Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2022

On 5th March 2022, the Haryana government introduced the “Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2022” in the Vidhan Sabha (State legislative assembly).

About the bill

  • In February, the draft of the Bill was approved by the state Cabinet chaired by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. In the ongoing Budget session of Haryana, the bill was introduced in the Vidhan Sabha.
  • As the ruling party has the majority, the bill is likely to be passed by the state legislative assembly.
  • Once it is passed, it will be sent to the Governor of the state for his assent. If the Governor gives assent to the bill, it will become an act and becomes enforceable in the State of Haryana.

Provisions of the bill

  • The bill prohibits forceful, coercive, and fraudulent religious conversations. It seeks to protect the individual’s right to freedom of conscience and states that there is no collective right to proselytize.
  • The bill aims to protect vulnerable and gullible sections of society from being converted to other religions, either under force or under influence. It provides strict punishment for religious conversion in the case of minors, women, Scheduled Castes, and tribals.
  • According to the bill, the burden of proof is on the accused. The accused must effectively demonstrate that he did not commit any offense under the act.
  • There are also provisions regarding the willful or intentional conversion. If an individual wants to deliberately convert to another religion, he/she must submit a declaration to designated authority that the conversion is based on one’s own will and not under force or influence.
  • There will be an inquiry by the designated authorities into all such cases on willful religious conversion.
  • If marriage is solemnized by concealment of religion, designated authority can declare the marriage void.

Opposition to the bill

Severed opposition leaders and experts termed the bill unconstitutional. They think that it will create divisions in society based on a person’s religious beliefs.

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