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Opinion

Madhya Pradesh Cabinet Passes Dharma Swatantrya (Religious Freedom) Bill 2020

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Madhya Pradesh’s cabinet passed the Swatantrya (Religious Freedom) Dharma Bill 2020 on Saturday. The controversial ordinance prohibits marriages for the purpose of religious conversions.

“Under the new bill, forcing someone’s religious conversion will carry from 1 to 5 years in prison and a minimum fine of Rs 25,000,” said State Interior Minister Narottam Mishra.

Prime Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, while fighting for the bill, had called him Beti Bachao Abhiyan of his government or mission to save the daughter. No one will be able to convert anyone from one religion to another through marriage or “any other fraudulent means seducing or intimidating anyone” if the bill is passed, he had said.

“The government belongs to everyone, of all religions and castes. There is no discrimination, but if someone tries to do something disgusting with our daughters, then I will break you, “added the prime minister.

This approval comes after the Uttar Pradesh Governor’s assent to the UP Illegal Conversion of Religion Prohibition Ordinance, 2020, against forced or fraudulent religious conversions last month.

Section 3 of the bill states that anyone found guilty of complicity in religious conversion will face a prison term of one to five years and a fine of not less than Rs 25,000. Attempting to conceal one’s religion will be punishable by a prison term of three to ten years and a fine of at least Rs 50,000.

If a minor or a woman from the tribe and recognized caste categories is forced to convert, the perpetrator will be imprisoned for two to 10 years and fined up to 50,000 rupees. Blood relatives of victims of such religious conversion can file a complaint, the bill says.

A prison term of five to ten years and a fine of at least Rs 100,000 are foreseen for attempting mass religious conversion (of two or more persons).

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