Representational Image
Representational Image

The 50-year old liberal laws for inter-religion marriage and hassle free marriage certificate issuance will be a passé as the government looks determined to bring stringent provision to check the rising incidents of ‘love jihad’.

The state government is all set to bring the amendment in the ‘Dharma Swantantra Adhiniyam 1968 in winter session of the state assembly scheduled from December 21.

The existing laws focus on ‘religion conversion’ and lack teeth to penalise a person responsible for luring a woman through fraud and forcing marriage by religious conversion, opined some legal experts. However, under the proposed Dharma Swatantrya (Religious Freedom) Bill 2020,  the word ‘marriage’ along with the offence (marrying fraudulently, forcibly or by tempting someone for religious conversion) will be made a cognizable and non-bailable offence. It also proposes a rigorous imprisonment for the period of five years for luring a person through fraud and forcing marriage by religious conversion. The bill will also have a provision to declare such marriages null and void.

Some of the political leaders and community activists had raised the issue that youths (boys) in the name of ‘love’ were luring the girls of the other religion into inter-religion marriage. In many of the cases after the marriage, the boy’s family would mount pressure on the girl to change the religion.  

Speaking about the existing laws, the legal experts said the marriage registrar or the authorised officer has to send the information about the religion conversion within the seven days to the district magistrate (collector) and nothing else. As per the law if the conversion is found illegal the accused faces up to 2 years jail term and the penalty of Rs 10,000. Besides, if the complaint is filed in the police station, the accused has the right to get bail from the police station itself.

The proposed law also aims to provide safety to girls who for love sake have live-on relationships and then they become victims of sexual exploitation and blackmailing and finally forced into marrying the man. Other provisions include making it mandatory for kin of the person being forced to convert to other faith for the purpose of marriage to file a complaint

The couple heading for inter-faith marriage will have to appear before the collector and the officer would give one month notice period before solemnising the marriage.

Docus must for issuance of marriage certificate

The Bhopal municipal corporation deputy commissioner Manish Shrivastava informed Free Press that currently people seeking marriage certificate have to furnish certain documents. Only after examining the original documents like age certification, Aadhaar card and other papers, the certificate is issued within a day or two, he added.

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