Caution to accused in case under freedom of religion law: Gujarat HC refers to suspension of provisions, SC observation on exercise of powers


Gujarat High Court, while granting bail to four defendants as an interim measure in joint petition by plaintiff and defendants for consensual annulment of first FIR filed under the law 2021 on Religious Freedom (Amendment) of Gujarat, refers to a divisional court order in August that suspended the application of several articles of the amended law.

The court also referred to an observation by the Supreme Court on the need for higher courts to exercise their powers under the Constitution.

The reasoned order released on Thursday referred to the ruling in the Arnab Manoranjan Goswami v Maharashtra State et al. Case that “the High Court is to exercise its power under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution to grant a provisional bond with prudence and circumspection, knowing And in fact “.

“In the light of the aforementioned law established by the Apex Court and taking into account the particular facts and circumstances of the case, more particularly, the settlement reached between the husband and the wife…, the applicants established a prima facie case for interim relief a relief in the form of a bond… ”, noted the court of justice Ilesh Vora. The accused will be released on execution of a personal bond of Rs 10,000 each.

The FIR was deposited at the Gotri police station in Vadodara two days after the entry into force, on June 15, of an amendment to the Gujarat religious freedom law. Listed caste and tribe (Prevention of
atrocities) Law.

The defendants included the complainant’s husband, her in-laws, her sister-in-law, the husband’s uncle, a cousin and a maulvi who celebrated the nikah. While the in-laws and sister-in-law were released on bail earlier, the husband, his uncle and cousin and the maulvi remained in judicial custody, nearly four months after their arrest.

Another woman, accused of plotting to house the couple in her home, has also been protected from any arrest by the court.
Two petitions were filed with the HC, requesting the cancellation of the FIR, with one petition comprising the complainant and the other seven accused as petitioners, represented by lawyer Muhammad Isa Hakim, and the second petition presented by the friend of the accused couple, represented by lawyer Hitesh Gupta.

As stated in the court order, the couple got to know each other via social media in 2019. “… Due to their intimate relationship, they became aware of the identity, character, details of the family and the religion of the other, ”the court said. records.

The couple agreed to marry under the Special Marriage Law following their respective religions, before which they were married by “nikahnama” in the presence of their parents and family members. They also declared their marriage under oath with an affidavit stating that the “marriage was without any force or constraint and beyond their free will”.

“Subsequently, due to minor and insignificant problems… between accused # 1 (the complainant’s husband) and the informant, the informant… went to the parental home. On 17.06.2021, the incriminated FIR was registered at Gotri police station, Vadodara, alleging that the accused had forced sex, taking obscene photos of the informant, causing a forced miscarriage … forced to convert by force his religion and used caste insults. She also alleged that there was a conspiracy among the defendants to commit the offenses, ”the order reads.

The applicants jointly requested the rescission of the FIR’s consent primarily on the grounds that the husband and wife issues were “small and insignificant… which were resolved and… they wanted to continue their matrimonial and marital relationship”.

The applicants also argued that in view of a settlement between the couple, the applicants “have good prima facie evidence and, therefore, if the requested interim bail is not granted, they will then suffer irreparable loss and damage through deprivation of their personal freedoms… ”The court has now upheld the request for November 29 for a new hearing on whether the FIR should be quashed or not.