The law against “forced conversion” comes into effect in Himachal Pradesh over a year after it is passed by the congregation

From: PTI | Shimla |

December 20, 2020, 9:07:36 pm





The development takes place against the background that last month the government of Uttar Pradesh announced an ordinance against violent or fraudulent religious conversion, which provides for a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a maximum sentence of 50,000 Rs in various categories.

In Himachal Pradesh, ruled by the BJP, a stricter law against violence, solicitation or marriage has come into effect, celebrated for the “sole purpose” of adopting a new religion with a provision of up to seven years in prison for violations. over a year after it was passed by the State Assembly.

The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act of 2019 was notified by the State Home Department on Friday. It replaces a 2006 law that was repealed by the Assembly.

The development takes place against the background that last month the government of Uttar Pradesh announced an ordinance against violent or fraudulent religious conversion, which provides for a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a maximum sentence of 50,000 Rs in various categories.

Several other states governed by the BJP are considering such laws, which party leaders claim are aimed at combating “love jihad,” a term they use for the alleged trick Hindu women use to convert marriage to Islam.

The law was passed in the Himachal Pradesh Congregation on August 30th last year, with the approval of the governor. However, it took more than 15 months for the home department to issue notification for their implementation.

The law provides for a harsh sentence of up to seven years in prison compared to the three years under the old Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act of 2006, which were similarly enforced.

The law prohibits conversion through misrepresentation, violence, improper influence, coercion, solicitation, marriage, or fraudulent means.

Any marriage for the sole purpose of conversion will also be annulled under Section 5 of the Act.

When asked about the delay in announcing the law, Justice Minister Suresh Bhardwaj told PTI that the Ministry of Interior must set rules for the due process for implementing the law, so the delay in making the announcement could be due to it.

The home department is also overseen by Prime Minister Jai Ram Thakur.

When contacted, the additional general secretary (at home) Manoj Kumar said he was on vacation for about a month and the officer in charge could answer the request.

According to the law, anyone wishing to convert must give the district judge a month’s notice that the person is converting. The provision was also included in the 2006 law and has been challenged in court.

The priest who is conducting a conversion ceremony will also give notice one month in advance. Those who return to their “parent” religion are exempt from this provision.

Under the new law, prison sentences range from two to seven years if Dalits, women or minors are forced to convert.

Pursuant to Section 10 of the Act, no person or organization in breach of the regulations is allowed to accept donations or contributions of any kind in or outside the country.

The opposition had backed the Himachal Pradesh Religious Freedom Act of 2019 in the State Assembly, and the law was passed unanimously with one vote.

The government had stated in the meeting that the purpose and reason for the legislation had been introduced because society had seen many changes since the entry into force of the previous bill that required strict and effective laws to control forced religious conversions. which are “on the rise” in the state.

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