The Supreme Court on January 6 agreed to hear a plea challenging the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, and Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018, both of which regulate conversion and interfaith marriage. However, the top court refused to stay these laws.
Senior advocate C.U. Singh appearing for petitioners claimed rampaging mobs were lifting off people in the middle of wedding ceremonies in Uttar Pradesh. Mr. Singh, pressing for a stay, said the provisions of the law were oppresive and the burden of proof was on the accused.
He referred to Shafin Jahan verdict, which said right to marry partner of choice is part of privacy.
Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 was promulgated in November last year. The ordinance makes religious conversion a cognisable and non-bailable offence, inviting penalties of up to 10 years in prison if found to be effected for marriage or through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or other allegedly fraudulent means. Violation of the provisions of the law would invite a jail term of not less than one year, extendable to five years, with a fine of ₹15,000.
The Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018, prohibits conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage.
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