As the Gujarat Assembly budget nears the end, the Gujarat government is planning to propose an amendment to the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003 to bring more stringent punishment against forced religious conversions through marriage.
The Bill will have provision for a maximum jail term of seven years and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh if the accused is found guilty.
The new law said if any organisation is involved in the crime, the person could be sentenced to maximum 10 years in jail with the fine upto Rs 5 lakh. Marriages solemnised for the purpose of such conversion will be declared void and the burden of proof shall lie on the accused. In such a case, parents, siblings, or any other person related by blood to the victim can lodge a complaint, and the offences will be considered non-bailable.
The bill proposed an amendment in the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act 2003 Act which seeks to curb the emerging trend in which the women are lured to marriage for the purpose of religious conversion.
A copy of the amendment Bill was made available in the State Assembly on Friday.
The proposed Gujarat love jihad law comes along the lines of those in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and a few other states. The government of Gujrat was submitted the bill in the Gujarat assembly on Tuesday seeks to prohibit and punish religious conversions promising better lifestyle, divine blessings and impersonation.
The new love jihad law would invite a jail term of 5 years and Rs 2 lakh penalty on the forced conversion of young women. In case of a minor girl being converted, the punishment would go up to 7 years and Rs 3 lakh penalty. The same provision will apply in the conversion case of a Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe woman.
The Religious Freedom Act was first brought in Gujarat in 2003 after which the first amendment was made in 2006. With the Religious Freedom Bill, 2021, the Gujarat government aims to expand the scope of the law and include conversion by marriage in its purview.