India: Situation and treatment of interfaith couples, interfaith marriages, and children of interfaith relationships by authorities and society; laws that criminalize forced conversion, including the Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Act (2020–March 2022) [IND200953.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

1. Overview

According to a 2021 report by the Pew Research Center [1], based on a survey conducted from November 2019 to March 2020 [2], marriages between Indians of different religions are "very uncommon" and a "majority" of survey respondents indicated it was "very important" to stop members of their religious community from marrying outside of it (Pew Research Center 29 June 2021a, 2, 84). A report by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), citing information provided by "researchers," states that "around" 2.1 percent of Indian marriages are interfaith (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.134).

The DFAT report notes that there exists in Indian society a "continued and growing intolerance" to interfaith marriage (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.137). According to Samar Halarnkar, an Indian journalist profiled in a Financial Times (FT) article who co-curates a social media project which "celebrat[es] love 'outside the shackles of faith, caste, ethnicity and gender'," "acceptance of interfaith love has deteriorated in recent years as the [Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)] stokes religious tensions and steps up policing of intimate relations" (FT 15 Dec. 2020).

The 2021 annual report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) indicates that "approximately one-third of India's 28 states limit or prohibit religious conversion" (US 21 Apr. 2021, 22). The US Department of State's International Religious Freedom Report for 2020 for India indicates that, in response to a proposed state law requiring permission from a district official for religious conversion in interfaith marriages, "BJP politicians," including in other states, stated that the law was "necessary to protect Hindu and Christian women from forced religious conversion" (US 12 May 2021, 11).

Sources report that the term "'love jihad'" is used by "radical Hindu groups" (BBC 13 Oct. 2020) or "Hindu nationalists" (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.140) to suggest there exist Muslim men who seek to convert Hindu women to Islam through marriage (BBC 13 Oct. 2020; Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.140). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a professor of political science at a university in the US, who has written on religious conversion in India, stated that this idea has "gained particular traction" since 2014 with the "resounding BJP victory and its advocacy of militant Hindu nationalism" (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022). Sources report that the ruling BJP "describes" interfaith marriages as "'love jihad'" (Al Jazeera 25 Nov. 2020) or believes that "'love jihad'" exists as a problem in India (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022). The DFAT report notes that DFAT "has found no evidence" of such a practice (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.140). An article in the Guardian states that India's central government "admitted" "it had no official records of any incidents of the practice" (The Guardian 14 Dec. 2020).

According to the Professor of political science, state laws "criminalizing religious conversion through marriage" "have effectively enshrined the love jihad conspiracy in law and given the state inordinate power to restrict and regulate interfaith relationships" (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022).

In a paper published on Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) [3], Nishchaya Nigam, an advocate in the Supreme Court of India, states that in India "there is absolutely no religion which upholds automatic conversion of a person by way of an interfaith marriage" (Nigam 6 Jan. 2021). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a professor of law at Florida International University, who has written on Muslim minority rights in India, indicated that "there is no law that provides for automatic [religious] conversion" through marriage, but added that while religious conversion before marriage is not necessary for an interfaith marriage under the Special Marriage Act, if an interfaith couple wanted to marry under Muslim personal laws or the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, for example, "they would first have to convert" the non-Muslim or non-Hindu, respectively (Professor of law 25 Mar. 2022). The same source added that for the "purposes of interfaith marriage" Hindus, Sikh, and Buddhists "fall under" the Hindu Marriage Act, although in "some states" Sikhs "can" marry under the Anand Marriage Act (Professor of law 25 Mar. 2022).

According to the DFAT report, interfaith marriages "generally tak[e] place after one of the parties converts to the other's religion," and that this constitutes "[o]ne reason for social disapproval" "for some sections of the majority of the community" for whom conversion "remains a sensitive issue" (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.139).

1.1 Religious Demographics

Minority Rights Group International (MRG) indicates that India's "[m]ain" religions include Hinduism (79.8 percent), Islam (14.2 percent), Christianity (2.3 percent), Sikhism (1.7 percent), Buddhism (0.7 percent), and Jainism (0.4 percent) (MRG June 2020).

According to a Pew Research Center article about the 2021 survey, religious conversion has "a minimal impact on the overall size" of India's religious communities, and notes that the survey showed "no net losses" for Hindus "through conversion to other religions" as well as "similar levels of stability" for other religious groups (Pew Research Center 29 June 2021b, 21). The same article adds that "[a]mong Hindus" "any conversion out of the group is matched by conversion into the group," and that "[m]ost" new converts to Hinduism "are married to Hindus" (Pew Research Center 29 June 2021b, 21).

1.2 Laws Regulating Interfaith Marriage

According to sources, interfaith marriages are legal in India (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.134; Nigam 6 Jan. 2021). For information regarding marriage legislation, see Response to Information Request IND106276 of May 2019.

The DFAT report provides the following information regarding how interfaith marriage is treated under India's various personal laws:

The Hindu Marriage Act allows members of the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh religions to intermarry without declaring detachment from their religion. Under Muslim personal status laws, only Muslim men are permitted to marry kitabia (members of the Christian or Jewish religions); Muslim women are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims. If a partner is a Christian, it may be possible to marry under Christian rites through the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872. (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.136, italics in original)

The US International Religious Freedom Report for 2020 states that Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, or Jains who pursue an interfaith marriage "face the possibility of losing their property inheritance rights under those communities' personal status laws" (US 12 May 2021, 6). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a professor of political science at McGill University who studies identity politics, primarily in India, provided the following information regarding interfaith marriages registered under India's Special Marriage Act 1954:

Marriages of individuals governed by different personal status laws (e.g., Hindu-Muslim or Muslim-Christian couples) need to be registered under the Special Marriage Act … The inheritance laws of those covered by this Act are distinctive. They differ especially from Muslim inheritance laws, and provide women greater inheritance rights. Whether couples covered by this Act gain or lose property rights depends on how their rights compare under their prior law and under the [Act]. (Professor 16 Apr. 2022)

The DFAT report indicates that India's Special Marriage Act, 1954, the country's "secular marriage law," "enables" interfaith marriage and can be used as an "alternative" to a marriage certified under the country's various personal laws (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.135).

