The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2019 comes into effect in Himachal Pradesh
Key provisions of the act
- Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2019 replaces a 2006 law that has been repealed by the assembly.
- Stringent law: It provides for more stringent law against conversion by force, inducement or through marriages solemnised for the “sole purpose” of adopting a new religion
- Seven-year jail: It has provision which punishes violators with seven years jail
- If Dalits, women or minors were made to convert, the jail term will be between two-seven years.
- But the old one Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2006 provides for three year jail
- It prohibits conversion by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, inducement, marriage or any fraudulent means.
- As per the section 5 of the act declares any marriage for the sole purpose of conversion will be declared null and void
- Notice to magistrate: The act states that anyone seeking to convert will need to give a month’s notice to the district magistrate, stating that the person is converting on his/her own. The provision figured in the 2006 law as well and was challenged in court.
- The priest who performs a conversion ceremony will also give a month’s notice in advance.
- Those reconverting to their “parent religion” are exempted from this provision.
- Not to accept Donation: according to section 10 of the Act no person or organisation violating the provisions will be allowed to accept any donation or contribution of any kind from within or outside the country.
States with similar laws
- Recently, the state of Uttar Pradesh has announced the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religious Ordinance, 2020.
- prohibits conversion from one religion to another by “misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, coercion, allurement or marriage”.
- The stated goal of the law is to check “unlawful religious conversion” and “interfaith marriages with the sole intention of changing a girl’s religion”.
- It criminalises conversions in violation of the provisions of the law and will punish the guilty with a jail term of up to 10 years.
Other states are:
- Madhya Pradesh: Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam in 1968
- Odisha: Odisha was the first state to enact anti-conversion legislation, the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act,1967