Press Trust Of India, May 19, 2006 at 18:18
Jaipur: Rajasthan Governor Pratibha Patil has returned a Bill passed by the state assembly banning religious conversion.
Patil believes the Bill would affect citizens' right to freedom of religion and returned the bill to the law secretary, official sources said on Friday.
The state government can recommend the Bill to the President for approval. Rajasthan Law Minister G S Twari said the Governor’s action was a routine process and the Government was not bound to obey him.
"We will send back the bill to the Governor after taking a cabinet approval soon", Tiwari said. The bill makes conversion through allurement, force or fraud means a non-bailable offence. People found guilty can be punished with five years simple imprisonment and a maximum fine of Rs 50,000.
The Congress, the CPI-M members and some ruling BJP MLAs walked out of the House when the Bill was passed last month. During and after the budget session, Pradesh Congress President B D Kalla met the Governor twice and requested her not to sign the bill.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister R S Rathore, during the Assembly debate, had argued that the Bill had been introduced to contain unlawful conversion by missionary institutions