Madhya Pradesh mulls law on fradulent conversions; offenders may face 10 years in jail, fine up to Rs 1 lakh

Bhopal: Conversion through marriage or by any other fraudulent means will attract a prison term of up to ten years and a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh under the proposed Madhya Pradesh Religious Freedom Act, an official said on Saturday.

A marriage solemnized only for the purpose of converting a person will be held as null and valid, he said.

If a person wants to undergo conversion, he or she would need to make a declaration before a district magistrate at least a month in advance under the proposed law.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan held a meeting on Saturday to discuss the proposed law, said an official of the state Public Relations Department.

Under the proposed law, no person in the state will be able to convert anyone directly or otherwise through marriage or by any other fraudulent means by luring or intimidating anyone, the official said, quoting the chief minister.

A person involved in converting another person by misleading, luring, threatening, or through marriage will be prosecuted.

The sentence could be up to 10 years in the cases of religious conversion of minors, groups, or of those belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

Blood relatives, including parents of victims of such religious conversion, can file a complaint, the official said.

A marriage solemnized with the intention of religious conversion would be considered null and void.

These cases would be investigated by a police officer, not below the sub-inspectors rank.

On 28 November, the governor of the BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh gave assent to the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, against forcible or fraudulent religious conversions.

The ordinance provides for imprisonment of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of Rs 50,000 under different categories.



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