The Madhya Pradesh government on November 25 doubled the proposed jail term for forced religious conversions for marriage from five years to 10 years in its draft bill against “love jihad”, Scroll reported quoting news agency PTI.
The term “love jihad” has been used by right-wing groups opposing what they say are "forced" inter-faith marriages. It is frequently used by Hindutva organisations to allege a conspiracy by Muslim men to marry women from other religions mainly to convert them to Islam.
Narottam Mishra, the state’s Home Minister, announced that the Dharm Swatantrya (Religious Freedom) Bill, 2020, would be tabled in the Legislative Assembly during the session beginning from December 28.
Mishra also elaborated on the permission required for those wanting to marry outside their faith. “Under this proposed law, the parties concerned will have to submit an application to the district magistrate before the conversion for marriage,” Mishra said.
“It will be mandatory for the person converting to another religion for marriage, and the religious persons involved to obtain permission of the district magistrate concerned a month in advance,” Mishra added.
The charge will be cognizable and non-bailable. Mishra said that the draft bill includes provision for a five-year jail term for priests who solemnise inter-faith marriages without permission from the district magistrate.
The announcement came a day after the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet cleared an ordinance aimed at stopping cases of “love jihad”. UP’s ordinance provides for a jail term of 1-5 years with a penalty of Rs 15,000 for forceful religious conversion.
The punishment goes up to 10 years in jail for converting minors and women of Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) community.
The Madhya Pradesh government had said on November 17 it would introduce a bill in the assembly against “love jihad”.Multiple states in India – especially those governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – are weighing laws against ‘love jihad’. Haryana, Assam and Karnataka are also planning such as law.