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Uttarakhand House passes stricter Bill against conversion

On the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2022, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami tweeted, “...Under this, there is a provision of up to 10 years of punishment for religious conversion."

CM Pushkar Singh Dhami

The Uttarakhand Assembly on Wednesday passed a more stringent anti-conversion Bill that makes unlawful religious conversion in the state a cognizable and non-bailable offence, punishable with imprisonment for a jail-term of at least three years and a maximum 10 years.

On the second day of the supplementary Budget session, the House also passed Uttarakhand Public Services (Horizontal Reservation for Women) Bill, 2022, providing 30-per cent horizontal reservation to women in state-owned services.

Horizontal reservation can be explained as a quota within a quota. While a vertical reservation applies separately for each group specified under law, horizontal quota is applied separately to each vertical category, and not across the board. So once this law is implemented, 30% of the selected candidates in public service will have to necessarily be women in each vertical quota category, such as categories for SC/ST/OBCs, etc

On the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2022, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami tweeted, “…Under this, there is a provision of up to 10 years of punishment for religious conversion. The law will prove to be a historical decision against the conspiracy of religious conversion in the shadow of fear, temptation, and other fraudulent means.”

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The Uttarakhand Cabinet had decided to make amendments to the existing law earlier this month. In his statement of objects and reasons for the amendment Bill, minister Satpal Maharaj said that amendment in the 2018 Act was necessary to remove certain difficulties in the law and “equally strengthen the importance of every religion” under Articles 25, 26, 27, and 28 of the Constitution.

In November 2020, Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel had promulgated an ordinance against “forced” or “fraudulent” religious conversions. The ordinance became an Act in March 2021.

Uttarakhand has based its amended law on UP’s. The amended law also proposes a fine of at least Rs 50,000 for an offender, and compensation of up to Rs 5 lakh to the victim of illegal conversion.

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On the Uttarakhand Public Services (Horizontal Reservation for Women) Bill, 2022, which was passed by the House, Dhami said women’s power had a great role in formation of the hill-state and the government had decided that women should get the benefit of horizontal reservation in the state, which has tough geographical terrain. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court lifted the stay imposed by Uttarakhand High Court on the government order providing 30% reservation to women domiciled in state services. In July 2006, the state had issued a government order to provide 30% horizontal reservation to women domiciled in the state.

First published on: 01-12-2022 at 04:48 IST
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