The Allahabad High Court recently denied anticipatory bail to a man accused in a case filed over allegations of luring 90 Hindus for unlawful conversion to Christianity by offering them monetary and other benefits.
The bench of Justice Jyotsna Sharma rejected the anticipatory bail application filed by Bhanu Pratap Singh.
The FIR in the case was lodged by complainant Himanshu Dixit who alleged that on April 15, 2022, around 90 Hindus had congregated at the Evangelical Church of India, Hariharganj, Fatehpur, for the purpose of their conversion to Christianity.
When this information was received, government officers reached the place and interrogated the pastor–Vijay Massiah– who disclosed that the process for conversion was going on for the last 34 days and would complete within 40 days.
The government officers found 35 persons (named in the FIR) and 20 unknown persons as having been involved in this conversion matter.
The allegations against the accused also included that they had been trying to convert even patients admitted to the Mission Hospital and employees of the institute played an active role in it.
The FIR was registered under sections 153A, 506, 420, 467, and 468 of the Indian Penal Code and section 3/5(1) of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020.
Pressing for Singh’s pre-arrest bail, his counsel argued that he had been falsely implicated in the case. The counsel also put forth the argument that the co-accused in the case had already been granted anticipatory bail.
However, the court found that as per the record placed before it, 26 persons were arrested on the spot among whom Singh was one.
The HC further noted that one of the witnesses in his statement under section 161 of CrPC had said that during the medical treatment of one of his family members, he got acquainted with a woman named Lily See, who advised him to convert to Christianity, for after that he would be given medical assistance free of cost all his life and his children will be given jobs as well as money.
The witness had also stated that Lily See then took him to the Evangelical Church of India, Hariharganj, and introduced him to the accused persons including Singh’s wife.
Apart from that, the witness had said that on the day this incident happened, there were about 60-70 persons of one community who were being lured to convert on the same kind of assurances by the accused persons.
The HC further noted that similar statements had been given by the other witnesses as well. Therefore, stating that anticipatory bail is an extraordinary remedy to be exercised in suitable cases only, the court rejected Singh’s plea.
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