The Madhya Pradesh Cabinet on Saturday approved a proposed law to regulate inter-faith marriages in the state that provides for 10 year jail for ‘forcing’ women, minors, and people from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe to undergo religious conversion, while exempting reconversion to parental religion from its purview.
The proposed law called the Madhya Pradesh Dharmik Swatantrata (Freedom of Religion) Bill 2020 says ‘Paitrik Dharm me Wapsi’ will not be treated as conversion. “Under this legislation, re-conversion to the ancestral religion will not be treated as conversion,” said the draft law, defining ancestral religion as the religion of the father of the person at the time of his birth.
Giving the reason for this clause, Madhya Pradesh home minister, Nirottam Mishra, said re-conversion will not be a punishable offence under this law because it is more a realisation of a mistake than a crime.
The proposed legislation will replace the 1968 Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, and is stringent then the similar law enforced by the Uttar Pradesh government through an Ordinance.
Mishra said, “The bill seeks to prohibit religious conversions or an attempt of conversion by means of misrepresentation, allurement, threat, undue influence, coercion, marriage, and any other fraudulent means. The conspiracy and (the act of) abetting a person for conversion has also been prohibited.”
Mishra said the bill has a provision of punishment from one to 10 years of imprisonment and a minimum fine of Rs 1 lakh for conversions.