BJP Government in Himachal Pradesh brings Bill Against Forced Conversion

The Himachal Pradesh Assembly on Friday passed a Bill against forced conversion in the state, inducement or through marriages solemnised for the “sole purpose” of adopting a new religion.

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur stated that a new stringent legislation was required as “forced conversion”, especially in Rampur and Kinnaur, was “on the rise.”

The new Bill proposes stringent punishments — up to seven years in jail compared to the three years under the existing law.

The Bill prohibits conversion by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, inducement, marriage or any fraudulent means. Any marriage for the sole purpose of conversion will also be declared null and void under Section 5 of the Bill.

According to the new Bill, anyone seeking to convert will need to give a month’s notice to the district magistrate, stating that the person is converting on his/her own. The provision figured in the 2006 law as well and was challenged in court.

The priest who performs conversion ceremony will also give a month’s notice in advance. Those reconverting to their “parent religion” are exempted from this provision.

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