Section 5 of the Special Marriage Act provides the following:

5. Notice of intended marriage.—When a marriage is intended to be solemnized under this Act, the parties to the marriage shall give notice thereof in writing in the form specified in the Second Schedule to the Marriage Officer of the district in which at least one of the parties to the marriage has resided for a period of not less than thirty days immediately preceding the date on which such notice is given. (India 1954, bold in original)

The US International Religious Freedom Report for 2020 notes that interfaith couples "marrying in a civil ceremony are generally required to provide public notice 30 days in advance – including addresses, photographs, and religious affiliation – for public comment" but adds "this requirement varies across states" (US 12 May 2021, 6). According to Nigam, following an interfaith couple's submission of their 30-day notice, a copy of the notice must be "displayed" in a "conspicuous place" in the office of the marriage officer in charge, a practice that results in the couple's "personal details," including names, addresses and phone numbers, being released into the "public domain" (Nigam 6 Jan. 2021). Sources indicated that this 30-day notice period can be challenging for interfaith couples and is one reason why some interfaith couples do not pursue marriage under the Act (IAMC 4 Apr. 2022; Dhanak of Humanity 29 Mar. 2022). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), a US-based advocacy organization focused on issues of human rights and pluralism in the US and India (IAMC n.d.), noted that the 30-day notice period "gives ample time for the families to harass the couple or for 'honor killings'" (IAMC 4 Apr. 2022). In an interview with the Research Directorate, the Co-founder and General Secretary of Dhanak of Humanity, an India-based not-for-profit organization and support group for interfaith and inter-caste couples (Dhanak of Humanity n.d.), indicated that Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, and Rajasthan are "highly sensitive states" where "any" public display of "information about interfaith couples is problematic for them" (Dhanak of Humanity 29 Mar. 2022).

According to an article by National Public Radio (NPR), an American "independent, nonprofit media organization" (NPR n.d.), pursuing an interfaith marriage under the Special Marriage Act requires the couple to "establish residency, notify local officials of their intention to marry" and "observe a waiting period … during which anyone is allowed to lodge an objection," "[a]ll" of which must be "investigated" (NPR 10 Oct. 2021). The General Secretary of Dhanak of Humanity stated that given the time, "financial independence," and "courage in light of the public display of the notice" required of couples who pursue an interfaith marriage under the Special Marriage Act, "very few" couples can do so and as a result the Special Marriage Act is not used "very much" (Dhanak of Humanity 29 Mar. 2022). The Professor of political science added that "right wing vigilante groups," including "Hindu nationalist" groups, "often work with the police and other authorities to exert bureaucratic pressure by filing fake cases or refusing to register interfaith marriages" (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022). The same source noted that clerks or lawyers can "sometimes" "tip off" the Bajrang Dal, a "Hindu nationalist" group, that an interfaith couple intends to marry, to "guide" the group's efforts to "intimidat[e]" or use "violence" against the Muslim men or Hindu women in such couples and "interfer[e] with [their] wedding" (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022). The IAMC stated that there have been reports of "Hindu vigilante groups monitoring" the "notice boards" where couples' information is posted during the 30-day notice period preceding an interfaith marriage under the Special Marriage Act and "targeting couples" (IAMC 4 Apr. 2022).

The Professor of political science stated that, to "get around" the Special Marriage Act's notice requirement, interfaith couples "might convert" so they can marry "under a religious act" instead (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022). In an interview with the Research Directorate, a professor of sociology at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, who researches social identities, caste studies, and religious minorities, stated that it is "socially understood" that religious conversion before marriage is "more convenient" for interfaith couples than pursuing an interfaith marriage under the Special Marriage Act; this is because "many" couples want their respective family's "consent" and participation in the wedding ceremony, and because "some in rural communities" view marriages under the Special Marriage Act as "not the same" or "not as authentic" as a "ritual marriage," which includes a "spiritual blessing" (Professor of sociology 31 Mar. 2022). The Professor of political science noted that this is where the "new laws" that restrict marriage-related conversion "could" cause the couple to "face trouble" because, like the Special Marriage Act, they "also have reporting requirements" the couples must complete before their wedding (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a professor emerita of anthropology at the University of Illinois Chicago, who researches Muslim family law in India, stated the following regarding the effect of the 30-day public notice required for interfaith couples intending to marry under the Special Marriage Act:

This presents a serious barrier to inter-religious couples whose families object strongly to their marrying and are trying to prevent them from doing so. Cases of parents killing their daughter for becoming involved with a man of another religion, or her lover for besmirching their daughter's reputation are not unknown. Such couples often wish to elope and marry without their families' knowledge and, for this reason, choose instead to take the more rapid and private route of conversion. (Professor Emerita 2 Apr. 2022)

According to the Professor of political science, because of the challenges associated with registering an interfaith marriage under the Special Marriage Act, the situation facing such couples in states without laws restricting religious conversion is "only slightly better" than in states with such laws (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022). The same source added the following information regarding this situation:

It is important to note that even in states without these anti-conversion laws … the nationwide Special Marriage Act … has led to backlash against interfaith couples due to a 30-day notice requirement and 30-day residence requirement in that location where notice was given, prior to the marriage. The pre-marriage reporting requirement has led to violence and intimidation, a situation recently addressed by the Allahabad High Court, which in a January 2021 ruling made this requirement voluntary on the grounds that it is an invasion of privacy. However, the Special Marriage Act is a national act and the requirement remains in force in most of India. (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022)

