Syllabus Section- Indian Polity and Constitution


Why in news?

The Madhya Pradesh government is set to follow two other BJP-ruled states Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh in passing an anti-conversion law that outlaws religious conversion solely for the purpose of marriage. The MP Cabinet has approved the Freedom to Religion Bill, 2020 as an Ordinance.

Common features in the laws of all three states- While a common feature of all three laws is the declaration of such marriages as “null and void” and the penalising of conversions done without the prior approval of the state, they differ in the quantum of punishment prescribed, and in attributing the burden of proof that a conversion is lawful.

Other different features-

  • Prior notice-

MP- 60-day prior “declaration of the intention to convert” to the District Magistrate for conversion to be valid.

UP-In UP too,it requires a 60-day notice but also requires the Magistrate to conduct a police inquiry to ascertain the real intention behind the conversion.

HP- In HP, itrequires a 30-day prior “declaration of intention to convert”.

  • Who can investigate?

MP- In MP the law states that there cannot be an investigation by a police officer except on the written complaint of the person converted or the person’s parents/siblings and no police officer below the rank of a sub-inspector can investigate an offence under the law.

HP- The prosecution cannot be initiated without the prior sanction of an officer not below the rank of a sub-divisional magistrate.

UP- The UP law allows the same people as allowed by the MP law to file a complaint.

  • Burden of proof

MP-The MP law places on the person converted the burden of proving that the conversion was done without any coercion or illegality.

HP- The Himachal law has a similar provision.

UP- law goes further, placing this burden of proof on people who “caused” or “facilitated” the conversion and not on the individual.

  • Quantum of Punishment
  • Maintenance & inheritance

MP-Under Section 9, the woman whose marriage has been declared null and void under this legislation, and her children, will have a right to maintenance. The law does not, however, provide a recourse for ensuring the marriage can be protected subsequently.

HP and UP– Neither the UP nor the Himachal law has such provisions.


Source- Indian Express

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