Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh cabinet on Saturday cleared the Dharma Swatantra (Religious Freedom) bill, 2020, known in political parlance as ‘Love Jihad’ bill.
The draft bill, which may see through in the assembly during its 3-day winter session commencing on December 28, provides a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and Rs 1 lakh fine to the perpetrators of forced religious conversion of a girl for marriage. The new bill has provision of declaring such a marriage null and void.
The bill puts onus on the accused and those associated with accused including organisations and institutions, to prove their innocence.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan who chaired the cabinet justified the bill saying that instances of religious conversion of a girl for political purpose have come to the fore. If someone is looking to capture a panchayat, he gets married to a girl and fields her in the polls, Mr Chouhan explained.
“We have rescued many under aged girls from various places recently. We will not allow this to happen to innocent girls from Madhya Pradesh”, he added.
Briefing the reporters after the cabinet meeting, state home minister Narottam Mishra said the new bill provides imprisonment of 1-5 years and fine of Rs 25,000 for forced conversion and if the victim of forced religious conversion belonged to scheduled caste or scheduled tribe or is a under aged, the offence would attract a minimum jail term of 2-10 years with a maximum penalty of Rs 1 lakh.
Under the new bill, it is made mandatory for both the bride and groom sides, to notify local district magistrate on change of religion 2 months ahead, failing which the marriage would be outlawed.
The religious leaders and priests associated with such marriages would attract 5 years jail term and the organisations and institutions involved in such marriages would be deregistered.
The new bill has also made provision of maintenance for the victim and her children. The Uttar Pradesh government passed a similar law on November 28.
However, cases of abuse of the law in Uttar Pradesh have come to fore.