Karnataka governor Thaawar Chand Gehlot on Tuesday gave his consent to ordinance on an anti-conversion bill passed in the state assembly. 'The Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill' was tabled and passed by the BJP-led government in the southern state in December last year.
Affirming the Karnataka government's commitment to strict implementation of the proposed "anti-conversion law", state Home Minister Araga Jnanendra on earllier in the day said it is not against any religion, but religious conversion by force or through inducement has no place under the legislation.
He said this while speaking about the Basavaraj Bommai-led government's commitment to strict implementation of the proposed law.
Last week, the Karnataka cabinet had decided to promulgate an ordinance to give effect to the contentious law against religious conversions, and it is now before the Governor for his assent.
The ordinance, which contains all the elements of the bill passed by the assembly, will come into effect after the Governor's assent, and it is likely to remain effective until the government passes the bill in the Legislative Council, during the next legislature session.
Strongly defending the ordinance, the Minister said this step was taken aimed at maintaining peace and order in the society.
The bill that was passed by the Assembly and now will come into effect in the form of an ordinance, provides for protection of right to freedom of religion and prohibition of unlawful conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means.
It proposes an imprisonment from three to five years with a fine of Rs 25,000, while for violation of provisions with respect to minors, women, SC/ST, the offenders will face imprisonment from three to ten years and a fine of not less than Rs 50,000.
The bill also makes provisions for the accused to pay up to Rs five lakh as compensation to those who were made to convert, and with regards to cases of mass conversion there shall be a 3-10 year jail term and a fine of up to Rs one lakh.
It also states that any marriage which has happened for the sole purpose of unlawful conversion or vice-versa by the man of one religion with the woman of another, either by converting himself before or after marriage or by converting the woman before or after marriage, shall be declared as null and void by the family court.
The offense under this bill is non-bailable and cognizable.