By Amrutha Varshini
The Anti-Conversion Bill failed to become law in Karnataka as the Legislative Council (Upper House) did not pass the bill.
The Anti-Conversion Bill prohibits conversion from one religion to another when the conversion is forceful and misrepresented, a fraud, an allurement, or a marriage.
Some of the constitutional provisions of the bill are as follows:
- Complaints regarding conversions can be filed by anyone who is related to the individual who is getting converted.
- A jail term of 3-5 years and a fine of Rs 25,000 is proposed for those who convert people from general categories.
- A jail term of 3-10 years and a fine of Rs 50,000 is proposed for those who convert minors, women, or persons from SC/ST communities.
- Anyone who wishes to convert must appear before the district magistrate and inform them about the reason for conversion.
- Link for the Anti-Conversion Bill PDF copy: https://www.livelaw.in/pdf_upload/the-karnataka-protection-of-right-to-freedom-of-religion-bill-2021-406502.pdf
“…as we were short of number, we decided to legally withdraw the bill,” said Basavaraj Bommai, Chief Minister of Karnataka, after the contentious Anti-Conversion Bill couldn’t be enforced as a law, according to reports.
The Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021 popularly known as the Anti-Conversion Bill was passed in the State Legislative Assembly amid protests by the opposition parties.
But, it couldn’t get past the State Legislative Council.
On 23rd December, the last day of the winter session, the Legislative Council had postponed the meeting from 3 pm to 4 pm, yet, most of the members who had left early couldn’t return back and hence the bill couldn’t be tabled due to lack of sufficient members in the ruling party.
The Karnataka Government decided to hold the winter session in Belagavi’s Suvarna Vidhana Soudha (Golden Legislative House) from December 13 till December 23 of 2021 and the Bill was discussed during this session.
By tradition, the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha has been hosting legislative sessions once a year.
The Suvarna Vidhana Soudha was built in Belagavi as a replica of the Vidhana Soudha as the district lies in North Karnataka bordering Maharashtra. It was built to counter Maharashtra’s claim over the district.
Hence, the Anti-Conversion Bill will be taken up in the upcoming session of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly as it wasn’t passed in the Legislative Council.
How a law is passed in the Parliament at center and Legislative Assembly in states?
As a democratic government, the Indian government has been divided into three organs. The organs are the Legislature, the Executive, and the Judiciary. The Legislature makes laws, the Executive enforces them and the Judiciary interprets the laws and provides justice to all.
The draft of a legislative proposal is called a ‘bill’.
The Legislature at the central level, also known as the Parliament, comprises the Lower House (Lok Sabha) and the Upper House (Rajya Sabha). Hence, this is a bicameral legislature as it contains two houses.
At the central level, this draft is discussed in the Lower House first and is passed to the Upper House for further discussion. After it passes the Upper House, it reaches the President for approval. Once the President approves the bill, it becomes an Act. If the bill is not passed in the Upper House, the bill will lapse.
If there is a conflict between the two houses regarding a bill, Constitution provides a provision for the formation of the joint committee to solve the issue.
When the Act is enforced by the Executive, it becomes a law.
The Legislature at the state level comprises the Lower House/Vidhan Sabha/Legislative Assembly and the Upper House/Vidhan Parishad/Legislative Council.
At the state level, the Governor approves the bill, and the rest of the process is the same as the legislature at the central level.
However, at the state level, if there is a disagreement between the two houses, there is no provision of forming a joint committee to solve the issue.
Council can only delay the passage of the bill for a period of time (3 months). Council cannot revise the bill but just acts as an advisory chamber. If the council disagrees, the bill will go through a second journey from Legislative Assembly to Council. This time Council cannot withhold the bill for more than a month. Ultimately the view of the Assembly prevails.
Since many states have only the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha), the bill is passed and is directly sent to the Governor for approval as there is no Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad). These states have a unicameral legislature as it contains one house.
Karnataka has both Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council which are known as Vidhana Sabha and Vidhana Parishad respectively. Other bicameral States are Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar.
There are three sessions each year for both the Parliament and State Legislature, they are the budget session, the monsoon session, and the winter session. In each session, respective houses conduct discussions and debates regarding various bills.