The Uttar Pradesh Assembly on Wednesday passed the controversial law against religious conversion through marriage, reported ANI. The bill outlaws conversions through marriage, deceit, coercion, or enticement.
The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Bill, 2021, was passed after a voice vote in the state Assembly.
The draft law will replace an existing ordinance, and will now be sent to the Upper House of the Assembly, according to the Hindustan Times. After this, it will go to Governor Anandiben Patel for her assent. The ordinance, “Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance” was promulgated on November 24.
In November itself, the police had registered the first case under the new ordinance.
Uttar Pradesh’s new law on forced conversions delivers a promise by Chief Minister Adityanath to tackle “love jihad” – a conspiracy theory espoused by right-wing Hindu activists, alleging that Hindu women are forcibly converted by Muslims through marriage. The new law in the state makes religious conversion a non-bailable offence, inviting penalties up to 10 years in prison if found to be guilty of using marriage to force someone to change religion.
Violation of provisions of the law provides for a jail term of one to five years with a penalty of Rs 15,000 for forceful religious conversion. For conversions of minors and women of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes community, there will be jail term of three to 10 years with a Rs 25,000 penalty. In cases of forced mass conversions, the ordinance has provisions for a jail term of three to 10 years with a Rs 50,000 fine.
Further, according to the new law, if an individual wants to marry after converting to any other religion, they will need to take permission from the district magistrate two months before the wedding.
Apart from Uttar Pradesh, four other BJP-ruled states have also decided to introduce laws aimed at preventing inter-faith marriage.
The Madhya Pradesh government has doubled the jail term for forced religious conversions for marriage from five years to 10 years in its draft bill against “love jihad”, while the Haryana government has formed a three-member drafting committee to frame a law on the matter. Karnataka and Assam governments have made similar announcements.