A week since the Gujarat High Court granted interim bail to four accused in a petition jointly moved by the complainant and the accused for the consensual quashing of the first FIR lodged under the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, all four have been behind bars due to a typological error in the order, which was rectified in an order made public on Wednesday.
In the order dated October 13, made public on October 14, the court of Justice Ilesh Vora granted bail to the accused husband, two witnesses and a maulvi in the case. However, the order had erroneously stated, “…petitioners no. 1, 6, 7 and 8 are ordered to be released on bail” — 1 being the complainant wife, who was not in custody, 2 being the accused husband, a Muslim, and 6, 7 and 8 the two witnesses and maulvi, respectively.
A note for “speaking to minutes” was moved by the petitioners on October 18, which was allowed by the court. Such a note is moved by a party if they want rectification of a typographical error or clerical error in an order or judgment.
In the “speaking to minutes” order made public on Wednesday, it was stated, “Upon hearing… advocate for the petitioners, the discrepancies pointed out… deserve to be corrected. It is therefore, directed that in the order dated 13.10.2021… in para-14, the words ‘…petitioners no. 1, 6, 7 and 8 are ordered to be released on bail…’ be substituted and read as ‘…petitioners no 2, 6, 7 and 8 are ordered to be released on bail…’.”
The court was closed on October 15 owing to Dussehra, which was followed by the weekend and again a holiday on October 19 on account of Eid-e-Milad. The husband has been in judicial custody for four months, while the remaining three have been in jail for more than three months, after the FIR was registered on June 17, two days after the amended Act came into force.
The FIR, lodged at Gotri police station in Vadodara, named the accused under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the amended Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, and alleged the accused persons of forcible religious conversion, among others. The wife is a Dalit.
The couple along with other accused moved the HC seeking consensual quashing of the FIR, saying it was an “incorrect, untrue and exaggerated version of the information” given by the complainant that “arose out of a petty and trivial domestic matrimonial dispute”, and that the said issue was resolved and the couple wishes to continue with their marital relations.
The court’s order rectifying the error also directed that a fresh writ be issued, that requires the registry to issue an email conveying the order to the lower trial court where the bail bond is executed, and is considered as the official court order. In this case, Gujarat HC record shows a writ of the earlier erroneous order dated October 13 was not issued for dispatch and the rectified order was dispatched to the concerned authorities on Wednesday. The Gujarat HC direction for release of the accused on bail had come as an interim relief in a consent quashing petition and not in a specific bail application.
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