The Gujarat High Court passed an interim order stating that the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, will not apply to inter-faith marriages that take place without force, allurement or fraudulent means. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Biren Vaishnav passed an interim order to protect the parties of inter-faith marriage from being unnecessarily harassed.
The bench was 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 solemnized by a person of one religion with another religion without force or fraudulent means and such marriages cannot be termed as marriages for the purposes of unlawful conversion.
The bench passed the order in a writ petition filed by Mr Muhammed Isa. M. Hakim challenging the provisions of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021. The Court held that these provisions would not apply to inter-faith marriages based on free consent by adults. The Act was challenged as an invasion into personal autonomy, free choice, freedom of religion, and unlawful discrimination and hence violated the fundamental rights under Articles 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution. On August 5, the Court had heard arguments in the petition.
During the hearing, the bench had orally observed that religion and marriage were matters of personal choice. As per the stringent provisions of the Act, the moment a person makes an FIR against an inter-faith marriage, the person can be sent to jail and, the burden of proof will be on the accused.
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