UP Assembly passes Bill on religious conversion

UP Assembly passes Bill on religious conversion

Lucknow: Amid protests by the Opposition, the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly on Wednesday passed by voice vote a bill to curb religious conversions carried out by fraudulent or any other undue means, including through marriage.

The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2021 seeks to replace the ordinance promulgated in November last year that provides for imprisonment of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of Rs 50,000 for violators.

The opposition Congress and BSP demanded that the Bill be sent to a select committee.

However, the bill was passed in the House as Aradhana Misra, the Congress Legislative Party leader and Lalji Verma, the leader of BSP in the Assembly, protested.

The bill was introduced by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Khanna in the House.

Opposing the legislation, Misra said that marriage is a personal matter of an individual.

BSP leader Lalji Verma said that the Constitution guarantees the right to free profession, practice and propagation of religion.The Samajwadi Party members did not participate in the debate.

Under the bill, a marriage will be declared "null and void" if the conversion is solely for that purpose, and those wishing to change their religion after marriage need to apply to the district magistrate.

Don't make House look like a 'drama company': UP CM

Uttar Pradesh Assembly on Wednesday witnessed peals of laughter when Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath recalled how a child described a politician donning a cap as "goonda" and appealed to members to see that the august House did not look like a "drama company".

"A child once pointed out to a politician sporting a cap and described him as goonda (hooligan)," he said, winding up a debate on the Motion of Thanks to the governor for her address to the joint sitting of the state legislature last week.

Adityanath recalled that he had once been to a Basic Shiksha Parishad school in a village. There, an "anna prashan" (a ceremony where a child takes cereals for the first time) function was also organised.

At that function, some people belonging to a certain political party rushed in to lodge protest. They were donning caps.

A toddler, who was there with his mother for the ceremony, was surprised to see them and screamed, "Mummy, mummy ... look goonda, goonda."

"Now see what impression a two-an-a-half-year-old child has in his mind about a person wearing a cap. This impression has become a common opinion," the CM said. Adityanath then said it should not be taken as a personal affront by any member.

Earlier, the Uttar Pradesh Assembly witnessed noisy scenes during the question hour over remarks made by a minister against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and state party president Ajay Kumar Lallu.

In reply to a question regarding irrigation facilities in Bundelkhand, Jal Shakti Minister Mahendra Singh called Lallu a 'Tathakathit adyaksh' (so-called president) when the latter said that the Bundelkhand area was witnessing maximum number of suicides by farmers.

"Bundelkhand witnessed maximum number of suicides. Even yesterday, two farmers committed suicide," Lallu said while asking about irrigation facilities in the region.

In his reply, the minister called Lallu as "Tathakathit adyaksh" of the Congress and even named Rahul Gandhi. He said they were the "ones who tell maximum number of lies."

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