The Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly today passed the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021, which aims to prohibit conversions from one religion to another by misrepresentation, allurement, force and undue influence..On January 9, Governor of Madhya Pradesh Anandiben Patel had approved the Freedom of Religion Ordinance. Today, the Freedom of Religion Bill was passed by a voice vote in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly..Section 3 of the Bill states that no person shall convert or attempt to convert either directly or otherwise any other person from one religion to another by misrepresentation, allurement, use of threat or force, undue influence, coercion or by marriage or abet or conspire such conversion..As per Section 5, a person found guilty of offence under Section 3 will be punishable with imprisonment of 1 to 5 years and fine which shall not be less than Rs. 25,000.Importantly, however, contravention of Section 3 with respect to a minor, woman or a person belonging to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe shall attract a punishment of imprisonment of 2 to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine not less than Rs. 50,000.Further, the punishment for mass conversion shall be imprisonment of 5 to 10 years and fine of not less than Rs. 1 lakh. Mass conversion is defined in the Bill as a conversion where two or more persons are converted at the same time..As per Section 10, any person who desires to convert his or her religion should give a declaration in the prescribed format, sixty days in advance to the District Magistrate that he wishes to convert his religion without any force, coercion, undue influence or allurement.The religious priest or any other person who intends to organise the conversion should also give 60 days’ notice to the District Magistrate of the district where such conversion is proposed to be organised.Contravention of the same will be punished with imprisonment of 3 to 5 years and fine of not less than Rs. 50,000..The Madhya Pradesh Ordinance on religious conversion, inter-faith marriage explained .Another crucial provision in the Bill is Section 12. It states that the burden of proof as to whether a conversion was not effected through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement, marriage or by any fraudulent means lies on the accused..The Bill states that if any child is born out of any marriage which is in contravention of Section 3, then such child shall be deemed to be legitimate. Furthermore, it states that the succession to property by such child shall be regulated by the law governing inheritance of the father. It is also clarified that the right to maintenance shall vest with any woman whose marriage is declared void under Section 3 and that she can claim maintenance under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code. .The Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021 was tabled by State Home Minister Narottam Mishra on March 1. Last month, the Home Minister reportedly said that 23 cases have been already registered under the Freedom of Religion Ordinance, within a month of it coming into force..The Ordinance was challenged before the Supreme Court, on the ground that it “wounds and mauls” the rights of individuals by criminalizing ‘conversions by marriage’ under Section 3. The petition also points out that there is no such evidence to ‘prove any foreign conspiracy’ behind inter-faith marriages..Blatant abuse of powers vested under Article 213 of Constitution: Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance challenged in Supreme Court.Similar laws passed in Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh have also been assailed before the apex court.