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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Amended Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act: Man moves HC, says ‘allured daughter into marriage, forcibly converted her’

The amended Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act came into force from June 15 and in August, the Gujarat High Court stayed several provisions of the amended Act.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad |
September 26, 2021 2:57:07 am
gujarat freedom of religion actThe FIR was lodged at Gotri police station in Vadodara two days after an amendment to the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act of 2003 came into force on June 15.

A Muslim man from Khambhat in Anand has moved the Gujarat High Court seeking lodging of a police complaint under the amended Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, after his daughter allegedly eloped with a Hindu man.

According to the petitioner, his daughter went missing on June 16, 2021, and he later learnt that a man had “allured” her into marriage and “forcibly converted her religion”.

The man then filed a complaint with the Khambhat city police station, on “abduction of his daughter… and subsequent forceful conversion and marriage”, the petition states. However, no FIR has been registered, the complainant stated.

The petitioner subsequently filed a complaint before the district superintendent of police of Anand on June 24 under provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) for getting an FIR filed.

On Friday, the court of Justice Ilesh Vora directed the state counsel to “take necessary instructions with respect to the complaint dated 24.06.2021… on, or before, the next date of hearing” on October 27.

The amended Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act came into force from June 15 and in August, the Gujarat High Court stayed several provisions of the amended Act.

According to the petitioner, the man who married his daughter committed offences under sections 3 and 5 of the Act that have been stayed by the High Court. Section 3 deals with “prohibition of forcible conversion” and Section 5 stipulates district magistrate’s permission in case of religious conversion.

The Gujarat HC is also seized of a consent quashing petition where provisions of the Act were invoked involving a married couple from Vadodara.

While the accused and complainant in the case sought quashing of the FIR, the state had objected to it. Contesting the complainant woman’s assertion that the FIR registered contains “untrue” details that were not part of her complaint, the state said that the woman “never raised any grievance at any point of time that the FIR was an exaggerated version”.

The state also submitted that the woman had attested to the facts of the FIR on oath before the judicial magistrate first class of Vadodara, while adding that the state authorities “do not have any personal interest or personal vengeance against the complainant nor the accused so as to incorporate exaggerated version as alleged by the petitioners”.

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