Karnataka

Karnataka Cabinet decides to take Ordinance route on anti-conversion Bill

J.C. Madhuswamy

J.C. Madhuswamy

Ahead of the impending elections to various local bodies, including zilla panchayat and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike council, the State Cabinet on Thursday decided to take the Ordinance route to get clearance for the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021.

The Bill, which was adopted by the Karnataka Legislative Assembly in its special session in Belagavi in December 2021, is yet to be introduced in the Legislative Council, where the ruling BJP lacks majority.

Council not in session

Announcing the decision to promulgate an Ordinance, Law Minister J.C. Madhuswamy told reporters here that the Ordinance route was chosen as the Council was not in session.

The timing of the decision to promulgate the Ordinance has given raise to speculation that the ruling BJP is keen to use the proposed legislation as part of its core agenda during the crucial elections to zilla and taluk panchayats and the BBMP that accounts for the highest chunk of the Assembly seats. This speculation has arisen as the government could have waited for just about a month when the BJP would have got the majority in the Upper House after the scheduled elections from the State Assembly to elect members to the Council.

The proposed legislation envisages stringent provisions for “forced” or “induced” conversions. It aims at prohibiting conversion by “misrepresentation, force, allurement, fraudulent means, or marriage.”

It proposes maximum imprisonment of 10 years for forcible conversion of persons from Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe communities, minors, and women to another religion.

The Opposition parties have taken exception to the Bill and termed it “draconian”.

Archbishop responds

Responding to the development, the Archbishop of Bengaluru has described it as a move that will “affect the harmonious relationship that we enjoy with members of all the communities in Karnataka”.

“With the Ordinance in hand, there is no doubt that the fringe elements and groups will try to create problems for the members of our community as we have seen in the past and the Government is in no control of them,” said Archbishop Peter Machado in a statement. He hoped that the Governor would address the concern of the community by not giving his assent.


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Printable version | Jun 25, 2022 8:15:44 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/karnataka-cabinet-decides-to-take-ordinance-route-on-anti-conversion-bill/article65407638.ece