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Karnataka’s anti-conversion Bill:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

anti-conversion Bill:

Context:

Karnataka state government has decided to take the Ordinance route to get clearance for the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021.

  • The Bill, which was adopted by the Karnataka Legislative Assembly in its special session in December 2021, is yet to be introduced in the Legislative Council.

 

Highlights of the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021:

  1. Any person found guilty of unlawfully converting another person will face a minimum jail term of three to five years and a fine of Rs 25,000.
  2. If the person ‘unlawfully converted’ is either a minor or a woman or belongs to the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes, the punishment is more — a minimum sentence of three years and a maximum of ten years imprisonment, and Rs 50,000 fine.
  3. In cases of ‘mass conversion’, the accused person can face three to ten years in prison and a fine of Rs 1 lakh.
  4. An appropriate court will order the accused person to pay compensation to the “victim of conversion and this amount can go up to Rs 5 lakh, and must be paid by the accused over and above the fine under the law.
  5. In case someone wants to convert to another religion voluntarily, there is a lengthy process in place and this applies to inter-faith marriages too.

 

Challenges ahead:

Some of the provisions that the Karnataka government is aiming to introduce under its anti-conversion laws were stayed in Gujarat. In 2020, the Gujarat government had also brought in an amended anti-conversion law.

However,  the Gujarat High Court had stayed some of the provisions in August 2021 — provisions like the one that places the burden of proof on those entering into an inter-faith marriage.

  • The Gujarat High Court noted that the provisions go against an individual’s right to choice and liberty, granted under the Constitution of India. So, since similar provisions are included in the Karnataka Bill too, it means the law goes against rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

 

Rationale behind the enactment of anti-conversion laws, What do critics say and what has the Supreme Court said on Marriage and Conversion?

Reference: read this.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that the Special Marriage Act, 1954 (SMA) was enacted to facilitate the marriage of couples professing different faiths? Reference: 

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Article 21.
  2. Article 25.
  3. About SMA.
  4. States which have passed anti-conversion laws.

Mains Link:

The right to choose a partner or live with a person of choice was part of a citizen’s fundamental right to life and liberty. Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.