Jharkhand Cabinet approves Religious Freedom Bill 2017
With the approval of Religious Freedom Bill 2017, Jharkhand is planning to place itself in the league of states where a stringent anti-conversion law is in place.
Jharkhand Cabinet on 1 August 2017 approved Religious Freedom Bill 2017. The bill named as Jharkhand Freedom of Religion Bill, 2017 seeks to bring the stringent anti-conversion law in place under which forceful or allurement induced religious conversion will be a non-bailable criminal offence.
According to an official release, Section three of the Bill prohibits forceful conversion. In the event of violation of section three, there will be up to three years imprisonment or Rs 50000 penalty or both.
The release says that if the crime involves a minor, woman or person from SC or ST community than the prison term would be up to four years and a penalty of one lakh rupees.
Allurement for religious conversion has been well defined in the bill, where cash or economic benefits for religious conversion are included. The bill would be tabled in the upcoming monsoon session of Jharkhand Assembly.
If the Bill is passed, Jharkhand would become the seventh State to have a Freedom of Religion Act in place. Other six states with similar Freedom of Religion Act are Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh to implement.
Reports suggest that Raghubar Das, the Chief Minister of the state, during public meetings has informed that the government has a plan to bring a law that prevents rampant religious conversions taking place in the state. Being predominantly a tribal and backward State cases of conversion for the sake of money or other benefits are said to be high in the state.
Other decision taken at cabinet meet includes
The cabinet has approved Jharkhand Aadhaar based Targeted Financial and other Benefits and Services Bill, 2017. The bill seeks to allow the state government to bring monetary benefit schemes financed by it under the UID-based linkage system. Services such as PDS, old age pension or scholarships can be linked with Aadhaar numbers of the beneficiaries in order to stop pilferages.