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Raj Kumar Makkad (Adv P & H High Court Chandigarh)     21 February 2012

Hc pulls up govt over conversion row

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court has pulled up the authorities for cancelling licence of a government marriage registrar for solemnizing marriage of a Christian boy with a Hindu Brahmin girl in Kheda.

Subhashchandra Ishudas Parmar is authorized registrar to solemnize and register marriages as per the Indian Christian Marriage Act. The state government cancelled his licence for solemnizing the marriage of people belonging to different religions - Pinakin Macwan and Vishruti Shukla, on the ground that he violated anti-conversion law by converting the Hindu girl to Christianity.

As per the provisions of section 5 of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003, a person cannot be converted to other religion without obtaining prior permission from the district collector. Parmar solemnized the marriage of Pinakin and Vishruti on February 10, 2009, and issued them a certificate of registration of marriage. Vishruti's mother was present during the marriage and even signed the certificate of marriage as a witness.

A year later, Vishruti's father complained before the district collector that her daughter was converted to Christianity illegally. The collector issued a show-cause notice to Parmar to cancel his licence as registrar for illegally converting Vishruti to Christianity. He replied, but nobody paid any heed to his contention that the girl never converted to Christianity. His licence was cancelled in October last year.

Parmar moved Gujarat high court through advocate Saurabh Patel, who told the court that as per section 4 of Christian marriage law, conversion is not compulsory for registration and solemnization of marriage in case a Christian marries a non-Christian. Under such provision of law, marriage can take place as per religious rituals without effecting conversion.

Advocate Patel also argued that for conversion to Christianity, the sacrament is required to be performed by an authorized bishop, and Parmar is not a bishop and therefore there is no question of converting Vishruti at all. When HC questioned the government about proof of Vishruti's conversion, it could not provide any proof. This led justice S R Brahmbhatt to observe that in absence of any proof that Vishruti was converted against her will, the show-cause notice was without jurisdiction and unjustified.

HC revived Parmar's license to register marriages and pulled up the government for compelling him to come to court.

Meanwhile, the couple is also facing a criminal complaint and a chargesheet has been filed against them for violating the anti-conversion laws. However, HC has stayed all action against them.
SOURCE: The Times of India


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