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Supreme Court Relief To Cleric In Forced Religious Conversion Case

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The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim protection from arrest to a cleric accused of carrying out alleged forced religious conversion through allurement.

A bench of Justices M R Shah and C T Ravikumar directed the accused, Varvaya Abdul Vahab Mahmood, to appear before the investigating officer concerned from January 16 to 28 everyday at 11 am.

“Before going into allegations and counter allegations, let the petitioner first appear before investigating agency/officer between January 16 and 28 at 11 am for interrogation and investigation, every day. Thereafter, matter will be considered on merits,” the bench said.

The top court said the matter would be considered on merits thereafter on February 13.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that Varvaya is an Islamic scholar and involved in teaching of children.

The cleric had approached the top court challenging the order of the Gujarat High Court which had earlier rejected his anticipatory bail plea.

According to the FIR, the accused, on receiving financial aid and assistance from others, allegedly converted around 37 Hindu families and 100 Hindus by providing them financial assistance and also converted a house constructed with funds from the Government to ‘Ibadatgaah’, a place of worship.

According to the FIR registered at Aamod Police Station, Bharuch, offences were registered against him under section 4 of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, and provisions of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to charges of criminal conspiracy, causing disharmony and criminal intimidation.

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