BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh is preparing a law to make ‘love jihad’ a non-bailable offence with five years’ rigorous imprisonment, home minister Narottam Mishra said on Tuesday.
The Uttar Pradesh and Haryana governments have also spoken of such a law but MP has taken the first step. On November 2, a day ahead of voting for the bypolls, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had announced that his government is making “legal arrangements” to end ‘love jihad’. “Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, too, are considering a law against ‘love jihad’, and we will also give it legal form,” he had said.
A fortnight later and a week after sweeping the bypolls, Mishra said on Tuesday: “We will bring about a legislation against ‘love jihad’ through Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Vidheyak 2020 in the coming assembly session. It will have provisions of rigorous imprisonment of up to five years for forcible marriage, seduction and forced conversions.”
“The bill proposes that the offence be cognizable and nonbailable. Provisions will also be made to declare forced marriage and conversions null and void,” the home minister told reporters, adding that collaborators in the crime will be prosecuted as the ‘main accused’.
The parents or siblings of the person who has been converted need to file a complaint for action to be taken.
If anyone wants to voluntarily convert for marriage, he/ she and the religious leader carrying out the conversion have to apply before the collector a month in advance, Mishra said. The instructions will be effective immediately after the proposal takes the shape of an Act, he told TOI.
In September, Allahabad high court had said that religious conversion only for the purpose of marriage was unacceptable. BJP state president V D Sharma said: “The BJP government is well aware of the atrocities being committed against women. The government first made a provision of capital punishment against rape. Now, a law will be enacted against ‘love jihad’. This is a serious problem and (the law) will curb forcible conversions.”
‘Love jihad’ law will be a stunt: Congress
Congress dubbed it a stunt. “This is BJP’s political gimmick. The government should first call an assembly session and elect a full-time Speaker. Then the pros and cons could be discussed. Love is above all law,” said former law minister P C Sharma.
The name of the bill seems to be an echo of ‘MP Freedom of Religion Act, 1968,’ which was enacted by the then Congress government to stop conversion through “allurement, force or fraud”. It provided for a year’s jail and made it mandatory for the religious leader who presides over conversions to inform the district magistrate within seven days.
In 2006, the government unsuccessfully tried to amend it to make it mandatory for those wishing to convert to inform the district magistrate a month in advance. This clause will now be a key aspect of the proposed Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Vidheyak 2020.
Courtesy Times of India