Religious laws and Religious crimes in Developing and Developed Countries
Written By: Shreem Thite
Religious laws are those that are founded on a religion’s morality, codes of ethics, and obligations. Religion and law have always had a symbiotic relationship. In India, everyone follows a distinct religion, belongs to a different caste, and has their own beliefs and faith. Their faith is determined by a system of laws. These rules are always developed with the customs and traditions of the various communities in mind. Since the colonial period, Indians have followed these regulations. India has limited the system of religion-based and community-specific “personal laws,” giving people the option of choosing between their own personal laws and parallel secular laws. Personal laws pertaining to diverse cultures, such as Hindu law, Muslim law, and Christian law, have been codified and revised to varying degrees.
It is clear that law and religion are intertwined and religion has assumed a crucial role in maintaining lawfulness in old social orders in various parts of the world.
Crime And Religion
According to a survey, 103,379 hate crimes were reported in England and Wales between 2018 and 2019, with a rise in all categories of offenses. If we look at the percentage of hate crimes against Jews, we can observe that they have more than doubled, with 18 percent (1,326) of religious hate crimes specifically targeting Jews, compared to 672 occurrences last year. Religious crimes (hate crimes) are committed against Muslims in 47 percent (3,530) of cases. The majority of hate crimes were motivated by both race and religion.
According to data published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in Prison Statistical India, 2014, the majority of people are on trial; for example, Christians are more likely to be incarcerated in jails. There are around 840 Sikhs per million, 640 Christians, 477 Muslims, and 305 Hindus who are being tried, incarcerated, and so on. According to NCRB data, there are two times as many Sikhs and Christian detainees on trial in India than there are in the general population.
According to a report released in 2016 by a committee led by former Chief Justice of India on the conditions of the Muslim community in India, several cases have been filed against them and are being decided after several years, resulting in their acquittal and imprisonment for longer periods of time. According to Colin Gonsalves, a human rights activist, backward communities have a scarcity of resources, such as food, money, and even education, which makes it difficult for them to seek legal assistance, such as not being able to hire attorneys owing to a lack of funds and even knowledge. According to a prisoner statistical report published by the National Crime Records Bureau, since 1995, differences between the various castes in India have been visible, and since 1999, the condition of Muslims and Adivasis has remained unchanged for the past 15 years, posing a problem in our justice system only.
Religious hate crimes were most prevalent in the years 2017-2018. In 2017, 11 people were killed as a result of religious hate crimes, the greatest number since 2010, when 37 cases involving cows and religion were registered. In comparison to other religions, hate crimes appear to be more heinous and harmful. The year 2018 was yet another significant year for religious hate crimes in India, with 93 attacks in Mumbai between January and December 2018, with 75 percent of the events targeting the minority group. In the year 2018, states like Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan witnessed four deaths owing to religion-based issues, while Karnataka and Jharkhand saw three deaths due to the same reason.
In total, 81 occurrences of religious hate crimes were reported, with 60 percent (49 cases) targeting Muslims, 14 percent targeting Christians, with one victim being a Sikh, and 25 percent (20 cases) targeting the Hindu community. In 11 percent (32 cases), religion was not a factor in the crime. In 2018, hate crimes accounted for 25% of all incidences.
Laws Pertaining To Religion
The Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Convention, 1948, the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), 1965, and the International Convention for the Civil and Political Rights, 1966 are all treaties and conventions that aim to prevent incitement of any kind of violence against any religion.
According to article 4 of the ICERD, any religion that makes itself superior in such a way that it may cause enmity between all religions in society or against any religious group or individuals of other races shall be declared a penal offense. In 2005, all heads of state pledged to safeguard their citizens against crimes such as genocide, war crimes, religious hate crimes, and crimes against humanity.
In India, The Indian Constitution’s preamble declared India to be a “sovereign socialist secular democratic republic.” The Forty-second Amendment Act of 1976 added the word “secular” to the Preamble. It requires that all religions be treated equally and that they be tolerated. India has no official state religion, although it does recognize the freedom to practice, preach, and spread any religion. Government-supported schools do not provide religious teaching. The Supreme Court of India declared in S. R. Bommai vs. Union of India that secularism was an important element of the Constitution.
Religious laws and religious crimes in developing and developing countries are still contentious issues in today’s world. There are governments around the globe that do not provide religious freedom to minority religious groups, which is a violation of their human and fundamental rights. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every person born on this planet has the right to teach their own faith, and no one can stop them from doing so until they are stopped, humiliated, discriminated against, tortured, and in the worst circumstances, killed.
As the religious tendency grows, there will undoubtedly be examples that prove that religious crimes will diminish. Most religious crimes appear to target youngsters, driving them to commit suicide or other crimes that are destructive not only to individuals but also to society as a whole. If people are only taught to appreciate each other’s beliefs at a young age, many crimes against religion and hate crimes will be drastically reduced.
About the Author
Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur, C.G.