(This story was first published on 24 December 2020, and is being republished from The Quint's archives to mark one year since the anti-conversion law in Uttar Pradesh came into effect.)
Amid a raging debate around “love-jihad”, in November 2020, a religious conversion-related law came into force in Uttar Pradesh (UP). The UP police, under this law, has already registered a few cases. The law is said to have been brought in to supposedly control conversion and to ban certain types of conversions.
At present, at the level of the Centre, there is no law for regulating conversions. However, in the last few years, several states have brought in such laws.
These states are:
Different Anti-Conversion Laws of Different States
According to PRS data, punishments prescribed under the UP Government Ordinance for offences by individuals for causing/facilitating the conversion are as follows:
And, what are the conversion legislations like in other states?
What is the Process of Conversion in UP?
Under the ordinance, a person who wants to change his religion and the one who converts has to give a declaration in advance to the District Magistrate about it. Sixty days notice has to be given. After getting the declaration of both, the DM has to conduct a police investigation so that they can find out the ‘reason behind the conversion’.
Once the conversion is done, within 60 days of the process, the person who converted the religion has to give a manifesto (along with many personal details) to the DM. After this, the DM will publicly release a copy of this manifesto (till the conversion is confirmed) and invite objections. Within 21 days of issuing the manifesto, the convert will have to appear before the DM so that he can establish his identity and authenticate the information recorded on the manifesto.
What Kind of Conversions are Banned in UP?
This ordinance prohibits conversions on the following grounds:
wrongful persuasion and greed,
fraudulent conversion and
This law allows for conversion of free will, but for this the officer has been given the authority to certify. However, a person who converts can always readopt his old religion.
According to this law, if a marriage is done with the intention of conversion or illegally for conversion, it can be cancelled immediately. But if the religion changes in ‘keeping with the process according to the law’, then such marriage will be approved.
(With inputs from PRS India.)