Governor of Madhya Pradesh promulgates the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance, 2020.
Purpose of this Ordinance
To provide freedom of religion by prohibiting conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, allurement, use of threat or force, undue influence, coercion, marriage or any fraudulent means and for the matters connected therewith.
Prohibition of unlawful conversion from one religion to other religions [Section 3]
The said ordinance states that no person shall:
- Convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person by use of misrepresentation, allurement, use of threat or force, undue influence, coercion or marriage or by any other fraudulent means;
- Abet or conspire such conversion
Complaint against conversion of religion [Section 4]
No police officer shall inquire or investigate except upon written complaint of a person converted in contravention of Section 3 above or his parents or siblings or with leave of the Court by any other person who is related by blood, marriage or adoption, guardianship or custodianship as may be applicable.
Punishment for contravention of provisions of Section 3 [Section 5]
Imprisonment for a term not less than one year but which may extend to 5 years and the person shall also be liable to not less than Rs 25,000 fine.
There are certain proviso clauses mentioned under the said Section.
Marriages performed with the intent to convert a person shall be null and void [Section 6]
Marriages performed in contravention of Section 3 shall be deemed to be null and void.
Jurisdiction of Court [Section 7]
To declare the marriage null and void, the petition shall be presented by any person mentioned in Section 4 before the family court or where a family court is not established, the Court having jurisdiction of a family court within the local limits wherein, —
- The marriage was solemnized or
- Respondent at the time of the presentation resides or
- Either parties to the marriage last resided together or
- Where the petitioner is residing on the date of presentation of the petition.
Inheritance Right [Section 8]
Child born out of a marriage performed in contravention of Section 3 will be legitimate and succession to the property by such child shall be regulated according to the law governing inheritance of the father.
Right to Maintenance [Section 9]
Woman whose marriage is declared null and void under Section 7, children born out of that marriage shall be entitled to maintenance.
Declaration before conversion of religion [Section 10]
Any person who desires to convert shall submit a declaration to that effect 60 days prior to such conversion to the District Magistrate stating his desire to convert without any force, coercion, undue influence or allurement.
Section 11 states the punishment for violation of provisions of Ordinance by an institution or organization.
Burden of Proof [Section 12]
Burden of Proof as to whether a conversion was not effected through misrepresentation, allurement, use of force, threat of force, undue influence, coercion or by marriage or any other fraudulent means done for the purpose of carrying out conversion lies on the accused.
Investigation [Section 14]
No police officer below the rank of sub-inspector of police shall investigate any offence registered under the ordinance.