The Haryana government has notified rules to implement the law against religious conversions, eight months after the state Assembly passed a Bill to purportedly prevent “love jihad”.

A conspiracy theory spread by Hindutva workers, “love jihad” claims that Muslim men are marrying Hindu women solely for the reason to convert them to Islam.

The new rules, Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Rules, 2022, were notified on December 15 after receiving the state Cabinet’s approval, PTI reported.

Under these rules, district magistrates in Haryana will have to publish a public notice inviting objections to an intended conversion. The notice will be put up in the district magistrate’s office after a declaration is made by a woman or man that she or he is converting to another religion wilfully and not due to misrepresentation, force, fraud, allurement or marriage.

“The district magistrate shall on the receipt of written objections to such intended conversion...verify and get the matter inquired into by such officer or agency, as he may deem fit,” the rules say.

While making the declaration, individuals will have to spell out the reasons for conversion and for how long they have been following the religion they have decided to renounce. They will also need to state whether they belong to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe as well as their occupation and monthly income.

A priest or any person who intends to organise the religious conversion will also have to give a prior notice to the district magistrate, stating the names and addresses of those who are likely to attend the ceremony.

According to the rules, after receiving written objections, the district magistrate will verify them and have an officer inquire the matter, PTI reported.

“Upon verification, if the district magistrate finds that force or inducement has been used or is likely to be used in any conversion and that a conversion has taken place without notice, he may refer the case along with all material adduced during the course of the inquiry to the concerned police station for registration of a case and its investigation,” the rules stated.

However, if the conversion is “willful and without any misrepresentation”, the district magistrate will issue a certificate.

Those not satisfied with the district magistrate’s decision can file an appeal before the divisional commissioner within 30 days of receiving a copy of the order.

The state Assembly had passed the Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill in March. The anti-conversion law was notified on April 12 after governor’s approval. The draft of the Bill said that the burden of proof lies on the accused person.

Anti-conversion laws

Since 2017, five states, all led by Bharatiya Janata Party governments, have either passed new anti-conversion laws or updated existing ones. The new versions of the laws put in place stricter punishments and newer grounds for restricting conversions, such as conversion “by marriage” – where a person who adopts another faith to enter into a marriage would be deemed to have been forcibly converted.

These laws, critics say, are used to target religious minorities and inter-faith couples.