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UP ordinance against forcible religious conversions gets Governor's nod , new law notified

The Yogi Adityanath government on Tuesday approved the draft of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, which also curbs religious conversions only for the sake of marriage, dubbed by BJP leaders as 'love jihad'. "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,” Cabinet minister and UP government spokesperson Sidharth Nath Singh had said.

PTI | Lucknow | Updated: 28-11-2020 19:48 IST | Created: 28-11-2020 19:48 IST
UP ordinance against forcible religious conversions gets Governor's nod , new law notified

The Uttar Pradesh ordinance aimed at curbing forcible or fraudulent religious conversions including those for the sake of marriage has got the assent of state Governor Anandiben Patel with the new law providing for a jail term of up to 10 years for any violations. The law, which has been published in the UP gazette, comes into force at once, an official spokesperson said on Saturday. The ordinance was promulgated by the Governor on Friday with immediate effect.

Under the law which deals with different categories of offences, a marriage will be declared "null and void" if the conversion of a woman is solely for that purpose, and those wishing to change their religion after marriage need to apply to the district magistrate. The Yogi Adityanath government on Tuesday approved the draft of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, which also curbs religious conversions only for the sake of marriage, dubbed by BJP leaders as 'love jihad'.

"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,” Cabinet minister and UP government spokesperson Sidharth Nath Singh had said. Conversion for the alleged purpose of marriage is, however, only one aspect of the ordinance.

The new law was opposed by the opposition Samajwadi Party. Hours after the governor's nod, SP president Akhilesh Yadav said his party will oppose the Bill when it comes up in the state Legislature for passage.

"The Samajwadi Party is not in favour of any such law. We will oppose it (when it comes up in the assembly),"  the former chief minister told a press conference. The new law also has a provision under which if someone returns to their original religion, it shall not be deemed a conversion.

The onus to prove that the conversion has not been done forcibly will lie on the person accused of the act and the convert, it said. In cases of violations of the law, the ordinance stipulates that the court shall grant appropriate compensation payable by the accused to the victim of conversion which may extend to a maximum of Rs 5 lakh in addition to the fine.

The ordinance mainly envisages that no person shall convert, either directly or indirectly from one religion to another by use or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage nor shall any person abet, convince or conspire such conversion. Minister Sidharth Nath Singh on Tuesday told reporters that the punishment under the new law is a jail term from one to five years, and a fine of Rs 15,000.

But if the woman involved is a minor or belongs to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, the jail term would range from three to 10 years, he said. The fine would increase to Rs 25,000. “In the case of mass conversions, the punishment is from three years to 10 years and a fine of Rs 50,000 on the organisations which indulge in it," he added.

An aggrieved person, his/her parents, brother, sister, or any other person who is related to him/her by blood, marriage or adoption may lodge an FIR about such conversion, according to the new law. In cases of mass religious conversions, the registration of the social organisations will be cancelled, and strong action will be initiated against them.

If those previously convicted under the ordinance are caught again for the same offence, they shall be subjected to double punishment, it said. Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, all the offences under this ordinance shall be cognisable and non- bailable and triable by the sessions court, the ordinance said.

In recent weeks, other BJP-run states like Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have come out with plans to enact laws to counter alleged attempts to convert Hindu women to Islam in the guise of marriage, which Hindu activists refer to as "love jihad". The UP Cabinet's approval to the ordinance followed the announcement by Chief Minister Adityanath that his government would come out with a law to deal with "love jihad".

Addressing bypoll rallies in Jaunpur and Deoria last month, Adityanath had used the Hindu funeral chant of 'Ram Naam Satya Hai' to threaten those who do not respect daughters and sisters. The UP State Law Commission had also submitted a report last year suggesting a new law to check the forcible religious conversions.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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