry fees and worldwide reach.

It is possible for online speech to have a significantly bigger influence than conventional media discourse. One of its greatest strengths is that it is completely unaffected by any media organisations. It has the ability to reach considerably more people than the largest satellite TV station or the most widely read worldwide newspaper, and to do it via video, audio, images, and text. Interaction between people is also possible, bringing divergent groups together or allowing them to provide their own knowledge or assistance.

Traditional media, on the other hand, has a far lower capacity for promoting or inciting action. In this sense, it exacerbates the issues that arise from the freedom of expression. This tight connection between freedom of speech and freedom from fear in modern democracies is most likely to be fought out on the internet.

Can the internet's global reach withstand restrictions on its content?

Even though it can be difficult to track down who is accountable for what sites when they originate from and are hosted in several countries, different nations' laws now govern internet communications and content.

Countries like China have been able to block its population from accessing a large amount of pro-democracy content on the internet. As a result, it is only a partial success, as consumers find inventive methods to break through awkward technical barriers.

Aside from authoritarian regimes like the one in China, which has just jailed Chinese businessman Lin Hai for two years after he supplied addresses to the democracy newsletter VIP Reference, there are many other groups and individuals who seek to restrict free speech from the top down by blocking or filtering out undesirable websites.

Internet freedom has been severely restricted by governments in the United States, India and Germany and France. And internet idealists are particularly concerned about a developing "censorship from within" as firms such as Microsoft, desiring the legitimacy of the censor, incorporate censorship capabilities in their software that consumers are unaware of.

How is free speech on the internet governed?

There is a great deal of uncertainty in the law on the internet. There are no regulations restricting the usage of the internet internationally. Even though it can be difficult to track down who is accountable for what sites when they originate from and are hosted in several countries, different nations' laws now govern internet communications and content.

Although this is the case, most countries have begun to establish new legislation to better monitor and restrict online material.

Laws protecting free expression on the Internet in India are particularly lacking. As much controversy as there was, the legislative statutes remained firm and unwavering rather than succumbing to claims that they had constitutional resonance. Despite the absence of dedicated social media legislation in India, various sections under the country's current so-called cyber laws can be utilised to seek remedy in the event of a violation of any rights in cyberspace, the internet, or social media. The legislation and the relevant provisions are listed below.

The Technology Act, 2000

a)     Under Sections 65, 66, 66A, 66B and 65A of the Act are penalties for computer-related offences that can also be committed through social media, such as hacking into a computer, tampering with its source code, and committing computer-related offences given under Section 43. (b) Sections 65, 66A, 66B, 66C are penalties for computer-related offences that can also be committed through social media such as sending offensive messages through communication services; identity theft; cheating by personation using computer resources; violation of privacy; and cyber-terrorism.

b)     Second, Section 69 of the Act grants to the Central or State Governments the power to issue directives for interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity or defence of India, as well as security of the State, friendly relations with foreign countries, public order, and investigation into an offence.

c)     A similar provision, Section 69A, provides for a directive from the Central Government to ban public access to any material via any computer resource on the same basis.

d)     This section allows the Central Government authority to issue directives allowing any agency, including the Federal Government, to monitor and collect traffic data or information through any computer resource for cyber security purposes.

e)     Section 79 allows for intermediary responsibility. Any data, information, or communication connection provided or hosted by an intermediary is free of any third-party liability.

The Information Technology Act of 2000, section 66A.

Section 66A, the most controversial of these regulations, has been making headlines recently. It's a good idea to have a look at Section 66A in its entirety before diving into the meat of the matter. It was included to the Information Technology (Amendment) Act of 2008: Section 66A of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2000 establishes penalties for transmitting insulting communications via communication service and states

A person who uses a computer or communication device to communicate information

a)     Information that is obscene or frightening in nature, for example:

b)     Information he knows to be false, but which he uses repeatedly via the use of computer resources or a communication device to irritate, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, hurt, criminal intimidation, hostility. hate.

c)     Electronic mail or email communications sent for the aim of irritation, inconvenience, or to deceive the receiver or addressee about their origin will be penalised by imprisonment for a time that can extend up to 3 years and fines.

Article 19 (1)(a) of the Indian Constitution has been expanded by the Supreme Court of India to cover online speech.

After stating the Suspension Rules provide for judicial review of internet shutdown orders, the court instructed that the order be examined by a committee instead of declaring the shutdown unconstitutional in the union area.

