The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Illegal Conversion of Religion Act was first passed as an ordinance. It was then passed as law by the UP assembly.
One of the most debated aspects of the law concerns the implications it will have on interfaith marriages.
Article 6 of the law stipulates that any marriage which has been made for the sole purpose of illegal conversion or vice versa by the man of one religion with the woman of another religion, either by converting before or after the marriage, either by converting the woman before or after the marriage, is declared void by the family court or, failing that, by the court competent to hear the case at the request of one of the parties against the other party of the marriage.
In addition, anyone who wishes to convert from one religion to another must follow the procedure provided for in Articles 8 and 9.
According to article 8, one who wishes to convert his religion must make a declaration in the form prescribed in Annex I at least sixty days in advance to the district magistrate or to the additional district magistrate specially authorized by the magistrate of district, that he wishes to convert his religion on his own and with his free consent without any force, coercion, undue influence or seduction.
The Religious Converter who is to perform the conversion ceremony must also give one month’s notice in the form prescribed in Annex II of this conversion to the district magistrate or to the additional district magistrate appointed for him by the magistrate of district.
Subsequently, the police will conduct a police investigation to determine the real intention, purpose and cause of the proposed religious conversion.
A person who undergoes a religious conversion who violates article 8 will be punished with imprisonment of 6 months to 3 years and a fine of at least Rs. 10,000. A religious converter who violates article 8 will be punished imprisonment of 1 to 5 years and a fine of at least Rs. 25,000.
Article 9 defines the procedure to be followed after the conversion. It prescribes that a converted person must send a declaration in the form prescribed in Annex III within 60 days of the date of conversion to the district magistrate of the district in which the person habitually resides.
The declaration must contain all the required details, including permanent address, place of residence, religion to which the person originally belonged and the religion to which the person has converted.
The converted person must then appear before the district magistrate within 21 days from the date of dispatch of the declaration to confirm the contents of the declaration.
The District Magistrate will record the contents of the declaration and the confirmation in a register kept by him for this purpose. Violation of the provisions of article 9 will render the conversion illegal and void.