MP anti-conversion law comes into effect: All you need to know
Madhya Pradesh on Saturday notified the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance, 2020, bringing the law into effect in the state. The state's home department notified the ordinance which prohibits and provides for punishment for conversion in the state Gazette. It was earlier approved by state Governor Anandiben Patel.
“An ordinance to provide freedom of religion by prohibiting conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, allurement, use of threat or force, undue influence, coercion, marriage or any fraudulent means and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto,” the ordinance reads, according to news agency ANI.
After the Madhya Pradesh assembly's winter session, which was scheduled to be held between December 28-30 was cancelled due to several MLAs and lawmakers testing positive for Covid-19, the Shivraj Chouhan government on December 29 brought the ordinance.
Here’s everything you need to know about the MP Freedom of Religion Ordinance, 2020:
1. The aim of the law according to the government is to stop forced religious conversions on the pretext of marriage, and the use of force, misrepresentation, or other fraudulent means for conversion.
2. Under the new law, a person who wants to undergo a religious conversion of their own free will, and the priest who carries out the religious conversion, will have to give notice to the district officer at least 60 days before the intended date of conversion.
3. Anyone carrying out religious conversions in violation of the procedure set out in the law will face imprisonment of 1-5 years and a minimum penalty of ₹25,000. If the priest who is carrying out the conversion fails to inform the district official, they stand to be put in jail for 3-5 years and pay a penalty of ₹50,000.
4. In cases where those being converted are minor, women, or members of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, the minimum punishment is a jail term of 2 years, which can go up to 10 years, along with a minimum penalty of ₹50,000.
5. Those who use misrepresentation and then indulge in conversion will face a jail term of 3-10 years along with a minimum penalty of ₹50,000.
6. For mass conversions a jail term of 5-10 years, with a minimum penalty of ₹1 lakh will be applicable.
7. Repeat offenders, who resort to unlawful means for religious conversion, will face a jail term of 5-10 years.
8. A police officer can’t take suo moto action in the case of conversion. The person who has been converted, their parents and siblings, can report the alleged crime at the nearest police station. The law also empowers the guardian to approach the court with their complaint and get an order for an offence to be registered with the police.
9. The offence is cognizable and non-bailable and will be investigated by a police officer of a rank not lower than sub-inspector at the local police station.
10. The registration of organisations that conduct conversions will be cancelled.
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