Religious Conversion Case: SC Grants Interim Bail to SHUATS VC

Religious Conversion

The Supreme Court on Monday granted interim bail to Rajendra Bihari Lal, vice chancellor of Uttar Pradesh’s Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture, Technology and Sciences (SHUATS), in an alleged illegal religious conversion case.

Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud along with Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra issued notice to the UP government on his plea challenging the Allahabad High Court. The apex court observed that the high court is not hearing Lal’s bail plea despite his custody since December 31 last year.

“Issue notice, in the meantime, by way of ad interim order, we grant interim bail to the petitioner,” the bench said, adding that the bail bond quantum shall not exceed Rs 25,000.

Senior advocate Siddharth Dave, representing Lal, contended that the petitioner was arrested despite the apex court’s order.

The Uttar Pradesh police had previously informed the apex court that Lal and other accused were the “main perpetrators” of a mass religious conversion program funded by foreign funds from approximately 20 countries.

The police had stated that Vinod Bihari Lal, among the other accused, was indeed a “notorious criminal” involved in 38 cases of various natures, including cheating and murder, across the state in the last two decades. An FIR was lodged under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act against Lal and others.

The police complaint alleged that about 90 Hindus gathered at the Evangelical Church of India in Hariharganj, Fatehpur, for the purpose of converting to Christianity and were subjected to undue influence, coercion, and fraud, promising easy money.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte