INDIA. Lucknow: Recently in the state of Uttar Pradesh, police barged into an interfaith wedding and stopped the rituals while citing the newly passed ordinance. The wedding was held with the consent of both parties. However, according to the newly passed ordinance in the state, interfaith marriages also require the approval of the District Magistrate.
What is the new ordinance?
The Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance was passed by the government of Uttar Pradesh on 24 November, 2020. It states that nobody should convert or attempt to convert directly, or otherwise any person, from one religion to another by use of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement, by any fraudulent means, or by marriage.
Purpose of the Ordinance
The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath says the new ordinance will help eliminate the injustice women have been facing through interfaith marriages. He further added that women are often deceived and taken advantage of in the name of love and marriage.
Violation of this provision is a non-bailable offense and can result in a jail term of up to 10 years, but not less than 6 months, and incurs a fine of up to Rs.50000. In the case of religious conversion done by the woman for the sole purpose of marriage, the union would be annulled.
In reference to Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it states that men and women of mature age, without any limitation due to race, nationality, or religion, have the right to marry and to start a family. Though the question remains: why is religious conversion an issue? Infuriated by this judgment, people across the nation are questioning the authenticity of independence, the privilege of choice, and the sanctity of love.
Finding a way forward
India is known for its diverse cultural amalgamation. Every individual should have the right to choose a life partner and religion of their choice. This new ordinance runs contradictory to the multi ethnicity of India. The idea that an interfaith wedding, especially a Hindu-Muslim wedding, is a conspiracy to convert naïve Hindu women to Islam comes off as a knee-jerk reaction. Two adults should have the freedom to marry without the interference of any third party. Only then will India will be able to break free from the prevalent religious hierarchy.