Haryana issues regulations based on the anti-conversion law

by Subhechcha Ganguly

The Haryana government has published regulations to implement its law prohibiting religious conversion by means of coercion, undue influence, or allurement. Under these regulations, district magistrates are required to publish a public notice and solicit comments, if any, regarding a proposed conversion.The Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill was approved by the state assembly in March of this year. After the governor’s approval, a month later the anti-conversion statute was announced.

The Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Rules, 2022, were recently passed by the state cabinet and were notified for implementation under the Act on December 15.Recently, similar legislation was approved in BJP-controlled states including Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.The approved rules provide that anyone planning to convert to a different faith must submit a Form “A” declaration to the district magistrate of the district in which they would be continuously residing before making the conversion.

If the intending convert is a minor, Form B must be signed by both parents or the surviving parent, depending on the situation. According to the regulations, “Any religious priest and/or any person who intends to organise a conversion pursuant to the Act shall give prior notification in Form C to the district magistrate of the district where such conversion is proposed to be organised.”The district magistrates must publish a public notice and request any written comments regarding any objections to the proposed conversion.

Once a person declares their intention to convert to another religion voluntarily and “without any misrepresentation, use of force, threat, undue influence, coercion, allurement, or by any fraudulent means, or by marriage or for marriage,” such notices will be posted in the district magistrate’s office. Such people must include information in their declaration to the district magistrate, including the reason for their conversion, how long they have practised the religion they have chosen to renounce, whether they are a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, their occupation, and their monthly income. Upon receiving written objections to the anticipated conversion, the district magistrate shall take appropriate action.

Additionally, there is a provision for imprisonment of one to five years and a fine of not less than Rs 1 lakh if the conversion is carried out using compulsion, force, coercion, or fraudulent means, including the use of digital technology.Any person who conceals his faith with the aim to marry faces a minimum sentence of three years in prison, which may be increased to ten years, and a minimum fine of Rs. 3 lakh.Anyone who organises a mass conversion is subject to a minimum five-year sentence and a maximum ten-year sentence of jail.

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