HC gives bail to accused in Gujarat's first 'anti-love jihad law' case

Nearly a month after registration of the FIR, the couple, and seven other accused jointly moved court for quashing it
Last Updated : 13 October 2021, 17:11 IST

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The Gujarat high court on Wednesday ordered the release of all accused persons languishing in jail in the state's first case under Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amended) Act, 2021, the controversial anti-conversion law also described as "anti-love jihad" law. The court's relief came while hearing the pleas of the interfaith couple who have together moved the court seeking closure of the case.

Justice Ilesh J Vora passed an order giving interim relief to four accused, including the husband, priest and two witnesses, who are behind bars, and gave protection to another accused yet to be arrested, while three other accused are already out on bail. The court also said that the couple can stay together and their petition for quashing of the FIR will be decided in the next hearing.

In June, barely days after the state government implemented the contentious anti-conversion law, the 25-year-old woman had filed an FIR in Vadodara against eight persons including her husband, parents-in-law, sister-in-law, husband's uncle, cousin, who were witnesses, and the maulavi or priest who performed the nikah, alleging forceful religious conversion, rape, among other charges.

Nearly a month after registration of the FIR, the couple, and seven other accused jointly moved court for quashing it. The complainant told court that allegations against her husband and others were "twisted" by the local police which turned her complaint of domestic violence under section 498A of Indian Penal Code to a case under the Freedom of Religion (Amended) Act, rape, unnatural sex and sections of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe (prevention of atrocities) Act, 1989.

She said she had no idea about the new anti-conversion law back then and neither did she level any of these allegations against her husband and the in-laws. Her petition stated, "certain religio-political groups intervened in the matter and communalised the said issue by bringing the angle of "love-jihad". It added, "Also, on account of overzealousness of the police officers involved, facts and offences which were never mentioned or alleged by the informant (the woman) came to be inserted in the FIR."

The woman said that she had met her husband through social media in 2019 and in February 2021, she got married under the special marriage act with the consent of their respective parents since they both belong to different religions. Recently, the high court stayed several sections of the controversial law on the ground that these sections treat any interfaith marriage "a criminal" act. The state government has moved the Supreme Court challenging the high court's order. Since its implementation from June 15 this year, at least five FIRs have been registered in different parts of the state.

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Published 13 October 2021, 16:54 IST

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