Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar during the state Budget session, in Chandigarh. (PTI Photo)
Chandigarh: Amid a Congress walkout, the Haryana Assembly on Tuesday passed a Bill against religious conversion through force, undue influence or allurement.
The Bill was introduced in the Assembly on March 4 and according to it, the onus of proof lies with the accused.
Similar Bills in the recent past have been passed in the BJP-ruled state, including Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
According to the Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2022, if conversion is done by allurement, use of force, coercion or fraudulent means, including the use of digital mode, there is a provision for imprisonment of one to five years and a fine of not less than Rs 1 lakh.
Anyone concealing his religion with intention to marry shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not less than three years, which may extend to 10 years and shall be liable to fine not less than Rs 3 lakh. The mass conversion shall be punished with the imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years, which may extend to 10 years and shall also be liable to pay a fine not less than Rs 4 lakh, as per the Bill.
It said whoever converts or attempts to convert a minor, woman or a person belonging to the SC or ST using force, threat, undue influence, coercion, allurement shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not less than four years, which may extend to 10 years and liable to fine not less than Rs 3 lakh. Every offence committed under this Act shall be cognisable, non-bailable and triable by a Sessions Court.
The House witnessed noisy scenes as sharp exchanges took place between the treasury and Congress benches during the discussion, which lasted for an hour. The Congress members staged a brief walkout and the Bill was passed in their absence.
Earlier, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said, "If anyone converts by choice, we don’t have a problem, but not if allurement, force or threat is used".