In an interim order, the Gujarat High Court on Thursday retained some parts related to the recently enacted state anti-conversion law for interfaith marriages. A division of the court suspended the enforcement of certain parts of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021. Gujarat’s anti-conversion law was revised in 2021 to introduce new sections punishing forced or fraudulent religious conversion through marriage and the law was announced by the government on June 15. The government argued that the law was supposed to prevent religious conversion through inter-religious marriages.
On Thursday, in passing the interim order, Chief Justice Vikram Nath said: “We consider that pending a new hearing, provisions 3, 4, 4a through 4c, 5, 6 and 6a are not should apply simply because a marriage made by a person of one religion to another without force, manipulation or fraudulent means and such marriages cannot be considered married for the purpose of illegal conversion”.
Advocate general Kamal Trivedi told the court on Tuesday that there is no “marriage between contacts” in the state. He defended the new anti-conversion law, arguing that marriage cannot be a tool for “forced conversion”.
The petition argues that the revised law violates the basic principles of marriage and the right to spread, believe in, and practice religion as stipulated in Article 25 of the Constitution.