MP Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan
MP Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan

BHOPAL: The state cabinet brought the ordinance on Freedom of Religion Bill 2020 at a meeting held in Mantralaya here on Tuesday. The cabinet has approved the ordinance 2020 keeping in mind the rising number of love jihad cases in the state.

The ordinance was brought in the cabinet, because the winter session of the state assembly has been deferred to budget session. Till the approval from Vidhan Sabha comes, ordinance has been brought. Once the ordinance is approved by the Governor, the Religions Freedom Act, 1968, will become null and void.

There are provisions for 10-year jail term and a fine of Rs 50,000 against those who will try to convert women, people of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and minors to other religion against the Act. If one wants to change religion, one has to take permission from the collector two months in advance.

If the priests, maulavis and pujaris responsible for conversion do not inform the collector, they will land in jail for five years and have to pay a fine of Rs 50,000. There are stringent provisions for marriages performed through enticement, threat and conspiracy. The religious conversion not done according to the Act will be scrapped. There are also provisions for women victims and their children who will be treated as heir to fathers’ properties.

Nevertheless, they will not be converted to fathers’ religion. Their paternal religion will be retained, that is, they will belong to religion they inherited at time of their birth.

The crime is non-bailable under the Act, and the case can be heard only by the sessions court.

An accused has to collect evidence to prove his innocence. An officer above sub inspector rank can probe such cases. Besides parents, brothers and sisters, any other family members or legal guardian can file a complaint about religious conversion at the court. Provisions have been made to take action against the organisations and associations involved in religious conversion.

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Free Press Journal