In Anuradha Bhasin vs Union of India and Ors, where the petitioner contested the internet shutdown in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir, the three-judge bench of Justices N V Ramana, R Subhash Reddy, and B R Gavai rendered the judgement.

In Jammu & Kashmir, the internet was shut down for the longest period of time ever recorded in Indian history, for five months. After Article 370 of the Constitution was repealed, an internet blackout was implemented on the union territory on August 5, 2019.

according to reports from the Software Freedom Law Center, supplied under the aforementioned laws and guidelines.The Supreme Court's key concerns and observations are as follows:

Section 144: Internet and Shutdown Rules

Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) gives the state government the authority to impose limitations in order to keep the community safe and secure.

It was in August 2017 that India's central government released a set of rules allowing authorities to order an internet shutdown under Section 144 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. The rules provided authorities with the legal foundation to do so. Internet access in any region of the country can be cut off at any time under these guidelines.

"The power under Section 144, CrPC cannot be used to suppress legitimate expression of opinion or grievance or exercise of any democratic rights," the apex court held today, and asserted that the magistrate, while exercising power under Section 144, was duty-bound to "balance rights and restrictions based on the principles of proportionality and then apply the least intrusive measure."

This cannot be used to invoke Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code unless there is adequate evidence to establish that there is likely to be an incitement to violence or threat to public safety or danger," the supreme court stated.

Following the Jammu and Kashmir government claim that the court has limited authority and cannot consider all decisions issued under Section 144, the court ruled that the state must publish all orders issued under Section 144 so that those who have been wronged can challenge them.

Using Section 144, CrPC too often would be an abuse of power, the court argued.The court ruled that the Shutdown Rules stated that the internet may only be shut down for a short period of time, not indefinitely.Additionally, the court asked for a quarterly review of orders to shut down the internet in compliance with the Shutdown Rules. Suspension Rules currently do not allow for periodic review or a time restriction for an order made under the Suspension Rules. " It's time to address this vacuum, therefore we've ordered the Review Committee created under Rule 2(5) of the Suspension Rules to conduct a periodic review in accordance with the criteria of Rule 2(6)."

Protection of the Right to Free Speech and the Media

It was also examined by the Supreme Court if Anuradha Bhasin's press freedom as Editor of the Kashmir Times had been infringed by limitations.

From August 6, 2018, until October 11, 2018, Bhasin claimed that she was unable to publish her newspaper.Court maintained the right to use the Internet while observing "there is no question that the value of the press is well established under Indian Law.". An efficient functioning democracy requires that all citizens have equal access to the media.

Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution guarantees freedom of the press as a sacred right. In every modern democracy, this freedom is essential for the exchange of knowledge and the necessary dialogue that is necessary for a democratic society.

In order for governments to be responsible, they must always respect the freedom of the press." A sword of Damocles shouldn't be allowed to hang over the press indefinitely. Journalists should be accommodated in reporting.

'We declare that Article 19(1)(a) and Article 19(1) safeguard the freedom of speech and expression, along with the freedom to engage in any profession or conduct any business or occupation on the internet' (g). Article 19 (2) and (6) of the Constitution mandates that restrictions on basic rights must meet certain criteria, one of which is proportionality. The court noted this in its ruling.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights also includes the right to internet access (UDHR). U.S. Constitution Article 19 guarantees "the right to freedom of thought and expression" for everyone, "which includes the freedom to hold and express one's own views unrestricted by any kind of censorship."

'When the Human Rights Council of the UN has found that the right to access to the internet is a fundamental freedom and a tool to ensure the right to education, a rule or instruction which impairs the said right of the students cannot be permitted by law,' said the Kerala High Court in Faheema Shirin R K v State of Kerala & Others recently.' The court's decision made it clear that those in society's most marginalised groups suffer disproportionately and disproportionately from a lack of internet

The High Court of Kerala in a recent judgment in Faheema Shirin R K v. State of Kerala & Others, stated that “When the Human Rights Council of the UN have found that the right to access to the internet is a fundamental freedom and a tool to ensure the right to education, a rule or instruction which impairs the said right of the students cannot be permitted to stand in the eye of the law.” The judgment pointed out that the lack of access to the internet had a differential and higher impact on weaker sections of the society who depend on it for life and livelihood.

Conclusion

The internet has been boon as well as bane for the society. The pegs on which the freedom of speech rest is to how the authorities manage to respect the space for the people to express themselves. The speech is a way for the people to represent their opinions and idea in the public domain and thus progressing the society as a whole. We will not be successful in regulating global free speech issues that are impacted by emerging media until we are a more humane society. Right now, we’re accessories to the crime of the Internet’s slow obliteration of free speech.

