UP anti-conversion law applies to live-in relationships, says Allahabad HC

Uttar Pradesh’s law against forced and fraudulent religious conversion applies to live-in couples, the Allahabad High ruled, reported Bar and Bench.

The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, passed in 2021, outlaws religious conversion through marriage, deceit, coercion or enticement. It is ostensibly meant to tackle “love jihad” – a conspiracy theory espoused by Hindutva groups, alleging that Hindu women are forcibly converted by Muslims through marriage.

On March 5, Justice Renu Agarwal of the High Court denied protection to an interfaith couple who had married earlier this year under the Arya Samaj rituals. They applied for online registration of their marriage, which is pending.

The petitioners, a Muslim woman and a Hindu man, did not change their religion.

The court said that it is mandatory for interfaith couples to apply for conversion according to the anti-conversion law.

“Petitioners have not yet applied for conversion as per provisions of Section 8 and 9 of the Act, hence, the relationship of petitioners cannot be protected in contraventions of the provisions of law.”

Section 8 of the law directs those who wish to change their religion to make a declaration of it to the district magistrate 60 days before the conversion. The “religious convertor” has to also declare the location of the conversion ceremony to the district magistrate a month before it happens.

Section 9 adds that after the conversion, the individual has to share details such as name of their parents, address, occupation, income, name of the priest who oversees the ceremony and the name of the witnesses with the administration.

The office of the district magistrate then publicly displays these details and records objections to the conversion for the next three weeks. The converted individual has to appear before the district magistrate and confirm his or her identity. The administration issues a conversion certificate if the entire process does not face any hurdle.

Also read:

Behind Allahabad High Court denying protection to inter-faith couples – UP’s anti-conversion law

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