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After UP, Madhya Pradesh Cabinet Approves Bill Against ‘Forced’ Conversion, Collective Conversion

The Shivraj Singh Chouhan cabinet on Saturday approved the “Madhya Pradesh Religious Freedom Bill-2020 to allegedly check the rising cases of “love jihad” in the state.

The Bill will be introduced in the upcoming Assembly session, and once passed will become a law.

Under this law, there is a provision of awarding a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and a penalty of Rs 1 lakh for ‘forceful’ conversion of any person under the pretext of marriage.

Indulging in collective religious conversion of two or more people would amount to punishment with rigorous imprisonment of five to 10 years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. On the other hand, the offence related to ‘forceful’ religious conversions would be cognizable and non-bailable, the cases of such religious conversions would be heard in the Sessions Court only.

According to official information, in the cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister, the “MP Religious Freedom Bill- 2020” was passed by a voice vote.

As per this Anti-Conversion law, a provision has been made that in violation of the prescribed provisions, a person would be punished with rigorous imprisonment of one to five years and pay a fine of Rs 25,000. At the same time, for the ‘forceful’ religious conversion of a woman, minor, Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST), a rigorous punishment ranging from two years up to 10 years and a fine of Rs 50,000 would be imposed on the accused. Along with this, there would be a fine of Rs 50,000 and a jail sentence of three to 10 years would be imposed for indulging in religious conversions secretly.

It has been decided in the bill that after religious conversion, the child born to the couple would inherit the property of the father and the wife and the child would have the right to claim maintenance. Along with this strict action would be taken against those associated with running an organisation aiding religious conversions and people associated with such organisations, and there is a provision of jail imprisonment and fines against the accused person.

Words such as love jihad are not mentioned in the anti-conversion bill. However, it has been decided that those voluntarily converting to other religions would have to give information to the District Magistrate 60 days in advance. Failure to provide the correct information would lead to a jail sentence of three to five years and a fine of Rs 50,000.

This Anti-Conversion Bill passed in the state cabinet would be tabled in the upcoming session of the state Legislative Assembly starting from December 28. The MP Religious Freedom Act, 1968 would be repealed as soon as the MP Religious Freedom Act, 2020 comes into effect.

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Written By

Rushda Fathima Khan is the Staff Reporter for The Cognate.

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