The Allahabad High Court granted bail to a pastor who was accused of committing illegal mass religious conversion. The Court said that the other co-accused persons named in the FIR have already been released on bail.

A Single Bench of Justice Sameer Jain directed, “Let the applicant- Vijay Masih (Pastor) be released on bail in the aforesaid case on furnishing a personal bond and two sureties each in the like amount to the satisfaction of the court … The applicant shall appear before the trial court on the dates fixed, unless his personal presence is exempted.”

The Bench further ordered that the applicant shall not indulge in any criminal and anti-social activity.

Advocate Mary Puncha (Sheeb Jose) appeared on behalf of the applicant i.e., the accused while AGA Ravi Kant Kushwaha appeared for the State.

In this case, the accused was seeking his release on bail in connection to the offences punishable under Sections 153A, 506, 420, 467, 468, and 471 of the IPC and under Section 3/5(1) of U.P. Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021. The FIR was lodged against around 36 persons and 20 unknown persons including the applicant accused of converting 90 Hindus.

The counsel for the applicant submitted that out of 35 accused persons, 6 have already been released on bail. On the other hand, the counsel for the State opposed the prayer for bail but could not dispute the fact that as many as 6 accused persons already released on bail by the High Court.

The High Court after hearing the contentions of both counsel noted, “… learned AGA although opposed the prayer for bail but could not dispute the fact that as many as 6 accused persons.”

The Court directed that the applicant shall not directly or indirectly, make inducement, threat, or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade him from disclosing such facts to the Court or any police officer or tamper with the evidence.

“In case of breach of any of the above condition, the prosecution will be at liberty to move an application before this Court for cancellation of the bail of the applicant”, the Court further asserted.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the bail plea of the accused.

Earlier this month, in a similar case, the Allahabad High Court had refused to grant anticipatory bail to a man who was accused of luring 90 Hindus to convert to Christianity. (Read Report)

Cause Title- Vijay Masih (Pastor) v. State of U.P.

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