Gujarat Governor Acharya Devvrat has given his assent to an amendment bill, which provides for a prison sentence of up to ten years for fraudulent or forcible conversion by marriage, a state Minister said on Saturday.
The Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which was passed by the state Legislative Assembly on April 1 this year, has been approved by the Governor along with seven other Bills, state Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said in a statement.
With this, the governor has approved all the 15 bills that were passed during the budget session of the Assembly as he had earlier cleared seven other bills, he added.
As per the amended Freedom of Religion Bill, a forcible "conversion by marriage, or by getting a person married, or by aiding a person to get married" shall invite imprisonment of three to five years and a fine of up to Rs 2 lakh.
If the victim is a minor, woman, Dalit or tribal, the offender may be punished with a jail term of four to seven years and a fine of not less than Rs 3 lakh. If an organisation violates the law, the person in charge can be sentenced to minimum of three years and maximum of ten years in jail.
During a poll rally in Vadodara on February 14 this year, state Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had said his government would bring a strict law against ''love jihad'' in the state.
"We are going to bring a law against love jihad in the Assembly. Such activities being done in the name of love jihad will not be tolerated...The BJP government will bring strict laws against love jihad in the coming days," he had announced.
Before Gujarat, BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh had also enacted similar laws banning "fraudulent'' conversions through marriage.
Other bills that were approved by the Governor include Gujarat Professional Medical Education Colleges or Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Fixation of Fees) (Amendment) Bill; Gujarat Panchayats (Amendment) Bill; Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of tenants from Eviction from Premises In the Disturbed Areas (Amendment) Bill; Gujarat Private Universities (Amendment) Bill; Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (Amendment) Bill; (3) Gujarat Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Bill; and the CrPC (Gujarat Amendment) Bill.
Through the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (Amendment) Bill, 2021, religious and linguistic minority institutions are required to recruit teachers who have qualified Teacher Aptitude Test (TAT) conducted by the state education board.
The Gujarat Professional Medical Education Colleges or Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Fixation of Fees) (Amendment) Bill requires unaided colleges or institutions in the disciplines of Ayurveda, Homeopathy, and Naturopathy to fill in 15 per cent of government seats on the basis of a merit list prepared by the central government authority.
The Code of Criminal Procedure (Gujarat Amendment) Bill amends section 195 of the CrPC for cases of violation of notifications under section 144 of the CrPC. Also, with the Gujarat Panchayats (Amendment) Bill, the Gujarat Panchayat Service Selection Board (GPSSB) is empowered to carry out recruitment of all cadres of panchayat service class-III in a centralised manner "to bring uniformity in direct recruitment."
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