Shivraj’s cupboard approves Parliament’s anti-conversion regulation with provisions for alimony and a 10-year jail sentence

File image of Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan | Facebook

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Bhopal: Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s cabinet called it the strictest anti-conversion legislation in the country and on Saturday deleted Madhya Pradesh’s 2020 Religious Freedom Act, shifting the burden of proof to the defendants and providing maintenance for victims (women ). and children.

The bill to replace the 1968 anti-conversion law in Madhya Pradesh will be tabled in a three-day assembly session from December 28th. The cabinet cleared the bill at a special virtual meeting.

The state ruled by the BJP announced weeks ago its intention to introduce such a law, but delayed introducing new regulations that either met or exceeded the strictest regulations in other states. For example, the state wanted a maximum prison sentence of five years, but doubled it after Uttar Pradesh passed an ordinance on a ten-year prison sentence.

The bill does not use the term “love jihad,” but its main provisions make it clear that the legislation targets interfaith marriages resulting from misrepresentation, seduction, threat, violence, improper influence, use of fraudulent means, coercion, incitement and conspiracy.

The maximum penalty foreseen in the proposed legislation is a minimum of Rs 50,000 and a prison sentence of 10 years if the converted person is a woman or a minor belonging to the proposed castes or proposed tribes. Bulky conversion (simultaneous conversion of two or more people) will result in a minimum of five years to a maximum of ten years in prison and a minimum sentence of Rs 1 lakh.

Priests who perform conversions must give the district judge 60 days notice. Those who fail to make such a suggestion will be held liable for a prison term of between three and five years and a minimum fine of Rs 50,000.

Also read: What the UP government’s new anti-conversion law says and the origin of “love jihad”

Burden of Proof on Defendants

State Home Secretary Narottam Mishra told reporters that the MP government has tried to make the legislation in the country the toughest by including provisions such as alimony and giving children born of such marriages a share of the defendant’s property have granted.

The burden of proof now also rests on those accused of violating provisions of the law, which means that they must prove their innocence.

All criminal offenses are recognizable and non-criminal and in these cases only the court of appeal conducts judicial proceedings.

“A person who returns to the fatherly faith (conversion) will not be treated as a conversion,” Mishra said. The paternal religion was defined as the religion that the father followed at the time of the birth of a potential convert.

Mishra said the law provides that any marriage that is solemnly entered into in violation of its terms will be annulled. He said that organizations and institutions that direct such conversions will also be penalized and their registrations will be canceled.

Prime Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told reporters that forcible, tempting or fraudulent conversion to MP is “not allowed” and the law has become stricter as many cases have become known.

Individuals who have been converted under such conditions, their parents or siblings can come forward to file a complaint with police stations. Other relatives, guardians and administrators can also file such complaints, but by going to the courts.

Also read: After the “love jihad” the government of Madhya Pradesh targets missionaries and carries out “Christian conversions”.

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