No coercive measures to be taken against accused under UP anti-conversion law

A case was booked under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 against the petitioner, Nadeem on the basis of claims made by an informant. The informant was familiar with the accused and alleged that the latter was trying to convert his wife to marry her.

The accused had also gifted a phone to the informant’s wife  and was claimed to be taking undue advantage of acquaintance. He was also booked under sections 506, 504 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Hearing the accused’s petition to quash the FIR, the bench of justices Pankaj Naqvi and Vivek Agarwal, of the Allahabad High Court held that the victim and the accused both have a fundamental right to privacy. Moreover, the allegation is prima facie based on suspicion and no evidence has been submitted. The fundamental right of freedom to profess, practise and propagate religion was also cited.

The matter has been adjourned till 7 January, 2021, until which no coercive action shall be taken against the accused petitioner. Meanwhile, the constitutional validity of the ordinance is also to be heard before both the Supreme Court and the High Court.

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