Laws related to religious conversions repeatedly made headlines in 2022. During the year, the state legislatures in Karnataka and Haryana made laws prohibiting forced religious conversions. A few months before elections in Himachal Pradesh, the state legislature amended the freedom of religion law forbidding mass conversions. The Uttarakhand legislature took a similar legislative step, and it became law earlier this month. Since 2017 seven states have enacted anti-conversion laws, and these legislative measures will likely be in the news in 2023. Therefore it will be helpful to understand the nuance around them.
In pre-independent India, a few princely states made anti-conversion laws. Post-independence Madhya Pradesh and Odisha legislative assemblies were the first to pass such laws in the late 1960s. Both these laws prohibited religious conversions by force or fraud. They also provided punishment for such actions.