The Allahabad High Court has dismissed a writ petition challenging an FIR lodged against 37 people accused of coercing a man to undergo a religious conversion from Hinduism to Christianity through inducements.
The writ petition was filed by Jose Prakash George and 36 Others seeking quashing of the FIR lodged on January 23, 2023, under sections 420, 467, 468, 506, 120-B IPC and section 3/5 (1) of UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act at Police Station Kotwali, District Fatehpur.
The petitioner's counsel contended that an FIR on almost identical allegations had been lodged on April 15, 2022, under the same Act.
The complainant in the instant case is one of the witnesses whose statement was recorded by the police in the FIR lodged on April 15, 2022.
The accused in both FIRs are the same barring, one or two persons. Only the informant in both cases is different, and both cases allege mass religious conversion by fraud, coercion, and allurement, the counsel said.
In light of these facts, the counsel contended that the FIR is barred by sections 154 and 158 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
A division bench comprising Justice Anjani Kumar Mishra and Justice Gajendra Kumar on Friday rejected the petition saying it was of the view that the second FIR, though related to the same incident, cannot be quashed as it has been lodged by a competent person.
"Since, the first information report dated April 15, 2022, had not been lodged by a person competent to lodge it, it is of no consequence. For the same reason, the impugned first information report cannot be called a second first information report. It, therefore, cannot be said that there are two separate first information reports of the same incident.
"It has already been observed in the earlier part of this order that the allegations in the first information report impugned, contain ingredients of a cognizable offence. Therefore, also the impugned first information report is not liable to be quashed," the court observed.
"Given the reasons given above, the writ petition fails and is dismissed," it said.