Sunday, June 4, 2023

Karnataka Assembly passes anti-conversion Bill amid protests, needs Legislative Council nod

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Amid stiff opposition and protest from different sections of society, the Karnataka Assembly on Thursday passed the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021, commonly known as the anti-conversion Bill by voice vote. The Bill now needs to be approved by the Legislative Council.

On Tuesday, the Bill was introduced in the Assembly during the ongoing winter session in Belagavi, wherein, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra tabled the Bill while Congress leaders objected to the manner in which it was introduced.

Karnataka Law Minister J.C. Madhu Swamy said the Bill was first initiated by former Congress chief minister Siddaramaiah. He said the Bill was to protect against any forceful conversion from any community and not to target any religion but to protect all religions.

Amid protest and drama in the assembly, Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar tore up the legislation on the floor of the assembly.

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As per the provisions of the Bill, the person desiring to convert is mandated to declare at least 30 days in advance to the district magistrate or the additional district magistrate. As per the bill, the proposed conversion will be notified on the notice board of the office of the district magistrate and in the tahsildar’s office calling for objections. Similar advance notice has to be given by the person performing the conversion ceremony. The person also has to declare the place of conversion.

The Bill prohibits any person from converting or attempt to convert either directly or otherwise any other person from one religion to another by use of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage, nor shall any person abet or conspire for conversions.

With this Bill, the Basavaraj Bommai government envisages stringent provisions for forced or induced conversions.

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