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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Vadodara: Bail denied to Maulvi held in ‘forced conversion case’

Joshi also contended that granting the accused bail would “encourage others holding a similar mindset”.

By: Express News Service | Vadodara |
August 29, 2021 2:30:41 am
The Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, which penalises forcible or fraudulent religious conversion through marriage, was notified by the state government on June 15 this year. (Representational)

A local court in Vadodara on Saturday rejected the bail plea of a Maulvi arrested as a co-accused in the alleged case of forced religious conversion of a woman, whose complaint became the first case under the amended Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021.

The Maulvi, who is in judicial custody at the Vadodara central jail, was booked along with the husband and in-laws of the woman under the Act. He is accused of presiding over the alleged forced illegal conversion of the woman at the time of her nikah.

Arguing against bail for the maulvi, Special Additional Public Prosecutor BA Joshi told the court that the maulvi originally belongs to West Bengal and is “likely to evade the court appearances during the trial, thus causing damage to the case”. Joshi also contended that granting the accused bail would “encourage others holding a similar mindset”.

The court, while rejecting the bail and upholding the argument of the prosecution, observed, “The accused was aware that the victim had a Hindu name and the conversion was against her will and without the prior consent from the District Magistrate, as per the existing rule in place. But he not only presided over the nikah of a Muslim man with a Hindu girl, but also facilitated the forced conversion. It is evident that he is one of the accomplices of the accused husband.”

In the case, registered at the Gotri police station in Vadodara, the woman retracted her statement recorded before the magistrate, in which she had alleged forced conversion and rape.

Later in an affidavit, the woman told the court that she had only approached the police with a complaint of Domestic Violence against her husband and in-laws. The parties approached the Gujarat High Court with a petition to quash the said FIR under the anti-conversion law.


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