Gujarat High Court strikes down several sections of love jihad law

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By Muslim Mirror Staff

New Delhi: In a setback to the Gujarat government, the state’s High Court on Thursday stayed several sections of the state’s ”love jihad” law, including one that puts the burden of proof on the accused. The court passed the ruling on a petition filed by Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind.

The division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Biren Vaishnav in the interim order granted stay on section-3, 4, 4-A, 4-C, 5, 6 and 6A of Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amended) Act, 2021. The bench stated, “…we are therefore of the opinion that pending further hearing, the rigours of section-3, 3, 4A to 4 C, 5, 6 and 6A shall not operate merely because marriage is solemnised by person of one religion with another without force, or allurement or fraudulent means and such marriages can’t be termed as marriages for the purpose of unlawful conversion.”

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Among the sections struck down by the interim order is 6A, which says those accused of forcing a marriage for the purpose of conversion must prove otherwise – a clause that contradicts the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, which says the burden of proof lies on the complainant.

Inter-faith marriages between adults exercising free consent and without allurement or cheating “cannot be termed as marriages for the purpose of unlawful conversion”, the court ruled.

The current state government inserted several controversial provisions by amending the principal act implemented in 2003 for the purpose of curbing religious conversion. Section-3 of the old law prohibited forcible conversion which stated, “No person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any person from one religion to another by use of force or by allurement or by any fraudulent means”. The present government amended it by inserting, “or by marriage or by getting a person married or by aiding a person to get married nor shall any person abet such conversion”, making interfaith marriage as a criminal offence.

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