Why the UP unlawful-conversion law should be struck down.

The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 was promulgated on November 27, 2020.  The Ordinance specifies the procedure for undergoing religious conversion and prohibits unlawful religious conversion. The prison term for unlawfull conversion is 1 to 5 years with a minimun fine of Rs.15,000.


 The Ordinance prohibits conversion of religion through: (i) force, misrepresentation, undue influence, and allurement, or (ii) fraud, or (iii) marriage.  It also prohibits a person from abetting, convincing, and conspiring to such conversions.

The ordinance prohibits the conversion of religion through marriage by “assuming” that the person is converted forcefully thorugh marriage. It oversees the free will of the individual to change his/her’s religion. The article 25 of the Constitution Of India, guarantees the freedom to practise any religion in accordance with their conscience.


According to the ordinance, a complaint or an FIR can be filed by the following persons if they feel that the religious conversion is unlawful ;  (i) any aggrieved person, (ii) his/her parents or siblings, or (iii) any other person related to them by blood, marriage, or adoption.

According to the statute is/ her famiily memebers can file an FIR against the persons involved in the conversion, which is quite ironic. In the conservative society of India, most parents or family members are slaves of religiomania, they cant resist the fact that their kins are converting their religion. Because of the religiomania, family memebrs or parents will take any step to stop the conversion; including filing an FIR against the conversion, just because they feel it is wrong. This provision clearly violates article 25 of the constitution, as the person is deprevied of the right to practise and profess their desired religion.

The statute also mentions that, the FIR can be filed by “any aggrieved person” which poses greater threat to the person converting as any person from an extremist group can file an FIR against the conversion and halt the conversion. Religious Extremists groups are often offended when a person of their religion decides to convert to other forgetting the persons right’s to convert according to his free and with full conscience as guaranteed by the constitution.

The ordinance declares a marriage void if it was done for the sole purpose of unlawful conversion or “vice versa”.The term “vice versa” is to be seen with utmost importance as that word declares a marriage void just because unlawful conversion was practised is order to get married. The ordinance also declares a marriage void if the procedure mentioned in the statute is not followed to get married. The procedure involves a waiting period too long for the couple to wait, who might be targeted by their family members, extremist groups and any aggrieved person.

Deemed to be unconstitutional

Numerous experts have described the law as unconstitutional including former Law Commission chairman Justice A.P Shah & former Supreme Court judge Madan Lokur. 104 former bureaucrats have written an open letter to Cheif Minister Yogi Adityanath asking him to repeal the law on the grounds that the law  denying the right to freedom of religion and restricting women’s rights to choose their partner.

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