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Karnataka: DK Shivakumar tears copy of anti-conversion bill, Congress stages walkout

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New Delhi, Dec 21: The Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government in Karnataka on Tuesday tabled the contentious anti-conversion bill in the state Assembly.

DK Shivakumar

Soon after the bill was tabled, Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar tore the bill on the floor of the House and Congress MLAs staged a walkout.

"There is full opportunity for debate in the Assembly. They [Opposition] were not present in the House when the bill was presented in the House. This is not the government's fault," Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai said reacting to the development.

The bill, likely to be titled 'The Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill 2021', to be tabled on Tuesday has provision for imprisonment of those who indulge in mass conversion from three to 10 years and a fine of Rs one lakh.

The bill states that the 'religious converter' shall give one month's prior notice in 'form-II of such conversion' to the district magistrate or any other officer not below the rank of additional district magistrate.

According to the bill, the marriages done for the sole purpose of unlawful conversion or vice-versa twill be declared void, as per the draft copy of 'The Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill-2021'.

If passed in assembly, the bill will encompass those who "misrepresent, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage, or abet or conspire such conversion." However, this Act will not attract the penal provisions of the act for reconverting to his immediate previous religion.

"Provided that if any person reconverts to his immediate previous religion, the same shall not be deemed to a conversion under this Act," section-3 of the act read.

Under the proposed law, "any aggrieved person, his parents, brother, sister, or any other person, who is related to him by blood, marriage or adoption may lodge a First Information Report of such conversion, which contravenes the provisions of section-3."

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