Sources report that in January 2021, the Allahabad High Court in Uttar Pradesh issued a ruling ordering local police to "provide [adequate (The Wire 8 Jan. 2021)] protection" to an interfaith couple (The Wire 8 Jan. 2021; The Times of India 9 Jan. 2021). The same sources report that the same court had previously granted protection to interfaith couples (The Wire 8 Jan. 2021; The Times of India 9 Jan. 2021). An article by the Wire, an Indian news website, citing reporting by Live Law [4], states that in November 2020 alone the Allahabad High Court "granted protection" to 125 interfaith couples (The Wire 8 Jan. 2021). According to sources, in January 2021 the Allahabad High Court ruled that the Special Marriage Act's requirement that an interfaith marriage be preceded by a 30-day public notice infringes on the couples' right to privacy and liberty and will no longer be mandatory (The Times of India 14 Jan. 2021; The Indian Express 13 Jan. 2021; The Wire 13 Jan. 2021). Sources report that India's Supreme Court is currently considering a challenge to the Special Marriage Act (Hindustan Times 4 Sept. 2020; IAMC 4 Apr. 2022). An article by the Hindustan Times reports that the petition concerns whether or not the Special Marriage Act requirement that couples' private information be displayed publicly for 30 days prior to their marriage violates their right to privacy under the Constitution (Hindustan Times 4 Sept. 2020).

Section 19 and an addendum to Section 21 of the Special Marriage Act provide the following regarding the implications of an interfaith marriage on a person's relationship to their ancestral family:

19. Effect of marriage on member of undivided family.—The marriage solemnized under this Act of any member of an undivided family who professes the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jaina religions shall be deemed to effect his severance from such family.

[21A. Special provision in certain cases.—Where the marriage is solemnized under this Act of any person who professes the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jaina religion with a person who professes the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jaina religion, section 19 and section 21 shall not apply …. (India 1954, bold in original and footnotes omitted)

According to Nigam, one "compelling reason" why an interfaith couple that includes a Muslim and a non-Muslim person might pursue religious conversion rather than a marriage under the Special Marriage Act is that, otherwise, any children born within this type of interfaith marriage would be "excluded from inheritance under Muslim law" (Nigam 6 Jan. 2021).

The DFAT report adds that the Special Marriage Act is "available to all citizens who choose to marry outside their faith," but notes that "few people" use it and instead "favou[r] traditional personal laws that provide solemnisation of marriage under religious rites" (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.135). Citing official data, the DFAT report notes that in 2019, three percent of Delhi marriages were interfaith marriages registered under the Special Marriage Act (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.135).

2. State Laws Criminalizing Religious Conversion

Sources report that there are seven (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.27) or eight (Open Doors 2 Oct. 2020) or ten (US 12 May 2021, 4) Indian state laws in effect regulating (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.27) or restricting (Open Doors 2 Oct. 2020; US 12 May 2021, 4) religious conversion (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.27; Open Doors 2 Oct. 2020; US 12 May 2021, 4). The Dhanak of Humanity General Secretary stated that these laws are "primarily" found in states with "sizable" scheduled caste (SC) or scheduled tribe (ST) populations (Dhanak of Humanity 29 Mar. 2022). According to the IAMC, "[a]ttempts are being made" for such laws nationwide, but "BJP-ruled" states are "ushering" them in "at a faster pace" (IAMC 4 Apr. 2022). The Professor of political science noted that there is no national legislation "restricting or regulating" religious conversion (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022).

According to the USCIRF 2021 annual report, "efforts to prohibit interfaith marriages or relationships us[e] the false narrative of 'forced conversion'" (US 21 Apr. 2021, 22). The DFAT report states that laws restricting religious conversion "ban conversion by means of 'force, allurement, inducement or fraud'" – terms which "have no precise definition and in practice provide the administration and its agents wide powers of arrest" (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.29).

The DFAT report provides the following information concerning the timeline and evolution of existing laws restricting religious conversion:

State anti-conversion laws (ACLs) were first adopted in 1967 in Odisha, followed by Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. Chhattisgarh inherited Madhya Pradesh’s law when the state was partitioned in 2000. ACLs have also been passed in Jharkhand (September 2017) and Uttarakhand (April 2018). While Arunachal Pradesh has ACL laws dating back to 1978, they have not implemented rules for enforcement. Tamil Nadu adopted ACLs in 2002, but repealed them in 2004. Rajasthan's 2006 ACL law[s r]emain unsigned by the State's Governor. (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.28)

A blog post by PRS Legislative Research, "an independent, not-for-profit" research institute with the objective of "providing high quality independent research" to assist legislators and to inform citizens of the work of the Indian Parliament (PRS Legislative Research n.d.), provides the following information regarding state legislation restricting religious conversion:

Over the years, several states have enacted "Freedom of Religion" legislation to restrict religious conversions carried out by force, fraud, or inducements. These are: (i) Odisha (1967), (ii) Madhya Pradesh (1968), (iii) Arunachal Pradesh (1978), (iv) Chhattisgarh (2000 and 2006), (v) Gujarat (2003), (vi) Himachal Pradesh (2006 and 2019), (vii) Jharkhand (2017), and (viii) Uttarakhand (2018). Additionally, the Himachal Pradesh (2019) and Uttarakhand legislations also declare a marriage to be void if it was done for the sole purpose of unlawful conversion, or vice-versa. (PRS Legislative Research 19 Jan. 2021)

The Professor of political science stated that since 2017, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and Gujarat (which "amended an older law with stricter provisions") have all "introduced similar legislation" which "criminalizes religious conversion through marriage" (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022). The same source added that these laws provide for a person being "jailed" for a period of "up to 10 years" if they are found to be "abetting/causing" the conversion of a woman, minor, or member of an SC or ST (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022). The IAMC noted that these laws require interfaith couples to provide notice of their marriage plans to a district magistrate two months in advance, place the "burden of proof" on the couples themselves to "prove" that the religious conversion is not "forced," and require the couple to obtain the district magistrate's "permission" to convert (IAMC 4 Apr. 2022).

