The Haryana government on Tuesday, 22 March, passed the Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2022, even as members of the Congress party staged a walkout from the Assembly.
As per the legislation, the onus of presenting proof lies with the accused, and if it is found that the conversion is done by "allurement, use of force, or fraudulent means of coercion," The Indian Express reported.
The penalties include imprisonment up to five years and a fine of at least Rs 1 lakh.
On Tuesday, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said that 127 cases of religious conversions were reported in the past four years, which is "a major problem," reported ANI.
"We've passed the Prevention of Unlawful Conversions Bill; 127 cases were reported in the last 4 years... Religious conversion is a major problem. If by choice, one can change their religion by law, but act has been passed for unlawful conversions," he stated.
The state government had introduced the Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill in the Legislative Assembly and triggered an uproar from the Opposition on 4 March.
Arguing in support of the anti-conversion bill, CM Khattar had said that the bill does not discriminate against any religion and is meant to prevent only "forcible conversions," The Indian Express reported.
However, the introduction of the bill did not go down well with the Opposition MLAs, who called it "unconstitutional."
Ten states in India – Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Odisha – have passed laws to prevent forcible religious conversions.
(With inputs from The Indian Express.)