Abetting conversion through digital means, “allurement” by religious body-run schools, annulment of marriage that conceals one’s religion are some of the tough provisions included in the Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2022, which is expected to come up for discussion during the ongoing Budget session of the Haryana assembly, which will conclude on March 22.
Significantly, “the burden of proof shall lie on the accused in case of violation of any of the provisions of the Act”. According to the provisions proposed in the Act, the accused will have to prove his innocence once a case has been filed against him under the Act.
The BJP in Haryana has been pressing hard for such a law as it has been alleging deceitful conversions with an agenda to increase the strength of one particular religion. According to the Bill, “Conversion doesn’t include return of any person to the religion professed or being professed by anyone or both parents or grandparents of a person”.
The definition of “allurement” for conversion under the Bill includes education in schools run by any religious body. Abetting or conspiring for conversion through digital means is also an offence.
The Bill prescribes that any marriage solemnised by concealing one’s religion shall be “null and void”. Though any child born out of such marriage will be legitimate and could get property from father and mother, as per their respective inheritance laws.
For conversion, one has to submit a declaration to the District Magistrate (DM) stating his intention to convert out of free will. The DM has to affix the copy of such declaration or notice on the notice board outside his office and any person can file objection to that in 30 days.
The conversion through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, and allurement attracts imprisonment from one to three years and also a fine of not less than Rs 1 lakh. The same punishment is there for conversion by marriage or for marriage.
Concealing one’s religion for marriage attracts punishment of three to 10 years and a fine of Rs 3 lakh. In case of mass conversions, the imprisonment will be for five to 10 years with a fine of Rs 4 lakh. If an institution or organisation is found guilty, its registration will be cancelled.
Conversion through misrepresentation, force, undue influence and allurement attracts one to three years in jail and Rs 1 lakh as fine.
The discussion on the proposed bill is expected to be stormy with the Congress expected to oppose it.
Read all the Latest News India and Breaking News here