Bhopal | Jagran News Desk: The Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday approved the MP Freedom of Religion Bill 2020. Under the provisions of the bill, forced conversion of a woman invites prison term of up to 10 years and fine of Rs 50,000.

This bill will now be presented in the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly where the saffron party holds a majority.

Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said that this bill will replace the Religious Freedom Act of 1968 (after the approval by the state Assembly), adding that it will be the "most stringent law in the country against religious conversion carried out by fraudulent means, allurement or threat".

"Under the new MP Freedom of Religion Bill 2020, forced conversion of a minor, woman or a person from Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, would draw a minimum jail term of 2-10 years with a minimum penalty of Rs 50,000," Mishra was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Under this law, marriage solemnised only for the purpose of converting a person will be considered null and void under the provisions of this proposed legislation, Mishra said. A provision is also being made that those willing to convert need to apply before the district administration two months prior, he added.

With this, Madhya Pradesh has become the second state in India after Uttar Pradesh to bring a law against forced conversion. Last month, Yogi Adityanath government's new anti-conversion law was promulgated by UP Governor Anandiben Patel.

However, the MP Freedom of Religion Bill 2020 is different than that of UP's law against forced conversion as a person "converting of his or her own free will" will not have to report it to the district magistrate (DM). The bill, however, says that blood relatives of a person can also file a complaint against forced conversion.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma