Source - Bar and Bench
The controversial Uttar Pradesh ordinance came into force on unlawful conversion signed off on
it this Saturday by State Governor Anandiben Patel. The ordinance, Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of
Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 was cleared by the State Cabinet in the last
week. Although the ordinance has been the subject of considerable controversy because of the
effects it may have on inter-faith marriages, not only inter-faith marriages but all religious
conversions are regulated by the ordinance.
Some of the key provisions of the ordinance are :-
Description of religion Section, allurement and religion Convertor :' Religion' has been identified
in[Section 2(h)]. 'Allurement' in [Section 2(a)] and 'Religion convertor' in [Section 2(i)].
What would prohibit the ordinance? Section 3 is one of the ordinance's main provisions. It states that no person shall, convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, from one religion to another, nor shall any person promote, induce or conspire to convert.
Who is willing to lodge a FIR? Any aggrieved person, his/her parents, or any other person who is
connected with him/her by blood, marriage, or adoption may, pursuant to Section 4, bring a FIR
of such conversion in violation of the provisions of Section 3.
Punishment: Punishment for contravention of Section 3 is prescribed by Section 5. An person found guilty of an offence under Section 3 will be punishable by imprisonment of 1 to 5 years and a fine of up to Rs. 15, 000. with regard to a minor, a woman or a person belonging to the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, a penalty of imprisonment is of between 2 and 10 years is imposed and a fine of up to Rs. 25,000 is also imposed. If found guilty for a second time a person previously convicted under section 3 would be punishable with the double punishment prescribed.
Effect on marriage: The influence it would have on inter-faith relationships is one of the most
discussed aspects of the ordinance. Section 6 states that any marriage between by converting a woman or man religion before or after marriage, for the sole purpose of unlawful conversion or vice versa, shall be declared invalid by the family court or where the family court is not created, by a court having jurisdiction.
Conversion procedure: The ordinance does not concern only inter-faith marriages, as mentioned earlier. Anyone who wants to convert from one faith to another must go through the ordinance's specified process. Sections 8 and 9 set out the process.
Prior notice: According to Section 8, a person who wishes to convert his or her religion should
send a declaration in the form specified in Schedule I at least sixty days in advance to the District Magistrate or to the Additional District Magistrate explicitly approved by the District Magistrate that he or she wishes to convert his or her religion without any force on his or her own and with his or her free consent. The religious converter scheduled to perform the conversion ceremony
should also send a one-month advance notice to the District Magistrate or the Additional District Magistrate appointed for the same by the District Magistrate in the manner specified in Schedule III of such conversion. The police would then conduct a police investigation to determine the true motive, meaning, and cause of the religious conversion proposed.
Post conversion declaration: Section 9 lays down the protocol to be followed after conversion. It
requires the converted person, within 60 days of the date of conversion, to send a declaration in the form specified in Schedule III to the District Magistrate of the district within which the person
normally resides. All relevant information, including the permanent address, the place of
residence, the religion to which the person originally belonged and the religion to which the
person has converted, should be included in the declaration. Then to validate the substance of
the declaration, the converted person should then appear before the District Magistrate within
21 days of the date of sending the declaration. The contents of the declaration and of the confirmation shall be registered by the District Magistrate in a registry maintained by him.
Conversion shall be made null and invalid in contravention of the provisions of Section 9.