No need for separate law: Opposition

December 16, 2014 12:18 pm | Updated December 03, 2021 10:22 am IST - New Delhi

As the stand-off between the Opposition and the Government continued for the second day in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday over the issue of religious conversions, the Congress and the CPI(M) said there was no need for a separate anti-conversion law as the Constitution and the Indian Penal Code had adequate safeguards against conversion by duress and inducement.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had on Monday offered two options to the Opposition: A total ban on religious conversions or a ban on forcible religious conversions. “Let them tell us the option,” was his offer to the Opposition slogan of “No PM, No House.”

CPI(M) leader in the Rajya Sabha Sitaram Yechury and Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala said Article 25 of the Constitution and Article 153(a) of the Indian Penal Code not only guaranteed the right to convert but also had adequate safeguards against conversion by duress and inducement.

As for the Opposition insistence on a reply from the Prime Minister when in a Cabinet system all members of the Council of Ministers have “collective responsibility,” Mr. Yechury said: “Ideally, yes, but a departure has been made from this practice by this Government. In the allocation of portfolios, Mr. Modi retained ‘all important policy issues’.”

With the Opposition in an unrelenting mood, the Government was unable to move the Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2008, in the Rajya Sabha. On whether the Prime Minister would come to the House, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu told reporters: “Let them allow the House to function first.”

The Opposition threw back the allegation; stating that the Government had brought this situation upon itself by not reining in the Sangh Parivar. “As many as 10 Bills have been passed by the Rajya Sabha and 13 by the Lok Sabha in this session. This controversy has been created by the Government itself. Mr. Modi made a statement in both houses on the objectionable remarks made by a Union Minister of State but still members of the Sangh Parivar are continuing with their agenda,” was the refrain of the Left and the Congress.

As to how another statement from the Prime Minister would make any difference in that case, Mr. Yechury maintained that this time the Opposition wants concrete action instead of mere assurances.

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