Love Jihad: Madhya Pradesh approves draft Bill

The new draft Bill provides for jail term up to five years and a fine of Rs 25,000 for forceful conversions and mandates maintenance of women and children from such marriages


Madhya Pradesh has become the second State after Uttar Pradesh to introduce and approve an anti-conversion law in the State. The draft Dharma Swatantrya (Freedom of Religion) Bill, 2020 was tabled in a special meeting to curb the cases of “Love Jihad” in the State.

While addressing the media, Home Minister Narottam Mishra read out a couple of provisions from the draft law that got the approval from the Cabinet today, on December 26. The Bill provides for one to five years of imprisonment and a fine of rupees twenty-five thousand for alleged forceful religious conversions. Forced conversion of a minor, woman or a person from Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, would draw a minimum jail term of two to ten years with a minimum penalty of rupees fifty thousand.

Home Minister Narottam Mishra also said that in cases of group conversions, the jail term will be up to ten years with a fine of rupees one lakh noting that the state has tried to make the law as stringent as possible when compared to other such laws in the country. The Bill also makes the offence of conversion cognisable and non-bailable empowering an officer not below the rank of a deputy police inspector to probe such cases.

The Bill was cleared in a special meeting of the Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, ahead of a three-day session of the Assembly, beginning on December 28, reported The Indian Express. This new law which received the Cabinet’s assent will replace the existing Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam, 1968.


Under the draft law, a family court in the state will be empowered to declare marriages conducted for the purpose of religious conversion “null and void”. However, alimony in such cases would be granted as per Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and children born out of such marriages shall be eligible to inherit the property of the parents.


However, like the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, the impugned law does not seem to have any provisions making it mandatory for people to report to the District Magistrate in matters of conversions based on free will and consent.

Shifting focus on other States, Haryana has formed a three-member drafting committee to frame a law on the matter. Karnataka and Assam governments have made similar announcements, going by media sources.

It is noteworthy that even though the States are coming up with laws to curb the incidents of women being lured by men belonging to minority communities, in February this year, the Centre had informed in the Lok Sabha that the central agency had come across no such love Jihad case and that the National Investigation Agency were put to task to investigate two instances of inter faith marriages from Kerala, that were not necessarily examples of it.  


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