The BJP government led by Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday handled the passage of the Karnataka Religious Structures (Protection) Bill, 2021 just a day after it was proposed and then tabled in the lower house in the monsoon session in state assembly course.
The bill, which will now be tabled in the upper house, was passed even as lawmakers opposite, including the BJP, sought clarification on the bill’s scope and its intention to protect citizens. religious structures against demolition in accordance with the Supreme Court Order of 2009.
The bill primarily protected all religious structures that settled on public land before the law came into force. This means that the authorities would not be able to demolish religious structures on public land unless there is a specific court order for the demolition of a religious structure, as can be seen from the reading of the draft. law.
JC Madhuswamy, Minister of Minor Irrigation, Law and Parliamentary Affairs of Karnataka, said structures of all religions would fall under this new bill.
“There was a loophole and to fill it we brought this (bill) forward,” Madhuswamy said, reacting to allegations of the government’s inability to stop the demolition of a temple in Nanjangud, district of Nanjangud. Mysuru, September 12.
The bill comes days after a video of a Nanjangud temple destroyed by an earthmover went viral on social media with Mysuru-Kodagu MP Prathap Simha raising the issue to target authorities leading the campaign without any consultation.
The demolition also saw right-wing groups attacking the BJP over the move, although Basavaraj Bommai’s government claimed it had no prior information.
Siddaramaiah, the congressional opposition leader and former chief minister, asked how the temple was demolished without the knowledge of the government and inquired as to why no action was taken against district officials for having committed this act.
“You say that from now on no temple should be demolished but what about those (demolished) earlier? You are presenting this bill because the Hindu Jagrana Vedike and the Hindu Mahasabha pressured you and the government was afraid, ”he said.
Regularizing illegal encroachments for religious purposes not only circumvents court orders, but is also likely to set a precedent in the state where a significant portion of land, lakes, forests and other places of government are lost. for the benefit of land sharks and others.
“I am afraid that the government lands which are set aside for various purposes, if temples are built there and in reputable forests and in such areas, will this law be applicable there?” Krishna Reddy, lawmaker Janata Dal (secular) from Chintamani asked.
Bommai’s government is rushing to pass a bill that will not only minimize backlash, but could also flatter religious groups ahead of the unannounced Zilla Panchayat elections as well as the legislative elections. from 2023.
“The provision empowers the state government to establish rules regarding the circumstances in which the protection of religious structures for which any referral matter is pending in court,” the bill says.
Karnataka’s high court arrested authorities for failing to take action against illegal structures built on government land, prompting the Mysuru district administration to act. On August 12, the HC declared that the Supreme Court declared that all illegal religious structures that were built after September 29, 2009 will not be tolerated.
The HC hears a petition to ensure compliance with the Supreme Court’s order on the matter.
“It is considered necessary to ensure the protection of religious constructions in public places built before the date of entry into force of this law, in order to protect community harmony and not to harm the religious feelings of the public”, indicates the bill in its objects and reasons.
The bill further clarifies that the provisions “empower the state government to establish rules regarding the circumstances in which the protection of religious structures for which any eviction case is pending in court”.
Several BJP lawmakers also sought to know the wording of the bill, which stipulated that no action could be taken against an official if the demolition had been carried out in “good faith”.
Bommai clarified that no action can be taken against district officials since they were following court orders.
Madhuswamy said the demolition was carried out due to “over-enthusiasm” from district officials and to avoid a repeat of the incident, the bill was introduced.
The chief minister said there were 315 illegal structures of temples, mosques and churches in Mysuru district and 161 of them had been demolished between 2010 and 2019.