UP Assembly passes anti-conversion law

The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Bill, 2021 was passed by the UP Assembly on Wednesday by a voice vote.

The opposition demanded that the Bill should be sent to the select committee.

The Congress’ Aradhana Mishra said that marriage was a private matter of an adult individual and the new law was an infringement of one’s fundamental rights.

BSP’s Lalji Varma said the new law was against the spirit of the Constitution and the government should take it back.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Khanna said that the new law was brought in because it had been found that young girls were being duped into conversion through marriage and people were forging their identities for this purpose.

Amid the din, the Bill was passed by a voice vote.

UP Governor Anandiben Patel had promulgated the legislation exactly three months ago in November.

The UP Cabinet had cleared the ordinance on November 24 after the Allahabad High Court upheld people’s right to freedom of choice of individuals, putting down its own previous order which stated that conversion for the sake of marriage was not acceptable.

Under the ‘Love Jihad’ law, a person if convicted of forceful conversions for the sake of marriage, shall face imprisonment from one to five years, and the crime will be a non-bailable offence.

UP is not the only state to take the legislation route to end forceful conversions. In January, the Madhya Pradesh government passed the Freedom of Religion Ordinance, 2020, and promulgated it into a law.