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  • 27 December, 2020

  • 9 Min Read

The Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2020

The Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2020

UPSC GS-PAPER-2 GOVERNANCE – Article -21 & 25 related issue

Context: Highly important to study secularism. MP Government initiated the war against LOVE JIHAD which many groups of people considered the dilution of fundamental rights and freedom of conscience. Article-21 is in the debate which permits RIGHT TO MARRIAGE.

The Madhya Pradesh government has recently passed an ordinance to deal with unlawful religious conversions, which are in opposition of various judgements of the Supreme Court.

What it is?

  • It provides for a prison term of up to 10 years and a fine of 1 lakh for conversion through “marriage or by any other fraudulent means”.
  • The Bill, in some ways, is similar to the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, notified in Uttar Pradesh last month, which too provides for a maximum punishment of 10 years’ imprisonment for “fraudulent conversions”, even for the sake of marriage.
  • Offences under the proposed law would be cognisable and non­bailable.
  • The Bill seeks to replace the Religious Freedom Act of 1968.
  • “The new legislation will prohibit religious conversion or such efforts by misrepresentation, allurement, force, undue influence, coercion, marriage or any other fraudulent means.
  • Abetment and conspiracy for religious conversion will also be prohibited under it.
  • Any marriage solemnized in violation of the proposed law would be considered null and void.
  • Those willing to convert would need to apply to the district administration 60 days in advance.
  • The religious leaders facilitating the conversion would also have to inform about it 60 days in advance.
  • Violation of these provisions would attract a jail term of three to five years and a fine of 50,000.

Mass conversions

  • In cases of religious conversion of members of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and minors, a provision has been made for imprisonment of two to 10 years and 50,000 fine.
  • There is provision of three to 10 years of imprisonment and fine of 50,000 in cases of marriage carried out by hiding religion, misrepresentation or impersonation.

Source: TH

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