The Gujarat government has decided to move the Supreme Court against the stay granted by the Gujarat High Court on the operation of several sections of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021.
Gujarat home minister Pradipsinh Jadeja took to Twitter and said that the stay granted by the high court on the implementation of the Act will be challenged by the state government before the apex court. The minister also said that the legislation was passed by the Assembly to protect women and girls.
Stay by HC
Notably, the high court had on August 19 stayed multiple sections of the amended Act, namely Section 3, 4, 4A to 4C, 5, 6 and 6A, and ordered that these sections shall not operate if interfaith marriages are solemnised without force, allurement or fraudulent means.
Also, the Gujarat High Court’s division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Biren Vaishnav on Thursday refused to entertain a plea by the state government seeking a rectification in the stay order with respect to lifting the stay on the operation of section 5.
Notably, section 5 makes it mandatory for religious priests to take prior permission from the collector for any religious conversion. It also provides that the person getting converted must end intimation to the collector in a prescribed form.
Arguments of Gujarat govt
Representing the government, advocate general Kamal Trivedi had argued before the high court that section 5 of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021 was there ever since the original law was enacted in 2003 and it has nothing to do with marriage per se. He further submitted that 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 advocate general said, “Since there is a stay on section 5, no one will come for the permission even if it’s a voluntary conversion without marriage. They will say that the high court had stayed the rigors of section 5. It is meant for such propositions where everything is willingly done. This order means the whole law now stands stayed.”
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