Faith and Marriage

Source: Indian Express, The Hindu

Relevance: To understand the issue of interfaith marriages

Synopsis: Dubious legislations cannot be allowed to criminalise interfaith marriages


Gujarat HC has recently struck down certain provisions of the ‘Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021’ which are contrary to the fundamental rights of the citizen.

  • Many states like UP, MP, Himachal and Gujarat have brought laws against forced conversion like “Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment Act) 2021.
Read more: Issue of interfaith marriages and laws in India
What do the laws say?
  • They have created ‘conversion by marriage’ as one of the illegal forms of conversion. However, the vagueness of the provisions gives police the power to hold police inquiries.
  • The law also allows an aggrieved person, anyone related by blood to lodge an FIR.
  • This often subjects the couple or bride/groom to criminal proceedings.
Read more: What are the issues in anti-conversion law?
What do the courts say?
  • Gujarat HC has stalled some provisions of the Act and has stopped initiation of criminal proceedings against such couples unless they have there were any of the illegal elements involved.
  • This is also in line with Supreme Court (SC) rulings that states cannot police private lives and personal choices guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution.
  • In Shafin Jahan Vs Ashokan case, the SC made it clear that the right to marry is an integral part of a person’s choice.
Way Forward

The Gujarat HC’s reading of the law will hopefully have a bearing on other courts where similar laws have been challenged.

Terms to know

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