10 years jail for inter-faith marriage in MP, priests to be penalized, says new draft
Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday doubled the punishment for forced conversions for marriage and bolstered other provisions in its draft bill to regulate interfaith relationships, a day after Uttar Pradesh approved an ordinance outlawing religious conversions by marriage, coercion, deceit or enticement.
State home minister Narottam Mishra said, “We have finalized the draft of Madhya Pradesh Dharm Swatantrey (MP Freedom of Religion Act) on Wednesday. Now the conversion for marriage by force, fraud, lure or instigation will be punishable by a maximum jail term of 10 years. Now, the accused will not get bail within 45 days of their arrest. This offence shall be cognizable and non-bailable.”
The maximum punishment in the earlier version of the bill, which is due to be tabled in assembly in the upcoming winter session beginning on December 28, was five years.
The decision to hike the punishment was taken at a meeting of home and law departments. The maximum punishment in the UP ordinance is also 10 years.
“In the draft, the state government has also added a provision of five years jail term for religious gurus of different religions, who will perform the conversion ceremony. The state government will also cancel the registration of organisation, which will promote the forced mass conversion in the pretext of marriage,” said Mishra.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also said the BJP-led state government will not allow “love jihad”, a term used by right-wing activists to describe relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women, but one that courts and the Union government refuse to recognise.
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