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Allahabad High Court grants bail to pastor accused of converting 90 Hindus

A single-judge bench of Justice Sameer Jain passed this order while hearing a Criminal Misc Bail Application filed by the pastor, Vijay Masih.

The Allahabad High Court has allowed the bail application of a pastor accused of converting 90 Hindus to Christianity.

A single-judge bench of Justice Sameer Jain passed this order while hearing a Criminal Misc Bail Application filed by the pastor, Vijay Masih.

The application has been filed seeking release of the applicant on bail in Case under Sections 153A, 506, 420, 467, 468, 471 IPC and under Section 3/5(1) of U.P Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021, Police Station Kotwali, District Fatehpur, during pendency of trial in the court below.

The FIR of the case was lodged against as many as 36 persons and 20 unknown persons including the applicant and according to the allegation, Masih and the other co-accused were making the religious conversion of 90 Hindu.

The counsel for the applicant submitted that only on the basis of general allegations, the applicant has been accused in the matter along with 35 others and except the bald allegations there is no evidence on record on the basis of which it could be reflected that the applicant indulged in such activities.

He further submitted that out of 35 accused persons, 6 have been released on bail. He placed bail order of Vijay Singh, Vikram Singh, Prince and further submits that co-accused Vijay Singh was the first accused who was released on bail in the matter and his bail order and therefore on the ground of parity applicant is also entitled to be enlarged on bail.

He further submitted the applicant does not have any criminal history and has been in jail since October 30, 2022.

The AGA opposed the prayer for bail but could not dispute the fact that as many as 6 accused persons who were also named in the FIR have already been released on bail by the Court. 

Although there are allegations against the applicant that he along with 35 others were involved in religious conversion of 90 Hindus but from the record it appears that on the basis of general allegations he was made accused in the matter along with 35 named persons and out of 35 person 6 persons have already been released on bail, the Court noted.

Therefore, considering the fact that similarly placed other accused persons have already been released on bail, in my view the applicant is entitled to be released on bail on the ground of parity, the Court observed while allowing the bail application.

The Court ordered, let applicant Vijay Masih (Pastor) be released on bail in the aforesaid case on furnishing a personal bond and two sureties each in the like amount to the satisfaction of the court concerned with the following conditions:-(i) The applicant shall appear before the trial court on the dates fixed, unless his personal presence is exempted.

(ii) The applicant shall not directly or indirectly, make inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade him from disclosing such facts to the Court or any police officer or tamper with the evidence.

(iii) The applicant shall not indulge in any criminal and antisocial activity.

In case of breach of any of the above conditions, the prosecution will be at liberty to move an application before this Court for cancellation of the bail of the applicant.

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