Madhya Pradesh cabinet on Saturday approved the Dharma Swatantrya (Religious Freedom) Bill 2020, reported news agency ANI. The controversial ordinance outlaws marriages with an aim of religious conversions.
“Under the new Bill, forcing religious conversion on someone will attract 1-5 years of imprisonment and a minimum Rs 25,000 fine,” said state home minister Narottam Mishra.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, while batting for the bill, had called it his government’s Beti Bachao Abhiyan or save the daughter mission. 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” if the bill was passed, he had said.
“Government belongs to everyone, all religions and castes. There is no discrimination but if someone tries to do anything disgusting with our daughters, then I’ll break you,” the chief minister had added.
This approval comes after Uttar Pradesh’s governor’s assent to the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, against forcible or fraudulent religious conversions last month.
Section 3 of the bill states anyone found guilty of abetment to religious conversion shall face imprisonment of one to five years and a fine of not less than Rs 25,000. 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.
If a minor or a woman from Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste categories is forced into conversion, the perpetrator will be imprisoned for two to 10 years and fined up to Rs 50,000. Blood relatives of victims of such religious conversion can file a complaint, the bill further states.
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).