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Madhya Pradesh Government proposes conversion-regulation law, conversion by fraud to be punished with ₹1 lakh fine and 10 years of imprisonment

The law states, "no one can convert or attempt to convert either directly or otherwise anyone else from one religion to another by use or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage"

On Saturday, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan held a meeting to discuss the proposed law aimed at preventing religious conversion using fraudulant means, aimed at checking the growing menace of grooming jihad. He stated that the law is a part of the government’s Beti Bachao Abhiyan and will be taken up in the Winter Session of the Assembly.

Under the new conversion-regulation law, a marriage solemnised for the sole purpose of conversion will be deemed null and void. All such cases will be probed by police officers, not below the rank of sub-inspectors. The offence will be non-bailable, cognizable and can be taken by Sessions Court. Moreover, the burden of proof will lie on the accused. Individuals, willing to convert to another religion, will have to make a declaration before the District Magistrate at least one month in advance.

Section 3 of the proposed law states, “no one can convert or attempt to convert either directly or otherwise anyone else from one religion to another by use or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage.” Individuals found violating the law can be imprisoned for 1-5 years and fined not less than ₹25,000. The quantum of punishment for the accused will increase if the victim is a minor or a member of the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe.

A provision has been laid out to imprison such individuals from 2-10 years and fined up to ₹50,000. Similarly, attempts to hide one’s religion for fraudulently solemnising a marriage will be punishable by 3-10 years imprisonment and a fine of at least 50,000. At the same time, individuals found involved in mass conversions will be punished with ₹1 lakh fine and between 5-10 years imprisonment. A complaint can be lodged against the accused by the parents and blood relatives of the victim.

If a person wants to undergo religious conversion, he or she would need to make a declaration before a district magistrate at least a month in advance under the proposed law.

Uttar Pradesh government gets assent for anti-conversion law

Days after Yogi Adityanath government cleared the draft ordinance against unlawful religious conversions, the Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel also gave her assent to the ordinance. Soon after the approval by the Governor, the ordinance has come into force in the state. The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 had been promulgated with the approval of the Governor, an official said.

The new anti-conversion law of the Uttar Pradesh government is aimed at preventing forced conversions under the pretext of love and marriage. “There were more than 100 incidents reported in which forceful religious conversion was being done. Also, it was reported religious conversions were going on in the state using deceitful means. So to make a law on this becomes an important matter of policy now,” UP Cabinet Minister Siddharth Nath Singh had earlier remarked. Under the new law, a jail term of 1-5 years is awarded to the accused (extended to 3-10 years in case of SC/STs) and a fine of ₹15,000 (₹25,000 in case of SC/STs). Moreover, the offender’s proven guilty for mass conversion will attract a jail term of 10 years.

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