The Maharashtra assembly on Friday admitted a private member bill by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Atul Bhatkhalkar, seeking an anti-conversion law in the state.
The bill was tabled amidst pandemonium by ruling party and Opposition members, exchanging allegations and slogans.
Bhatkhalkar, who moved the bill, said, "There are various states including Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat where such a law has been enacted and court rulings in such cases have said that the state is within its rights to make such laws.”
Bhatkhalkar said there were several places even in Maharashtra, where conversions were being carried out forcibly or by offering bribes and so it was essential for the state to enact an anti-conversion law. The bill calls for imprisonment and a penalty against those who convert forcibly. The amount of penalty and the term of the imprisonment had not been specified.
After Bhatkhalkar mooted the bill, fellow legislator and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) city chief Ashish Shelar moved a note of dissent. He said he does not think there are instances in the state where conversion is carried out forcibly.
The bill was, however, taken on record. The BJP, while in the Opposition, was keen on getting an anti-conversion law enacted.