Madhya Pradesh Cabinet Clears Draft of New Anti-Conversion Bill
The new law will replace the existing Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam, 1968, law.
The Madhya Pradesh Cabinet has approved the draft of its new anti-conversion law, the Freedom to Religion Bill, 2020, on Saturday, 26 December. Under the proposal, in a special meeting, forcing someone to convert their religion will attract 1-5 years of imprisonment and a minimum fine of Rs 25,000. The meeting was chaired by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
MP Home Minister Narottam Mishra told reporters that the jail term will be between two to ten years for a forced religious conversion of any minor.
“Under the new MP Freedom of Religion Bill 2020, forced conversion of a minor, woman or a person from Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, would draw a minimum jail term of 2-10 years with a minimum penalty of Rs 50,000,” Mishra said.
The new law will replace the existing Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam, 1968, law. The decision comes ahead of the three-day Assembly session that will begin on 28 December.
As per the proposal, a family court in the state will be empowered to declare marriages conducted for the purpose of religious conversion null and void. The alimony in such cases would be granted as per Section 125 of the CrPC.
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 conversions can file a complaint, the Bill further states.
Provision for the imprisonment of five to 10 years and a fine of at least Rs 100,000 is being made for attempting mass religious conversion (of two or more persons).
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