Anti-conversion ordinance becomes law in Karnataka as Governor gives nod

Karnataka is now the 9th state to enact the anti-conversion law
Last Updated 17 May 2022, 14:20 IST

Karnataka Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot on Tuesday gave his assent to the anti-conversion ordinance, making it a law amid protests by Christians.

Following Gehlot's assent, the government notified the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Ordinance.

This happened a day after Christian leaders, including Bangalore Archbishop Peter Machado, urged Gehlot not to sign off on the ordinance.

Karnataka is now the ninth Indian state to enact a law against religious conversion.

Earlier in the day, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra tried to allay the fears of the Christian community by saying that the ordinance does not contain any provision that would curtail religious rights.

“The law has nothing in it that will curtail Constitutional religious rights,” Jnanendra told reporters. “The anti-conversion law has not been drafted to target any one religion. It seeks to prohibit religious conversion by way of inducements or force.”

Defending the ordinance, Jnanendra said action has been taken to maintain peace and security. “The Bill was discussed in the House. One lawmaker pointed out how religious conversions are wrecking families,” he said.

Reaffirming the government's intent on implementing it strictly, the minister recalled the fact that the previous Congress government had drafted the anti-conversion law. “Our government has not only strengthened it, but we’re also committed to see to it that it gets implemented strictly," he said.

The controversial law prohibits conversion "from one religion to another by use or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by any of these means or by promise of marriage". Doing so can lead to imprisonment of 3-5 years witha fine of Rs 25,000.

Converting a minor, woman or an SC/ST person will attract a jail term of 3-10 years, with a Rs 50,000 fine. Converting people en masse will attract 3-10 years of jail time with a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh.

People wanting to convert are required to declare 30 days in advance to the deputy commissioner and within 30 days after the conversion.


The law also covers 'Love Jihad', a term that refers to religious conversion for the sake of marriage.

"Any marriage which has happened with sole purpose of unlawful conversion or vice-versa by the man of one religion with the woman of another religion, either by converting himself before or after marriage or by converting the woman before or after marriage, shall be declared as null and void," the ordinance states.

(Published 17 May 2022, 12:16 IST)

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