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‘Love jihad’ case: Gujarat HC asks why govt. has problems when the woman wants to remain married?

Court asks the State government to file an affidavit explaining its objections in an interfaith marriage case

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 husband, in-laws and priests for solemnising the marriage.

The victim in the case has categorically stated that the contents of the FIR the Vadodara Police have lodged 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 the State police lodged after the Act was notified into the law to stop religious conversion through interfaith marriage using force, allurement or fraudulent means.

Last month, provisions of the amended law dealing with interfaith marriages were stayed by the High Court.

According to the details of the first case, seven persons were booked, including husband, in-laws and the priest who solemnised the marriage. All four 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 had 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.

‘Trivial discord’

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 was even shocked that the 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 was 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 as per 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.

Now, the High Court has directed the State government to file an affidavit and explain its objections regarding the quashing of charges and criminal proceedings in the case by September 20.

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