The introduction of the Anti-Conversion bill — which has become hugely controversial — in the Karnataka assembly was accompanied by chaos, commotion and finally a dramatic tearing up of the bill by Congress’s DK Shivakumar. The Congress contended that they had no clue about the introduction of the bill today and it was “unconstitutional” for the ruling BJP to introduce it without informing the opposition by placing it on the agenda.
The bill was introduced as a part of supplementary agenda just a day after the cabinet gave clearance to the draft.
Sources inside the assembly confirmed to NDTV that soon after lunch break, as the Congress leaders were walking into the assembly, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra introduced the bill. It led to furious arguments between the opposition and the ruling BJP.
Questioning how the bill was not part of the agenda for discussion, Congress’s Siddaramaiah — who is the leader of the opposition — said it violates the Article 25 of the Constitution.
Law Minister JC Madhuswamy asserted that the bill was introduced as per the procedure, and was added as a part of the supplementary agenda.
When the BJP’s former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said the bill has been introduced and should be discussed, Mr Shivakumar and Mr Siddaramaiah said the bill has been introduced through “hide-and-seek”, reported news agency Press Trust of India.
Speaker VH Kageri took strong exception to their remarks. “Everything is done as per rule by me, the bill is mentioned in the agenda, if you have a difference of opinion on the bill express it, don’t make such allegations,” PTI quoted him as saying.
The government, the Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Madhuswamy added, is not pressing for consideration of the bill today.
The bill — modelled on similar bills passed by other BJP ruled states — bars religious conversion through employment, allurement or marriage, which are seen as forcible conversion. The penalties range from three years to ten years in jail.
The bill also places multiple obstacles before those seeking to convert. The opposition has called the bill “unconstitutional”, arguing that it violates freedom of religion as guaranteed under the constitution and also “victimizes” the minority community.