The interim order came in response to an application for interim relief sought by petitioners challenging the constitutionality of the MP Freedom of Religion Act seeking protection for inter-faith couples from provisions of the Act. In a 32-page order on the application, the division bench of Justice Sujoy Gupta and Justice Prakash Chandra Gupta, while citing several judgements of the Supreme Court and various high courts, had said, “In our considered opinion, a strong prima facie case has been made out by the petitioners for grant of interim protection in relation to marriage of two adult citizens on their volition and against any coercive action for violation of section 10 of the Act of 2021″.
The judges further said that section 10 of the Act makes it obligatory for a citizen desiring conversion to give a declaration in this regard to the district magistrate, which in our opinion is ex facie and unconstitutional in the light of aforesaid judgments of this court. “Thus, till further orders, respondent shall not prosecute adult citizens if they solemnize marriage on their own volition and shall not take coercive action for violation of Section 10 of Act of 21”, they said.
Talking to TOI, advocate general Prashant Singh, however, said that Freedom of Religion Act-1998, had provision for inter-faith couples to give an application before the district magistrate for marriage and was included in the new Act on the same lines. The provision is to ensure that conversion is not taking place under any pressure or allurement and the administration should know about it, he said.