No plans to bring national anti-conversion law: Govt
The government’s response comes at a time anti-conversion laws in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, which outlaw religious conversions by marriage, have stoked controversy.
The Centre has no plans to bring a nationwide anti conversion law to regulate interfaith marriages in the country, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) told Parliament on Tuesday.
The government’s response comes at a time anti-conversion laws in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, which outlaw religious conversions by marriage, have stoked controversy, especially over the issue of love jihad, a term used by right-wing groups to describe relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women.
Himachal Pradesh has a similar law. Assam, Karnataka and Haryana have announced they plan to bring similar legislation.
Responding to a query by five members of parliament (MPs) on whether the government intends to propose a central anti-conversion law , Union minister of state of home affairs G Kishan Reddy said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha – “No, Sir”.
Asked if the government was of the view that interfaith marriages were happening due to forceful conversions, Reddy said issues related to religious conversions are primarily the concern of state governments. He added that law enforcement agencies take action whenever such instances of violation come to the fore.
“Public order and police are state subjects as per the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India. Hence, prevention, detection, registration, investigation and prosecution of offences related to religious conversions are primarily the concerns of state governments and Union Territory administrations. Action is taken as per existing laws by law enforcing agencies whenever instances of violation come to notice,” Reddy said.
Punishments under the anti-conversion law currently range between one to 10 years of imprisonment in case of forced conversion for marriage. Several cases have already been registered in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, both ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Human right activists have spoken out against the laws, which they allege are persecuting minorities.
”Interfaith marriages are as old as the institution of marriage. Love jihad is nothing but an anti-minority political idea to interfere in an individual’s life and choices. It can make people targets of vigilante groups,” said civil rights activist Sanam Sutirath Wazir.