Yogi Adityanath led UP government has passed an ordinance that makes forceful-religious conversions (Love Jihad) null and void. Forceful inter-faith conversions- or the so-called ‘Love Jihad’ -has always been a major agenda of current dissension in Uttar Pradesh. The incumbent chief minister Yogi Adityanath has always been vocal about the issue since he was an MP of Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency.
The ‘Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion Bill’ 2020 or ‘Vidhi Virudh Dharmantaran Bill 2020’ strictly checks forced inter-faith conversions. Anyone found in the act of forceful conversion including via. marriage will face five years of imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 15000. If the conversion is at the mass level, the jail term to increase to ten years.
Further, the law states that if anyone is found guilty of forcefully converting minors, Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe women, the jail term could be anywhere between two to ten years with a fine of Rs. 25000. It is to be noted that the punishments are non-bailable in nature.
In the past, many instances of forced conversion have been reported from different corners of the state, especially eastern and central UP. The issue of ‘Love Jihad’ triggered the Uttar Pradesh government when a group of parents in Kanpur and Laxmipur complained that their daughters were being lured and trapped by Muslim men. Although, a few of those girls refused this allegation and expressed that it was a consensual decision.
No, it does not. Remember that the law only prohibits forceful religious conversion, not consensual ones. But interfaith marriage wouldn’t be that easy as earlier. According to law, if you want to have an inter-faith marriage you are bound to inform the district administration at least one month before the marriage, failure of which could lead to three to six years of jail term.
Critics, including a few legal experts, say that the piece of legislation is a mere violation of fundamental rights under Article 21 and Article 25 of the constitution. They say that the Right to marry of one’s choice and freedom to practice and propagate any religion are an individual’s basic rights and the state has no authority to interfere in this regard.