Updated: August 28, 2021 7:53:32 pm
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Saturday said the state government is firm on stopping forcible religious conversion through marriage and will approach the Supreme Court against the high court’s order staying several sections of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021.
On August 19, the Gujarat High Court had stayed sections 3, 4, 4A to 4C, 5, 6 and 6A of the amended Act pending further hearing, saying that they “shall not operate merely because a marriage is solemnised by a person of one religion with a person of another religion without force or by allurement or by fraudulent means and such marriages cannot be termed as marriages for the purposes of unlawful conversion”.
Talking to reporters, Rupani said, “The state government is firm. Hindu girls are made to elope, and later forced to undergo religious conversion. (Law against) love jihad (was brought) in this very context, to take strong action (against such activities). The state government will certainly approach the Supreme Court against the high court’s order staying sections of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021), and will do all that is required.”
He was speaking on the sidelines of an event organised in the state capital Gandhinagar to celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of Gujarati poet Jhaverchand Meghani, who was also given the title of “Rashtriya Shayar.”
The 2021 law, which penalises forcible or fraudulent religious conversion through marriage, was notified by the BJP government on June 15 this year. The original Act was in force since 2003 and its amended version was passed in the Assembly in April.
Last month, the Gujarat chapter of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind filed a petition in the HC, claiming that some of the amended sections of the new law were unconstitutional.
Among other sections, which mainly deal with religious conversion through marriage, the high court has also stayed the operation of section 5, which according to the BJP government, is the “core” of the entire Act and a stay on it effectively stays the entire legislation.
The government on Wednesday told the high court that section 5 has nothing to do with marriage per se. A stay on section 5 would actually stay the application of the entire law itself, and no one would approach the authorities for seeking permission before getting converted, the government had said.
However, the HC on Thursday turned down the state government’s plea seeking rectification of its order.
Section 5 of the Act mandates that religious priests must take prior permission from the district magistrate for converting a person from one faith to another.