According to the PRS Legislative Research blog post, of these laws, the following include "prohibitions on conversion" "by marriage":

  • Uttarakhand (2018)
  • Himachal Pradesh (2019)
  • Uttar Pradesh (2020)
  • Madhya Pradesh (new ordinance 2021) (PRS Legislative Research 19 Jan. 2021).

In March 2021, the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2021 received the Governor's assent and replaced the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance, 2020 (Madhya Pradesh 2021, Art. 18(1)). According to an article by the Diplomat, a current affairs magazine focused on events in the Asia-Pacific region (The Diplomat n.d.), Madhya Pradesh's 2021 legislation is a "more stringent version" of the state's existing laws restricting religious conversion and was adopted "despite there being no conviction under the previous version of the law, which had been in place for more than five decades" (The Diplomat 15 Mar. 2021). According to the PRS Legislative Research blog post, Madhya Pradesh has the only law restricting religious conversion that provides penalties for "concealment of religion professed, for the purpose of marriage," which include 3 to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of 50,000 Indian rupees (INR) [C$847] "or more" (PRS Legislative Research 19 Jan. 2021).

According to PRS Legislative Research, Madhya Pradesh's law "provides certain safeguards for women and children," deeming any children born from a marriage "involving unlawful religious conversion" to be "legitimate" and allowing them the "right to property of only the father"; the law further provides that a woman "whose marriage is deemed unlawful under the Ordinance" and any children born out of that marriage are entitled to "maintenance" (PRS Legislative Research 19 Jan. 2021).

An article in the Diplomat states that "the focus of Hindu nationalists has shifted to combating the conversion threat posed by Muslims" (The Diplomat 2 July 2021). According to an article by Ghazala Jamil, an assistant professor at the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi who specializes in minority rights (The Conversation n.d.), laws restricting religious conversion have been passed in states where the BJP has "strong support" and are used by the party to "mobilize anti-Muslim sentiment in these states" (Jamil 3 Sept. 2021). The Professor of political science provided the following information regarding the various state laws that "either criminalize or prohibit religious conversion under certain circumstances":

While all these laws are technically aimed at "fraudulent or forced" religious conversions, they have been operationalized principally to attack Muslim men. In addition to this, the Indian judiciary and police authorities give significant weight to the families of interfaith couples to initiate criminal proceedings under pretext of fraud. This has included allegations of kidnapping against Muslim men as a means of starting a police investigation and threatening interfaith couples. (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022)

2.1 The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021

The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021, passed by the Uttar Pradesh Legislature in March 2021 and "deemed to come into force" on 27 November 2020, replaces the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 (Uttar Pradesh 2021, Art 1(3), Art. 15(1)). The US International Religious Freedom Report for 2020 notes that the law was first proposed following 14 reported cases of Muslim men in Kanpur "concealing their religious identity, allegedly to lure Hindu girls into romantic relationships, marry them, and force them to convert to Islam" (US 12 May 2021, 11).

The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021 provides the following:

3. (1) No person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person from one religion to another by use or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means. No person shall abet, convince or conspire such conversion.

Explanation:- For the purposes of this sub-section conversion by solemnization of marriage or relationship in the nature of marriage on account of factors enumerated in this sub-section shall be deemed included.

4. Any aggrieved person, his/her parents, brother, sister, or any other person who is related to him/her by blood, marriage or adoption may lodge a First Information Report of such conversion which contravenes the provisions of section 3.

5. (1) Whoever contravenes the provisions of section 3 shall, without prejudice to any civil liability, be punished with imprisonment for a term, which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine which shall not be less than rupees [INR] fifteen thousand [C$246]:

Provided that whoever contravenes the provisions of section 3 in respect of a minor, a woman or a person belonging to the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than two years but which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine which shall be not less than rupees [INR] twenty five thousand [C$413]:

6. Any marriage done for sole purpose of unlawful conversion or vice-versa by the man of one religion with the woman of another religion, either by converting himself/herself before or after marriage, or by converting the woman before or after marriage, shall be declared void by the Family Court or where Family Court is not established, the Court having jurisdiction to try such case on a petition presented by either party thereto against the other party of the marriage:

Provided that all the provisions of Section 8 and 9 shall apply for such marriages to be solemnized:

7. Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, all the offences under this Act shall be cognizable and non-bailable and triable by the Court of Sessions.

8. (l) One who desires to convert his/her religion, shall give adeclaration in the form prescribed in Schedule-I at least sixty days in advance, to the District Magistrate or the Additional District Magistrate specially authorized by the District Magistrate, that he wishes to convert his/her religion on his/her own and with his/her free consent and without any force, coercion, undue influence or allurement.

(2) The religious convertor, who performs conversion ceremony for converting any person of one religion to another religion, shall give one month's advance notice in the form prescribed in Schedule II of such conversion, to the District Magistrate or any other officer not below the rank of Additional District Magistrate appointed for that purpose by the District Magistrate of the district where such ceremony is proposed to be performed.

(3) The District Magistrate, after receiving the information under sub-sections (1) and (2), shall get an enquiry conducted through police with regard to real intention, purpose and cause of the proposed religious conversion.

(4) Contravention of sub-section (1) and/or sub-section (2) shall have the effect of rendering the proposed conversion, illegal and void.

(5) Whoever contravenes the provisions of sub-section (l) shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but may extend to three years' and shall also be liable to fine which shall not be less than rupees [INR] ten thousand [C$165].

(6) Whoever contravenes the provisions of sub-section (2) shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year but may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine which shall not be less than rupees [INR] twenty five thousand [C$413].

9. (1) The converted person shall send a declaration in the form prescribed in Schedule- III within sixty days of the date of conversion, to the District Magistrate of the District in which convened person resides ordinarily.

(2) The District Magistrate shall exhibit a copy of the declaration on the notice board of the office till the date of confirmation.

(3) The said declaration shall contain the requisite details, i.e., the particulars of the convert such as date of birth, permanent address, and the present place of residence, father's/husband's name, the religion to which the convert originally belonged and the religion to which he has converted, the date and place of conversion and nature of process gone through for conversion.

