The Karnataka cabinet on Thursday decided to repeal the anti-conversion law brought in by the previous BJP government.
The government will introduce a bill in this regard in the upcoming legislature 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 (BJP government) in 2022. It will be tabled during the session starting from July 3," Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister H K Patil told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.
The Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Act (anti-conversion law) came into effect in 2022, despite opposition from Congress.
The act provides for the protection of the 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 proposed 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 10 years and a fine of not less than Rs 50,000.
The act also makes provisions for the accused to pay up to Rs 5 lakh as compensation to those who were made to convert, and with regards to cases of mass conversion, there shall be a 3 to 10-year jail term and a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh.
It also states that any marriage that 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.
Wherever the family court is not established, the court having jurisdiction can try such a case, on a petition presented by either party thereto against the other party of the marriage.
The offence under this act is non-bailable and cognisable.
The act mandates that persons who wish to convert to another faith shall give a declaration in a prescribed format at least 30 days in advance to the district magistrate or the additional district magistrate specially authorised by the district magistrate in this regard of his residing district or place of birth within the state.
Also, the religious converter who performs the conversion shall give 30 days advance notice in a format, to the district magistrate or the additional district magistrate.
Piloting the bill in the Assembly, the then Home Minister Araga Jnanendra had said the person who wishes to convert will lose the religion of his or her origin and the facilities or benefits attached with it, including reservations; however, one is likely to receive the benefits entitled to, in the religion, he or she converts to.
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