Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has said the state’s new freedom of religion law is his government’s Beti Bachao Abhiyan or save the daughter mission. Chouhan said no one will be able to convert anyone from one religion to another through marriage or “any other fraudulent means by seducing or intimidating anyone”. Chouhan held a meeting on Saturday to discuss the proposed law.
The proposed bill will be tabled in the winter session of the Madhya Pradesh assembly, which is scheduled to begin from December 28. Uttar Pradesh’s governor gave assent to the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, against forcible or fraudulent religious conversions last month.
Here is what the proposed Madhya Pradesh freedom of religion act says:
1. Under Section 3 of the proposed act, 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.
2. No person can attempt to abet or conspire religious conversion.
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3. If anyone violates this section of the act, they shall face imprisonment of one to five years and a fine of not less than Rs 25,000.
4. In the case of forcing minor or woman from Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste categories for conversion, there is a provision of imprisonment of two to 10 years and fine up to Rs 50,000.
5. Attempt to hide one’s religion will be punishable by imprisonment of three to 10 years and a fine of at least Rs 50,000.
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6. Provision for the imprisonment of five to 10 years and fine of at least Rs 100,000 is being made for attempting mass religious conversion (of two or more persons).
7. Blood relatives, including parents of victims of such religious conversion, can file a complaint.
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8. The offence shall be cognizable, non bailable and can be taken up by the sessions court. A police officer below the rank of sub-inspector of police will not be able to investigate the case.
9. The accused will be liable to prove that the conversion has not been done.
10. Marriage with the intention of conversion will be considered null and void.