Governor Anandiben Patel on Saturday gave assent to an ordinance which penalises religious conversions through fraudulent means including those for the sake of marriage in Madhya Pradesh. The Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance, 2020, provides for ten years in jail in some cases. It has several provisions, similar to that of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh’s ordinance against fraudulent conversions.
The ordinance has been promulgated and published in the gazette notification after the assent of the Governor, Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Madhya Pradesh, Rajesh Rajora said. With this notification, the ordinance has become a law.
“No person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person by use of misrepresentation, allurement, use of threat of force, undue influence, coercion or marriage or by any other fraudulent means,” it said. Any conversion in contravention of this provision shall be deemed null and void, it adds.
Marriage in violation of law will be null and void
Any marriage solemnised in violation of this law will also be considered null and void. The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh took the ordinance route as the bill couldn’t be tabled in Assembly since its winter session has been deferred due to the COVID-19 situation.
State cabinet had given the nod to this ordinance in a meeting on December 29. There is a provision of three to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50,000 in cases of marriage carried out by hiding religion.
In cases involving religious conversion of members of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minors, a provision has been made for imprisonment of two to 10 years and Rs 50,000 fine. The parents, legal guardian or custodian and brothers and sisters of the converted person can lodge a complaint in this regard.
Those willing to convert will need to apply to the district administration 60 days in advance. The victim women will be entitled to get maintenance under the law. Children born out of such marriages would be entitled to inherit the fathers’ properties.