More stringent anti-conversion Bill introduced in Uttarakhand Assembly

Dehradun: The Uttarakhand government on Tuesday moved a more stringent anti-conversion Bill in the state assembly that seeks to make unlawful religious conversion a cognisable and non-bailable offence punishable with imprisonment for a term of at least three years to a maximum of 10 years.

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The Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2022, also seeks to make an offender liable to be imposed with a fine of at least Rs 50,000. As per the amendment, the offender may also be liable to pay a compensation of up to Rs 5 lakh to the victim.

“No person shall convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person from one religion to another by use or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means. No person shall abet, convince or conspire such conversion,” the draft of the Bill said.

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Stating the objects and reasons for the Bill, state minister for religious affairs Satpal Maharaj said, “…under articles 25, 26, 27 and 28 of the Constitution of India, under Right to Freedom of Religion, to equally strengthen the importance of every religion, the amendment in Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018 is necessary to remove certain difficulties in the Act.”

A total of 10 Bills are to be tabled on the opening day of the winter session of assembly.

Another important bill tabled in the state assembly on the opening day was the Uttarakhand Public Services (Horizontal Reservation for Women) Bill, 2022 seeking to provide 20-30 per cent horizontal reservation to women permanently domiciled in Uttarakhand in direct recruitment to public services and posts.

Other bills to be tabled are the Uttarakhand Panchayati Raj Amendment Bill, the Bengal, Agra, and Assam Civil Courts (Uttarakhand Amendment and Supplementary Provisions) Bill, Uttarakhand Shops and Establishments (Amendment) Bill, Uttarakhand District Planning Committee (Amendment) Bill, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (Amendment) Bill, Uttarakhand Anti-littering and Anti-spitting (Amendment) Bill, Uttarakhand Goods and Services Tax Amendment Bill and the Indian Stamp (Uttarakhand Amendment) Bill.

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