Representational Image
Representational Image

The Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday said issues related to religious conversions are primarily the concerns of state governments, therefore it a 'nationwide law' to ban such conversions is not being planned by the Centre.

The ministry added that law enforcement agencies take action whenever such instances of violation come to the fore.

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said public order and police are state subjects as per the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution and hence, prevention, detection, registration, investigation and prosecution of offences related to religious conversions are primarily the concerns of state governments and Union Territory administrations.

"Action is taken as per existing laws by law enforcing agencies whenever instances of violation come to notice," he said in a written reply.

The minister's response was triggered due to questions raised by five Congress MPs regarding the instances of the alleged forced religious conversions across the country. The central government was asked if it had any plans to implement a blanket law to ban such conversations nationwide.

Notably, the 'The Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2020', which provides for up to 10 years in jail for conversion "through marriage or by any other fraudulent means" got the state cabinet''s approval in December last year.

The bill is in many ways similar to the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, notified by the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh earlier in November, which too provides for maximum punishment of 10 years for fraudulent conversions including those for the sake of marriage.

Any marriages solemnised in violation of the proposed laws in the respective states stand null and void, which triggered a myriad of reactions from liberal activists across India.

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Free Press Journal