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Supreme Court fixes May 14 for final hearing in Uttar Pradesh religious conversion cases

Uttar Pradesh Police had earlier told the court that Lal and the other accused are the 'main perpetrators' of a mass religious conversion programme that involved funds from about 20 countries.
Last Updated : 03 May 2024, 12:52 IST
Last Updated : 03 May 2024, 12:52 IST

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday fixed for final hearing petitions seeking the quashing or clubbing of five FIRs lodged against Rajendra Bihari Lal, the vice-chancellor of the Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture, Technology and Sciences (SHUATS) in Uttar Pradesh, and others pertaining to alleged illegal religious conversions.

A bench comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra took note of the submissions made by senior lawyers, including Siddharth Dave and Mukta Gupta, and said all the nine petitions will be taken up for final disposal on May 14.

It also directed senior advocate Garima Prasad, who appeared in the court on behalf of the Uttar Pradesh government, to provide a copy of the chargesheet filed in the first FIR to Dave, who represented the SHUATS VC, on or before the next date of hearing.

The court also asked the Uttar Pradesh government and the counsel for the accused to file written submissions.

Lal and others have sought either the quashing or clubbing of the FIRs lodged against them. The cases against Lal concern offences under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 504 (intentional insult with an aim to provoke breach of peace) and 386 (extortion) of the Indian Penal Code. He has also been booked under certain provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021.

The top court has been passing orders from time to time protecting the accused from arrest in connection with the FIRs lodged in Fatehpur.

The Uttar Pradesh Police had earlier told the court that Lal and the other accused are the 'main perpetrators' of a mass religious conversion programme that involved funds from about 20 countries.

Police have alleged that Lal, among the other accused, is actually a 'notorious criminal' involved in 38 cases of various nature, including cheating and murder, registered across Uttar Pradesh over the last two decades.

Police have also alleged that about 90 Hindus congregated at the Evangelical Church of India in Hariharganj, Fatehpur for converting to Christianity and were put under undue influence, coercion, and lured through fraud and the promise of easy money.

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Published 03 May 2024, 12:52 IST

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