A division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Biren Vaishnav, which heard the plea, issued the notice to the state government and asked it to file a reply, and kept the next hearing on August 17.
The petition against the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, was filed last month by the Gujarat chapter of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind. The Act was notified on June 15.
During Thursday’s virtual hearing, senior advocate Mihir Joshi, appearing for the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, said the amended law has vague terms which are against basic principles of marriage and right to propagate, profess and practice religion as enshrined in the Article 25 of the Constitution.
“If I say you will enjoy a better life after marriage, is it an allurement, as mentioned in the law, which amounts to an offence? The law says no person shall be converted by use of force, allurement, fraudulent means and by marriage. So it’s an offence if two persons of different faiths get married? The law even allows distant family members to file a criminal complaint,” said Joshi.
Justice Vaishnav, while addressing Government Pleader Manisha Lavkumar, asked, “If somebody gets married to a person of different religion, you will first send him to jail and then check if the marriage was by use of force or not?”.
Since the Government Pleader sought time to examine the law and file a reply to the contentions raised, the court adjourned the hearing till August 17.
The state government had passed the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill in the Assembly during the budget session, and Governor Acharya Devvrat gave his assent to it on May 22. It came into force on June 15, and since then several FIRs have been filed in different police stations of Gujarat under the controversial law.