The Allahabad High Court has refused to grant protection to three interfaith couples, citing non-compliance of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2020, Bar and Bench reported on Wednesday.

Uttar Pradesh is among a host of Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states that have enacted anti-conversion laws to penalise “love jihad” – a pejorative term coined by the right-wing groups to push the conspiracy theory that Muslim men charm Hindu women into marrying them with the sole purpose of converting their brides to Islam.

In an order dated June 25, Justice Siddharth observed that the couples did not follow the mandatory requirement of submitting a declaration form before the district magistrate 60 days prior to conversion.

The couples had approached the High Court seeking protection from family members who were allegedly threatening them.

In the first case, a Muslim woman got married to a Hindu man. She told the court that she had converted to the Hindu religion and a certificate by a “Sanskar Adhikari” of the Arya Samaj was issued. But, the court said, “There is no evidence of conversion of petitioner to Hindu religion. Without conversion to Hindu religion the marriage of the petitioners cannot be said to be in accordance with law.”

In the second case, a Muslim woman married a Hindu man, who adopted the religion of Islam. Both of them entered into “nikah”, the court noted. The couple also submitted a certificate of acceptance of religion of Islam by the man signed by a “kazi”. The court, however, citing Sections 8 and 9 of the law, held the marriage illegal.

Section 8 of the law states that one who desires to convert their religion has to give a declaration in a prescribed form at least 60 days in advance to the DM or the additional district magistrate that they wish to convert religion on their own and with their consent, without any force, coercion, undue influence or allurement. On the other hand, Section 9 mandates that the converted person shall send a declaration in a prescribed form within 60 days of the date of conversion to the concerned DM.

“The certificate of kazi is of no consequence in view of the above ordinance and the conversion of the petitioner no [number] 2 from Hindu religion to Islamic religion is in contravention to the aforesaid ordinance...,” Justice Siddharth said.

In the last case, a Muslim woman converted to Hindu religion to marry a Hindu man. The court, however, held that there was “no evidence of conversion” of the woman to the Hindu religion.