After the Uttar Pradesh government gave a nod to the law against forceful religious conversions on November 24, Uttar Pradesh governor Anandiben Patel has promulgated the ordinance today.
The bill has been passed amid the ongoing tensions erupted over religious conversions which the government termed “love jihad”.
On November 24, Uttar Pradesh Cabinet approved the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 which BJP leaders also call a law against “love jihad”. The ordinance was cleared in order to curb the increasing cases of unlawful religious conversions and inter-faith marriages with the sole intention of changing a girl’s religion. The newly introduced law has the provision with a jail term of up to 10 years.
Uttar Pradesh Vidhi Virudh Dharma Samparivartan Pratishedh Adyadesh 2020 (Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance) signifies that a marriage will be declared ‘shunya’ (null and void) if the sole intention was to change a girl’s religion. The ordinance also states that if the conversion is done forcibly, through atrocity and cheating, the offence will be non-bailable.
Announcing the approval of the ordinance, Uttar Pradesh cabinet minister Sidharth Nath Singh stated, “The Cabinet has taken a big decision…it was necessary for maintaining normal law and order in the state and to ensure justice for women, especially those from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.”
He further added, “More than 100 cases of forcible conversions have come to light. The way in which religious conversions are done using deceit, lies, force, and dishonesty is heart-wrenching, and it was necessary to have a law in this regard.”
In normal cases, the ordinance has the provision for a jail term of 1 to 5 years and a minimum fine of Rs 15,000. If the girl is a minor or is from SC/ST community, the offence will be punishable with a minimum of 3 years of imprisonment and a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment, and a fine of Rs 25,000. However, if the matter is related to mass religious conversions, that jail term will be a minimum of 3 years up to 10 years and a fine of Rs 50,000.