Muslim man arrested under anti-conversion law gets bail after 605 days

Irfan Shaikh

Supreme Court of India on Wednesday granted bail to Irfan Shaikh, who has been arrested under draconian anti-conversion law, his lawyers said to Maktoob.

Shaikh, a Union Government employee, is facing charges for conspiracy to wage war against India (Section 121A IPC) and offences under the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act.

“…having regard to the role attributed to the appellant by the prosecution in the commission of the alleged offences, we do not think further detention of the appellant pending trial is necessary. We, accordingly, set aside the impugned order and direct that the appellant shall be released by the said Court on such terms and conditions the said Court may impose,” read the order by apex court.

Shaikh, a Beed resident, was arrested by UP ATS on 28 June 2021, Adv. Furkan Khan Pathan, one of the lawyers, said to Maktoob.

Two weeks before, the top court asked the UP ATS if it was necessary to continue his custody, considering that the agency had had it for over a year. Shaikh approached the Supreme Court after the Allahabad High Court refused bail.

Earlier, appearing for Shaikh, Senior Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan submitted, “It’s not that conversion is banned. The UP law does not apply here. That person who has converted was inclined towards Islam on his own accord. Their statements are there. The marriage happened in Delhi. They willingly converted. I was only an interpreter.”

She further submitted, “They have put 121A against me. What is the waging of war in this? They brought somebody’s else’s bank account and held against me.”

A charge sheet was filed against Shaikh under Sections 120B, 121A, 123, 153A, 153B, 295A, 298, 417 I.P.C. and Section 3/5/8 U.P. Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, (Act).

Many prominent Muslim scholars, including Umar Gautam and Maulana Kaleem Siddiqui have been languishing in jail in the same case.

Muslim leaders and organisations have been alleging that the case against scholars and Muslim activists are framed.

Lawyers Shahid Nadeem, Furkan Pathan, Aarif Ali and Saif Ali were also appeared for Shaikh in various courts.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind is assisting Shaikh in legal fight.

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