Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel Saturday gave her assent to an Ordinance promulgated by the state government against forcible or “dishonest” religious conversions.
The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religious Ordinance, 2020, comes into effect immediately across the state. The law prohibits conversion from one religion to another by “misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, coercion, allurement or marriage”.
The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet had cleared the Ordinance earlier this week to check “unlawful religious conversions” and “inter-faith marriages with the sole intention of changing a girl’s religion”.
According to the law, a marriage will be declared “shunya” (null and void) if the “sole intention” was to “change a girl’s religion”.
“Those getting the conversion done in violation of the provisions of the proposed law would have to face jail term of up to 10 years,” the government said in a statement. If it is found that the conversion is done “forcibly, through atrocity or cheating”, the offence will be non-bailable.
BJP-ruled states of Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have also sought to bring a law to check what they call “love jihad”. Last week, at least five Opposition-ruled states condemned the move as an encroachment on personal liberty, and an attempt to create a communal divide in the country.