Stricter Law Against ‘Forceful Conversion’ Comes Into Effect in HP
Under this law, the violator can face up to seven years of imprisonment in Himachal Pradesh.
After over a year of getting approval from the state Assembly, a stricter law against forceful conversion, inducement or marriage for the “sole purpose” of adopting a new religion has come into effect in the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Himachal Pradesh, PTI reported. Under this law, the violator can face up to seven years of imprisonment.
The Assembly had passed the bill on 30 August last year and it received the governor’s assent. However, the home department issued the notification for its implementation 15 months later, on 18 December 2020.
The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2019 replaces a 2006 law.
Law Minister Suresh Bhardwaj told PTI that the delay was in issuing the notification might be because the “home department had to lay down rules for the proper procedure to be adopted for implementing the Act.”
Several other BJP-ruled states have deliberated over and passed such laws, alleging their necessity to stop forceful conversions of Hindu women. Uttar Pradesh government notified an ordinance against “fraudulent religious conversion” last month, with up to 10 years of jail time and a maximum fine of Rs 50,000.
As per the act, anyone looking to convert will be required to give a month's notice to the district magistrate, stating that the person is converting of their own accord. The priest who performs a conversion ceremony will also give a month's notice in advance. Those reconverting to their “parent religion” are exempted from this provision, PTI reported.
The jail term will vary according to the person being converted.
Section 10 of the Act also states that no person or organisation violating the provisions will be allowed to accept any donation or contribution of any kind from within or outside the country.
(With inputs from PTI)
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