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Gujarat Govt. will have to deliver a realistic justification on the objection of interfaith marriages - HC

Pic Credit: Gujarat High Court


The Gujarat High Court unequivocally called the state government for filing the affidavit for delineating its objections on inter-religion marriage cases. In a strong message of reprimand, it asked for an explanation for the FIR lodged by the police; it sentenced the husband, his parents, and the priest for performing the marriage under Gujarat's new law that states to outlaw religious conversion through interfaith marriages.


In a recent case, the victim explicitly stated that the Vadodara police had lodged the contents in an FIR and were figment, under the predominant peril of “Love Jihad” which she asserted as untrue. Consequently, she wants to remain in the marriage with her husband, who had been charged under the new amended Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, for the coercive conversion through nuptials.


According to The Hindu, it was the first case to be lodged by the state police after the provision was enacted and notified as a law to thwart the religious conversion through interfaith marriages utilizing force, allurement, or deceitful norms. It says that under the details of the case, seven people were booked along with the priest who solemnized the marriage, all had been caught.


The provision of the amended law, last month,  had been stayed by the High Court that seeks to deal with interfaith marriages. The Court ruled that the provisions of the new interfaith marriage law were unconstitutional and violated the principles of the "Right to Choose." Meanwhile, the state government has proclaimed that it would appeal to the Supreme Court opposing the HC decisions on the amended law of forceful conversion.


The Victim


The sufferer had voluntarily filed the complaint before Justice I.J. Vora in the High Court. The woman, on Wednesday, seeks to rebuff the FIR and the trial against her husband and others. It found that - the woman wants to live as a married couple with her spouse.


It found that in her complaint to quash the petition,  a local police station of Vadodara under certain elements of intimidation, the police brought the angle of “love jihad” and registered the FIR under the state's new law. In manifold charges, police also added “rape and sodomy” in the FIR, which she explicitly denied.


Furthermore, she also denied the charges against “forceful conversion” as mentioned in the  FIR. She also categorically expressed that her petition is being quashed and not approved by the lower court for the bail she applied for.


In a statement, the woman said, both the families had no problem regarding interfaith marriage, however, certain religious-political communities with holding hands of police had made petty and trivial issues into a hyperbola and communalized their marriage.


Amendment in the Freedom of Religion Act, 2003


On April 1, the bill which was tabled by the Gujarat government in the discussion says - the amendment on the Freedom of Religion Act, 2003, which beefed up punishment onto curb the cases against ‘forced Religious Conversion’ and the RSS’s figment imaginary theory of ‘love jihad’, in which it believes that Muslim men are “tempt” Hindu woman for marriage- the motive to convert them into Islam.


On June 1, the newly amended provision-- the Freedom of Religion Act, 2021 came into force. Under the proposed bill it said, if the conversion involves an adult, the maximum sentence is five years in prison; if the case involves a minor, a woman, or a member of the Scheduled Caste or Tribe communities, the maximum sentence is seven years in prison.


The Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act of 2003, restricts religious transformation via “allurement, force or by misrepresentation or by any other fraudulent means”. According to the Hindu document, “There are episodes of religious conversion promising a better lifestyle, divine blessings, and impersonation. There is an emerging trend in which women are lured to marriage for religious conversion."


Further, the bill says, if the marriage went under the purpose of allurement or forced conversion shall be decreed as void and the charge of proof would lie on the accused. Parents, siblings, or kin related by blood can complain, and hence the offence will be non-bailable.


Under the proposed law, a person or community who un-abide or violates the law would be sentenced to between three to 10 years in jail with a fine of up to ₹5 lakh can be imposed.


Opposing Decision


The High Court directed the state government to explain its objection before the court by September 20 by filing an affidavit. It also implies the brutal rules of the BJP Government which want to make it prevalent by all means by challenging the High Court decision to the supreme court. The amendment primarily seeks to violate the right to choose a partner of one's own choice within or interfaith religion.


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