Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2022

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    • The Haryana government introduced a Bill in the state Assembly against religious conversion through force, undue influence or allurement.

    Major Highlights of the Bill

    • Section 3 of the Bill
      • Makes it clear that no person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person from one religion to another by misrepresentation, use of force, threat, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by fraudulent means including the use of digital mode, or by marriage or for marriage.
    • The Bill provides for declaring marriages, which were done solely for the purpose of conversion from one religion to another religion, null and void.
      • If religion is concealed with an intention to marry, then the person shall be punished with imprisonment of three years to 10 years and shall also be liable to pay a fine, which shall not be less than Rs 3 lakh.
    • The mass conversion, contravening to the provisions, shall be punished with the imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years, which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine not less than Rs 4 lakh.
    • Similar Bills have been passed in the past in States such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.

    Freedom of religion in India

    • Freedom of religion in India is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 25-28 of the Constitution of India.
      • Article 25 says that all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health.
      • Article 26 says that all denominations can manage their own affairs in matters of religion.
    • Indian constitution’s preamble was amended in 1976 to state that India is a secular state.
    • Every citizen of India has a right to practice and promote their religion peacefully.

     

    Various Issues surrounding

    • Forcibly converted: Many cases have surfaced in the State of people being converted through various allurements. Some of them were even forcibly converted.
    • Such incidents not only violate our religious freedom but also hurt the socio-religious fabric of society.
    • Incidents of ‘love jihad’ have started taking place in a few places of Haryana.
      • Love jihad is an expression referred to alleged attempts by Muslim men to force Hindu women to change their faith, frequently through allurement, promise of marriage or coercion.
    • Opposition called the Bill “unconstitutional” and termed it the government’s attempt to create a divide in the society on the basis of religion.
    • Such incidents not only infringe the freedom of religion of the persons so converted but also militate against the secular fabric of our society.

    Arguments in favour of the Bill

    • There’s no mention of any religion in the Bill and it pertains to only forcible conversions.
    • It does not stop anyone who is willingly converting provided that the person submits an application for wilful conversion to the District Magistrate.
      • If any person has an objection to this conversion, then they can file their objection in writing within 30 days.
      • The District Magistrate shall investigate and decide whether the conversion is intended to be in contravention of Section 3.
      • If the District Magistrate comes to the conclusion that the intended conversion is in contravention of Section 3, then he shall decline the intended conversion by passing a reasoned order.

    Source:TH