Karnataka cabinet to repeal amendments to ‘anti-conversion law’ enacted by erstwhile BJP govt.

Bengaluru: The Karnataka Cabinet has resolved to repeal the controversial anti-conversion law that was enacted by the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, minister for law and parliamentary affairs, HK Patil said on Thursday, articulating the state’s new Congress government’s latest move to undo changes brought about by its predecessor.

“We have discussed the provisions of the anti-conversion act and it has been decided to repeal the law they (the BJP government) introduced. We will take up the matter during the assembly session which will be held from July 3,” Patil added.

The decision to repeal the anti-conversion law comes as a response to mounting public pressure and concerns raised by various groups regarding its potential misuse and violation of individual rights.

The Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2022 as the anti-conversion bill is named, was passed in September .

The Karnataka law said that anyone involved in illegal conversion would face a jail term of three to 10 years and a fine of 50,000. The law, tougher than those passed by a few other BJP states, also targetted inter-faith marriages with one of its sections promising action against anyone who “converts or attempts to convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person from one religion to another by use or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by any of these means or by the promise of marriage.”

The law requires district magistrates to call for objections, if any, to the proposed religious conversion within 30 days, and an inquiry if any is received. If the inquiry makes a case under the law, the district magistrate should ask the police to initiate criminal action, the law said.

The first case under anti-conversion law in the southern state was filed in October 2022 when a 24-year-old Muslim man was arrested and remanded to judicial custody for allegedly converting a woman under the pretext of marrying her.

Minister Priyank Kharge said that the cabinet has decided to revoke the decision as it violates the constitutional right to practice a religion of choice. “ In many cases, there are restrictions placed on interreligious marriages,” he added, describing the inquiry into these marriages as an “ invasion of people’s rights and privacy.”

Since the Congress government has taken charge in Karnataka, chief minister Siddaramaiah has announced slew of policy changes to undo the decisions made by the previous Bharatiya Janata Party government as promised in the party’s election manifesto. The Congress had claimed that the BJP government had taken decisions with communal intent, the charge refuted by the BP.

The BJP reacted sharply to the Congress government’s decision on Thursday to repeal the anti-conversion law and dubbed the party the “new Muslim League” . Former Union Minister Basanagouda R Patil (Yatnal) took to Twitter and said Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s “Anti Hindu agenda” is exposed.

Also on Twitter, BJP National General Secretary C T Ravi said the “Conversion Mafia” in Karnataka “ensures that the AntiHinduCONgress repeals the anti-conversion law brought in by the @BJP4Karnataka government.”

Source- Hindustan Times.

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