Bommai confirms Karnataka to take ordinance route for anti-conversion law, Cabinet
Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said his Cabinet will today decide on promulgating an ordinance to give effect to a controversial law against religious conversions.
The Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill was passed in the Legislative Assembly in December last year. It is pending passage in the Legislative Council, where the ruling BJP is one short of majority.
‘Because the Assembly and Council got prorogued, we are placing a proposal to promulgate an ordinance in the Cabinet today,’ Bommai told reporters.
The controversial bill aims to prohibit religious conversion by way of marriage or inducements such as free marriage, employment among others.
The bill proposes imprisonment of 3 to 5 years with a fine of Rs 25,000 for ‘forced’ conversion. Converting a minor, woman or an SC/ST person will attract a jail term of 3 to 10 years, with a Rs 50,000 fine. Mass conversions will attract 3-10 years of jail time, with a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh.
Under the proposed law, any person wanting to convert into another religion must intimate the authorities one month in advance.
Karnataka will become the ninth state to enact the anti-conversion law.
Bommai said he will chair a meeting today with the law minister, the advocate-general and others.
‘There are two SC judgements before us. We’ve already appointed a commission to provide political reservations to backward classes. Also, the leader of the Opposition has written a letter. All this will be examined in detail,’ Bommai said.
‘Our main concern is, so far OBC reservations are being given in local body elections as per the Constitution. Now, we want to conduct elections by giving OBC reservations. We’re thinking of how this can be done,’ Bommai said.
The CM is referring to the Supreme Court laying down a triple test criteria to provide OBC reservation in local bodies. The top court has asked states to get data on political backwardness of the OBCs to justify quotas.
‘There are many options. Madhya Pradesh, in its review petition, has said that they, too, have constituted a commission. We’re observing this,’ he said.
Last week, the government constituted a panel under Justice Bhaktavatsala to study the matter.