Karnataka Cabinet Passes Anti-Conversion Bill As Ordinance
The bill will be tabled in the next Assembly session.
The Karnataka Cabinet on Thursday, 12 May, approved the anti-conversion bill, making way for it to be tabled in the next Assembly session.
"Cabinet has approved the anti-conversion bill, it will be tabled in the next session, till then ordinance will be in place," news agency ANI quoted Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra as saying.
State Minister Madhu Swamy added that "whatever was passed in the Assembly will be made an ordinance, without any amendment," saying that the government will go before the council to pass the ordinance.
Earlier, Chief Minister Basavaraj Biommai had reportedly said, "In connection with anti-conversion, as assembly and council were adjourned, we will bring an ordinance to pass the bill in cabinet meeting."
'This Is Sad, Will Affect Harmonious Relationship of All Communities in Karnataka'
Reacting to the development, Archbishop of Bangalore, Peter Machado, said, "This is sad and surely it will affect the harmonious relationship that we enjoy with members of all the communities in Karnataka."
Further, stating that there had been no incidents of either "conversion or aggressive incidents against the community," he said, "We cannot understand the sudden turn of events and what is there in the mind of the Government with the ordinance in hand, there is no doubt that the fringe elements and groups will try to create problems for the members of our Community as we have seen in the past and the Government is in no control of them (sic)."
Given the nature of the involvement of the Christian community in the wider development of the state and community in the matter of education, healthcare, and social welfare, we will appeal to the Governor and ask him to not give his assent to the bill, Machado said, in a press statement.
"We are law abiding citizens and will surely put our trust in the Government to protect our interests and concerns. We have no difficulty in the Government taking action against any excesses or unlawful activities that are noticeable with concrete proofs," he further said.
The draft bill, titled 'Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill 2021', seeks to prohibit conversion from one religion to another by means that it lists as fraudulent.
The Legislative Assembly had passed the legislation in December 2021, during the winter session of the state Assembly.
The bill has seen widespread dissent from the Opposition, religious authorities, and the state's residents, with the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president DK Shivakumar saying, "The government is attempting to undermine the contributions of the Christian community in education and other fields by proposing this (anti-conversion) law."
Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, too, had accused the BJP of trying to implement its "hidden agenda" by raising issues like "Love Jihad, Anti Conversion."
Similar laws are already in effect in other BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh.
(With inputs from Hindustan Times and ANI.)
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