The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday asked the State why it was opposed to quashing of an FIR registered against an inter-faith couple under Sections 4 & 5 of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021 (Divyaben v. the State of Gujarat).
Justice Ilesh J Vora passed the order in a petition filed by the couple after the woman informant approached the Gotri Police Station in Vadodra to complain about a petty matrimonial issue that she believed would be covered under Section 498A (Cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
However, the petition stated, due to the intervention of certain “religion-political” groups, the matter was communalized and the “love jihad” angle was brought in. So the angle of love jihad was brought unnecessarily.
It was further stated that due to the “overzealousness” of police officers involved, grossly untrue facts and offenses never mentioned by the woman were inserted in the FIR. These included heinous offenses under the IPC.
As submitted in the plea, the FIR records completely incorrect facts regarding sexual assault, forcible miscarriages, domestic violence, and the use of casteist slurs by the accused, even though no such allegations were made by the woman.
The petitioners moved the Court seeking quashing of the FIR, submitting that the issue was resolved between the parties and that the couple wished to continue their matrimonial relationship. The parties were living together without any disputes. They were involved in cohabitation as well The parties were happily living together and were satisfied with each other, all these were claimed in court of law
The accused under the FIR include the woman’s in-laws, the qazi (priest) who married the couple, and the witnesses. All except one of the accused, who was granted bail, are under judicial custody. And they have been under the supervision of court regularly at a certain interval of time. They were brought to court at regular interval of time.
It was also interestingly pointed out that even though the woman's father was a witness to the marriage registration, he had not been arraigned as an accused. Therefore, it is evident that the entire action of the police is communally biased.
The couple was married on February 16, 2021, in the presence of their parents and family members. Shortly after the wedding, an affidavit was executed between them that the marriage was without any coercion and out of their free will. The marriage happened with free will and was claimed that it was even registered.
The matter has been listed for further hearing on September 20 by which time the State is required to submit its response. Advocate Mohammed Isa Hakim represented the applicants.
The operation of the controversial Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021 was recently stayed by a Bench of former Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Biren Vaishnav on August 19.
The order stated that Sections 3, 4, 4A to 4C, 5, 6, 6A shall not operate merely because the marriage is solemnized by a person of one religion with another without force or by allurement or by fraudulent means, and such marriages cannot be termed as marriages for the purposes of unlawful conversion.