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UP turns ‘love jihad’ into a punishable offense


The Uttar Pradesh cabinet on Tuesday approved a draft ordinance prohibiting religious conversions by marriage, coercion, deception or seduction, and prescribed up to 10 years in prison for the culprits, becoming the first state to propose a law to regulate relationships. interreligious.

The announcement came about a month after Uttar Pradesh Prime Minister Yogi Adityanath promised to end “love jihad,” a term used by right-wing activists to describe marital relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women, but that the courts and the government of the Union do not officially recognize.

The draft ordinance does not mention the word “love jihad” anywhere, said the president of the UP legal commission, AN Mittal, who was involved in drafting the document.

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The draft ordinance, formally called Uttar Pradesh Vidhi Viruddh Dharm Samparivartan Pratishedh Adhyadesh 2020 (Illegal Religious Conversion Prohibition Ordinance of UP-2020), includes a provision to annul a marriage if it is solemnized primarily to convert a woman’s faith.

The burden of proof in such cases will fall on the person who converted their faith and those who converted, the document adds. He imposed a penalty of between five and ten years for such a union.

“The way in which religious conversions are carried out using deception, lies, force and dishonesty is heartbreaking, and it was necessary to have a law about it … The ordinance was necessary to maintain public order and justice for women, “said the cabinet minister. and UP government spokesman Sidharth Nath Singh said.

Adityanath’s promise last month was based on a ruling by a single Allahabad high court judge in October objecting to religious conversion for marriage only. But on Monday, a bench in the two-judge division said the earlier verdict did not establish good law. The division bank also said that the right to marry a partner regardless of faith was part of a person’s constitutional right that could not be infringed.

The state government, through the ordinance, appeared to have sidestepped legal debate and based the proposed law on a 2019 filing by the state law commission, which called for a law to control forced religious conversions in the state. Unlike several other states, Uttar Pradesh did not have an anti-conversion law on its books.

“The ordinance came as a result of a report from the law commission and after studying all possible aspects. The UP government will stop all illegal conversions. Love jihad is a term in circulation, people use it. Everything in the ordinance is within the purview of the Constitution and the rights of the people, ”said Senior Deputy Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.

The draft ordinance, which now needs the consent of Governor Anandiben Patel, conducted religious conversions using force, coercion, seduction, deception and fraud – recognizable crimes and not subject to bail, meaning that a police officer you can arrest a suspect without a warrant and you can initiate an investigation without permission from a court.

The ordinance provided for prison terms of a minimum of one year to a maximum of five years and a penalty of not less than 15,000 rupees. In cases involving a minor girl or a woman from the recognized caste or programmed tribal communities, the prison term ranges from three to ten years and the penalty is at least 25,000 rupees.

In cases of collective or mass illegal conversion, the penalty is between three and ten years with a penalty of at least Rs 50,000. In such offenses, the registration of the organization performing the mass conversion event could be canceled. The bill also empowers district magistrates to award compensation not to exceed ₹ 5 lakh to victims of forced conversion.

If a person wants to change their faith, they will have to apply in a prescribed format two months before the planned conversion. This is twice the period stipulated in the Special Marriage Act of 1954 that regulates interfaith unions.

Violation of this clause in the draft ordinance would make a person liable for a prison term of between six months and three years and a penalty of at least Rs 10,000, according to a statement from the state government.

The Uttar Pradesh draft ordinance comes at a time when several other states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), such as Karnataka, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, have declared their intention to ban “love of jihad”, in the that right-wing Hindu activists claim to be credulous Hindu women are forced to convert under the false pretense of marriage.

Many experts reject these accusations and say that adult men and women are free to convert under the constitutional right to freedom of religion. In February, the central government told Parliament that there was no definition of the term and that the agencies did not report such cases.

Last week Madhya Pradesh announced that it will present a bill to verify incidents of “love jihad” at the next assembly session.

The new proposed law mentioned that conversion by marriage by force, fraud, lure or instigation would be punished with a maximum prison sentence of five years. If such forced conversion is proven, then the marriage in question will be declared null and void and anyone who attended or was part of the conversion exercise will be treated on par with the main defendant, the bill adds.

Samajwadi Party spokesman and former UP Minister Rajendra Chaudhary said: “This government has a history of wasting time and energy and diverting public attention from real issues by doing such things.”

Hindustan Times