Authored By- Mohammad Bakhtiyar

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1.    Introduction

Religion is a matter of faith and belief. It is centered on man’s belief in supernatural forces. Sociologist Durkheim defines religion as a “unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden.”The terms ‘religion’ and ‘matters of religion’ are not defined in the constitution.“Our constitution framers employed the word “religion” in these two clauses (Articles 25 and 26) in the sense indicated by the word ‘dharma,’” Justice Hansaria stated in A.S. Narayan v. State of Andhra Pradesh.[i]“Religion is supplemented by visionary methodology and theology, whereas dharma blossoms in the world of direct experience,” he stated further. Dharma increases the beauty of spirituality, while religion contributes to a culture’s changing stages. Dharma helps one recognize the immortal shrine in the heart.” Religion may inspire one to construct a fragile, mortal home for God; religion may inspire one to construct a fragile, mortal home for God; religion may inspire one to construct a fragile, mortal home for God; religion may inspire one to construct a fragile

The Indian constitution recognizes the importance of religion in the lives of Indians, and so guarantees the right to freedom of religion under Articles 25 to 28. The Indian Constitution envisions a secular framework in which everyone has the right and freedom to choose and practise their faith.

As per the preamble of the constitution of India, India is a secular state.The word Secular is derived from the Latin word ‘saeculum’ which means ‘this time’, meaning this world against the eternal ‘other world.’ Secularism entails the growth, comprehension, and respect for various religions.Though the constitution did not contain the word ‘secular’ originally, it was added in 1976 when the Indira Gandhi government enacted the 42nd Amendment.

2.    Secularism in India

Secularism refers to the separation of state and religion. However, in the Indian and Western polities, this term has slightly different connotations. Secularism in the Western model refers to the complete separation of the state and the church. This can be traced back to the French Revolution, which aimed to establish a ‘secular’ government free of influence from the church and clergy. However, in India, the state and religion do not exist in separate compartments. Despite the fact that the state must maintain an equal distance from all religions, the government does have some influence over religious matters, albeit in a restricted way.

The Supreme Court of India ruled in the case of Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala[ii] in 1973 that secularism is a feature of the Constitution’s basic structure. Furthermore, it was ruled that Parliament could not change aspects that make up the basic structure.In 1994, in the case of S.R Bommai v. Union of India[iii], the concept established in the Kesavananda Bharati case was reaffirmed. The Supreme Court has put to rest any doubts about the meaning of the word ‘secularism’ in the Constitution. The Court ruled that a society’s secular nature did not make it an atheist society. Secularism creates a more diverse society. A secular nation’s law accords all religions equal status and does not favour or discriminate against anyone.

 

 

3.    Constitutional Protections for Religious Liberty

The constitution of India has the following provisions relating to the rights of religion-

  • Article 25: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.
  • Article 26: Freedom to manage religious affairs.
  • Article 27: Freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion. 
  • Article 28: Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions

However, these rights are subject to following restrictions-

o   Health, morality, or public order.

o   Social reform.

o   Social welfare.

o   Remaining provisions of part 3 of the Constitution.

 

4.    The Essential Practices Test and Hijab Ban

This test was formulated by the Supreme Court of India in Shirur Mutt[iv] case. In this case, it was decided that the term ‘religion’ would encompass all ‘integral’ rites and practises of a religion. The SC assumed responsibility for determining what is essential. The religious question, according to the court, will be decided based on what the religious group considered essential or crucial.

In March 2022, the Karnataka High Court in Resham v. State of Karnataka[v] upheld the ban on wearing of Hijab in educational institutions where the prescription of a school uniform did not permit it. The students claimed that wearing the hijab was an integral practise in Islam and so entitled to constitutional protection as part of religious freedom under Article 25. The Bench disagreed, citing texts from the Quran. The High Court relied on the essential practices test, to rule that wearing of hijab is not an integral practice in Islam and thus preventing students from wearing hijab in educational institutions is not violative of their right to freedom of religion. The prescription of school uniform is only a reasonable constraint constitutionally permitted which the kids cannot object to, the three-judge panel wrote. The court rejected the argument in favour of ‘reasonable accommodation,’ which allows a pluralist society to reflect the socioeconomic variety in the classroom without jeopardising students’ feeling of equality.

