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3 states, 3 anti-conversion laws: what’s similar, what’s different?

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

3 states, 3 anti-conversion laws: what’s similar, what’s different?


The MP Cabinet has approved the Freedom to Religion Bill, 2020 as an Ordinance.

  • Previously, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh have passed similar laws.

What’s similar?

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.

  1. Prior notice:

The MP Law requires a 60-day prior “declaration of the intention to convert” to the District Magistrate for conversion to be valid, following which a couple from different religions can be legally married.

The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religious Ordinance, 2020 too requires a 60-day notice but also requires the Magistrate to conduct a police inquiry to ascertain the real intention behind the conversion.

The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2019 that came into effect last week, requires a 30-day prior “declaration of intention to convert”.

Who can investigate?

The MP Law: Section 4 of the MP 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. No police officer below the rank of a sub-inspector can investigate an offence under the law.

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

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

Burden of proof:

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

The Himachal law has a similar provision.

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


Prelims Link:

  1. About Article 21.
  2. Article 25.
  3. What has the Allahabad High Court said in Salamat Ansari-Priyanka Kharwar case.
  4. Similarities and differences between these three laws.

Mains Link:

The right to choose a partner or live with a person of choice was part of a citizen’s fundamental right to life and liberty. Discuss.

Sources: Indian Express.