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Gujarat HC declines state’s plea for modification of order on anti-conversion law

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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 an earlier order passed by the bench concerning the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021.

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. The state approached the court seeking rectification on the stay on section 5 of the new anti-conversion law.

What the Gujarat govt argued

Representing the government advocate general Kamal Trivedi argued 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.

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.

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.”

What the court said

After hearing the arguments of the state government, the court declined to entertain the plea. It said, “We do not find reason to make any changes in the order passed by us on August 19.”

 

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