Anti-Conversion Bill passed in Haryana State Assembly
On Tuesday a landmark bill was passed in the Haryana State Assembly. In a bid to tackle rampant religious conversions in the state by allurement, coercion or fraudulent means, the Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2022 was passed. The bill was however, opposed by the Congress lawmakers who staged a walkout of the House in protest of the Bill.
Chief Minister of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar said that over last four years, 127 FIRs have been filed in six districts for religious conversion. He added that religious conversions have been witnessed in Haryana’s Yamunanagar, Panipat, Gurugram, Palwal, Faridabad districts, prompting the introduction of Anti-Conversion Bill in the state.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said, “The Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2022 was aimed at instilling fear among those who commit crimes.” The Chief Minister added that though change of religion is permitted under free will, it cannot be forced under any circumstances. He said, “Action will be taken against such people if they convert religion by deceit or by giving any kind of greed. The purpose of this Bill is to control forced religious conversion.”
The bill was first introduced in the Assembly on March 4 and was hence taken up for consideration with being passed on Tuesday by the Assembly.
The Bill was however, strongly opposed by the Congress opposition members. Senior Congress leader Kiran Choudhry remarked, “The Chief Minister brought this bill with a political agenda, that’s very clear. The first sentence of mine was that if anyone is doing any criminal act and if there are any forcible conversions taking place, we are all for the fact that those people should be strictly acted upon. It is draconian bill which will affect the sanctity of individuals and the sanctity of religions. And basically, it is to deepen the divide between communities which I don’t think is a good idea.”
The key provisions of this bill are:
- If the conversion is done by allurement, under force, coercion, or fraudulent means, including the use of digital mode, bill has a provision for imprisonment of one to five years and a fine of at least Rs. 1 lakh
- Anyone concealing his religion with the marriage intention shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of at least three years, which may extend to 10 years; with a fine not less than Rs.3 lakh
- The mass conversion is punishable with imprisonment for a term not less than five years, which may extend to 10 years and also liable to pay a fine of not less than Rs.4 lakh
- The conversion or attempt to do so of a minor, woman, or a person belonging to the SC or ST using force, threat, undue influence, coercion, allurement shall be punished with imprisonment for not less than four years, which may extend to 10 years and liable to a fine of at least Rs.3 lakh