Allahabad High Court: Bible distribution not ''religious conversion allurement''
Court grants two accused bail, questions the validity of the FIR filed by a BJP member, gives legal clarity stating Bible distribution is not considered religious conversion inducements
Distributing the Holy Bible and imparting good teachings cannot be termed as an "allurement for religious conversion" under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, the Allahabad High Court said on 7 September.
The high court's Lucknow bench also said a stranger cannot lodge FIRs under the act and granted bail to two accused booked for allegedly luring people from the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribe communities for conversion to Christianity.
A bench of Justice Shamim Ahmad passed the order allowing an appeal against the rejection of bail pleas of Jose Papachen and Sheeja. The appellants were sent to jail after the police registered an FIR on the basis of a complaint filed by a BJP functionary in Ambedkar Nagar district on 24 January.
The BJP leader had alleged that the two accused were luring people from the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities for converting to Christianity.
Justice Ahmad observed, "Providing teaching, distributing Holy Bible, encouraging children for getting education, organising assembly of villagers and performing bhandara, instructing the villagers not to enter into altercation and not to take liquor do not amount to allurement under the 2021 act." The bench further said the act provided that only an aggrieved person or his family can lodge FIRs in the matter.
It was argued on behalf of the appellants that they were innocent and implicated due to political rivalry.