The Delhi High Court Thursday granted interim protection till July 5 to a woman who claimed that she and her family are facing life-threats and being witch hunted by the UP police, media and vigilante groups after her wilful conversion from Hinduism to Islam.
Justice C Hari Shankar asked Delhi Police to take appropriate steps to protect the woman till the matter is heard by the regular bench, noting that the petitioner is a young woman who has expressed apprehension regarding her security.
While putting the matter before the regular bench for July 5, I deem it appropriate to issue limited direction to the respondents 1 and 2 (Delhi Police Commissioner and SHO of Jamia Nagar Police Station) to take appropriate steps to protect the life and liberty of the petitioner till the matter is taken up by the regular bench on July 5, the vacation bench said.
The manner in which the protection is to be given is left to Delhi Police, it said, making it clear that the court was not expressing any view on the correctness of averments made in the petition.
The court said it was not issuing notice on the petition at this stage and the matter be dealt with by the regular bench. During the hearing, advocate Sameer Vashisht, representing Delhi Police, submitted that the woman was not found residing at the address given in the petition and even her mobile phone was switched off due to which the police officials were unable to contact her.
Advocate Tanya Agarwal, representing the woman, said due to the apprehensions, she had to frequently change her residence and added that she would email her present address to the counsel for the police. The court was hearing the plea by the woman, who is working in Delhi. She is from Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh and seeking protection for her and her family as also her right to privacy, saying that because of her conversion she and her family are being targeted and malicious content is being published in media which should be stopped immediately.
The petitioner (woman) is an adult and she is protected by the Constitution to choose her own faith and she cannot be targeted and harassed for the choice she makes with regard to the religion she follows, said the petition, filed through advocate Kamlesh Kumar Mishra and Nitin Kumar Nayak. The plea said Renu Gangwar alias Ayesha Alvi converted to Islam on May 27 in Delhi and since June 23, when she was in Shahjahanpur, she started getting calls from media persons requesting for a meeting which she refused.
It said media persons came to her place without her permission and took her photographs and videos and she started getting calls threatening that her conversion news will be published in media and she would be arrested and demanded money. Thereafter, one of them forcibly took Rs 20,000 while others too tried to extort money from her and her family, the plea alleged, adding that absurd and imaginary details are being reported in media regarding her conversion.
The woman, in her plea, said she gave a complaint to the Delhi Police Commissioner on June 24, seeking immediate intervention for her protection with regard to her conversion to Islam on her own free will and without any threat or coercion from anyone but no action has been taken on her complaint yet. There is no other option other than approaching this court for immediate directions to stop the harassment of the petitioner, the plea said.
It sought to direct the authorities to ensure that the woman is not taken away from Delhi by force or coercion by any government agency or person and she and her family be granted protection and not harassed or interrogated regarding her conversion. The plea further sought direction to the media not to publish or broadcast any malicious content regarding her and not to divulge her personal details and also remove the contents already shown.
It sought to direct the UP agencies to not harass the woman or any other person who have not converted in the state of UP and on whom the provisions of the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020 does not apply. The petition has made Commissioner of Delhi Police, SHO of Jamia Nagar Police Station, Delhi government, Director General of UP Police, UP government as parties.