Madhya Pradesh Religious Freedom Bill, 2020

The Madhya Pradesh cabinet recently approved the Religious Freedom Bill, 2020. Under the bill, forcing religious conversions will attract fine of Rs 25,000 and one to five years of imprisonment.

Key Features of the bill

  • The bill is to replace the Religious Freedom Act, 1968. Once enforced the Religious Freedom Bill will be the most stringent in the country.
  • The bill is also known as Anti-Love Jihad Bill.
  • The conversion of person from one religion to another on the basis of threats, marriage, force and conspiracy has been made punishable.
  • An organization, mother or father can register a compliant.
  • If the victim is a woman, minor or belongs to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe community, then the accused will be punishable with imprisonment ranging from two to ten years and fine of Rs 50,000.

Religious Freedom in India

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recently downgraded India to its lowest ranking in its 2020 report. India was categorized as Tier 2 country in the listing. This is the first time India has been placed under “Countries of Particular Concern” category since 2004. The report placed India along side Saudi Arabia, North Korea, China and Pakistan.

India received lowest ranking mainly due to the following reasons:

  • Citizenship Amendment Act
  • National Register of Citizens
  • Abrogation of Article 370
  • Anti-Conversion laws

Th report accused India of strengthening its Parliament majority to institute national level policies. In due course, India has violated religious freedom.

The USCIRF is a federal government commission created by the International Religious Freedom Act. The main responsibility of USCIRF is to review facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally. Lately, the USCIRF has been criticized world wide for being biased towards focusing on persecution of Christians, Muslim and Hinduphobic.

Constitutional Provisions

Article 25-28 guarantees Freedom of Religion. The articles provide freedom to the citizens to practice and promote their religion peacefully.

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