Madhya Pradesh notifies law against religious conversion

Mumbai: Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel addresses during `Vibrant Gujarat-2015`- a business roadshow in Mumbai, on Nov 17, 2014. (Photo: Sandeep Mahankal/IANS)

Bhopal, March 31 (IANS) In order to curb the incidents of forceful religious conversions and cheating on the pretext of marriage, the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2021, passed in the state Assembly, has come into force in the state.

After the BJP’s return to power in Madhya Pradesh last year, a proposal was passed to implement the Act in the state cabinet and after getting it passed in the state Legislative Assembly earlier this month.

This Act passed by the state Legislative Assembly after seeking assent from the Governor Anandiben Patel has been promulgated and published in the Madhya Pradesh Gazette (Extraordinary) on March 27.

Under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, conversion from one religion to another for fraudulent means has been considered a punishable offence. Marriage solemnised with the intention of converting a person’s religion would be declared null and void. The converted person or his/her parents or sibling brother or sister with the permission of the court can submit a petition.

In case any institution or organisation violates any of the provisions mentioned in it, the Act has provisions of punishment. Investigation of a crime registered under this Act cannot be done by a police officer of lower rank than a police sub-inspector.

The Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act also has a provision that a person who wants to convert to another religion, has to apply with the District Magistrate 60 days in advance. The person who is converting to another religion has to tell that he/she wants to convert his/her religion by their own free will and not under any pressure or influence.

According to this Act, any child born out of wedlock in violation of the rules would be deemed valid. The inheritance of such child in property will be according to law.

A child born from a void and null marriage declared according to the rules will have the right to the property of his/her father. Despite the declaration of null and void marriage, the woman and the child born would be entitled to maintenance according to the Act.

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