Karnataka to scrap anti-conversion law

New Delhi/Bengaluru: The Congress government led by Siddaramaiah has decided to scrap the law against religious conversion — keeping its poll promise of reviewing and, if necessary, scrapping all the laws made by the previous BJP government in Karnataka. The government will introduce a Bill to repeal the amendments to the anti-conversion law in the upcoming state Assembly session, which starts on July 3.

"The Cabinet discussed the anti-conversion Bill. We have approved the Bill to repeal the changes that were brought in by them (the BJP government) in 2022. It will be tabled during the session starting July 3," law and parliamentary affairs minister H.K. Patil told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.

"We are bringing in a Bill to repeal the amendments to the Karnataka Protection of Rights to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2022 (anti-conversion law) initiated by the previous BJP government to see that the spirit of the Constitution is fully implemented," the minister said.

Karnataka's anti-conversion law came into effect in 2022, despite opposition from the Congress. The Act provides for the protection of the right to freedom of religion and the prohibition of unlawful conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurements or any other fraudulent means.

The law became a flashpoint between the BJP and the Congress. The Congress contended that it was a tool for harassment of minorities. The matter even went to court, where Christian organisations argued that the new law violated the religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.

The Congress had vehemently opposed the Bill, calling it "anti-people", "inhuman", "anti-constitutional", "anti-poor" and "draconian". The party urged the then-BJP government in Karnataka that it should not be passed and that the government should withdraw it. The JD(S) too had expressed its opposition to the Bill.

At a briefing after the meeting, Patil said the Cabinet has decided to remove the chapters on V.D. Savarkar and K.B. Hedgewar, one of the founders of the BJP's ideological fountainhead, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, from schools' history books. The chapters were added last year.

The BJP reacted sharply to the Congress government's decision on Thursday to repeal the anti-conversion law brought in by its regime in Karnataka and dubbed the Mallikarjun Kharge-led outfit the "new Muslim League". "Is this "mohabbat ki dukaan" Rahul Gandhi?" asked senior BJP leader and former Union minister Basanagouda R. Patil (Yatnal) on Twitter. Siddaramaiah's "anti-Hindu agenda" is exposed, he said.

Minister for APMC Shivanand Patil said the Cabinet has approved amendments to the four laws of the APMC that were brought by the Union Government three years back. He said the amendments did not fulfil their purpose, such as providing better prices for produce. Markets have also suffered losses after the amendments came into effect.

Besides, the Cabinet also authorised the chief minister to appoint three official members to the Karnataka Public Service Commission.

After initiating the registration for the Gruha Lakshmi Scheme to provide Rs 2,000 monthly for female members of a family that was scheduled to start from Friday onwards, minister for women and child welfare Laxmi Hebbalkar announced on Thursday that the process will be delayed by about five days in order to make the registration process people-friendly.

After the Cabinet meeting, Hebbalkar said that 1.28 crore beneficiaries have been identified and are applying for the scheme. The ministers said that the development of a mobile app will take about five days to help beneficiaries apply for the scheme, which will likely see a heavy registration rush.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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