UP Law Commission moots legislation to check forcible religious conversions
The Uttar Pradesh Law Commission on Thursday submitted a report to chief minister Yogi Adityanath proposing a new law to check forcible religious conversions in the state.
The report, along with draft legislation, suggests provisions for punishment in cases of forcible, coerced, allured religious conversions and the power to the civil court to declare a marriage null and void if it was solemnised for religious conversion as its primary purpose.
Commission chairman justice A.N. Mittal and its secretary Sapna Tripathi gave the documents to the chief minister at their meeting in Lucknow.
Justice Mittal said that in December 2017, chief minister Yogi Adityanath had suggested a new law for preventing forcible conversion and that any re-conversion should not be considered an offence. “Today, when we submitted the report to him he appreciated the commission’s move to choose this subject,” he said.
Sapna Tripathi said: “We submitted the report and the draft bill of the Uttar Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2019. Some of the highlights of the suggestions are: Making a provision for a person to submit a declaration to the district magistrate, a month before his/her conversion and a similar declaration from the priest (pujari, maulvi, priest) about the execution of that conversion. It also suggests giving power to the civil court to declare a marriage null and void if it was solemnised with the primary purpose of conversion. The report is against the forced, coerced, fraudulent, allured conversion and not against any willful conversions.”
The report said that the commission was of the view that existing legal provisions were not enough to check forcible religious conversions and a new law was required like in 10 other states — Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Odisha, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
The 268-page report, including the draft legislation, was prepared after researching pre and post-independence laws in India and neighbouring countries like Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.