Raje, Guv slug it out
The controversial anti-conversion bill passed by the Rajasthan assembly — by voice vote on April 7, the last day of the budget session of the state assembly — will be sent back to the governor for sanction after “reapproval” by the state cabinet on Saturday.
Governor Pratibha Patil had returned the bill to the state government for its re-consideration, stating that its provisions were such that they would affect the rights of citizens to freedom of religion. She had also sent a note suggesting that the bill be forwarded to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, if the state government thought it fit.
Speaking to HT, state parliamentary affairs minister Rajendra Singh Rathore said the bill would shortly be sent back for the governor's approval after being taken up for consideration at a meeting of the state cabinet on Saturday.
Meanwhile, describing the whole process of passage of the bill as “defective and illegal”, Congress legislator Hari Mohan Sharma has sent a memorandum to the President, stating that the state government violated rules and procedures of the conduct of the house by disallowing time for discussion on the amendments suggested by Opposition members to the proposed legislation. A copy of the memorandum has been faxed to the governor.
When contacted, state law secretary Ghuman Singh said he “was not authorised” to speak in the matter.
The legislation provides for up to five years imprisonment for conversion “crimes” while stipulating that a DSP-level officer will investigate such crimes and complaints can be reported at the SDM level. Re-conversion to the religion of one’s ancestors has been kept out of the purview of such offences. Organisations found guilty of involvement in forceful conversions could have their registrations cancelled.