The controversial anti-conversion bill was passed on Thursday by the upper house in Karnataka. The decision comes despite opposition from the Congress and HD Kumaraswamy’s Janata Dal Secular.
In the Legislative Council, the opposition argued that such a law will infringe on the freedom of religion granted in the Constitution. Responding to the argument, the government said that the law would only protect people from forcible conversion, claiming it’s becoming increasingly frequent.
It is pertinent to mention here that in December 2021, the Karnataka Protection of the Right to Freedom of Religion Bill that prohibits forced religious conversions was adopted by the Karnataka Legislative Assembly.
The Bill was yet to be brought before the Legislative Council, where back then the ruling saffron party, the BJP, lacked a majority.
The Bill was piloted by Home Minister Araga Jnanendra and it prohibits ‘unlawful’ religious conversion. Under the new law, unlawful conversiojn will be through misrepresentative, force, under influence, coercion, allurement or any fraudulent means.
The people violating the law will get a jail term of three to five years, with a fine Rs 25,000. If the conversion of a minor, the punishment can be extended up to ten years along with a fine of Rs 50,000. In cases of mass conversion, a fine of Rs 1 lakh is liable. And a repeat offender can be fined upto Rs 2 lakh with a prison imprisonment of minimum five years.