(4) The converted individual shall appear before the District Magistrate within 21 days from the date of sending/filing the declaration to establish her/his identity and confirm the contents of the declaration.

(7) The contravention of sub-sections 1 to 4 shall have the effect of rendering the said conversion illegal and void.

12. The burden of proof as to whether a religious conversion was not effected through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage, lies on the person who has caused the conversion and, where such conversion has been facilitated by any person, on such other person. (Uttar Pradesh 2021)

The declaration and notice forms contained in Schedules I, II and III of this law are available online (Uttar Pradesh 2021).

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that enforcement of the Ordinance preceding the Act "largely targeted Muslim men in Hindu-Muslim relationships" (HRW 19 Feb. 2021). In an article by Maktoob, a Delhi-based independent media company (Maktoob n.d.), citing a document submitted by the Uttar Pradesh state government in the Allahabad High Court, the source notes that 79 cases "against unlawful conversion" were registered between January and July 2021 and adds that "charge sheets" have been filed in 50 cases (Maktoob 23 Oct. 2021). Sources state that as of December 2020 "at least" 10 Muslim men had been "arrested" in Uttar Pradesh under the new law (The Guardian 14 Dec. 2020; The Telegraph 12 Dec. 2020). An article in the Guardian adds that since the law was passed, police have been "cracking down on marriages between Muslims and Hindus" (The Guardian 14 Dec. 2020). The same source notes that the "crackdown has fuelled fears" that the law "is being used to target Muslims and outlaw consensual interfaith marriage" (The Guardian 14 Dec. 2020). Sources report that no Hindu people have been "arrested" under the law (The Telegraph 12 Dec. 2020; The Guardian 14 Dec. 2020).

PRS Legislative Research notes that both the Uttar Pradesh and the Madhya Pradesh laws "allow for police complaints" against "unlawful" religious conversions to be registered by "the victim of such conversion," their "parents or siblings," or "any other person related to them by blood, and marriage or adoption" (PRS Legislative Research 19 Jan. 2021).

2.2 State Laws Restricting Religious Conversion Under Consideration

According to the DFAT report, Manipur and Maharashtra are "reportedly" considering introducing laws restricting religious conversion (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.28). A BBC article reports that Gujarat is considering its own such law (BBC 15 Mar. 2021). Sources report that laws restricting religious conversion are also being considered in Assam (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.28; US 21 Apr. 2021, 22). USCIRF's 2021 annual report notes that "[s]imilar legislation … is being pushed" in "several states" including Haryana and Karnataka (US 21 Apr. 2021, 22).

Sources report that in December 2021 the Karnataka Legislative Assembly passed an anti-conversion bill, which will now go before the Karnataka Legislative Council (The Indian Express 23 Dec. 2021; Hindustan Times 24 Dec. 2021). According to sources, Uttarakhand State is considering altering its existing laws restricting religious conversion to make them "more stringent" (The Wire 8 Oct. 2021; Hindustan Times 9 Oct. 2021; The Times of India 11 Sept. 2021). A New York Times article states that "members of the Sikh community" in Kashmir are "pushing" for a law restricting religious conversion there "similar" to existing laws elsewhere (The New York Times 20 July 2021).

3. Treatment by Society
3.1 Social Perceptions

According to sources, "[m]ost" (BBC 13 Oct. 2020) or "many" (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.134) families in India "still prefer marriages arranged within their religion and caste" (BBC 13 Oct. 2020; Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.134).

The Pew Research Center report indicates that "nearly all married people (99%)" indicated that their spouse has the same religion, including "nearly universal shares of Hindus (99%), Muslims (98%), Christians (95%), Sikhs and Buddhists (97% each)" (Pew Research Center 29 June 2021a, 90). The same source provides the percentage of responding Indian adults of various demographics who stated it "is very important to stop" a given gender "in [their] community from marrying into another religion":

Respondents by demographic group Gender of Concern
"Women" "Men"
General population 67 65
Hindus 67 65
Muslims 80 76
Christians 37 35
Sikhs 59 58
Buddhists 46 44
Jains 66 59
Men 67 64
Women 68 66
Ages 18–34 64 62
Age 35+ 70 68
Less than college education 69 67
College graduate 54 51
North 74 71
Central 86 85
East 72 69
West 70 69
South 37 35
Northeast 56 53
Urban 57 55
Rural 72 70
People for whom religion is "very important" 72 70
People for whom religion is "less important" 41 39

(Pew Research Center 29 June 2021a, 91)

The Pew Research Center report notes that 67 percent of Hindus, including 72 percent of those with a "[f]avorable view" of the BJP and 57 percent of those with an "[u]nfavorable view" of the BJP," reported feeling it is "very important to stop Hindu" women "from marrying into another religion" (Pew Research Center 29 June 2021a, 93). The same source indicates that 65 percent of Hindus, including 70 percent of those with a "[f]avorable view of [the] BJP" and 54 percent of those with an "[u]nfavorable view of [the] BJP," reported feeling it is "very important to stop Hindu" men "from marrying into another religion" (Pew Research Center 29 June 2021a, 93).

The Pew Research Center report states that the "vast majority" of respondents indicated that their spouse "currently has the same religion in which he or she was raised" and notes that "[l]ess than 1% of all Indian marriages are with spouses who were raised in a different religion (but may have since converted)" (Pew Research Center 29 June 2021a, 90).

The Pew Research Center report indicates that people with a "religiously mixed friend circle" do not believe it is "important to stop interreligious marriage" (Pew Research Center 29 June 2021a, 94).

