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MP anti-conversion Bill

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

MP anti-conversion Bill:


Context:

The proposed law is called the Madhya Pradesh Dharmik Swatantrata (Freedom of Religion) Bill 2020.

  • Madhya Pradesh Cabinet has given its nod to an ordinance on the Bill.

Key Provisions:

  1. Seeks to regulate inter-faith marriages in the state.
  2. Exempts reconversion to parental religion from its purview.
  3. Jail term of up to 10 years and a fine of ₹1 lakh for “conversion through marriage or other forcible means”.
  4. The bill seeks to prohibit religious conversions or an attempt of conversion by means of misrepresentation, allurement, threat, undue influence, coercion, marriage, and any other fraudulent means.
  5. The conspiracy and (the act of) abetting a person for conversion has also been prohibited.
  6. Forceful conversions and marriages will be a cognizable offence and be non-bailable.

Issues and concerns:

States are opting for laws on freedom of religion for marriage (‘love jihad’).

  • The Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, was notified by Uttar Pradesh last month.
  • Haryana and Karnataka announced intentions to enact such laws.

This has made the topic debatable.

What critics say?

The law has come under sharp criticism from several legal scholars who had contended that the concept of ‘love jihad’ did not have any constitutional or legal basis.

  • They have pointed to Article 21 of the constitution which guarantees individuals the right to marry a person of one’s choice.
  • Also, under Article 25, freedom of conscience, the practice and conversion of religion of one’s choice including not following any religion, are also guaranteed.

Supreme Court on Marriage and Conversion:

  • The Apex Court of India in its several judgements has held that the state and the courts have no jurisdiction over an adult’s absolute right to choose a life partner.
  • The Supreme Court of India, in both the Lily Thomas and Sarla Mudgal cases, has confirmed that religious conversions carried out without a bona fide belief and for the sole purpose of deriving some legal benefit do not hold water.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Article 21.
  2. Article 25.
  3. What has the Allahabad High Court said in Salamat Ansari-Priyanka Kharwar case.

Mains Link:

The right to choose a partner or live with a person of choice was part of a citizen’s fundamental right to life and liberty. Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.