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Karnataka

Karnataka Legislative Council Passes Anti-conversion Bill

The 'Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill' was passed by the Legislative Assembly in December last.

Karnataka Assembly
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai speaks on the first day of the Monsoon Session of the State Legislative Assembly, at Vidhana Soudha, in Bengaluru on September 12, 2022. (ANI Photo)

Bengaluru: Karnataka Legislative Council on Thursday passed the contentious “anti conversion bill”, amid objections from the opposition Congress and JD(S). The ‘Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill’ was passed by the Legislative Assembly in December last.

As the Bill was pending for passage in the Legislative Council, where the ruling BJP was short of majority then, the government had subsequently promulgated an ordinance in May this year to give effect to the bill.

Home Minister Araga Jnanendra piloted the Bill for the consideration of the Upper House today.

Noting that in recent times religious conversions have become widespread, he said there have been mass conversions with allurements and through force, disturbing peace and leading to mistrust among people following different religions.

The Bill does not take away anyone’s religious freedom and anyone can practice the religion of his or her choice, but not under pressure and allurements, Jnanendra said.

The Minister had moved some amendments to substitute certain clauses in the Bill like- “It (legislation) shall be deemed to have come into force with effect from the 17th day of May 2022”; also that “….the ordinance is hereby repealed”- which has now been accepted with the passage of the bill.

Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council B K Hariprasad even tore the copy of the bill in protest as the pro-tem Chairman Raghunath Rao Malkapure was in the process of putting the bill to vote.

Hariprasad termed the bill as “unconstitutional” and will affect the right to religion.

Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J C Madhuswamy maintained that the bill was well within the scope of the Constitution of India.

The Bill that has been vehemently opposed by some Christian community leaders, provides for protection of right to freedom of religion and prohibition of unlawful conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means.