3.2 Cases of Societal Intervention and/or Violence

According to an article by the BBC, interfaith marriages "sometimes led to violent consequences, including women – sometimes men – being killed by their relatives" (BBC 13 Oct. 2020). The DFAT report notes that "[m]any families cut off social relations" with children who pursue interfaith marriages, and "other" families "commit or instigate acts of violence against" such family members (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.137). The same source states that "[c]ommunal tensions and violence" can also occur in response to interfaith marriages (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.137). The DFAT report indicates that "[p]ractical matters," including renting housing, obtaining a passport, or boarding a flight "can be difficult" for people in interfaith marriages; "some" couples must be careful to hide even after marriage, since their families continue to look for them (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.142). The Professor of political science noted that "the widespread dissemination of Hindu nationalist ideals," as well as "violence and obstruction" makes the public sphere "particularly unsafe" for interfaith couples (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022).

An article by the New York Times states that "[a]cross the country, vigilante groups have created a vast network of local informers, who tip off the police to planned interfaith marriages," (The New York Times 20 July 2021). When asked about the geographic reach of "Hindu nationalist vigilante groups," the Professor of sociology noted that they are "not nationwide" but appear "mostly" in regions where the BJP and "Hindu right politics is seeking to expand itself" and where they are attempting to find issues to "polarize" "Hindu-Muslim anxiety," including in states such as Karnataka, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh (Professor of sociology 31 Mar. 2022). The Professor of political science indicated that "right-wing vigilante groups" – which have been on the "rise" since 2014 – "have endangered" couples "in the public sphere by violently enacting the beliefs" of Hindu nationalism including through "harassing" interfaith couples "by attacking Muslim men or colluding with the parents of the girl (who often oppose interfaith relationships) to register cases of kidnapping against Muslim men" in order to involve police (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022). The New York Times article reports that, according to a member of Bajrang Dal, "[o]ne of the largest" vigilante groups, based in Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, the group "has filed dozens of police complaints against Muslim" men (The New York Times 20 July 2021).

An article by Wired, an American magazine that focuses on technology (Wiredn.d.), indicates that Bajrang Dal is a "radical Hindu youth militia" created by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a "right-wing paramilitary volunteer organization" that is also the parent organization of the BJP (Wired 14 Apr. 2020). ThePrint, a New Delhi-based online news organization, indicates that Bajrang Dal was formed by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) [5] on 1 October 1984 to provide security for a religious procession but has since evolved into the "youth wing" of the VHP (ThePrint 6 Dec. 2021). Reuters states that both the VHP and Bajrang Dal are affiliates of the RSS (Reuters 20 May 2019). ThePrint adds that Bajrang Dal "claims" to have "more than" 4 million members nationwide, arranged into 52,000 distinct units (ThePrint 6 Dec. 2021). In an interview with the Research Directorate, the Advocacy Director and the Policy Director of Hindus for Human Rights, a US-based non-profit organization which promotes human rights and "inclusive Hinduism" in South Asia and North America (Hindus for Human Rights n.d.), noted that the Bajrang Dal has groups and leaders in every state (Hindus for Human Rights 31 Mar. 2022). The article by ThePrint adds that the Bajrang Dal's "influence is believed to be greatest in Madhya Pradesh, where it has around 15,000 units," and notes that it also has between 5,000 and 7,000 units in Rajasthan and Gujarat (ThePrint 6 Dec. 2021). The article by Wired, which draws on interviews with Bajrang Dal members conducted in 2019, references a Bajrang Dal office in a "dharamshala [Hindu guesthouse for religious pilgrims] in the heart of a Muslim neighborhood … on the outskirts of Delhi" (Wired 14 Apr. 2020).

According to the Wired article's profile of a Bajrang Dal unit in Shamli, a city in Uttar Pradesh, "about two and a half hours north of New Delhi," the unit there "ran an extensive surveillance operation … using Facebook and a network of on-the-ground informants" – a "local network of spies" – to wage their "fight against love jihad" (Wired 14 Apr. 2020). The group, the same source adds, "had infiltrated hundreds of groups and friended thousands of people" on Facebook, "trawling for Muslim men who flirted with Hindu women" and "[s]ometimes" "us[ing] fake accounts with female names to draw men out" (Wired 14 Apr. 2020). The group's network of informants throughout the city, according to the same source, included security guards, gatekeepers, servers, café proprietors, and hotel housekeepers, who "alert[ed] the Bajrang Dal whenever they suspect that a Hindu woman is in the company of a Muslim man" (Wired 14 Apr. 2020). The same article describes a lawyer – an "integral part" of the Bajrang Dal network in Shamli because of the state's requirement that "all interreligious marriages" need to be "registered at the court" – who stated they actively "'try to ensure that no [interfaith] couples manage to register their weddings'" by alerting the Bajrang Dal "any" time a "Muslim man approaches the courts to register his marriage to a Hindu woman" (Wired 14 Apr. 2020). The same article notes that "[e]ven lawyers" not in the Bajrang Dal's network "now avoided working on interreligious marriages" (Wired 14 Apr. 2020).

Sources report that in Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh in December 2020, a Muslim man, his brother, and his wife – a woman who was previously Hindu who had converted to Islam before their wedding – were confronted by members of the Bajrang Dal who "handed [them] over" (BBC 17 Dec. 2020) or "brought them" (The Guardian 14 Dec. 2020) to the police (BBC 17 Dec. 2020; The Guardian 14 Dec. 2020). According to sources, the three were attempting to register in Uttar Pradesh the couple's marriage, which had taken place in Uttarakhand State, when the Bajrang Dal "blocked" their route (The Telegraph 12 Dec. 2020) or "intercepted" and "heckle[d]" (BBC 17 Dec. 2020) them (The Telegraph 12 Dec. 2020; BBC 17 Dec. 2020). Sources report that the police "arrested" the men and placed the woman in a "shelter" (BBC 17 Dec. 2020; The Guardian 14 Dec. 2020), where the woman "allege[s]" she "suffered a miscarriage while in custody" after she was "mistreat[ed]" by staff who "ignored" her "complaints of stomach pain" (BBC 17 Dec. 2020).

