Rajasthan minister says Religious Freedom Bill will help curb conflicts

The Bill, called Rajasthan Dharma Swatantraya Bill, 2008, is now under the consideration of the Union home ministry.

jaipur Updated: Nov 14, 2017 20:48 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Gulab Chand Kataria,Religious Freedom Bill,Rajasthan Dharma Swatantraya Bill
Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria (left) said that the Rajasthan Dharma Swatantraya Bill will help maintain law and order in Rajasthan. (Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)

The Religious Freedom Bill, aimed at banning forcible religious conversions, will help curb confrontations and maintain law and order in Rajasthan, home minister Gulab Chand Kataria said on Tuesday.

The Bill, called Rajasthan Dharma Swatantraya Bill, 2008, is now under the consideration of the Union home ministry, he said.

The state assembly passed the Bill in 2006 and sent it to the governor, who kept it on hold for some time.

“We consulted the attorney general and sent a draft to the governor saying that other states too had made such laws. In 2006, Himachal Pradesh brought in such a bill, which was approved by the President,” Kataria told newspersons at the state secretariat.

The governor returned the Bill, suggesting amendments on lines of the Himachal Pradesh law. In 2008, amendments were made and the Bill was sent to the governor, which was then sent to the President.

“The amendments made were that the collector needs to be informed in 100 days (about forcible conversions) and sanction is required from the collector for prosecution,” he said.

According to the 2006 Bill, he said, if religion was changed by force or allurement, the punishment was jail for 2-5 years and a penalty of Rs 50,000. In the 2008 Bill, the punishment was amended to 1-3 years’ jail, and 2-5 years in the case of an offence committed in respect of a minor, a woman or a person belonging to a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe.

Odisha and Madhya Pradesh governments had brought religious freedom bills in 1967 and 1968 with an objective to curb disturbance to public order. Both the bills were upheld by the Supreme Court.

On the protest over the controversial film Padmavati, he said, “Everyone has a right to protest, but nobody cannot take law into his hands. We have arrested eight for violating law.”

About the suspected killing of a 35-year-old man in Alwar by “anti-social elements” trying to stop cow smuggling, the minister said, “Cow smugglers or people manhandling others will face action.”

First Published: Nov 14, 2017 20:48 IST