The lady, who was the first to register an FIR against her husband and in-laws under the Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021 within two days of its coming into force in Gujarat, now claims to have settled the issue and has approached Gujarat High Court to quash the FIR. The original law, which was enacted in 2003, was amended to prevent forceful conversion through marriage.

Justice IJ Vora heard the case and posted it for further hearing on September 20, after Public Prosecutor Mitesh Amin sought time to verify the affidavit filed by the lady who gave her consent to quash the complaint. She had registered a complaint before the Gotri police station in Vadodara on June 17, immediately after the law came into force on June 15.

"Heard Mr. M.M.Hakim, learned Counsel for the applicant and Mr. Mitesh Amin, learned Public Prosecutor assisted by Mrs. Krina Calla, learned APP for the respondent State. Mr. Hakim states that the parties have amicably resolved the dispute and prays for quashing of the FIR. The original complainant is present before the Court and upon specific query raised by the Court, she has confirmed the facts of the affidavit so far as settlement is concerned. However, learned APP seeks time to verify the same," noted Justice Vora while granting time to the Gujarat Government.

The Petitioner wife has sought for the FIR to be quashed, claiming that the angle of forcible conversion by marriage was added to the FIR filed by her against her husband and in-laws by "certain religio-political groups" looking to "communalize" the issue. Apart from various sections of the newly amended law, the accused were also charged under various sections of the IPC and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act after their arrest. The Act lays down stringent punishment for forcible conversion through marriage.

The wife of the accused told the High Court in her petition that the FIR against her husband, in-laws and others was an incorrect, untrue and exaggerated version of the information given by the informant, which allegedly arose out of a petty and trivial domestic matrimonial dispute.

The woman has claimed in her petition that, "she had approached the police with a complaint against her husband over a trivial matrimonial issue that was to be covered under section 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) of the IPC. However, at this stage, certain religio-political groups intervened in the matter and communalized the said issue bringing the angle of Love Jihad."

The petition further states, "Also, on account of the over-zealousness of the police officers involved, facts and offences which were never mentioned or alleged by the informant came to be inserted in the FIR. Although the informant (the woman) did not complain/inform if the offences were alleged under IPC, Freedom of Religion Act and Atrocities Act (the woman is a Dalit), the same have been incorporated in the FIR as if the informant complained/ informed about the same."

The petition accuses the police of showing communal bias in the entire episode. "At this stage it is most shocking to note that the father of the Informant who also a witness to the Marriage Registration is not arraigned as accused. The same makes it evident that the entire action of the police is communally biased."

As per the plea, the petitioner wife and her future husband came to know each other in 2019 and got into a relationship, after which they married as per the Special Marriage Act, 1954, and their family members knew each other, their religion and social status. They then got married as per Islamic rituals on February 16, 2021, and executed a joint affidavit declaring the facts, and got their marriage registered under the Special Marriage Act. Subsequently, over some petty matrimonial issue between the husband and the wife, the woman left his house and went to her parental house.

In the FIR registered on June 17 this year, the lady has narrated that she came in contact with the accused-husband through social media when she was working as a teacher. When they met each other, the man had identified himself as a Christian. He then established a forceful physical relationship with her and took her nude photographs. Thereafter he forced her into physical relation and subjected her to unnatural sex by threatening her to make her nude photographs public. She became pregnant twice but underwent abortions at the instance of the accused. The accused used to assault her and abuse her using casteist slurs. She was not willing to marry him after knowing about his true religion, but she solemnized the marriage as he had threatened to make her nude photographs viral on social media.

With PTI inputs