An article by the Guardian reports that in September 2021 a Muslim man in Karnataka who was "romantically involved" with a Hindu woman was killed; according to police, two members of Shri Ram Sena Hindustan, a "right[-]wing Hindu" group, were "paid" by the family of the Hindu woman "to murder" him (The Guardian 21 Jan. 2022). The same source reports that ten people have been charged, including "at least two known members of Shri Ram Sena Hindustan" (The Guardian 21 Jan. 2022). The Professor of sociology stated that "in the last 3 to 4 months" Karnataka has become a "hot spot for Hindu nationalism" (Professor of sociology 31 Mar. 2022).

The USCIRF 2021 annual report provides the following information regarding the actions of "Hindu nationalist groups":

Hindu nationalist groups also launched inflammatory campaigns decrying interfaith relationships or engagements, including calling for boycotts and censorship of media depictions of interfaith relationships. These efforts targeting and delegitimizing interfaith relationships have led to attacks and arrests of non-Hindus and to innuendo, suspicion, and violence toward any interfaith interaction. (US 21 Apr. 2021, 22)

An article by the BBC describes an interfaith couple in Gujarat who attempted to file a petition to register their planned marriage under the Special Marriage Act when a clerk recognized the woman's name and "alerted her father"; the man then attempted to pay a lawyer 25,000 INR [C$413] to register the marriage before the lawyer "backed out" (BBC 15 Mar. 2021). The same source, quoting the couple, adds that "'[n]o officials agreed to help'" them and they could not find a lawyer who would accept their case claiming that it was "'dangerous for them'" to do so (BBC 15 Mar. 2021). The BBC article also states that the couple were advised by the lawyers they consulted to avoid seeking an interfaith marriage, as there might be "'vigilante groups on the court premises'" (BBC 15 Mar. 2021).

The BBC article indicates that interfaith couples "are now leaving" states with laws restricting religious conversion in order to pursue marriage "in what they consider "'safer'" places "such as Delhi" (BBC 15 Mar. 2021). The same source adds "[m]ost couples end up losing their jobs while in hiding" (BBC 15 Mar. 2021).

4. Treatment of Children of Interfaith Couples

Information on the treatment of children of interfaith couples was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

According to the Pew Research Center, 99 percent of Indian parents reported that they are "bringing up their children in the same religion as their own" (Pew Research Center 29 June 2021a, 171). The General Secretary of Dhanak of Humanity stated that interfaith couples will sometimes "assign the child" the "majority community faith" of Hinduism to "avoid problems" related to safety (Dhanak of Humanity 29 Mar. 2022). The same source added that some identity certificates include a category for religion which it is "legally possible" to leave blank, but this requires a formal request in writing; schools or authorities will "usually" exert "pressure" on parents to enter a religion for their child, and, if the category is left blank, authorities "might" fill it in with the father's religion (Dhanak of Humanity 29 Mar. 2022).

The Professor Emerita stated that children of interfaith couples "almost always experience difficulties finding spouses" and that this "becomes less of a problem" if one of the parents has converted to the religion of their spouse (Professor Emerita 2 Apr. 2022).

Sources report that a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court ruled that the Hindu father of a Muslim child born during his interfaith marriage to her Muslim mother is legally obliged to provide the child with a maintenance allowance (Mathrubhumi 19 Jan. 2022; The New Indian Express 15 Dec. 2021). An article by The New Indian Express, a Chennai-based newspaper, also notes that the court added that an unmarried daughter of an interfaith couple had the right to receive marriage expenses from her father (The New Indian Express 15 Dec. 2021).

5. Treatment by Authorities

The 2021 USCIRF annual report notes that "anti-conversion laws," including the interfaith marriage laws in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, are "too often the basis for false accusations, harassment, and violence against non-Hindus that occur with impunity" (US 21 Apr. 2021, 23). The same source adds that in "many" such instances, "authorities did not prevent these abuses and ignored or chose not to investigate pleas to hold perpetrators accountable," which then led to "increased mob attacks and a fear of reprisal against those coming forward" (US 21 Apr. 2021, 23). The Professor of sociology stated that in areas where the BJP holds power, Hindu nationalist vigilante groups are "supported by the state," and they are "tolerated" "even in some places where the BJP is not in power" (Professor of sociology 31 Mar. 2022). When such groups are "protected by politicians in power," the same source added, local police will "do nothing" in response to their pursuit of interfaith couples, which includes not registering cases against acts of violence, charging suspects with "very minor crimes" resulting in a "small fine" or "release" from custody the same day they are apprehended (Professor of sociology 31 Mar. 2022). The Professor of sociology also noted that when state authorities "do nothing" about vigilante group actions, this has the effect of "promoting the cause" of these groups by "inflaming the issues [the groups] are trying to ignite" and attracting the "attention" the groups were seeking (Professor of sociology 31 Mar. 2022).

The Professor of sociology indicated that Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and the Bengal region are areas where interfaith couples do not have "much support" from state authorities (Professor of sociology 31 Mar. 2022). The same source added, however, that "in today's political climate" tensions surrounding interfaith marriage "can become a problem anytime, anywhere" (Professor of sociology 31 Mar. 2022). The Professor stated that because the "Hindu nationalist" presence has "grown rapidly" in parts of eastern, northeastern, and southern India beyond their initial "strongholds" in northern and western India, the circumstances facing interfaith couples are now "difficult" in "more regions" than in the past (Professor 26 Mar. 2022). The same source added that the situation for interfaith couples is "somewhat better" in "some parts of south India," including Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala, and in northeast India, "including Nagaland and Mizoram," where "the BJP is weaker" (Professor 26 Mar. 2022).

According to sources, the Uttar Pradesh Police made their first arrest under the new law restricting religious conversion in early December 2020, when a man had "started pressur[ing]" a Hindu woman to convert to Islam and marry him (ThePrint 2 Dec. 2020; PTI 3 Dec. 2020). The New York Times article reports that as of July 2021, 162 people have been "arrested" in accordance with the new law, though "few have been convicted" (The New York Times 20 July 2021). The Professor of political science noted that the number of arrests under this law in Uttar Pradesh, in conjunction with the "lagging nature" of, and "enormous case backlog" in, the Indian judiciary, means those arrested "can remain locked up for a long period without trial" thereby "making the process the punishment itself" (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022).

