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Gujarat HC stays some sections related to interfaith marriages of new anti-conversion law

The Rupani government inserted several controversial provisions by amending the principal act implemented in 2003 for the purpose of curbing religious conversion
Last Updated : 20 August 2021, 04:17 IST

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In a setback to the Vijay Rupani-led BJP government, the Gujarat High Court on Thursday stayed several sections of controversial "anti-love jihad" law including the section that makes an interfaith marriage itself a criminal offence amounting to religious conversion. While suspending those particular sections of law, the bench observed that it was necessary to "protect the parties solemnized in interfaith marriage from being unnecessarily harassed".

The division bench of Chief jJustice Vikram Nath and Justice Biren Vaishnav in the interim order granted stay on section-3, 4, 4-A, 4-C, 5, 6 and 6A of Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amended) Act, 2021. The bench stated, "...we are therefore of the opinion that pending further hearing, the rigours of section-3, 3, 4A to 4 C, 5, 6 and 6A shall not operate merely because marriage is solemnised by person of one religion with another without force, or allurement or fraudulent means and such marriages can't be termed as marriages for the purpose of unlawful conversion."

The Rupani government inserted several controversial provisions by amending the principal act implemented in 2003 for the purpose of curbing religious conversion. Section-3 of the old law prohibited forcible conversion which stated, "No person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any person from one religion to another by use of force or by allurement or by any fraudulent means". The present government amended it by inserting, "or by marriage or by getting a person married or by aiding a person to get married nor shall any person abet such conversion", making interfaith marriage as a criminal offence.

Section-4 provides punishment for violating section-3 which can be extended up to four years of imprisonment, section 4A has provision for punishment for violating section 3 in case of marriage by unlawful conversion. The violators can be jailed for seven years if found guilty. Section 4C is meant for institutions or organisations found to be violating section-3. It stipulates punishment upto 10 years of imprisonment. Sections-5 and 6 stipulate prior permissions of district collector in case of conversion and for prosecution.

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Published 19 August 2021, 09:28 IST

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