Conversion case: Madras High Court grants bail to Muslim youth

The Coimbatore police had booked him on the charge of planning to murder an elderly man who objected to his son’s conversion to Islam

August 27, 2022 12:56 am | Updated 08:18 am IST - CHENNAI

The Madras High Court on Friday granted bail to a Muslim youth, under judicial custody since March 7, observing that there were no reasonable grounds for believing that he had conspired to kill a Hindu elderly man who had opposed his son’s conversion to Islam to marry a woman of that faith.

The court said that by no stretch of imagination could such an accusation be termed a terrorist act as defined under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Allowing an appeal against a Sessions Court’s refusal to grant bail, Justices S. Vaidyanathan and A.D. Jagadish Chandira wrote, “Taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of the case... and on a perusal of the case diary, this court is of the opinion that the allegations against the appellant (Sadam Hussain of Coimbatore) do not fall within the definition of ‘terrorist act’ and there are no reasonable grounds for believing that the accusation is prima facie true.”

Pointing out that the Selvapuram police in Coimbatore city had arrested the youth on the basis of his alleged confession after he was picked up for questioning during a vehicle check at the junction of Indira Nagar and Amul Nagar First Street, the judges said, “There was no complaint from any person, and nobody was injured in this case... The provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act have been included only in order to deny/delay the appellant from getting bail.”

They also took note of the submission of R. Karthikeyan, Special Public Prosecutor for the National Investigation Agency, that the Coimbatore police had sent a proposal asking the NIA to take up the investigation in the case, but the agency refused to do so. They concurred with S.M.A. Jinnah, counsel for the appellant, that the two motives attributed by the prosecution, for the appellant having planned to kill Kumaresan of Indira Nagar, were contradictory to each other.

It was the prosecution’s case that the intention of the appellant was also to warn people against marrying those professing faith in Islam and get them converted. If the motive was to kill Kumaresan just because he objected to his son’s conversion to Islam, the modus operandi would have been to keep the operation a secret. On the other hand, if the motive was to warn people against attempting to convert Muslims, the offence would have been committed openly.

“A logical analysis would reveal that both the limbs of motive travel vice versa and they cannot be meeting at any point,” the judges said. They also said the police had initially booked the appellant only under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code. Later, the provisions of the Arms Act were included after reported recovery of three bill hooks on the basis of the confession of the co-accused who were part of Indian Muslim Development Association, a self-styled body for promotion of the religion.

Subsequently, the police arrested the mother of the woman, whom Kumaresan’s son had married, and on the basis of her confessions, the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act were included. The refusal of the NIA to take up the case for investigation itself “speaks much about the case of the prosecution,” the Bench said, making it clear that the observations made for the purpose of granting bail should not influence the trial in any way.

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