In a strong message, the Gujarat High Court asked the State government to file an affidavit explaining its objections in an interfaith marriage case in which the police have lodged an FIR booking the husband, in-laws and priests for solemnising the marriage under the State’s new law that seeks to ban religious conversion through interfaith marriages.
The victim in the case has categorically stated that the contents of the FIR lodged by the Vadodara Police are not true and she wanted to remain married to the person who has been booked under the amended Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act 2021 for forceful conversion through marriage.
This is the first case lodged by the State police after the act was notified to stop religious conversion through interfaith marriages using force, allurement or fraudulent means.
Last month, provisions of the amended law dealing with interfaith marriages had been stayed by the High Court. The High Court held that the provisions of the new law go against the Constitution. The State government had, however, said that would approach the Supreme Court challenging the interim ruling of the High Court.
According to the details of the case, seven persons were booked including husband, in-laws and the priest who solemnised the marriage. All have been arrested and are behind the bars.
On Wednesday, the victim came to the High Court and stated before Justice I.J. Vora that she has voluntarily filed the petition seeking to quash the FIR and proceedings against her husband and others and also told the court that “she wants to live together as married couple” with her husband.
In her petition in the High Court, the petitioner stated that when she had approached a local police station in Vadodara regarding petty and trivial matrimonial discord, the police, under the pressure of certain elements, brought in the “love jihad” angle and also registered the FIR under the new law.
The police also added the charges of “rape and sodomy” in the FIR which she categorically denied and even expressed shock the that Police added such charges without asking her.
In her petition, she also denied the charge of forceful conversion as mentioned by the Police in the FIR and submitted that her affidavit in this regard denying such charges of forceful conversion and others were not accepted by the lower court while denying bails to the accused.
She and her husband have stated that both were in relationship and were aware of each other’s religion and both decided to solemnised their marriage as per the Islamic rites and the same was notarised and subsequently it was registered under the Special Marriage Act.
The couple have submitted that the girl’s father stood a witness in their marriage and both families had no issues but certain “religio-political” groups and over zealous police communalised the sensationalised their marriage as a case of “love jihad.”
Now, the High Court has directed the State government to file an affidavit and explain its objections regarding quashing of charges and criminal proceedings in the case by September 20.