The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 was passed by Lok Sabha yesterday. The Bill will be discussed next by Rajya Sabha. Unlike the Lok Sabha, where the UPA government holds a majority in the House, the composition is different in Rajya Sabha. As on 28th December 2011, the total strength of Rajya Sabha is 243 members . The UPA has a combined strength of 95 members in the House, well below the 50% mark. (Of course, there will be some absent members which will change the arithmetic a bit.) The passage of the Bill thus depends on the stand taken by other political parties and their numbers in the House. Here's how the figures stack up:
|Indian National Congress (INC)||71|
|Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)||7|
|Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)||7|
|All India Trinamool Congress (AITC)||6|
|Jammu and Kashmir National Conference||2|
|Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF)||1|
|Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD)||1|
|Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)||51|
|Janata Dal (United)||8|
|Shiv Sena (SS)||4|
|Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)||3|
|Communist Party of India (Marxist)||13|
|Communist Party of India (CPI)||5|
|All India Forward Bloc (AIFB)||1|
|Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP )||18|
|Biju Janata Dal (BJD )||6|
|All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (AIADMK )||5|
|Samajwadi Party (SP )||5|
|Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD )||4|
|Asom Gana Parishad (AGP )||2|
|Bodoland People's Front (BPF )||1|
|Indian National Lok Dal (INLD )||1|
|Lok Janasakti Party (LJP )||1|
|Mizo National Front (MNF )||1|
|Nagaland People's Front (NPF )||1|
|Telugu Desam Party (TDP )||4|
|Independent and others||6|
Yesterday, the Governor of Karnataka promulgated the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Ordinance, 2022. The Ordinance prohibits forced religious conversions. A Bill with the same provisions as the Ordinance was passed by the Karnataka Legislative Assembly in December 2021. The Bill was pending introduction in the Legislative Council.
In the recent past, Haryana (2022), Madhya Pradesh (2021), and Uttar Pradesh (2021) have passed laws regulating religious conversions. In this blog post, we discuss the key provisions of the Karnataka Ordinance and compare it with existing laws in other states (Table 2).
What religious conversions does the Karnataka Ordinance prohibit?
The Ordinance prohibits forced religious conversions through misrepresentation, coercion, allurement, fraud, or the promise of marriage. Any person who converts another person unlawfully will be penalised, and all offences will be cognizable and non-bailable. Penalties for attempting to forcibly convert someone are highlighted in Table 1. If an institution (such as an orphanage, old age home, or NGO) violates the provisions of the Ordinance, the persons in charge of the institution will be punished as per the provisions in Table 1.
Table 1: Penalties for forced conversion
Fine (in Rs)
Any person through specified means
Minor, woman, SC/ST, or a person of unsound mind
Two or more persons (Mass conversion)
Sources: Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Ordinance, 2022; PRS.
Re-converting to one’s immediate previous religion will not be considered a conversion under the Ordinance. Further, any marriage done for the sole purpose of an unlawful conversion will be prohibited, unless the procedure for religious conversion is followed.
How may one convert their religion?
As per the Ordinance, a person intending to convert their religion is required to send a declaration to the District Magistrate (DM), before and after a conversion ceremony takes place. The pre-conversion declaration must be submitted by both parties (the person converting their religion, and the religious converter), at least 30 days in advance. The Ordinance prescribes penalties for both parties for failing to follow procedure.
After receiving the pre-conversion declarations, the DM will notify the proposed religious conversion in public, and invite objections to the proposed conversion for a period of 30 days. Once a public objection is recorded, the DM will order an enquiry to prove the cause, purpose, and genuine intent of the conversion. If the enquiry finds that an offence has been committed, the DM may initiate criminal action against the convertor. A similar procedure is specified for a post-conversion declaration (by the converted person).
Note that among other states, only Uttar Pradesh requires a post-conversion declaration and a pre-conversion declaration.
After the religious conversion has taken place, the converted person must submit a post-conversion declaration to the DM, within 30 days of the conversion. Further, the converted person must also appear before the DM to confirm their identity and the contents of the declaration. If no complaints are received during this time, the DM will notify the conversion, and inform concerned authorities (employer, officials of various government departments, local government bodies, and heads of educational institutions).
Who may file a complaint?
Similar to laws in other states, any person who has been unlawfully converted, or a person associated to them by blood, marriage, or adoption may file a complaint against an unlawful conversion. Laws in Haryana and Madhya Pradesh allow certain people (those related by blood, adoption, custodianship, or marriage) to file complaints, after seeking permission from the Court. Note that the Karnataka Ordinance allows colleagues (or any associated person) to file a complaint against an unlawful conversion.
*In Chirag Singhvi v. State of Rajasthan, the Rajasthan High Court framed guidelines to regulate religious conversions in the state.