Forced Conversion: MP Govt Promulgates Dharma Swatantrya Ordinance

The ordinance proposes punishments under various categories in case of forced religious conversions.

1 min read
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Image used for representation.

As the Madhya Pradesh Assembly's winter session stood cancelled due to several MLAs and lawmakers testing positive for COVID-19, the Shivraj Chouhan government on Tuesday, 29 December, promulgated the MP Freedom to Religion Ordinance, 2020.

The winter session of the Assembly was supposed to be begin on 28 December.

Under the law, a jail term of minimum 2-10 years with a minimum penalty amounting to Rs 50,000 will be imposed in case of forced conversion of a woman, minor or a person from Scheduled Tribe or Scheduled caste.

According to Section 3, anyone who is found guilty of abetment to religious conversion shall face a fine of not less than Rs 25,000 and imprisonment of one to five years. In addition to this, anyone who attempts to hide one’s religion will be punishable by imprisonment of three to 10 years and a fine of at least Rs 50,000.

The Ordinance further states that if a minor or a woman belonging to Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste is forced into conversion, the offender will be imprisoned for two to 10 years and fined up to Rs 50,000. The blood relatives of victims will also be allowed to file a complaint.

In case of mass religious conversion (of two or more persons), provisions are being made for the imprisonment of five to 10 years and a fine of at least Rs 100,000 for the perpetrator.

The new law will replace the existing Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam, 1968. 

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