Interfaith couple booked for religious conversion in violation of law

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Dehradun, Dec 30 (PTI) An interfaith couple and two others have been booked here for not following proper procedure laid down under the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act for converting to a different religion for the purpose of marriage.

An FIR was lodged at the Patel Nagar police station here on Tuesday against the couple, the husband's uncle in whose presence the 'Nikah' took place in September and the qazi who solemnised the alliance, Patel Nagar SHO Pradeep Rana said.

The woman had converted to Islam without informing her parents or the district authorities prior to her marriage as required by the law, he said.

Circle Officer Anuj Kumar said it was in violation of sections 3, 8 and 12 of the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018.

Section 3 of the Act prohibits conversion either directly or otherwise, by use of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage. Section 8 of the Act says, 'One who desires to convert his religion, shall give a declaration at least one month in advance to the District Magistrate or any official authorised by him for the purpose saying that he wishes to convert his religion on his own and at his free consent and without any force, coercion, undue influence or allurement.

'The religious priest, who performs purification Sanskar or conversion ceremony for converting any person of one religion to another religion, shall give one month's advance notice of such conversion to the DM or someone authorised by him.' It further says any contravention of the provisions shall have the effect of rendering the said conversion, illegal and void.

Section 12 says when an offence is committed under this Act everyone deemed to have taken part in its commission by way of aiding, abetting or counselling conversion shall be charged as if he has actually committed it. This is the first case of violation of the Act since it came into force in 2018, the Circle Officer said.

The matter came to light when the husband, Samir Ali, approached the Uttarakhand High Court seeking protection.

In another case, the Uttarakhand High Court had recently asked the Haridwar administration to give protection to a couple after the wife cited a threat from her family due to their interfaith marriage.

The woman had filed a notice before the district magistrate of Haridwar for a change of religion from Islam to Hinduism. PTI ALM RDM RDM