Supreme Court Stays Arrest Of Bishop Of Allahabad Bible Ceremony And 37 Others Accused Of Mass Religious Conversion
The Supreme Court today granted protection against arrest to the Bishop of Allahabad Bible Ceremony and 37 others who were booked by Uttar Pradesh Police for alleged mass religious conversion.
“Issue Notice returanble in 4 weeks. Till further orders, no coercive action shall be taken on the basis of FIR lodged against petitioners,” ordered a Bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and comprising Justice PS Narasimha and Justice JB Pardiwala.
Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the petitioners, submitted before the Court that two other FIRs have also been registered with regard to the same incident.
“Things are going out of control. The video that has been sent to me about Christian Bishops. This gentleman is openly telling people to kill Christians. Your lorships are the only place we can come to. We have faith only in your Lordships,” said Senior Advocate Dave.
“The learned Magistrate records here that there is nothing for remand, but yet give remand. We are not protected by police, not by the subordinate judiciary” he added further.
“That’s why we issued notice and granted stay of arrest,” responded CJI DY Chandrachud.
“We are here and that’s why we are entertaining these petitions,” added CJI Chandrachud when Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave said that the challenge to the laws against conversion pending before the Apex Court needs to be decided at the earliest.
In a connected matter, Senior Advocate Siddharth Dave informed the Court that four other FIRs were lodged subsequently after the Supreme Court issued notice and granted interim protection against arrest to the Vice Chancellor and Director of the former Allahabad Agricultural University on March 3.
“Its a minority institution. In one FIR, your Lordships have protected. Subsequently, 4 FIRs were lodged. Every official from peon to VC is made an accused,” said Senior Advocate Siddharth Dave.
“There shall be no coercive action,” ordered the Court today and extended the protection granted to the Vice Chancellor and Director of the former Allahabad Agricultural University for a period of 2 weeks and directed that in the meantime, a counter affidavit may be filed by the State of Uttar Pradesh.
An FIR was lodged by Uttar Pradesh Police under Sections 153-A, 506, 420, 467, 468, and 471 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 3 & 5(1) of the U.P. Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021.
It was alleged in the police complaint that about 90 persons of Hindu religion were congregated at Evangelical Church of India, Hariharganj, Fatehpur for the purpose of their conversion to Christianity by putting them under undue influence, coercion, and luring them by playing fraud and promise of easy money, etc.
After the receipt of the information, the Government officers reached the place and interrogated the pastor who disclosed that the process for conversion was going on for the last 34 days and that such process shall be completed within 40 days.
It was further disclosed that they have been trying to convert even the patients admitted to the Mission Hospital and the employees have played an active role in the same. The Government officers found 35 persons and 20 unknown persons as having been involved in such conversion and FIR were registered against all of them.