This decision sparked a debate on the issue of freedom of religion in India and the essential practices test.The ‘essential religious practise’ test was criticised as a futile exercise in and of itself, because the Supreme Court has set an almost unreasonable criterion for determining it. Only if the absence or removal of a practise has the effect of damaging the religion itself is it considered a vital practise. With the exception of a few fundamentals, no religious practise will be able to withstand such scrutiny. A claim for Article 25 protection should be judged against constitutional ideals like as equality, dignity, and privacy, subject to health and public order.

5.    Uniform Civil Code

In recent months, the argument over the introduction of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) has gained steamafter Uttarakhand’s Chief Minister announced the formation of an expert team to look into the potential of implementing the UCC in the state.[vi]

At present, issues like marriage, divorce, succession, and adoption are governed by various personal religious laws. After UCC is implemented, all citizens will be governed under the same laws. The Supreme Court of India and various high courts have expressed the need to implement UCC in India.[vii] However, the law commission of India, in its report in 2018, has opined that UCC is neither essential nor desirable at this stage.[viii]

People opposing the implementation of the UCC argue that they are entitled to freedom of religion under article 25-28 of the Indian constitution and UCC is violative of these rights. But article 44 of the constitution of India, which is a part of the directive principles of state policy, states that “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.” Thus, the presence of article 44 shows that constitution makers wanted to provide only that level of religious freedom which does not hinders the implementation of UCC. Therefore, UCC is not violative of fundamental right to religion of citizens. Another argument advanced against the UCC is that it is not feasible to bind a culturally diverse population of India under a common law. But one must not forget that the much diverse Hindu population in India is governed under the uniform Hindu laws which proves that diverse population can be administered under the same laws.In modern times, the social values are changing, and inter-caste and inter-religious marriages are getting prevalent. UCC is needed so that the modern generation does not face difficulties because of various personal laws.

 

6.    Blasphemy laws in India

Individuals’ right to practise, profess, and spread religion is enshrined in the Indian constitution. The same provisions impose appropriate limitations on both the state and the individual, as the exercise of the same rights must not jeopardise the country’s public order, morality, or national security. In 1927, Chapter XV of the Indian penal code was inserted as ‘offences pertaining to religion’ to safeguard the rights of one individual against the rights of another.  The following sections are covered in this chapter:

o   Section 295: It is punishable under this section if someone wilfully damages, destroys, or defiles any religious object regarded sacred by adherents of any religion in India, including objects other than idols and books. He faces a sentence of up to two years in prison or a fine, or both.

o   Section 295A: If a person knowingly insults or seeks to insult religious emotions of any class of Indian citizens through words spoken, writing, signs, or visible representation, he may be penalised under this section. If accused under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, a person can be sentenced to three years in prison, a fine, or both.

o   Section 296: A person who knowingly makes a disruption to any legitimate religious gathering and rituals is subject to this section’s penalties, which include a year in prison, a fine, or both.

o   Section 297: It is punishable under this section if a person knowingly trespasses any burial place knowing that his actions may offend the religious emotions of any class of citizens. Even dead people’s religious rights are said to be protected under this law. This clause carries a penalty of up to one year in prison, a fine, or both.

o   Section 298: This is a unique provision in this chapter because whereas all of the offences in this chapter of the Indian penal code are cognizable, bailable, and non-compoundable, the offence under this section is compoundable, non-cognizable, and non-bailable. Under this clause, anyone who knowingly utters any words, produces any sound or signs, visible or audible, as the case may be, to the aggrieved in order to damage the person’s religious emotions may be punished. It’s starting to make sense why it’s a compoundable and non-cognizable offence. It can only be compounded by the individual whose religious feelings have been damaged. Under this clause, an offender can face a year in prison, a fine, or both.

 

7.    Conclusion

In terms of religion, India is a diverse country.  It does not have its own religion because it is a secular country, and every citizen has the freedom to choose, practise, spread, and even change their faith. These rights, however, are not absolute and are subject to certain limitations imposed by the constitution.There are instances when it is necessary to intervene and implement beneficial reforms for the betterment of society. In the name of religion, no one can do anything that is against public policy or causes any type of unrest or intolerance among the Indian people.

This blog is authored by Rajul Shrivastava, a student of Jamia Millia Islamia

Introduction-

          “Your daughter seems to be quite young, teach her the household work. Teach her to cook properly. It’s the time to get her married.” Commonly these are the words of people when they refer a girl of 18. There is just the opinion that a girl is born to do the household chores, but this kind of old mentality is challenged by the ambitious decision of the NDA government.  The Prohibition of Infant Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, aims to raise the legal marriage age for women from 18 to 21, while also addressing maternal mortality, child mortality, and nutritional problems associated with underage marriages.

