Bhopal: In a bid to outdo other BJP-ruled states in introducing a stricter ‘love jihad’ law, the Madhya Pradesh government has said it will add provisions of attaching property of the accused and payment of maintenance to the victim in case of talaq (divorce).
“Soon the ‘love jihad’ bill will come before the cabinet. We have added many provisions, which are not there in laws being enacted by other states. We will add attachment of property (of the accused), and, in case of talaq, maintenance has to be given. We are also contemplating whether a deserted person (alleged victim of ‘love jihad’) can get maintenance,” Home Minister Narottam Mishra told reporters Sunday.
The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government has already announced that the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill 2020 will be tabled in the three-day session of the assembly that will begin on 28 December.
Both the CM and the home minister have referred to the proposed bill as ‘love jihad’ law.
On Saturday, Chouhan had discussed the format of the proposed bill with top officials at the secretariat. Mishra was, however, not present at the meeting.
“No person in the state will be able to convert anyone from one religion to another directly or otherwise through marriage or any other fraudulent means by intimidation, deceit or force,’’ the CM said in a statement before elaborating on some provisions.
The proposed bill provides a maximum punishment of 10 years and shifts the burden of proof — that no conversion has taken place — to the accused.
Besides the affected person, parents or blood relatives will be able to file a complaint. The offence will be cognizable, non-bailable and only sessions court will take up the case. Marriage with the intention of conversion will be held null and valid.
The bill will provide jail term of between two to 10 years if the victim is minor, female or belongs to SC/ST community, and a fine of at least Rs 50,000.
Attempts to hide one’s religion will be punished with a jail term of three to 10 years and a fine of at least Rs 50,000.
Mass conversions (of two or more persons) will invite jail terms of five to 10 years, and a fine of at least Rs one lakh.
The home minister, meanwhile, Sunday said organisations involved in conducting such marriages, those giving donations for such marriages and those receiving donations for it will have their registrations cancelled.
He said priests, gurus and maulvis who conduct such marriages will also be punished. Advance intimation for all such marriages to the district magistrate is must under the proposed law.
Mishra further said that some other measures are also under consideration because MP wants to make the most stringent law.
The Uttar Pradesh government came up with a ‘love jihad’ ordinance last month that provides a maximum jail term of 10 years. MP, which had initially proposed a five-year term for alleged ‘love jihad’ related offences, then doubled the punishment to 10 years.
In a statement Monday, state BJP president V.D. Sharma claimed more and more cases of ‘love jihad’ are being reported from Madhya Pradesh as also other states.
“The law proposed by the Chouhan government will keep such elements under check and will set an example for other states to follow,’” the BJP leader added.
He said everyone enjoys the freedom to marry, but the legislation was aimed at people who marry by assuming false identity, who mislead and put pressure to convert. He further said the term ‘love jihad’ was used by the Kerala High Court.
‘Competition shouldn’t dictate framing of law’
The Congress, meanwhile, said “competition should not dictate framing of a law or a rule”.
“Any law that stems from competition will not succeed. It will not only weaken the law, but also make it difficult to implement,” Congress leader Durgesh Sharma told ThePrint.
He said the Congress was not against the law, but against its potential to discriminate and fulfill politically selfish interest.