THE STATE Government has not furnished full information about the status of religious conversions in Madhya Pradesh to the Raj Bhawan even as Solicitor General of India’s opinion on the controversial MP Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill 2006 is awaited. Raj Bhawan sought the SGI’s opinion three weeks ago following protests to the bill from Opposition parties and several socio-religious organisations.
Earlier, on August 26, the Raj Bhawan had asked the Home Department to inform how many conversions took place under the existing conversion act.
The Home department has sent details of only 20 out of 48 districts so far, accordingly to the Raj Bhawan sources. Interestingly, in four predominantly tribal districts, which are believed to be susceptible to conversion, not a single case of conversion had taken place in the last five years. The districts are Khargone, Mandla, Dindori and Balaghat.
However, Principal Secretary, Home, Satya Prakash told the Hindustan Times that information of a majority of districts has been sent to the Raj Bhavan and about the remaining three to four districts would be sent soon.
The Raj Bhavan has sought opinion of the SGI whether the proposed amendments are in conformity with the Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution, the sources said.
The Article 25 pertains to ‘freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion’, while the Article 26 deals with ‘freedom to manage religion’.
In case, the SGI opinion is negative, Governor Balram Jakhar might return the amendment bill without signing it to the State Government.
The controversial bill provides for amendments in the MP Dharma Swatantraya Adhiniyam,1968, making it mandatory for any person seeking to convert his faith to intimate the district authorities about his plan in advance. The bill also seeks to make it mandatory for the priest who intends to perform conversion ceremony to inform about the time, date and place of the ceremony a month in advance.
The amendment also has provision for a fine of Rs 1,000 for any person who fails to give prior intimation about conversion.