BENGALURU: Karnataka Governor Thaawar Chand Gehlot on Tuesday gave his assent to the Karnataka Religious Freedom Protection Ordinance 2022, or Anti-Conversion Bill. With this, the law to control forced conversions came into force in the state amid opposition from the Christian minority community.
The order signed into law by the governor on Tuesday contains all the elements of the Karnataka Religious Freedom Protection Bill which was passed in the State Assembly in December 2021, but has not been tabled. in the Council where the BJP lacked a majority. The ordinance will be in effect until the bill is passed by the Council at the next session.
Defending the law, Interior Minister Araga Jnanendra said on Monday that it is not against any community and will be strictly enforced in the state. The ordinance provides for the protection of the right to freedom of religion and the prohibition of unlawful conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, seduction or by any fraudulent means .
A person who wishes to convert to another religion must make a statement in a prescribed format at least 30 days in advance to the district magistrate or additional district magistrate. A religious converter must give 30 days notice in one format to the district magistrate.
In the case of a post-conversion statement, the converted person must send a statement within 30 days of the date of conversion, and the relevant official must notify it on the bulletin board and call objections. If no objections are received, the district magistrate must issue an official notification regarding this conversion, but if objections are received, the officer may cause an investigation to be conducted. If any institution violates the provisions of this Ordinance, the person or persons in charge of the affairs of the institution shall be liable to punishment and the government shall not provide any financial assistance or subsidy to such institutions.
The law proposes imprisonment of three to five years with a fine of Rs 25,000. For violation of the provisions relating to minors, women and SC, ST, offenders incur a prison sentence of three to ten years and a fine. of at least Rs 50,000. In case of mass conversion, there will be a prison term of three to ten years and a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh. It also states that any marriage entered into for the sole purpose of illegal conversion will be declared null and void by the family court. Breach under the order shall be cognizable and non-bailable.
Representatives of the Christian community in Karnataka have called on the governor to refrain from giving his assent to the bill in the interest and welfare of the minorities.
Governor gives assent despite opposition from minority Christian community