The Karnataka Assembly has passed the Karnataka Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021, commonly referred to as the anti-conversion Bill, on Thursday, December 24. The Bill, as stated, prohibits conversion from one religion to another by force, misrepresentation, on the pretext of marriage, fraud, coercion, etc., and imprisons those engaged in such activities.
"No person shall convert or attempt to convert either directly or otherwise any other person from one religion to another by use of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage, nor shall any person abet or conspire for conversions," The Indian Express quoted the Bill.
Provisions Under The Bill
Anyone found guilty would be charged with a fine of Rs 25,000 and might also get up to five years of imprisonment. For violating provisions concerning minors, women, SC/ST, the accused will serve a jail term of 3-10 years, along with a fine of not less than Rs 50,000.
Although it's a non-bailable offence, it provides an exemption to the person who reconverts to his immediate previous religion. The same shall not be deemed a conversion under this Act, IE reported.
If any person wishes to convert to another religion willingly after the law comes to force, they have to notify the district magistrate (DM) two months prior. The one who will be carrying out the conversion shall provide one-month notice. After they register, the DM will conduct an inquiry to verify the purpose of the conversion and confirm the people's identities.
If the concerned authorities are not informed, irrespective of willingness to convert, they will face imprisonment of six months to three years and a fine. Those carrying conversions would face a jail term of five years.
Disturbing Public Order
The BJP government has earlier said that such practices have disturbed the public order several times, and the Bill is its corrective measure.
According to the India Today report, Congress MLAs entered the well of the house in protest against the passing of the Bill. The Bill has faced massive outrage and demonstrations by the opposition parties, citizens, especially the Christian community leaders.
Former state Chief Minister Siddaramaiah called the Bill an agenda and brainchild of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Retaliating to his former CM's viewpoints, rural development minister KS Eshwarappa said it was a step towards preserving the 'culture' of the country.
The Christian unions protesting across Karnataka said that the Bill has come as a severe blow to them and has hurt the community's sentiments.
Co-convenor of All India Lawyer's Association for Justice (AILAJ), Maitreyi Krishnan, said that the Bill was passed with an 'intent to stoke communal tensions', Hindustan Times reported. Krishnan said that the Bill targets secularism, equality, and liberty.
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