Anti-conversion laws are not new to India. In the colonial period, they were enacted by the princely states to preserve Hindu identity, and in the post-independence era to avert the influence of the Christian missionaries. Though the laws received severe criticism, their constitutionality was upheld by the Supreme Court.
The current controversial ‘love jihad’ law i.e. The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021 prevents religious conversions not only through coercive or any fraudulent means but also by marriage, intervening in the personal lives of the individuals. Many states have passed similar laws that are against the international human rights standards as well as the Indian constitution, violating Articles 14, 21, and 25. The statute promotes gender stereotypes against women and also hits upon the rights of an accused by having a reverse burden clause without any valid justification. The freedom of religion has been curtailed taking advantage of the divide created between propagation and proselytism along with the liberty of the people.. Hence, the secular structure of the Indian democracy has been compromised to a great extent thereby pushing citizens at the mercy of the executive to exercise their human rights.
The paper hereby shall discuss the history of the Anti-conversion laws, analyse the concept of propagation of religion and view the U.P Act based on the essential facets of the International standards as well as the scope of the Indian constitution.