The Supreme Court on January 13 ordered a ‘Maulvi’ accused of committing a forceful conversion to appear before the Investigation Agency or Officer for the purpose of interrogation and investigation.

The Court directed the accused to appear between January 16 to January 20 at 11 a.m. every day.

The Bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice C.T. Ravikumar said, “Before we consider the allegations and the counter allegations against the petitioner and the material collected, let the petitioner first appear before the concerned Investigating Agency/Officer - Aamod Police Station, Bharuch between 16.01.2023 to 20.01.2023 at 11.00 A.M. everyday for the purpose of interrogation/investigation. That thereafter, the matter shall be considered on merits.”

The Bench further said that the matter will now be taken up on February 13, 2023.

Senior Advocate Dushyant A. Dave represented the petitioner while Advocate Kanu Agrawal appeared for the respondents.

Brief Facts –

The accused was booked for the offences punishable under Sections 4 of the Freedom of Religion Act and Section 120B, 153(B)(1)(c), and 506(2) of the Indian Penal Code. He along with the other co-accused alleged to have done conversions by alluring and providing financial assistance.

The accused had converted around 37 Hindu families and 100 Hindus and converted a house constructed with funds from the Government to a place of worship – Ibadatgaah. He also used to make statements hurting the sentiments of the Hindu community. Thereafter, the Gujarat High Court refused to grant anticipatory bail to the accused.

The accused being aggrieved with the High Court’s judgment moved to the Supreme Court.

The Apex Court while hearing the contentions of the counsel for the State noted, “Learned counsel appearing for the respondent-State of Gujarat has made a very serious grievance that the petitioner, after obtaining the interim protection from this Court and even prior thereto, is absconding and not cooperating in the investigation and has never appeared before the concerned Investigating Agency/Officer.”

It was also observed by the Court that the counsel for the State said that there was ample material collected during the course of the investigation against the petitioner that through him the money was routed and he helped the religious conversion.

“It is submitted that during the course of investigation, it has been found that money routed through the petitioner from various persons have been used for the converted people, who, as such, were converted by luring”, the Court further asserted.

Accordingly, the Court directed the accused to appear for investigation purposes.

Cause Title- Varyava Abdul Vahab Mahmood v. the State of Gujarat & Anr.

Click here to read/download the Order