Bill penalising conversion by marriage to be tabled in Guj Assembly

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Gandhinagar, Mar 26 (PTI) A bill penalising forcible or fraudulent religious conversion by marriage with three to ten years in jail and a fine of upto Rs five lakh is likely to be tabled in the Gujarat Assembly next week.

The bill, which amends a 2003 Act, seeks to curb the 'emerging trend in which women are lured to marriage for the purpose of religious conversion' as per its 'statement of object'.

The copy of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill was made available in the Assembly on Friday.

Similar laws have been enacted in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

The bill says it is necessary to prohibit 'forcible conversion by marriage or by getting a person married or by aiding a person to get married,' and hence the amendment is being carried out.

The Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003 deals with religious conversion 'through allurement, force or by misrepresentation or by any other fraudulent means'.

'However, there are episodes of religious conversion promising better lifestyle, divine blessings and impersonation. There is an emerging trend in which women are lured to marriage for the purpose of religious conversion,' the bill says.

The amendment also defines 'allurement' as promising 'better lifestyle, divine blessings, or otherwise'.

'Forcible conversion by marriage, or by getting a person married' shall invite imprisonment of 3-5 years and up to Rs 2 lakh fine.

If the victim is a minor, a woman, a Dalit or tribal, then the offenders may be punished with a jail term of 4-7 years and a fine of not less than Rs 3 lakh.

If any organisation is found violating the law, the person in-charge can be sentenced to between three years to ten years in jail and a fine of upto Rs 5 lakh can be imposed.

Marriages solemnized for the purpose of such conversion will be declared void. Also, the burden of proof shall lie on the accused.

Parents, siblings or any other person related by blood, marriage or adoption to the victim can lodge complaint.

Offences will be non-bailable. PTI KA PD BNM KRK KRK