Bill amendment introduced to make the Freedom of Religion act more stringent

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Shimla, Aug 12

The state government introduced the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Amendment Bill 2022 in the House to make stringent provisions for any kind of forceful mass conversion after placing it under the crime category.

A provision has been inserted in the bill that if two or more persons have been converted, then it would be considered a mass conversion. This amendment Bill will be discussed in the house on 13 August.

It has been inserted in the Principal Act that “Whosoever contravenes the provisions of section 3 in respect of mass conversion shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, which shall not be less than five years, but which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine which shall not be less than Rupees One lakh, but which may extend to Rupees one lakh fifty thousand.” Provided also that in case of a second or subsequent offence mentioned in this section is committed, the term of imprisonment shall not be less than seven years, but may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to a fine which shall not be less than Rupees One lakh fifty thousand which may extend to Rupees two lakh.

It is provided in the Bill that whosoever intends to marry a person of any religion other than the religion professed by him and conceals his religion in such a manner the other person whom he intends to marry believes that his religion is truly the one professed by him shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, which shall not be less than three years, but which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine which shall not be less than Rupees fifty thousand, but which may extend to Rupees One lakh.

In section 7 of the principal Act, any person shall not take any benefit of his parent religion or caste after conversion shall be inserted. It is also inserted that whoever makes a false declaration continues to take benefit of his parent religion or caste even after conversion, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than two years but which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine which shall not be less than Rupees fifty thousand and may extend to Rupees one lakh. In the inquiry or investigation in respect of a complaint against the conversion of religion, no police officer below the rank of Sub-Inspector shall inquire or investigate into the complaints received on this behalf, and it will be triable by the session Court shall also be inserted.

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