The Gujarat High Court on Friday orally observed that a married couple should be able to decide which religion to follow, while issuing notice to the State government and the Advocate General of the State on a plea challenging the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021 (Jamiat Ulama-E-Hind Gujarat vs. State of Gujarat).A Bench Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Biren Vaishnav asked the State counsel whether conversion by virtue of marriage can be made an offence."It is upto the married couple to decide which religion to follow. It is for them," the Bench remarked. .The 2021 Act had amended the existing Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003 and prohibited forcible religious conversion by marriage. The petitioner, Jamiat Ulama-E-Hind Gujarat, challenged the Act on three broad premises.Senior Advocate Mihir Joshi representing the petitioners, submitted that the provisions of the Act are violative of a citizen's Fundamental Right under Article 25 to profess and propagate their religion. It was further argued that the language used in the Act is vague and it encroaches upon the precious right to privacy under Article 21, essential to an individual in marriage. .It was also brought to the Court’s attention that the Act of 2003 only prohibits forcible conversions by fraudulent representation or threat. However, the amendment brought under its ambit conversion by marriage and vague language such as “allurement of divine blessing”.In response to the submissions, the Bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Biren Vaishnav remarked, “let us clarify, if there is an inter religion marriage without any coercion of fraud or allurement, that should not be treated as an offence.”.However, advocate Manisha Lavkumar appearing for the State, submitted that the object of the Act is to address circumstances where in a relationship, a marriage is not an option unless conversion takes place.“Per se an inter-religious marriage cannot be an offence. But that it is not the intention of the Act. The object of the act is to see that if there is a relationship that says, if there is no conversion there will be no marriage- that is sought to be addressed.”The Bench responded by saying that while the Act does not make inter-religious marriage an offence, conversion by virtue of marriage is made an offence "It is the conversion you are making an offence by virtue of marriage," the Bench remarked asking whether that is permissible.Lavkumar responded by saying that a marriage should not per se require conversion. "Therefore, whether marriage per se entails a conversion (needs to be considered). Per se a marriage would not require a conversion," she said."It is upto the married couple to decide which religion to follow. It is for them," Chief Justice Vikram Nath responded"Those ingredients need to be examined. The Act needs to be examined in totality," Lavkumar submitted..She, therefore, sought a short adjournment submitting that a deeper examination of the Act would be necessary for her to be equipped to assist the Court..The Bench allowed the State time to prepare and listed the matter to be heard further on August 17.