Karnataka Assembly approves controversial conversion bill

New Delhi: The Karnataka Assembly on Thursday passed the controversial anti-conversion bill amid protests by the opposition. The law prohibits conversion from one religion to another by “misrepresentation, force, fraud, inducement or marriage”.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the Karnataka Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021, commonly known as the Anti-Conversion Bill, was introduced to bring “public order” and it was the Congress in 2016. government headed by who had previously drafted it.

However, Congress called the bill “anti-human, anti-constitutional and anti-poor”.

“This government could not solve the economic and social issues in the last 2.5 years; (It) did nothing for the farmers, women or the poor. There are important issues but they (BJP) are bringing such emotionally charged bills to divert attention from more important matters,” Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah said on Thursday.

The BJP produced documents to corroborate its claim that the Congress had drafted the bill earlier and even asked it to be tabled in the cabinet in 2016, though it was never brought before it.

Siddaramaiah alleged that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was behind the bill. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said, “RSS is committed to anti-conversion, it is not a veiled secret… Why did the Congress government in 2016 introduce the bill during its tenure following the RSS policy? It is because in Himachal Pradesh Congress CM Virbhadra Singh had brought a similar law. You are a party to this bill.”

Bommai said the bill is both constitutional and legal and aims to get rid of the menace of conversion. “This is for a healthy society… Congress is now indulging in vote bank politics by opposing it, their double standards are clear today.”

The bill was passed by a voice vote, even as members of Congress protested from the Well of the House, demanding the continuation of the debate on the bill that began on Thursday morning.

The BJP said it has “corrected” the draft done by the Congress five years ago, and included putting the burden of proof on those accused of marriage and conversion. The bill will now be placed in the state legislative council, where the BJP still does not have a majority.

The Karnataka Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021 states: “No person shall, directly or otherwise, convert or attempt to convert any other person by misrepresentation, use or exercise of force, undue influence, coercion.” Provided that if any person re-converts to his immediate previous religion, by inducement or any fraudulent means or by any of these means or by promise of marriage, nor shall any person abet or conspire for such conversion: is changed, it will not be considered a conversion.

The bill also states that anyone who wishes to convert must submit an application to the DC (District Collector), who will scrutinize the application, interview the applicant to ascertain whether the conversion is force or inducement. is not from. If the application is found genuine, other departments will be informed to ensure that the converted person loses the benefits from his existing caste or religion and is included in the category to which the said person is converting.

It also prohibits marriages performed with “the sole purpose of unlawful conversion”, which lends itself to the belief that a separate law to amend the Special Marriage Act could also be incorporated into this law itself.

Karnataka Home Minister Araga Gyanendra, who piloted the bill, said eight states have passed or are implementing such a law, and that Karnataka would become the ninth state to do so.

Based on similar laws brought in various BJP-ruled states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, the anti-conversion bill was passed at a time when there has been an increase in attacks on members of the Christian community in the state, many of whom are BJP MLAs. Has openly cried out as the main culprit of the “conversion racket”.

Certainly, the laws of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have been challenged in the courts.

The bill also proposes imprisonment of three to five years with a fine of Rs 25,000, while for violation of provisions of minors, women, SC/ST (SC/ST), offenders will be given three to ten years. will face imprisonment. and a fine of not less than ₹50,000. The bill also provides for payment of up to ₹5 lakh as compensation to those who convert the accused, and a jail term of three-10 years and up to ₹1 in cases of mass conversions. penalty is proposed. lakh.

“What is the objection if we give more protection to SC/ST, women and minors? We know their condition… we need to provide them additional security.”