The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday asked the state government to explain why it objected to the quashing of criminal proceedings in an interfaith marriage case, The Hindu reported.
The court was hearing a petition filed by a woman seeking to quash an FIR against her husband under the Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021. The husband, his parents and the priests who performed the ceremony had been accused of being involved in forcibly converting the woman’s religion through marriage.
On Wednesday, the woman told the court that she has voluntarily filed the petition seeking to quash the FIR, and that she wanted to live with her husband.
This was the first FIR filed in Gujarat under the Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, which has been described by the state government as a law against “love jihad.”
“Love jihad” is a conspiracy theory espoused by Hindutva activists, who allege that Hindu women are forcibly converted by Muslims through marriage.
The woman, in her petition before the High Court, stated that she had approached Vadodara’s Gotri police station to report a trivial matter arising out of matrimonial discord, The Times of India reported.
She said she believed that Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code could cover her allegations. The provision relates to a married woman being subjected to cruelty by her husband or relatives of her husband.
“However, at this stage, certain religio-political groups intervened in the matter and communalised the issue by bringing in the love jihad angle,” her petition stated. She said that due to the “overzealousness” of the police, allegations that she did not make were inserted in the FIR.
The woman said the police added charges of rape and sodomy in the FIR, although she denied making any such allegations against her husband. She has also denied that she was forcefully converted, as was mentioned by the police in the FIR.
“The male officers have recorded nasty information with explicit sexual details which were never uttered by the informant and even if uttered, ought to have been recorded by a woman police officer,” her petition stated, according to Deccan Herald.
She also reportedly claimed that she did not have any idea about the anti-conversion law when she filed the complaint.
The Gujarat Assembly had passed the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, in April to stop the “emerging trend in which women are lured to marriage for the purpose of religious conversion”. The law provides for a punishment of three to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh.
On August 19, the High Court ordered a stay on several sections of the Act. The sections put on hold include the one that defined interfaith marriage as a reason for forceful conversion.
Hours after the verdict, the state government said that it would file an appeal against it in the Supreme Court.