Religion and cases of forceful religious conversion have been prevalent in our country for a quite long time. Recently, the Supreme Court in the case of Mathew Samuel Vs State of UP has granted interim protection from coercive action to the chairman of Broadwell Christian Hospital Society in Fatehpur District in a case of forceful religious conversion. It was alleged that the petitioner was not being protected by the police or subordinate judiciary. The Court issued notice to the state of Uttar Pradesh and also ordered a stay on coercive action against the petitioner.
The current FIR was registered against the accused and others based on the complaint of people associated with Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal wherein according to 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 organisations interrupted prayers at the Evangelical Church of India (ECI) located 10 minutes away from the hospital in Fatehpur. The incident led to the arrest of some members of the Christian community, who were later released on bail.
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.