The Allahabad High Court has approved the bail for two women who were named in an FIR that accused them of denouncing a particular religion and allegedly encouraging people to convert to Christianity. The FIR had been filed against them under the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021, and other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

A Bench of Justice Vikram D. Chauhan held, “It is settled principle of law that the object of bail is to secure the attendance of the accused at the trial. No material particulars or circumstances suggestive of the applicants fleeing from justice or thwarting the course of justice or creating other troubles in the shape of repeating offences or intimidating witnesses and the like have been shown by learned AGA for the State.”

Advocate Sanju Lata appeared for the Applicants.

The applicant’s counsel argued that during the investigation, no evidence of conversions was found, and there were no specific details regarding what they had said against another religion. They further argued that there is a constitutional right to practice one's religion freely in the country. Additionally, they pointed out that the applicants had no prior criminal records and had been in custody since August 14. The state's legal counsel opposed the bail, contending that the applicants were implicated in a cognizable offence.

The Court said, “No material, facts or circumstances has been shown by learned AGA for the State that the accused may tamper with the evidence or witnesses or the accused is of such character that his mere presence at large would intimidate the witnesses or that accused will use his liberty to subvert justice or tamper with the evidence.”

However, the Court granted them bail and held, “Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, nature of offence, evidence, complicity of the accused, submissions of learned counsel for the parties and without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, the Court is of the view that the applicants have made out a case for bail. The bail application is allowed.”

Cause Title: Anita Devi & Anr. v. State of U.P., [2023:AHC:182490]