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Karnataka Legislative Assembly passes 'Anti-conversion Bill' amid opposition

Karnataka Legislative Assembly passes Anti-conversion Bill amid opposition

Belagavi (Karnataka): The contentious "Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021", popularly known as "Anti-conversion Bill", was passed by Karnataka Legislative Assembly on Thursday, while the Congress party vehemently opposed the bill.

Calling it "anti-people", "inhuman", "anti-constitutional", "anti-poor" and "draconian", Congress urged that it should not be passed for any reason and should be withdrawn by the government. JD(S) too expressed its opposition to the bill, which was introduced in the Assembly on Tuesday.

The bill was passed by a voice vote, even as Congress members were protesting from the well of the House, demanding continuation of the debate on the bill, that began this morning. They were also expressing their anguish against some remarks made by Minister K S Eshwarappa, during his intervention in the debate.

Earlier, State Congress president D.K. Shivakumar said that the anti-conversion law will be repealed in 2023 after the party comes to power in the state.

"I am telling you on record, including Anti-conversion bill, the law prohibiting cow slaughter will also be repealed," he said. Shivakumar further stated that the BJP is under an illusion that they are in majority.

They have forgotten that while taking the oath, they had pledged that they will not work for a single community, but will work for the whole society, he said. Hindu farmers are in trouble after banning cow slaughter in the state, he opined.

Congress seemed to be on a back foot with the ruling BJP alleging that the bill was actually "initiated" by the Siddaramaiah-led Congress administration, and placed documents to support its claim before the House.

Though Siddaramaiah, who is now the Leader of Opposition, denied it, later on personally going through the records in the Speaker's office, accepted that as the CM he had then only asked the draft bill to be placed before the cabinet and no decision was taken in this regard, and hence it cannot be seen or projected as the intention of his government.

The bill proposes imprisonment from three to five years with a fine of Rs 25,000, while for violation of provisions with respect to minors, women, SC/ST, offenders will face imprisonment from three to ten years and a fine of not less than Rs 50,000.

The bill also makes provisions for the accused to pay up to Rs five lakh as compensation to those who were made to convert, and with regards to cases of mass conversion, the bill proposes 3-10 years jail term and a fine of up to Rs one lakh.

It also states that any marriage which has happened for the sole purpose of unlawful conversion or vice-versa by the man of one religion with the woman of another religion, either by converting himself before or after marriage or by converting the woman before or after marriage, shall be declared as null and void by the family court.

Where the family court is not established, the court having jurisdiction to try such a case, on a petition presented by either party thereto against the other party of the marriage. The offence under this bill is non-bailable and cognizable.

The bill that is also being opposed by Christian community leaders, mandates that the persons who wish to convert to another faith shall give a declaration in a prescribed format at least 30 days in advance to the District Magistrate or the Additional District Magistrate specially authorised by the District Magistrate in this regard of his residing district or place of birth within the state.

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TAGS:Anti Conversion LawKarnataka Legislative Assembly
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