Love Jihad Law to Prohibit Unlawful Conversion
This article is written by Shubhangi Rajora, a 3rd-year BA-LLB student at The Maharaja Sayajirao University Baroda. All the aspects of Love jihad and Unlawful Conversion has been discussed in this article.
Introduction to Unlawful Conversion
The Ordinance titled, Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance(Love Jihad Law), 2020 (Uttar Pradesh Vidhi Virudh Dharma Samparivartan Pratishedh Adhyadhesh in Hindi) was cleared by the State Cabinet. This controversial Uttar Pradesh ordinance on Unlawful Conversion came into force after State Governor Anandiben Patel signed off on it.
The Ordinance invites penalties of up to 10 years in prison if found to be effected for marriage or through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or other allegedly fraudulent means and also makes religious conversion a cognisable and non-bailable offence. “There were more than 100 incidents reported in which forceful religious conversion was being done. Also, it was reported religious conversions were going on in the state using deceitful means. So to make a law on this becomes an important matter of policy now,” UP Cabinet Minister Siddharth Nath Singh told ANI.
Key Provisions of the ordinance(Love Jihad Law):
- Through this ordinance, Forcible religious conversion is considered a non-bailable offense, and a provision of punishment of up to 10 years has been made under this offense.
- In this ordinance, the following actions will be considered as a crime:
- If the religious conversion is done by misrepresentation, by deception, by greed, forcibly, by marriage, or by any other type of pressure.
- If the forceful conversion is done with a minor, a woman or person belonging to the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe Communities.
- If the mass conversion is done.
- The ordinance says any marriage done with the sole purpose of “unlawful conversion or vice versa” by a man of one religion with a woman of another religion, “either by converting himself/herself before or after marriage, or by converting the woman before or after shall be declared void”.
Also Check Out: Sarla Mudgal and Ors. Vs. Union of India
Rules for Valid Conversion:
- Under Section 8(1) person who wants to convert has to give a declaration to the District Magistrate or Additional District Magistrate, 60 days in advance.
- Under Section 8(2) Religious convertor has to give one month’s advance notice to the District Magistrate or any officer who is not below the rank of Additional District Magistrate; who’ll be appointed by the District Magistrate for the purpose of such ceremony.
- Under Section 8(3) when DM receives information either by the person who want to convert or by a Religious Converter as per clause (1) and clause (2) of Sec 8; shall conduct a Police Enquiry to clear the intention.
- Under Section 9(1) and (3) once a person gets converted, he/she has to send a declaration to the DM within 60 days of his/her conversion stating his present address, date of conversion, spouse or parent’s name, the current and past religion, etc.
- Under Section (4), once the declaration is given to the DM under Section 9(1) and (3); he/she has to appear before the DM within 21 days for the purpose of identification.
- If any of the clauses as mentioned; from Section 9(1) to (4) is breached, then such conversion will become void and illegal.
Punishments under Love Jihad Law:
- If Section 8 (1) is violated, where a person who wishes to convert himself/herself fails to declare his intentions sixty days prior in advance; then he would be imprisoned for the term not less than six months and may extend to three years and fine which shall not be less than 10,000/-
- If Section 8(2) is violated, where the religious converter fails to give a one month notice; then such person’s imprisonment shall not be less than One year and which may be extended to Five Years and fine would not be less than Rs 20,000/-.
- If the person unlawfully converted is a minor, a woman, a Scheduled Caste or Schedule Tribe person, then the punishment with imprisonment shall not be less than Two Years, extendable to Ten Years and fine shall not be less than 25,000/-.
- If there has been a mass conversion then the punishment with imprisonment shall not be less than Three Years, extendable to Ten Years and fine shall not be less than 50,000/-.
- If it is an institution or organization then, the person or persons in charge will be punished with imprisonment not less than One Year, extendable to Five Years and fine shall not be less than 15,000/-.
- If a person has been convicted has also been convicted in past under the same law then he/she shall be liable for the twice of the punishment.
Why is this ordinance being criticized?
The provisions which are mentioned in the Ordinance gives State supervising powers over a citizen’s choice of life-partner or religion are in conflict with the fundamental rights to individual autonomy, privacy, human dignity and personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Before the promulgation of the Ordinance, the Allahabad High Court had also pronounced an important verdict which states that “Right to live with a person of his/her choice irrespective of religion professed by them, is intrinsic to right to life and personal liberty.”
This verdict clearly explains how the Ordinance leads to an unreasonable intrusion into the domain of a personal autonomy. Subhasini Ali, president of the All India Democratic Women’s Association, said the ordinance encroached upon women’s right to choose a life partner. “It is born out of same mindset that frowns on intercaste marriages to maintain the purity of caste and to control women. Because this concerns other religions, the government has been able to come up with this draconian law. There have been numerous judicial pronouncements on forcible conversions, so there is no need bring a special law for it. The need is to make the Special Marriages Act more accessible to people”.
This Ordinance is said to be opposed to an individual’s right to privacy, this law also infringes the fundamental right to choice and the right to change of faith. It is also in conflict with the fundamental rights to individual autonomy, human dignity, privacy, and personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 Right to life and Personal Liberty of the Constitution.
At present when changes should be made to improve the Special Marriage Act; the only law that allows inter-faith marriages without the need to convert, this Ordinance is instead squashing the wrong and dangerous path towards the communalisation and criminalization of love and marriage. This move will further encourage prejudice in the Indian mainstream thinking.
Also, Check Defamation and freedom of the press