Staff Correspondent

Suggests constituting ‘Commission of Religions’ representing all faiths

‘Registrar of Religions can ensure protection and privileges of members of religious minority’

MANGALORE: The Justice B.K. Somasekhara Commission of Inquiry, in its interim report, has suggested to the State “to pass legislations through Special Law under the Lists of The Constitution to ensure prevention of atrocities on any person in the name of religion in any form”.

The Government had constituted the commission to inquire into attacks on Christian prayer halls in 2008. Justice Somasekhara submitted the interim report to the Government here on Monday.

In its suggestions and recommendations to the Government, the interim report said: “Legislations through Special Law within the competence of the State under the Lists of the Constitution may be passed to ensure prevention of atrocities on any person in the name of religion in any form.”

It further said: “The scope of Chapter XV (Sections 295, 295-A to 298) of Indian Penal Code may be enlarged under the said Special Law with stringent sentences of minimum period of punishment, with no bail and no right of appeal in addition to disqualification to contest in any election or to hold any post or office in any status.”

Section 295 deals with injuring or defiling places of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class.Section 298 refers to uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person.

The commission suggested conducting religious harmony awareness programmes, at village and taluk-levels to avoid any expected religious conflicts, with elders of all religions by constituting peace committees. It said that “the State should take all measures to ensure fundamental rights for freedom of conscience and free profession and propagation of religion within the meaning of Article 25 of the Constitution in letter and spirit. For this purpose a ‘Commission of Religions’ may be constituted representing all religions… and a Registrar of religions to execute the policies of the commission through the government agencies…” The commission said that “…Registrar of Religions will ensure protection and privileges to genuine members of a religious minority and eliminate fraudulent methods of misusing a religious tag for selfish purposes detrimental to the religious interests of the country…”

The report said that the Government should convince the affected Christian institutions and persons that it shares their miseries and sentiments suffered due to unpleasant incidents of attacks in all forms with sympathy, compassion and concern, by taking all the religions and political parties into confidence. It said that “the compensation for all claims for damages to the property or injury to any person during the incidents and thereafter shall be inquired and paid within one month from the date of communication of the recommendation by the appropriate authorities…”