Himachal Passes Stringent ‘Mass Conversion’ Bill, Raises Punishment For Forced Religion Change to 10-Year-Jail

Shimla/New Delhi: The Himachal Pradesh Assembly on Saturday passed a bill forbidding “mass conversion” and raising the maximum punishment to 10 years imprisonment in its 2019 law against any change of religion through force or allurement. The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill of 2022 was passed with a voice vote to enhance punishment and add a specific mention of “mass conversion” to the existing law.Also Read – Himachal Pradesh: Two Teenagers Drowned In Swan Lake

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said earlier the law was enacted with a view to providing freedom of religion by prohibiting religious conversions by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, inducement or by any fraudulent means or marriage. “Now, some amendments need to be made to make it stricter.” Also Read – What Is Mass Conversion Bill? Himachal Govt’s Stringent Version Of Anti-Conversion Law | Explained

Himachal Pradesh was among the first states to enact the anti-conversion law in 2006. However, later the government repealed the Act and enacted the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2019 citing rise in cases of forced conversion. Also Read – WATCH: Chaos After Massive Portion of Flyover Collapses on Shimla-Kalka Highway

Punishment for mass conversion: Jail up to 10 years, fine of Rs 1.50 lakh

“There was no provision in the Act to curb mass conversions. Therefore, a provision to this effect is being made. The jail for mass conversions shall be between five and 10 years and a fine of Rs 1.50 lakh,” Thakur said while tabling the Bill in the Vidhan Sabha on Friday, the penultimate day of the session.

The 2006 law was brought by the Virbhadra Singh-led Congress government. The BJP government introduced the 2019 version, which was passed unanimously.

(With inputs from IANS)

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