Uttarakhand bill provides for jail term, fine to curb forceful conversions
Kautilya Singh| TNN | Updated: Mar 13, 2018, 10:34 IST
DEHRADUN: To prevent forceful conversion in Uttarakhand, state cabinet has approved the draft bill — Dharm Swatantra Adhiniyam — which aims to “check the illegal practice” with provisions of jail term along with cash penalty.
Sources said that the state cabinet has taken the move to check any illegal conversion done by “presenting wrong facts, misleading and luring a person.” The jail term extends from 2 years to 7 years.
If a person wants to convert for marriage, he will have to give an affidavit to the district magistrate one month before the wedding to clarify that the conversion is not a “forceful” one.
In case a person did not submit the affidavit in the DM’s office, the conversion would be regarded “illegal”. Therefore, from now on, the DM’s nod is mandatory for any conversion in the state.
The Uttarakhand high court had earlier suggested that the state government should formulate the Freedom of Religion Act to “curb this tendency” of religious conversions which in a “few” cases were done “only to facilitate the process of marriage”.
In November 2017, a bench headed by Justice Rajiv Sharma had said, “It needs to be mentioned that the court has come across a number of cases where inter-religion marriages are being organised. However, in few instances, the conversion from one religion to another religion is a sham conversion only to facilitate the process of marriage. In order to curb this tendency, the state government is expected to legislate the Freedom of Religion Act on the analogy of Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 1968 as well as Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2006, without hurting the religious sentiments of citizens.”
In another major decision, the Uttarakhand cabinet on Monday evening approved the excise policy for the next financial year. The target for the next financial year has been set at Rs 2,550 crore. The target for 2017-18 was Rs 2,310 crore and the state government expects an excise revenue realization of Rs 2,171 crore.
Sources said that to boost revenue collection, the state cabinet has approved giving a cluster of four liquor outlets at one location in a 20-km radius. While the timing for sale of liquor has been kept at 10 am to 10 pm, a slight change has been made for areas bordering Uttar Pradesh.
In the three districts of Udham Singh Nagar, Haridwar and Pauri, areas which are in radius of 10-km from the border of Uttar Pradesh, the liquor shops will remain open till 11am.
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