The law “interferes with the intricacies of marriage including the right to choice of an individual,” observed the Gujarat High Court, in its order staying certain sections of the state's anti-conversion law.
The Gujarat High Court had on Thursday, 19 August stayed the sections and said that certain provisions of the act will not be applicable to interfaith marriages till there is something to show there is force, allurement or fraud involved.
The order passed by Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Biren Vaishnav further observed that the provisions of the said “love jihad” law, put consenting parties entering validly into inter-faith marriage “in great jeopardy”.
“Section 6A of the 2003 Act places the burden of proof on the parties entering into an inter-faith marriage to prove that the marriage was not solemnized on account of any fraud, allurement or coercion.”Gujarat High Court
The court, thereby, flagged concerns about how a common man may perceive every instance of inter-faith marriage as prohibited, and went on to make a series of pertinent observations in its order.
Highlights of the HC Order
By the Amending Act of 2021, which was brought into force by way of a Notification dated 04.06.2021 a marriage itself is presumed to be a medium for the purposes of unlawful conversion if the marriage was by way of allurement, force or by fraudulent means. A plain reading of Section 3 would indicate that any conversion on account of marriage is also prohibited.
From the perception of the common man, it appears that merely because a conversion occurs because of marriage, it per se cannot be held to be an unlawful conversion or a marriage done for the purpose of unlawful conversion.
Prima-facie inter-faith marriages between two consenting adults by operation of the provisions of Section 3 of the 2003 Act interferes with the intricacies of marriage including the right to the choice of an individual, thereby infringing Article 21 of the Constitution Of India.
...pending further hearing the rigors of Sections 3, 4, 4A to 4C, 5, 6 and 6A shall not operate merely because a marriage is solemnised by a person of one religion with a person of another religion without force or by allurement or by fraudulent means and such marriages cannot be termed as marriages for the purposes of unlawful conversion
Dubbed the “Love Jihad” law, it came into force in Gujarat on 15 June and laid down stricter punishment for forced conversion through marriage.
While the 2003 Act prohibited only forcible conversions by fraudulent representation or threat, the amendment introduced the third ground of prohibition – forcible religious conversion through marriage.
The amendment added more categories to the list of persons who can complain about instances of “forced conversion” under Section 3A that defined “aggrieved person” – parents, brother, sister, or any other person related by blood marriage, adoption – may file a complaint at the police station.
The court’s order came in a petition filed by Jamiat Ulama-E-Hind, an organisation of Islamic scholars.
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