Uttarakhand Assembly passed a stricter anti-conversion Bill on Wednesday that makes unlawful conversion a cognisable and non bailable offence punishable with imprisonment for a term between three to 10 years.
It also passed a Bill granting 30 per cent horizontal reservation to domiciled women of the state in government services. According to the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2022, apart from a prison term, any offender indulging in unlawful conversion will also be liable to be imposed with a fine of at least Rs 50,000.
Besides, the offender may also be liable to pay compensation of up to Rs 5 lakh to the victim. Earlier, the punishment for unlawful conversion in the state ranged from one to seven years besides imposition of a fine.
"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," says the Act.
Stating the objects and reasons of the Bill, 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.
Meanwhile, the state assembly also passed the Uttarakhand Public Services (Horizontal Reservation for Women) Bill, 2022 granting 30 per cent horizontal reservation to domiciled women of Uttarakhand in state services.
This Bill was introduced in the House on Tuesday. Stating its objects and reasons, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said, "Due to the heterogeneous geographical structure of Uttarakhand, people living in remote areas of the state lead a difficult life. Especially the women of the state lead life in adverse conditions, due to which their standard of living is below the women of other states...Therefore in order to ensure social justice, equality of opportunity, improvement in living standards, gender equality in public planning, etc., the Bill proposes to provide 30 per cent horizontal reservation to women of Uttarakhand in state services," he said.
The assembly also passed an appropriation Bill on supplementary demands for grants amounting to Rs 5,440.43 crore tabled in the House for the current fiscal on Tuesday before its proceedings were adjourned sine die.