Gujarat High Court stays several sections of ‘Love Jihad’ Act

Petitions submitted that amended law went against basic principles of marriage and violated Article 25 of Constitution

Gandhinagar: The Gujarat High Court on Thursday stayed several sections of the Gujarat government’s Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021 popularly known as the ‘Love Jihad’ Act. The court has banned filing of the FIR saying that it cannot be done unless it was proved that the girl was falsely implicated.

The Court put a stay on several sections of the amended Act against forced religious conversion by marriage. The sections which were put on hold include the one that termed interfaith marriage as a reason of forceful conversion.

In the recent budget session of the Gujarat state Assembly, the state government had passed the Amendment bill and it was brought into force from June 15 this year after getting the nod from the governor. This Amendment has been challenged by two petitions. One is moved by Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind and Jamiat Ulama Welfare Trust and the other is moved by an Ahmedabad resident Mujahid Nafees.

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The petitions submitted that the amended law went against the basic principles of marriage and violated Article 25 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to propagate, profess and practice any religion.

The court on Thursday put a stay on Sections 3, 4, 4A, 4B, 4C, 5, 6 and 6A of the Act.

The division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Biren Vaishnav’s interim order came during the hearing on a number of petitions challenging the provisions of this law.

It ruled, “We are of the opinion that pending further hearing, rigors of section 3, 4, 4a to 4c, 5, 6 and 6a shall not operate merely because the marriage is solemnised by a person of one religion with that of another religion without force, allurement or fraudulent means and such marriages cannot be termed as marriage for the purpose of unlawful conversion.”

The HC added, “This interim order is to protect the parties which solemnised interfaith marriages from unnecessary harassment.”

“The HC also made a good observation and banned filing of the FIR by a third person, asking how can they decide whether a marriage was carried out for religious conversion,” Mujahid Nafees, one petitioner told the media on Thursday.

When asked, Gujarat deputy chief minister Nitin Patel said, “Whenever such rulings are passed by concerned courts, our legal department and other technical sections look into it. Once we receive this interim order and after our legal experts looking into, the government will decide the future course of action.”

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