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    Haryana Govt. passes anti-conversion Bill

    The Haryana State Assembly on Tuesday passed the Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2022, against religious conversion by allurement, coercion or fraudulent means. Congress lawmakers opposed the Bill and staged a walkout from the House.

    Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said The Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2022 was aimed at instilling fear among those who commit crimes.

    A person can change religion as per his own free will, but it will not be allowed to happen to anyone forcibly, the Chief Minister said. “Action will be taken against such people if they convert religion by deceit or by giving any kind of greed. The purpose of this Bill is to control forced religious conversion,” he added.

    The Chief Minister said that 127 FIRs for religious conversion were registered in six districts over the last four years. He said cases of conversion have been witnessed in Yamunanagar, Panipat, Gurugram, Palwal, Faridabad districts, and hence, the Bill has been brought in. Mr. Khattar said the Bill was in the interest of Haryana as well as the country.

    The Bill was introduced in the Assembly on March 4 and was taken up for consideration and its passing in the Assembly on Tuesday. As the Bill came up for consideration, Leader of Opposition in the Houses, Congress’s Bhupinder Singh Hooda said there was no need to bring a new law as there is an existing provision for punishment of forcible conversions.

    Terming the Bill as “scary”, Congress leader Kiran Choudhary said it would deepen the communal divide. She said that the Bill could have serious effects in the future and it’s a black chapter in State’s history. The Congress MLAs then staged a brief walkout from the House.

    The Bill prohibits unlawful conversion from one religion to another by misinterpretation, use of force, threat, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage. According to the Bill, if a person wants to convert voluntarily, he will have to submit a declaration of conversion in the prescribed format to the District Magistrate. Any religious priest or other person intending to organize a conversion shall give prior notice to the District Magistrate giving information about the venue. A copy of such notice or declaration shall be pasted on the notice board of the office of the District Magistrate. If any person has any objection, then he can file his objection in writing within 30 days.

    The District Magistrate shall investigate and decide whether the conversion is intended to be in contravention of Section 3. If he finds any contravention, he shall decline the intended conversion by passing an order. Any person aggrieved by the order passed by the District Magistrate may file an appeal within a period of 30 days before the Divisional Commissioner concerned. If any institution or organization contravenes the provisions of this Act, it will be punished under section 12 of this Act. The offense of contravention of this Act shall be cognizable and non-bailable.

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