Sources indicated that the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh has previously headed a vigilante group which pursued interfaith couples (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022; Hindus for Human Rights 31 Mar. 2022) and has a history of "incendiary and hate speeches targeting Muslims" (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022). The Professor of political science stated that the "general environment" in Uttar Pradesh makes it "extremely dangerous" for interfaith couples (Professor of political science 5 Apr. 2022). The Hindus for Human Rights representatives noted that Uttar Pradesh is a "hot spot for vigilante politics" (Hindus for Human Rights 31 Mar. 2022).

Sources report that a December 2020 marriage ceremony between two Muslims in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh was "stopped" by police (The Indian Express 11 Dec. 2020; The Guardian 14 Dec. 2020; NDTV 11 Dec. 2020) after they received "a tipoff" (The Indian Express 11 Dec. 2020; The Guardian 14 Dec. 2020) from a "Hindu rightwing group" (The Guardian 14 Dec. 2020) or "some Hindu youths," who alerted a village "watchman" who then called police (The Indian Express 11 Dec. 2020). The Guardian article notes that police "arrested" the groom (The Guardian 14 Dec. 2020). Sources add that police held the groom in custody "overnight" and "alleged[ly]" "tortured him for hours" with "a leather belt" (The Guardian 14 Dec. 2020; The Indian Express 11 Dec. 2020). The Guardian article indicates that he was released after the family "produced evidence" that the bride was "Muslim by birth" (The Guardian 14 Dec. 2020).

Sources report that shortly after the Uttar Pradesh law restricting religious conversion came into effect, police in Lucknow "violently halted" (The Guardian 14 Dec. 2020) or "stopped" (Al Jazeera 4 Dec. 2020) an interfaith wedding (The Guardian 14 Dec. 2020; Al Jazeera 4 Dec. 2020). An Al Jazeera article cites "local media" reports that the police were acting upon "a complaint" made by "a local Hindu right-wing leader" (Al Jazeera 4 Dec. 2020). According to sources, the family members of the couple indicated that they supported the marriage (The Guardian 14 Dec. 2020; Al Jazeera 4 Dec. 2020) and that their intended marriage did not involve either person converting religion (The Guardian 14 Dec. 2020) or that "there was no forced religious conversion for the marriage" (Al Jazeera 4 Dec. 2020). The Al Jazeera article states that the incident did not result in a "case" being "lodged," as both families consented to postpone the ceremony until they received permission from the district magistrate in compliance with the new law (Al Jazeera 4 Dec. 2020).

The US International Religious Freedom Report for 2020 states that in September 2020, police in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh set up a "special team" to investigate reported cases of "allege[d]" forced religious conversion through interfaith Muslim-Hindu marriages (US 12 May 2021, 11).

The DFAT report indicates that "[i]n some parts of the country, informal social systems like the male-only Khap Panchayats (or Khaps) [6] pass decisions and judgements on marriage," which can include "fines, social ostracism, public humiliation and expulsion from the village" (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.138). The same source adds that intervention by the Khaps continues in spite of a Supreme Court ruling against such actions and cites "[a]nalysts" who state there is a "lack of political will to act against Khap Panchayats" because of their "influence over large numbers of voters" (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.138, italics in original).

6. Support Services for Interfaith Couples

Information on government support services for interfaith couples could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

According to the DFAT report, there are "limited initiatives" including organizations such as Love Commandoes, Pratibimb Mishra Vivah Mandal, Dhanak of Humanity, Adhalinal Kaadhal Seiveer and Chayan, which offer "legal advice, counsel and shelter" to interfaith couples (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.142). The BBC article profiling a Gujarat-based interfaith couple that relocated to Delhi to marry states that upon arriving in Delhi, the couple moved into a "safe house" operated by Dhanak of Humanity (BBC 15 Mar. 2021).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Notes

[1] The Pew Research Center is a "nonpartisan fact tank," which conducts "data-driven" social science research including opinion polling (Pew Research Center 29 June 2021a, 1).

[2] The "face-to-face" nationally representative survey polled 29,999 Indian adults, including 22,975 people "who identify as Hindu," 3,336 "who identify as Muslim," 1,782 "who identify as Sikh," 1,011 "who identify as Christian," 719 "who identify as Buddhist," 109 "who identify as Jain," and 67 who stated they belong to another religion or are "religiously unaffiliated" (Pew Research Center 29 June 2021a, 2).

[3] Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) is an organization in India working to "achiev[e] justice and equality for all, through the courts and beyond; the CJP also provides a platform for human rights "campaigns, scholarship, discussion and debate" (CJP n.d.).

[4] Live Law is an online Indian news company focusing on legal and judicial developments (Live Law n.d.).

[5] The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is a "conservative Hindu nationalist organization" founded in 1964 (The Times of India n.d.).

[6] Khap Panchayats are "caste or community groups, present largely in rural areas of north India which at times act as quasi-judicial bodies and pronounce harsh punishments based on age-old customs" (The Times of India 27 Mar. 2018). They exist "mainly" in Haryana and areas of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh (Australia 10 Dec. 2020, para. 3.138).

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Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: All India Christian Council; Citizens for Justice and Peace; CSW; Human Rights Watch; Love Commandos; Oxfam India; professor of law at a university in the UK who specializes in Indian religious law; professor of political science at a Canadian university who specializes in India's religious minority rights; professor of social anthropology at a university in the UK who specializes in Indian marriage laws; PRS Legislative Research; US – Law Library of Congress.

Internet sites, including: Agence France-Presse; Amnesty International; Bertelsmann Stiftung; ecoi.net; EU – EU Agency for Asylum; Factiva; The Independent; International Crisis Group; Jane's Country Risk Daily Report; Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh; UN – Refworld; UK – Home Office; Voice of America; The Washington Post.