 

Statistics and arguments-

          According to the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5), roughly a quarter of women between the ages of 20 and 24 at 18 or even before they turn 18. The situation is significantly worse in rural areas, where underage marriage is prevalent at 27%. In such an early age the young girls carry the burden of family and children which they are not at all mentally prepared for. Despite the fact that child marriage is illegal, statistics demonstrate that underage weddings are still a severe problem. Given the data by the various government sites, the question is whether raising the marriage age will result in true women’s empowerment, gender equality, more female labour market participation, autonomy, and better health outcomes for women and children. Gender parity is a way of life, not only a formal recognition of women’s rights. Equalizing the marriage age for men and women is a flimsy egalitarian ideal that does not lead to real empowerment but it can definitely open the doors of higher education and many other opportunities for the young girls. A study produced by the NCRB in 2018 addressed on gender-based violence:   Every 1.7 minutes, a woman is the victim of a crime, and every 4.4 minutes, she is the victim of domestic abuse. It is likely that after the change in the laws there will be awareness among the women about their rights, courage to get those rights and thus hopes to get these numbers reduced. (Will increasing marriage age to 21 help women?, n.d.) [1]

 

Legal perspective-

           Now let’s have the legal perspective. According to the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, the bride must be 18 years old and the groom must be 21 years old. While in the Islamic law, the marriage of a minor who has achieved puberty is permitted. Women and men must be 18 and 21 years old, respectively, to agree to marry, according to the Special Marriage Act of 1954 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006. It is expected that these laws will be amended in order to implement the new marriage age which is 21 for both men and women irrespective of their religion.

          According to the newly released National Family Health Survey (NFHS), child marriage has declined slightly in the country, from 27% in 2015-16 to 23% in 2019-20, but the government is working to lower it even more. There has been much awareness about this on the ground level all because of the efforts of government, NGO’s and many other awareness camps conducted in schools as well as villages.

 

The Government’s stand-

          In June 2020, the Ministry of Women and Child Development formed a working force to look at the link between marriage age and issues including women's nutrition, anaemia prevalence, IMR, MMR, and other social indicators. The group was directed by former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly and includes NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V K Paul and secretaries from different ministries. The committee was to examine at raising the marriage age and the effects on women’s and children’s health, as well as methods to improve women’s educational possibilities as well as empowering them and opening the doors of new opportunities for them. The committee was also expected to suggest a schedule for the government to adopt the policy, as well as any changes to existing legislation that would be necessary. Based on comments and opinions from young adults from 16 colleges around the country, the committee has recommended that the marriage age be raised to 21 years.[2] A total of 15 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) were also enlisted to reach out to young adults in remote locations and marginalised populations. Members of the group reported hearing from youngsters of various religions, as well as from rural and urban regions. (Raising legal age of marriage for women: the law, the reasons and the criticism, n.d.)

          It has been observed several times that delaying marriage and motherhood is not just due to legal age there are many other factors too. But it also can’t be denied that early marriage is the major factor for the same. On the other side, there is a well-established link between academic success and early marriage. Females are said to drop out of elementary school owing to a lack of options for higher education and subsequently marry off, according to experts. According to a research conducted by the International Centre for Research on Women, females who have dropped out of school are 3.4 times more likely than those who are still in school to get married or have their wedding date set (ICRW). According to the UNFPA's State of the World Report 2020, 51% of young women in India with no education and 47% of those with only a primary education married by the age of 18, compared to 29% of young women with a secondary education and 4% with a post-secondary education.

 

Conclusion-

          Through this new bill, women will be free from the age barrier of 18 and for them the doors of higher education will be open.  Women with higher levels of education are also more prepared to make family decisions and instil safe sex, family planning, and abortion practises in their children and thus this majorly leads to the gender neutrality.

 

Bibliography

 

·       Raising legal age of marriage for women: the law, the reasons and the criticism. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Indian Express: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/raising-legal-age-for-marriage-for-women-law-reasons-criticism-7675447/

 

·       Will increasing marriage age to 21 help women? (n.d.). Retrieved from The New Indian Express: https://www.newindianexpress.com/opinions/columns/2022/jan/29/will-increasing-marriage-age-to-21-help-women-2412524.html#:~:text=The%20recently%20introduced%20Prohibition%20of,such%20as%20maternal%20mortality%20rate%20

 

Authored by- Aishwarya Patil, Second year, Maharashtra National Law University, Aurangabad