Wednesday, September 28, 2022

POCSO Court awards 5-year sentence to man under Anti-Love Jihad Act in first-ever conviction

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For the first time in the country, a person has been convicted and sentenced under The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021, commonly known as the Anti-Love Jihad Act.

Additional District Judge (POCSO Court), Amroha, Kapila Raghav, sentenced a 26-year-old Carpenter named Afzal last week to five years imprisonment for luring a minor girl by concealing his real identity, taking her away from her father’s legal guardianship to Delhi for the purpose of marrying after converting her religion against her will, and sexually assaulting her.

The Court observed that conversion was not prohibited anywhere in the law and every person had a right to follow and adopt any religion.

However, conversion from one religion to another unlawfully by means of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, inducement or by any fraudulent means or marriage was prohibited and punishable under the UP Anti-Love Jihad Act, it added. 

The Court took into account the statement of the victim, in which she alleged that the accused concealed his religion with the intention of having unlawful sex/marriage with her. She said the accused described himself as a devotee of Lord Shiva. He claimed that he believed in Hindu religion and later on, forced her to change her religion, kidnapped her and sexually assaulted her.

It further noted that it was proved that the minor was molested and induced to convert her religion by way of subjecting her to sexual assault and was also threatened with death in case she protested.

As per the complainant, accused Afzal was working as a driver and introduced himself as Armaan Kohli to the victim, whose father owned a nursery in Hasanpur area of Amroha district. Afzal used to visit the nursery to buy plants and met the girl there. He befriended her and eloped with her last year. 

An FIR was lodged against the accused by the father of the victim, alleging that his daughter was kidnapped by the accused. Police arrested the accused from Delhi in April last year.

He was booked under Sections 363, 366, 354, 506 of IPC, 7/8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 and 3/5(1) of The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021 (Anti-Love Jihad Act).

Police had initially filed a case of kidnapping, but added charges under the anti-conversion law, after the informant (victim’s father) made a complaint in this regard. 

The prosecution alleged that the accused lured and induced the victim to marry him with the intention of converting her religion, kidnapped and molested her with the intention of having unlawful sexual intercourse, and sexually assaulted her as well, and since the victim had been deceived by the accused and taken to Delhi to marry her after converting her religion, therefore, it was a case of love jihad. 

The case of the prosecution was supported by the victim through her statement recorded under Section 164 of The Code Of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973.

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