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Opinion

MP guv approves ‘love jihad’ ordinance

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Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel approved an ordinance regulating interfaith marriages on Thursday that prescribes a penalty of two to 10 years in prison and a fine of Rs 50,000 for forcing women to convert their religion.

A Raj Bhavan official said the ordinance is aimed at those forcing “women, minors and people from recognized castes and tribes to undergo religious conversion.” Reconversion to the original religion will not be considered a crime, the official said, requesting anonymity.

“The governor, who is currently in Lucknow, has signed the drafts of all the ordinances that were approved by the state cabinet and sent to the governor for her consent and promulgation on December 29, 2020. There were about 12 of those ordinances that they could not will not be postponed in the winter session of the state assembly, which was postponed due to the Covid situation, “added the official.

One of the ordinances prescribes the punishment of those guilty of adulteration of food and drugs with up to life imprisonment.

Madhya Pradesh follows Uttar Pradesh in introducing an ordinance cracking down on interfaith relationships that allegedly use marriage as a lure to force Hindu women to convert to Islam in a practice that some groups call “loving jihad,” but which the courts and the Union government do not officially recognize. The strict laws do not use the words “love jihad”, and the UP law has already been challenged in the Supreme Court.

The ordinance to regulate religious conversion is called the Madhya Pradesh Dharmik Swatantrata (Freedom of Religion) Ordinance, 2020. It will replace the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act of 1968 and prohibit conversion and attempted conversion through “misrepresentation, attractiveness, threat, force, influence, coercion, marriage and any fraudulent means “.

“Conspiracy and complicity for religious conversion have also been prohibited in the ordinance,” states the draft ordinance.

Interreligious marriages solemnized through misrepresentation, seduction, threat, coercion, undue influence, and fraud shall be deemed null and void. The property rights of the parents will be granted to the children born of those marriages and the man will have to pay alimony to the wife and children.

In cases of religious conversion in violation of the provisions involving women, minors and women of registered castes and tribes, the prescribed punishment is two to 10 years in prison and a minimum fine of Rs 50,000. In other cases of religious conversion, it prescribes a minimum prison sentence of one year and a maximum of five years. and fine of Rs. 25,000.

In cases of religious conversion due to identity theft or misrepresentation, the punishment will be three to ten years in prison and a fine of Rs 50,000.

A massive religious conversion (conversion of two or more people at the same time) in violation of the ordinance will result in a prison sentence of at least five years that can be extended to 10 years. Repeated offenses will attract a jail term of five to 10 years.

“The crimes registered under the ordinance are recognizable and not subject to bail. A court of sessions is authorized to hear the case. The crime investigation cannot be conducted by a police officer with a lower rank than a deputy police inspector. The burden of proof will fall on the accused, ”says the draft.

A person who voluntarily adopts another religion and the priest (dharmik vyakti) who performs the conversion must inform the district magistrate at least 60 days before the scheduled date of conversion. Violation of this provision will carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a minimum fine of Rs 50,000.

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