Is Religion an abettor of crime? The Indian Perspective
“People use religions, not to improve themselves, but to prove themselves” starting with this thought I would like to draw attention towards the importance of religion in India and its related crimes.
Religion is an integral part of society, people in India believe in supernatural powers as we know through personal interaction as well as online, but less talked concerning with crime. Therefore, this article would be dealing with the aspects of crime triggered by religion in India. The word secular was included by the 42nd amendment into the preamble of the Constitution of India which provides for Freedom of Religion under Article 19 of the constitution and so providing laws for the protection of religion. The spread of Hate crimes, Islamophobia, persecution, rituals protected under the name of religion dangerous in nature, etc. can be seen as a total failure to criminalize such acts which are an offshoot of the Religious Crimes in India. In our day to day activities, we read newspapers and online news relating to crimes happening in India in which the majority are relating to women, white-collar crimes, and religion.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE
The development of the digital era has shown us many deteriorating effects of human existence on a social platform such as videos of mob lynching, recently a video got viral in which a person was forcing a Muslim man to say “Jai Shree Ram” and according to him that was okay and cool. Is it?
This debate has been put forward by many scriptwriters and directors who have beautifully portrayed religion and the bad aspects which we face in our daily lives but choose to ignore. Movies such as Oh My God, P.K, My name is Khan, etc, all deal with the blindfolded people who without any wakefulness blatantly follow the religion without questioning their morals and conscience whether that is correct or not!
These movies even showed us the truth of society as people in the name of religion commit such crimes without a blink of an eye. Srinivasan Atharva was one such movie that showed how people can be manipulated on the name of religion and a full-fledged scam was come about. From the above explanations and examples, one can easily draw an inference regarding the status of religious crimes in India supporting it we have the religious hostility ranking in 2015 in which India was ranked 4th.
TYPES OF RELIGIOUS CRIMES IN INDIA
1. HATE CRIME
This crime is committed by individuals of a particular religion disliking the other religion and the hatred filled in acts as a motivator for crimes such as murder, mob lynching, harassment, and many other offenses against religion. Many instances involving the mob lynching of Muslims done by Hindus and vice-versa have been in the news which has led to even death of many people in the name of religion.
There have been many shreds of evidence that show a significant rise in the data of hate crime from 2014 to 2017, with the greatest rise in 2016 as per the reports of halt the hate of Amnesty International India. Hate crimes in India majorly reported were against Muslims, Dalits, Christians, and even the LGBTQ community was targeted. The incompetency of the government to curb the issues relating to Hate crimes have led to uninterrupted carrying on these types of acts without any fear.
2. FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION
This abbreviation stands for female genital mutilation which is still followed in India by the Bohor community which is approx 2 million of the total population and almost the majority of the women have to go through the process. The process involves the removal of the labia minora, labia majora, and clitoris, sometimes even without anesthesia.
Just from hearing the process on can get terrified. This being against the human rights of a person has been by the international organizations but India no proper laws have been set out for the banning, even recently Sudan passed laws stating completing ban on this practice as Sudan's majority population of women and girls had to go through this. There is a need for the Indian government for the acceptance of the fact that female genital mutilation is still being followed in India and therefore a proper banning on the female genital mutilation must be done.
3. HUMAN SACRIFICING
It may sound hard to believe but there have been many instances of human sacrifice/ murder of a human being in the name of God to show gratitude. This act is no more than murder which must be stopped and proper awareness among people must be spread. Sacrificing humans to god is just murder and not a religious ritual that can be performed. Still in India, many people follow this practice in the name of religion or ritual which is a crime of murder under Section 300 of the Indian penal code whose punishment is defined under Section 302 of the Indian penal code.
IPC PROVISIONS RELATED TO RELIGIOUS OFFENCES
Under the Indian penal code from section 295 to 298, that is chapter 15 of the code is specifically dedicated to the offenses relating to religion that is:
Section 295- This section deals with the acts of a person that destroys or injures the place of worship of a particular religion just to cause hurt or insult to the other religion. The punishment given under this section is imprisonment for 2 years or fine or both.
Section 295A- This section deals with the acts done by a person to infuriate the person of other religions deliberately to cause hurt or insult to the religious feelings of the person. The punishment given under this section is imprisonment for 3 years or fine or both.
Section 296- This section deals with the deliberate attempt to perturb the religious gatherings being carried on for the only purpose of disturbing or hurting the feelings of that religious group. The punishment given under this section is 1 year of imprisonment, fine, or both.
Section 297- This section deals with the trespassing done by any person at burial places, etc with an imprisonment of 1 year, fine, or both. This section is bailable, cognizable, and non-compoundable.
Section 298- This section deals with the deliberate intention of hurting the feelings of an individual of a particular religion by words that hurts the feelings of that particular individual following a specific religion. The punishment under this section that is 1 year, fine. This section is bailable, non-cognizable, and compoundable.
Religion has been an important aspect in the lives of people and India has always been denoted as a divine and spiritual country. Actors such as Will Smith in many interviews appreciated the divine culture of India. Therefore religion being an integral part earlier regulated the laws as well but with the developments in the society declaration of secularism in India now law governs every aspect which includes religion. But still, there being loopholes which are becoming dangerous for society. Hatred and violence in the name of religion need to be controlled so that ignorance does not become a catalyst for the spread of more and more crimes based on religion.
1. Tabir Mahmood, Brigham Young University law review, Religion, Law, and Modern justiciary in India(Dec. 9, 2016,8:12 AM) https://ael.eui.eu/wp-content/uploads/sites/18/2014/05/Evans-19-Background-Mahmood.pdf
2. S.Arun Pratheesh & K.Roja, Study on offenses Relating to religion, 150 Int. Journal of Pure and Applied Math. 1314,3395 (2018)
3. Vasudevan Sridharan, Religion-based crimes have risen sharply in India. Does Modi love hate?, The week in Asia (Mar. 12, 2019, 7:00 PM) https://www.scmp.com/week Asia/politics/article/3001323/religious-based-crimes-have-risen-sharply-india-does-modi-love
4. Josephine John, 7 brutal religious and cultural practices that exist even today, DNA( Jun. 28, 2014, 7:49 PM) https://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/report-7-brutal-religious-and-cultural-practices-that-exist-even-today-1998217
5. Hate crimes reports on an alarming rise- reveals amnesty international India’s halt the hate, Amnesty int. India (Oct. 4, 2019, 10:59 AM) https://amnesty.org.in/news-update/hate-crime-reports-on-an-alarming-rise-reveals-amnesty-international-indias-halt-the-hate/
6. Masooma Ranalvi, If Sudan can ban female genital mutilation, why can’t India? , scroll.in (May 21, 2020, 12:30 PM) https://scroll.in/article/962307/if-sudan-can-ban-female-genital-mutilation-why-cant-india
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This blog has been authored by Shreya Yadav who is a 4th Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.) student at School of Law, UPES, Dehradun.
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