On Wednesday, the Gujarat High Court questioned the state’s opposition to the quashing of an FIR filed against an interfaith couple under Sections 4 and 5 of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021.

The testimony of a Hindu woman whose Muslim husband is imprisoned under Gujarat’s anti-conversion law in the Gujarat high court has once again demonstrated that the so-called “love jihad” law is being used by “overzealous” police and certain religious-political groups to target consenting interfaith couples.

On Wednesday, a woman told the court that the contents of the FIR lodged by the Vadodara police are not accurate, based on whose complaint the first case under Gujarat’s Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, was filed in June this year.

The bench consists of Justice Ilesh J Vora issued the order in a plea filed by the couple after the woman informant contacted the Gotri Police Station in Vadodra to complain about a minor matrimonial issue that she alleged would be covered under Section 498A (Cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The matter was communalized and the “love jihad” element was brought in, according to the petition, due to the intervention of certain “religio-political” parties.

According to the plea, the FIR contains wholly false information about sexual assault, forceful miscarriages, domestic violence, and the accused’s use of casteist slurs, despite the fact that the woman made no such claims. The offenses were never mentioned by the woman due to the “overzealousness” of the police officials involved.

The petitioners asked the court to quash the FIR, claiming that the matter had been settled between the parties and that the couple desired to continue their marriage.

The petition denies allegations of forceful conversion. The couple stated that they were in a relationship and they were “aware of each other’s religion.” On February 16, 2021, they chose to marry according to Islamic rituals, and it was also registered under the Special Marriage Act.

They claimed that the women’s father was a witness to their marriage and that there were no problems between the two families. It was also pointed out that, despite being a witness to the marriage registration, the woman’s father had not been charged as an accused. As a result, it is obvious that the police’s entire conduct is communally biased.

On February 16, 2021, the couple married in front of their parents and family members. Shortly after the wedding, they signed an affidavit stating that they married without coercion and of their own free will.

On August 19, a Bench of former Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Biren Vaishnav stayed the controversial Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021 from taking effect.

“Sections 3, 4, 4A to 4C, 5, 6, 6A shall not operate merely because the marriage is solemnised by a person of one religion with another without force or by allurement or by fraudulent means and such marriages cannot be termed as marriages for the purposes of unlawful conversion,” the order stated.

The case has been rescheduled for a hearing on September 20, after which the State must file its answer.

(Divyaben v. the State of Gujarat)

This news article has been written by Mehak Dhiman


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