Supreme Court grants interim protection from arrest to SHUATS VC in alleged forceful conversion to Christianity case; Stays Allahabad HC order

protection from arrest to SHUATS VC Rajendra Bihari Lal

Supreme Court: In Special Leave to Appeal against the Allahabad High Court Order, whereby a First Information Report (‘FIR’) lodged against 7 accused persons, the Vice Chancellor (Dr.) Rajendra Bihari Lal (Baba ji), Director Vinod Bihari Lal and five other officials of the Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture Technology and Science (‘SHUATS’) for persuading a woman to adopt Christianity by offering her a job and other allurement was refused to quash, the vacation Bench of Aniruddha Bose and K.V. Viswanathan, JJ. allowed the application and granted interim protection to the accused persons against the arrest.

Background

In the matter at hand, the victim/ respondent was an aluminious of Allahabad University in 2005 and during her student days, she met another girl who used to allure her fellow mates by providing lots of gifts and other articles of their choice. The respondent belonged to the lower middle class and was also trapped for religious conversion. She was taken to Yeshua Tabernacle Church in Muirabad, where other accused persons were already present with the Pastor. It was alleged that this was a typical modus operandi of any Church to get the girl converted and imbibing the Christianity. She was brain washed by the higher priest of the church and was persuaded to adopt Christianity by offering her a job. It was further alleged that she was regularly sexually exploited by Vice Chancellor (Dr.) Rajendra Bihari Lal and other accused persons and was forcefully married to a married man. She was also persuaded and pressurized to bring women for conversion and for other illegal work.

The accused persons had sacked the respondent from her job at SHUATS in the year 2019 after conducting in-camera inquiry over the allegation that she had taken Rs. 5.50 Lakhs from a person in exchange for a Government Appointment at SHUATS.

Following the atrocities upon her an FIR was registered on 04-11-2023 at Bewar against the accused persons. A writ petition was preferred by the accused persons under Article 226 of the Constitution of India before the High Court to issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of certiorari for quashing the FIR under Sections 328, 376-D, 365, 506 of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’), Section 3/5(1) of U.P. Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021 and Section 5 of Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956.

Order

The Court directed that there should be a stay of operation of the impugned judgment and order. The Court had also granted an interim protection to the accused persons against their arrest in relation to the said FIR.

The matter was further listed for hearing on 03-01-2024.

[Rajendra Bihari Lal v. State of Uttar Pradesh, Special Leave to Appeal (Criminal) No. 16557/2023, Order Dated: 19-12-2023]

Image Source: SHUATS: Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture, Technology And Sciences


Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the accused: Senior Advocate Siddhartha Dave, Advocate Prastut Dalvi, Advocate Vidhi Thakar, Advocate on Record Pallavi Sharma

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