Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday approved the draft of a stringent law to deal with a religious conversion for the sake of marriage, amid 'love jihad' row. An official spokesperson said the approval for the ordinance was given at a meeting of the state cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
As per this, in cases of forced mass conversions, the ordinance provides for a jail term of 3-10 years with Rs 50,000 penalty. If a person wants to perform marriage after converting into any other religion, they will need to take permission from the district magistrate two months before marriage, said Uttar Pradesh Minister SN Singh.
The ordinance also provides for a jail term of 1-5 years with Rs 15,000 penalty for forceful religious conversion. For conversions of minors and women of SC/ST community, there will be a jail term of 3-10 years with Rs 25,000 penalty, added Singh.
The law will come into force after the approval of the Governor. "UP Cabinet decides to introduce an ordinance against unlawful religious conversions," said Singh.
The victims of forced religious conversions will get a compensation of Rs five lakhs, added Singh. Interestingly, the draft has been named `Vidhi Virudh Dharmantaran 2020`, as per news agency IANS.
The cabinet meeting held on Tuesday gave its nod to the proposed draft. The Bill is considered to be an anti-conversion law and it will stop individuals from converting people to other faiths by enticing or threatening.
Justice Aditya Mittal, the Chairman of the Law Commission, said, "The term `love jihad` has not been used in the Bill, and conversions related to all religions will be covered under the new law. To be precise, it will not just be focused on Hindu-Muslim conversions or conversions for the specific purpose of marriage."
Mittal, however, added that under the prospective law, inter-religious marriages will be encouraged to go through the Special Marriage Act. Under the Act, a consenting couple needs to reach out to the district magistrate`s court expressing a desire for marriage. Subsequent to such a request, the administration will issue a 30-day notice during which objections can be raised to such a proposed marriage.
Under the proposed legislation, anyone found guilty of having lured another person for conversion through marriage could face trial in the court after registration of an FIR by the police.
In another important provision, the family courts will have the power to adjudicate under the proposed law. An aggrieved person will be able to approach a family court in case he or she feels cheated. The court in turn will have the power to nullify such a marriage.
The Uttar Pradesh Law Commission had submitted a draft for the proposed law in November 2019. It was under the consideration of the Home and Law Ministry over the last year. Last week, the Yogi Adityanath government had given its consent to the draft of the new law.
Earlier, the Allahabad High Court had struck down its previous judgement in which it had held that religious conversion "just for the purpose of marriage" was unacceptable. The court said that essentially it does not matter whether a conversion is valid. The right of two adults to live together cannot be encroached upon by the state or others.
"To disregard the choice of a person who is of the age of majority would not only be antithetic to the freedom of choice of a grown-up individual but would also be a threat to the concept of unity in diversity," the court said.
The right to choose a partner irrespective of caste, creed or religion is intrinsic to the constitutional right to life and personal liberty, the Allahabad High Court held, adding that two previous judgments that objected to religious conversion for the purpose of marriage did not `lay down good law`.