Bengaluru: The Congress party will repeal the proposed contentious anti-conversion legislation immediately after coming to power following the 2023 Assembly polls in Karnataka, Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah said on Monday.
Calling the ”Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021” popularly known as the anti-conversion Bill as ”anti-constitution” and ”draconian”, he said the Congress too is opposed to religious conversion by force or through inducement.
”We will repeal it hundred percent, we will do it within a week after coming to power. We will repeal and throw it in the first session,” Siddaramaiah told reporters.
Responding to a question about BJP planning to pass an ordinance implementing the anti-conversion bill that is yet to be passed by the legislative council, he said, ordinance route is used during emergency situations. ”What is the emergency now?” ”It is being brought in with a mal-intention, targeted at a particular religion. Our party is also opposed to religious conversion by force or through inducements. There are already provisions in the constitution and IPC to take action against such conversion,” he added.
The Karnataka Assembly last week passed the Bill during the recently-concluded winter session of the state legislature in Belagavi, amid protest by opposition parties.
The Bill, however, is yet to become a law as it is pending for tabling and passage in the Legislative Council.
Further alleging that the bill is part of BJP’s conspiracy to divert the attention of the people from several key issues, by raising such emotive subjects and to polarise the society.
He also questioned the provisions of the bill that calls conversion by marriage illegal. ”If a boy and girl from different religions fall in love and get married, is it conversion, is it against the constitution? It’s my right to love and marry anyone, prohibiting it is unconstitutional,” the former CM added.
The bill provides for the protection of the right to freedom of religion and prohibition of unlawful conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means.
It proposes imprisonment from three to five years with a fine of Rs 25,000, while for violation of provisions with respect to minors, women, SC/ST, the offenders will face imprisonment from three to ten years and a fine of not less than Rs 50,000.
The bill also makes provisions for the accused to pay up to Rs five lakh as compensation to those who were made to convert, and with regards to cases of mass conversion, there shall be a 3-10 year jail term and a fine of up to Rs one lakh.
It also states that any marriage which has happened for the sole purpose of unlawful conversion or vice-versa by the man of one religion with the woman of another, either by converting himself before or after marriage or by converting the woman before or after marriage, shall be declared as null and void by the family court. Wherever the family court is not established, the court having jurisdiction to try such a case, on a petition presented by either party thereto against the other party of the marriage.
The offense under this bill is non-bailable and cognizable.