No evidence found, UP Police drop charges of ‘religious conversion for marriage’
The Uttar Pradesh State government on Thursday told the Allahabad High Court that the police had dropped charges against one Nadeem for allegedly trying to marry a woman from Muzaffarnagar with intentions of her religious conversion as no evidence was found during investigation.
In the affidavit, the government said that during investigation no evidence was found that the accused Nadeem was having ‘any illicit relation with the woman’. Further, during investigation, no evidence was found in support of the allegation that Nadeem was trying for her religious conversion as alleged by the complainant, Akshay Kumar in the FIR.
The bench comprising chief justice Govind Mathur and justice SS Shamshery after hearing parties concerned directed the state government to file counter affidavit in the case and fixed January 15 as the next date of hearing in the case.
Earlier, on December 18, last year the Allahabad High Court had asked the UP Police to not take any coercive action against the accused, Nadeem, and has tagged his plea, challenging the constitutional validity of the ordinance with other PILs in the matter.
Senior Advocate SFA Naqvi representing Nadeem, had argued that the ordinance is ultra vires of the Constitution of India and any criminal proceeding initiated under the provisions of the ordinance should be quashed.
Nadeem who is from Haridwar was booked by the UP Police on November 29, last year on a complaint by one Akshay Kumar of Muzaffarnagar.
Nadeem had sought quashing of the FIR lodged against him under Sections 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 120B (Criminal conspiracy) of IPC and Sections 3 and 5 of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020.
It was alleged in the FIR that Nadeem developed an illicit relation with the complainant’s wife with the purpose of converting her religion by marriage and was attempting to convert her by threat as well as by exerting undue pressure.
Nadeem has denied all the allegations and asserted that he is a poor labourer who had been falsely implicated in the case by the complainant, merely to avoid payment of some dues which the complainant owed him.
On December 31, 2020, charge sheet was filed under section 504 and 506 of Indian Penal Code against Nadeem as it was found during investigation that on an occasion Nadeem had called the woman and threatened to kill her.
Regarding a batch of PILs challenging constitutional validity of the ordinance, the state government counsel informed the Court that the Supreme Court has taken cognizance of the matter and has issued notice to the state government.
The court adjourned hearing in all the PILs till January 15.
A bunch of PILs were filed on the issue claiming that the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 to prohibit religious conversions in the name of ‘love jihad’, impinges upon their fundamental right to choice and the right to change faith.
According to the petitioners, the ordinance was violative of citizens’ rights under Article 14 (Right to Equality), 15 (Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, etc.), 21 (Right to life) and 25 (Freedom of conscience, etc.) of the Constitution.
The government on Thursday filed an affidavit in response to the batch of PILs challenging its controversial ordinance.
The government stated in the affidavit that the ordinance is aimed at preventing any form of unlawful conversion actuated by elements of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement, etc and the Constitution of India abhors any form of forceful conversion particularly in matters of religion. Being a secular State it becomes the foremost duty of the State to protect its citizens from any kind of unlawful or forceful conversion so that the liberty of thought, faith, belief and worship as well as equality of status stands safeguarded thereby assuring the dignity of the individuals.
The bunch of PILs were filed by Advocate Saurabh Kumar, Ajit Singh Yadav and Anand Malviya.