The Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance, 2020 came into force on January 9 that will regulate the religious conversion and inter-faith marriage.
The Ordinance was signed off by MP’s Governor Anandiben Patel, who recently also promulgated a very similar Ordinance passed by the UP cabinet in November 2020.
Starting from the definition of Conversion as ‘renouncing one religion and adopting another but the return of any person already converted to the fold of his parental religion shall not be deemed conversion’, it also included others’ as of allurement, coercion, force, fraudulent.
It laid down that no person shall convert or attempt to convert either directly or otherwise any other person from one religion to another by allurement, use of threat or force, undue influence, coercion, misrepresentation or by marriage or abet or conspire such conversion. And if any such thing happens, the person converted or his/her parents, siblings or with the leave of any court by any other person who is related to him/her by blood, marriage, adoption or guardianship can submit a written complaint and then the investigation will begin.
A person guilty of offence under this will be punishable with imprisonment of 1 to 5 years and fine which shall not be less than Rs. 25,000. However, there are different provisions for punishment with respect to the different persons and different situations.
The Ordinance does not affect just inter-faith marriage. Anybody who wishes to convert from one religion to another has to go through the procedure prescribed by the Ordinance.
Another crucial provision in the provision is that the burden of proof lies on the accused.