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Supreme Court grants protection to Broadwell Christian Hospital Society chairman from arrest in UP forced religious conversion case

The Supreme Court has granted interim protection to the chairman of Broadwell Christian Hospital Society in Fatehpur District from coercive action in a case of forceful religious conversion. 

A bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud was hearing the anticipatory bail plea when the Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave informed the court that the situation was getting out of control, and highlighted a video in which he claimed a person was openly advocating killing of Christians.

Advocate Dushyant Dave said that the petitioner was not being protected by the police or subordinate judiciary.

Dushyant Dave while talking about the ongoing issue that what is happening is that things are going out of control. There is a video sent to me by Christian missionary where a gentleman is telling openly to kill Christians.

He said that Magistrate had recorded it and yet remand given, not protected by police and not by subordinate judiciary. Your lordships can alone save us. these forcible conversion cases…some word from you needed.

The CJI assured Advocate Dave that the Court would take the matter seriously, and issued notice to the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The Court also ordered a stay on coercive action against the petitioner.

The Court said that we are here and that is why we are entertaining all this. Issue notice to the state of Uttar Pradesh. Stay on coercive action against the petitioner.

The First Information Report (FIR) against the accused and others was registered on January 23 this year by Kotwali police station alleging fraud conversions. The FIRs were registered based on the complaint of people associated with Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal.

The accused were booked under Sections 420 (Dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 467 (Forgery of valuable security, will), 468 (Forgery for purpose of cheating), 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation), 120-B (Party to a criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and Sections 3 (Prohibition of conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force etc.) and 5(1) (Punishment for contravention of section 3) of Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act.

As per the hospital administration, the police conducted several raids on the hospital and staff members staying on the premises, forcing a shutdown. The staff, doctors and nurses claimed that they were facing constant harassment by Hindutva supporters and the police over allegations of conversion.

The trouble began for the hospital management in April 2022 when a group led by Hindutva organizations interrupted prayers at the Evangelical Church of India (ECI) located 10 minutes away from the hospital in Fatehpur.

The hospital is managed by ECI. The incident led to the arrest of some members of the Christian community, who were later released on bail.

The petitioner was filed through advocate Purnima Krishna.

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