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Gujarat HC comes to rescue of inter-faith couples; stays 'rigorous' sections of ‘anti-love jihad’ law

FIR can't be registered unless it is proved marriage was solemnised through coercion

Odisha teacher requests 1,001 saplings as dowry Representational Image | Reuters

In an interim order, the Gujarat High Court, on Thursday, said several "rigorous" sections of of Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, will not be applicable in inter-faith marriages which were solemnised without "allurement or fraudulent means."

The order, indented to protect inter-faith couples from harassment, was passed in the wake of a writ petition filed to challenge Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021.

The court said, "...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 solemnised by a person of one religion with another religion without force or allurement or fraudulent means and such marriages cannot be termed as marriages for the purposes of unlawful conversion." The interim order was passed by the division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Biren Vaishnav.

Clarifying its order, the court said this would mean that the provisions under this Act cannot be implemented if the marriage is not a clear result of coercion, fraud or allurement.

According to news agency ANI, the court said an FIR cannot be registered unless it is proved that the marriage was solemnised through coercion, pressure or greed

While Section 6A places burden of proof on the accused, Section 4B declares marriage by unlawful conversion as void. Under Section 4A, the punishment prescribed for unlawful conversion is prison term for three to five years.

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