Courts Update Allahabad High Court grants bail to man in a...

Allahabad High Court grants bail to man in a conversion case

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Allahabad Aug 13(ILNS): The Allahabad High Court on Thursday granted bail to a man booked for unlawfully converting the religion and said that no act was committed towards the conversion of 19-year-old girl’s religion.

A Single Bench comprised of Justice Pradeep Kumar Srivastava passed this order while hearing a Criminal Appeal filed by Arif.

The appeal was filed by appellant Arif against the order passed on February 17, 2021, by Special Judge, SC/ST Act, Saharanpur on his Bail Application. He was booked in Case under Sections 363, 366, 506 I.P.C. and Section 3/5 of U.P. Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 and 3(2)(5) of SC/ST Act, at Police Station Janakpuri, District Saharanpur, and his bail plea was rejected.

The case pertains to an incident that took place on January 4, 2021 in which it was alleged that the 17 years old daughter of the informant had gone to Sewing Center and she did not return till the evening. a FIR was registered in this regard on the same day.

A rigorous search was made by the family members and then it came to the knowledge that the appellant-accused has enticed and kidnapped her.

Counsel for the appellant contended that there is evidence on record to show that the victim in the case was not minor and was aged about 19 years as per the medical report. Further submission is that there is no allegation of the POCSO Act.

It has been submitted that on the same day the victim came back and her statement was recorded by the I.O. under Section 161 Cr.P.C., in which she has stated that instead of going to the Sewing Centre at the relevant time she went with the accused-appellant who wanted to get her converted but she did not want to convert herself.

The appellant has promised to marry the girl so got influenced by this allurement and went with him. when she was coming back she was caught by the police and the statement was recorded. Later on her statement under Section 164, Cr.P.C. was also recorded by the Magistrate in which she has stated that the appellant-accused was a vegetable vendor and used to run his shop on a thela (cart).

At the relevant time he met her on the way and asked for her mobile number and pressurised her to talk with him and threatened that otherwise, he would kill her. He also said that convert yourself and marry me. One day before the date of the incident he rang her on the mobile phone and proposed that he will take her for a trip and, therefore, she went with him instead of going to the Sewing Centre. He took her to Dehradoon Chowk stayed in the house of his relatives where he and other persons were talking about converting her and they asked her to convert for marriage but she came back.

Counsel for the appellant submitted that there is no allegation of sexual abuse not there was any threat or influence for her conversion except that the accused-appellant was asking her to convert.

Further submitted that mere asking for conversion does not come within the purview of an offense defined under Section 3 of the U.P. Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021.

Counsel for the appellant said that it is clear from the above definition that no action has been done by the appellant towards the conversion of the victim and during the period she was with him, there is no allegation made by the victim that any kind of sexual abuse was committed on her.

The counsel further submitted that the Special Judge did not consider the material aspect of the case and rejected the bail application.

It is also submitted that a reference has also been taken of the affidavit given by the informant and has been addressed to Additional District Judge, IInd, Saharanpur and in that affidavit, there is a stipulation that parties have entered into a settlement and the informant has no objection for the bail of the appellant.

Further submission is that the appellant has no criminal history and there is also no possibility of his either fleeing away from the judicial process or tampering with the witnesses.

Additional Government Advocate has vehemently opposed the prayer and submitted that the girl was taken away by the accused and he was asking her for conversion so that they can marry.He has also submitted that there is no case for the sexual abuse of the victim.

“Considered the submissions of both the sides and taking into consideration the entire facts and circumstances of the case, the statement of the victim given to the I.O. and given to the Magistrate under Section 164 Cr.P.C., the affidavit filed by the informant, that no sexual abuse was committed on the victim, and no act was committed towards the conversion of the victim, the victim has been found to be aged about 19 years in the medical report, I find that the Special Judge has wrongly rejected the bail application”, the Court observed.

The accused-appellant is in jail for the last more than eight months, as such, I find apparent illegality in the impugned order and the same is liable to be set aside, the Court said.

The Court ordered that, the order dated February 17, 2021, passed by Special Judge, SC/ST Act, Saharanpur, is set aside.

Let appellant-applicant  Arif be released on bail in a Case against him of Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 and 3(2)(5) of SC/ST Act, P.S. Janakpuri, District Saharanpur. The court directed to furnish a personal bond and two sureties each of the like amount to the satisfaction of magistrate/court concerned.

The court directed that the applicant will co-operate in the trial and remain present personally on each and every date fixed for framing of charge, recording of evidence as well as the recording of statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C.

The court directed the applicant not to tamper with the prosecution evidence and not to delay the disposal of trial in any manner whatsoever and not indulge in any unlawful activities./ILNS/AP/SNG

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