INDIA

Karnataka To Bring Anti-Conversion Ordinance: CM Bommai

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Mumbai: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the Cabinet is likely to approve the ordinance move for the anti-conversion bill in its cabinet meeting on Thursday.

This comes after the state assembly passed an anti-conversion bill prohibiting conversion from one religion to another by “misrepresentation, force, fraud, allurement or marriage” in December amid Opposition protests.

The legislation is modelled on similar laws in other Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states such as Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

The bicameral legislature of the state, where the BJP does not have a majority, was prorogued before the bill could not be passed in the state legislative council.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that since the legislature is not in session, he is bringing an ordinance. He said the ordinance would be presented before the cabinet.

An ordinance can be brought for six months if the legislature is not in session. It has to be converted into law within six weeks of the commencement of the session, otherwise it lapses.

The elections to the Legislative Council teachers’ and graduates’ constituencies are to be held on June 3, giving the BJP a chance to secure a majority in the House.

The government passed an anti-conversion bill in the assembly to bring in “public order” amid mounting attacks on Christians, who have been accused by several ruling BJP legislators of being involved in a “conversion racket”.

The bill proposes imprisonment of three to five years along with a fine of Rs 25,000. For violation of provisions with respect to minors, women, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, offenders will face imprisonment ranging from three to 10 years and a fine of not less than Rs 50,000.

This is part of a plan to bring a law based on the agenda of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is the ideological source of the BJP, to stop animal slaughter etc.

The Centre in February told Parliament it has no plans to bring a nationwide anti-conversion law to regulate interfaith marriages in the country and that the issues related to conversions were primarily the concern of state governments.

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