Anti-conversion law: Gujarat HC grants bail to all accused as interim relief

The couple, in their plea to quash the FIR, stated that the issue has since been resolved and they wish to continue with their marital relations.

In a petition jointly moved by a complainant and the accused for the consensual quashing of the first FIR lodged under the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, the Gujarat High Court on Wednesday granted bail to all accused who are behind bars, as an interim relief, pending a final decision on quashing of the FIR.

Three of the accused were granted bail earlier while four remained in judicial custody. Another accused woman, who was not arrested, was also protected by the court of Justice Ilesh Vora on Wednesday.

The complainant — a 25-year old woman married to a 21-year-old Muslim man — already submitted in her petition that the FIR registered is an “incorrect, untrue and exaggerated version of the information” given by her that “arose out of a petty and trivial domestic matrimonial dispute”. The man and his family members had been named as accused in the FIR. However, the couple, in their plea to quash the FIR, stated that the issue has since been resolved and they wish to continue with their marital relations.

The court on Tuesday, October 12 stated it first wants to clarify if the interfaith couple “wants to stay together or not,” and to that extent had proposed that an interim relief by the way of granting regular bail to the accused husband and others, after which the couple may stay together for 15 days, following which the court would decide on whether to quash the FIR.

The FIR was lodged at Gotri police station in Vadodara two days after an amendment to the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003 came into force on June 15. The accused were booked under the provisions of the IPC, the amended Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The accused included the woman’s husband, parents-in-law, sister-in-law, husband’s uncle, a cousin and a maulvi who solemnised the couple’s nikah. While the parents-in-law and sister-in-law were granted bail earlier, the husband, his uncle and cousin and the maulvi continued to be in judicial custody, nearly four months after their arrest.

A petition for quashing of the FIR was also moved by a 28-year old woman, also named as an accused in the case with her role attributed to conspiracy for providing a flat to the accused husband for a commission of alleged rape of the complainant. The Gujarat HC also granted her interim relief, protecting her from arrest in the case and further directing the prosecution that no chargesheet will be filed against her without the permission of the court.

A detailed order is expected soon.

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