By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 29 Nov: A large number of bills and reports were tabled by the government in the House on the first day. The most important bill is related to an amendment in the Freedom of Religion Act 2018 in order to equally strengthen the importance of every religion.
Speaking to Garhwal Post, Cabinet Minister Satpal Maharaj explained that the bill has been brought in keeping view large scale mass conversions going in various parts of the state in the hills and tribal areas. He said that the government felt the need to discourage mass or forced conversion to other religions. This is of utmost importance in order to prevent the rapidly changing demography of the region.
The bill proposes an insertion in Section 3 of the Act that says, “No person shall convert or attempt to convert either directly or otherwise any other person from one religion to another by use of or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any other fraudulent means”. In the proposed amendment, mass conversion will mean change of religion by two or more persons. The definition of the Act will also now include Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act 2018.
Also introduced was an Ordinance related to amendment in the Uttarakhand Land Revenue Act 2022, the annual report of the Uttarakhand Electricity Regulatory Commission (UERC) for the year 2020-21, accounts of UERC for the year 2020-21, annual report of Kichha Sugar Mill for 2020-21, annual report of Uttarakhand ST Commission for 2020-21, CAG report for 2018-19 of Panchayati Raj Department, Annual Report and Action Taken Report for the year 2020-21 of Uttarakhand Right to Services Commission, Annual Report for the year 2021-22 of Uttarakhand Public Service Commission, a bill on reservation in government services to Uttarakhand Statehood Agitationists and their dependants, which had been returned by the Governor for reconsideration.
The bills that were tabled included amendment in The Bengal, Agra and Assam Civil Courts (Uttarakhand Amendment and Supplementary Provisions) Bill-2022 as implemented in Uttarakhand, Amendment bill related to Uttarakhand Shops & Establishment (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service) Act 2017 where the provision of imprisonment for minor violations has been proposed to be removed with an objective to ensure greater ease of living for citizens, Bill related to amendment in the Petroleum and Energy Studies University Act, Bill related to Amendment in the Stamp Act (Amendment related to Uttarakhand), Bill related to Amendment in the Uttarakhand Goods & Services Tax Act 2017 (GST) where the proposed amendments are related to trade facilitation and simplification measures in order to ensure greater compliance by the tax payers, Bill related to Uttarakhand Panchayat Raj Amendment Bill 2022, which according to Cabinet Minister is aimed at bringing certain minor offences of the Panchayati Act under fines in place of imprisonment.
In addition, a bill was also tabled in respect of Uttarakhand District Planning Committee Act 2007 where according to Cabinet Minister, the government felt the need for regular participation of the Block Panchayat Chiefs in the meetings of the District Planning Committee and for this, an amendment has been proposed to include this provision.
In another move, the government also tabled a bill to remove the provision of imprisonment for throwing garbage and instead replace it with the provision of fines.