Amid the raging debate on 'Love Jihad' (Muslim youths marrying Hindu girls under false pretences), Uttar Pradesh became the first state to have a law against religious conversion through deceit, force, allurement or any other fraudulent means or for the purpose of marriage after the state Governor promulgated the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 on Saturday.
The state cabinet had given its approval to the ordinance on Tuesday.
Although the Ordinance nowhere uses the term 'Love Jihad', the BJP leaders have maintained that it is a law to prevent what they allege ''rising cases of Hindu girls being lured through fraudulent ways into marriage by Muslim youths''.
The Ordinance provides for a maximum of ten years imprisonment besides a fine of Rs 15,000 for violators. In case of minor girls and women from SC and ST communities, the minimum imprisonment would be of two years while the maximum imprisonment will be for ten years besides a fine of Rs 25,000. Three years of minimum and ten years of maximum imprisonment had been provided for mass religious conversion. A fine of Rs 50,000 would also be imposed on the offenders.
It puts the religious conversion under certain situations under the category of an offence. According to the Ordinance religious conversion, if done under duress, force, allurement or any other fraudulent means or for the purpose of marriage would be an offence.
It also provides for cancellation of registration of certain social organisations, allegedly involved in mass religious conversion.
The onus of proving that the religious conversion had not been undertaken through the means mentioned under the law would be on the person converting and the one, who was getting him converted. If the conversion was done for the purpose of marriage only then such marriages would be declared as void under this law.
Anyone wanting to convert on one's own volition to marry would have to compulsorily give an application in this regard to the concerned district magistrate two months in advance.
Some other states, including Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, were also contemplating making a similar law to deal with 'Love Jihad'.