Anti conversion law analysis of Uttar Pradesh anti conversion law
As you may have noticed by now different states have passed anti conversion laws these laws restrict the autonomy and general will of the people and also are a threat to freedom and liberty of people. These anti conversion laws can be dated back to the Colonial era in India, princely states were the first one’s to pass such laws during pre independence era after concerning the general public.
Although India provides for secularism as basic feature of the constitution still some political parties remain to use religion as a tool for political power apart from this conversion laws are included in the State list of the seventh schedule so it has influenced many states to pass anti conversion legislation.
Orissa was the first state to implement anti-conversion law. However the Orissa freedom of religion act 1967 was declared unconstitutional by the Orissa High court but in the case of Rev. Stanislaus v. State of Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, the supreme court reinstated the Orissa anti conversion law. At present eight States have implemented the anti-conversion laws these include Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh but in this article we will only analyze the up anti conversion law.
Uttar Pradesh prohibition of unlawful religious conversion Act 2020
Up prohibition of unlawful religious conversion act 2020 was a law passed by the Uttar Pradesh legislation to tackle the “ unlawful conversions” popularly known as ‘love jihad law ' it is described as an alleged conspiracy by Muslim men to convert Hindu women by marrying them and feigning love.
On the basis of severity of the offence the person found guilty can land in jail up to a term of 3 years which may extend to 10 years and a minimum fine of 15,000 in case of conversion of minors and women from SC/ST community and for forceful mass conversion the fine can extend to 50,000 and a jail term up to 10 year.
Constitutional validity of Uttar Pradesh anti-conversion law
Since the law came into force on 28 November 2020 a lot has been written about this law it has been criticized by many scholars and classified as a draconian law most of it is about the law being violation of an individual right to marry a person of one’s choice and also violates right to life autonomy and privacy of individuals the Uttar Pradesh anti-conversion ordinance also violates the constitutional guarantee of equality because making religious conversion as the only ground for making a marriage void or making certain requirements that the parties in the interfaith marriage has to abide by such as giving prior notice of conversion post conversion notice of declaration is a discrimination on the basis of religion. The true problem with this new so-called ‘love jihad’ law lies in its ambiguity.
The law employs the use of open-textured phrases such as “undue influence”, “allurement” and “coercion”.
Indeed, even the question of whether a religious conversion is truly conducted solely for the purpose of a marriage is inherently vague.
It is in the subjective assessment and appreciation of these tenuous phrases that the real peril lies – this is a matter left entirely to the discretion of the judge.