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Gujarat HC stays several sections against interfaith marriage in anti-conversion law

Gujarat HC stays several sections against interfaith marriage in anti-conversion law

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The court has shown mirror to those who made this law with bad intent: JUH President

New Delhi 19-8-2021: Press Release// On petition of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, the Gujarat High Court on Thursday passed an interim order stating that the provisions of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, will not apply to inter-faith marriages which take place without force, allurement or fraudulent means.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Biren Vaishnav passed the order to protect the parties of inter-faith marriage from being unnecessarily harassed.

After recording the preliminary submissions and arguments advanced, we have directed as follows. “We are therefore of the opinion that pending further hearing, the rigours of Section 3, 4, 4A to 4C, 5, 6, and 6A shall not operate merely because marriage is solemnized by a person of one religion without force or allurement or fraudulent means and such marriages cannot be termed as marriages for the purposes of unlawful conversion.”

Section 3 of the Act prohibits forcible conversion from one religion to another by use of force or by allurement or by fraudulent means, however, now the amended Bill proposes to prohibit acts like forcible religious conversion by marriage or aiding a person to get married. Section 3A enables any aggrieved person, his parents, brother, sister, or any other person related by blood, marriage or adoption may lodge an FIR with respect to an alleged unlawful conversion.

Section 4A prescribes punishment of imprisonment in the range of 3 to 5 years for unlawful conversion. Section 4B declares marriages by unlawful conversion as void and section 4C deal with offences of organizations doing unlawful conversion. Section 6A places the burden of proof on the accused. The Court has held that these provisions will not apply to inter-faith marriages based on free consent by adults.

 The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind had challenged this act as an invasion into personal autonomy, free choice, freedom of religion, and unlawful discrimination and hence violative of  the fundamental rights under Articles 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution. On behalf of the Jamiat, Advocate on record Mohammad Isa Hakeem and senior lawyer Mihir Joshi were present in the court.

 On the passing of this interim order, Jamiat national president Maulana Mahmood Madani said that court had shown a mirror of reality to those in power who made this law with bad intent.  The components of the law are stricter than the anti-terrorism law “UAPA”.  You cannot treat a social problem in this way. It will further complicate the issue, said Maulana Madani

By Niaz Ahmad Farooqui Secretary,

Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind 9312228470

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