On Saturday, Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel gave his assent to an ordinance that penalizes religious conversions through fraudulent means including those for the sake of marriage.
The Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance, 2020 has been promulgated and published in the gazette notification after the assent of the Governor, Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Madhya Pradesh, Rajesh Rajora said. The ordinance has several provisions that are similar to the ordinance issued by the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh against fraudulent conversions. It provides for ten years in jail in some cases.
With this notification, the ordinance has become 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 and any marriage solemnized in violation of this law will also be considered null and void, the ordinance adds.
Further, 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.
According to the ordinance, a provision has been made for the imprisonment of two to 10 years and a Rs 50,000 fine, in cases involving religious conversion of members of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and minors.
Earlier on 29 December, the State cabinet has given the nod to this ordinance. The parents, legal guardian or custodian, and brothers and sisters of the converted person can lodge a complaint in this regard.
As per Section 4, a police officer can investigate into such conversion upon receipt of written complaint of a person converted or by his/her parents, siblings or with the leave of any court by any other person who is related to him/her by blood, marriage, adoption or guardianship.
Those willing to convert will need to apply to the district administration 60 days in advance.