June 23, 2005

Orissa HC glare on alleged `forced conversions

Statesman News Service

CUTTACK, June 21. — The issue of conversions involving alleged
coercion in Orissa has taken a new turn with the High Court issuing
directions to register cases by treating a petition received by it as
an FIR and file charge-sheets immediately.


"Despite provisions in the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act,
allegations of forced conversion are coming forth regularly,"
the
High Court observed, while taking a serious note of the petition
alleging forcible conversion.

The Division Bench of the Chief Justice, Mr SB Roy, and Mr Justice MM
Das, issued the direction to the District Magistrate, Gajapati while
taking cognizance of a petition filed by people of 19 villages in the
Mohana PS area yesterday.

One Ananta Kumar Shatrusalya and 268 others had filed the public
interest petition alleging conversions in the garb of missionary
activities in their area.

This is the second instance within 70 days in which judicial
intervention was sought against alleged conversion involving
coercion.

Earlier, on 11 April, the Orissa High Court had viewed seriously the
alleged plight of 22 families of a community of cobblers at
Mallabhandaja village under Digapahandi police station area in Ganjam
district after refusing to be subjected to conversion.
The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mr SB Roy and Mr Justice
LK Mohapatra had directed the state government to clarify on the
steps taken to take care of the alleged victim families.


The outcome of the notices is not known.

But the High Court order issued yesterday is a step further as it
asked the state government to direct all the District Magistrates "to
take appropriate actions" in cases of alleged conversions by coercion
by invoking the provisions of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act.
The court suggested that actions in such cases could be taken under
Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Act.

The people of the 19 villages under Mohana police station in Gajapati
district had alleged conversion in the area by using both force and
allurements.

The petitioners had named two persons who are key players in the
conversions.Counsel for the petitioners, advocate Prasanna Kumar
Mishra, had sought specific instructions in the case.
The court issued notices returnable with action taken reports within
two weeks.


HC directs Orissa to check forcible conversions

By Bibhuti Mishra in Bhubaneswar
Wednesday, 22 June , 2005, 11:04

The High Court has stepped in to end forcible conversions in Orissa.
The court has issued directions to register cases, with reference to
a petition as an FIR, and file charge-sheets immediately.

"Despite provisions in the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act,
allegations of forced conversion are coming forth regularly," the
High Court observed.

A Division Bench of the Chief Justice S B Roy and Justice M M Das
issued the direction to the District Magistrate, while taking
cognizance of a petition filed by people of 19 villages in the Mohana
PS area on Tuesday.

Ananta Kumar Shatrusalya and 268 others had filed the public interest
petition, alleging that conversions were happening in the garb of
missionary activities in their area.

This is the second instance within 70 days in which judicial
intervention was sought against conversion involving coercion.

Earlier, on April 11, the Orissa High Court had taken serious note of
the plight of 22 families of cobbler community at Mallabhandaja
village in Ganjam district, who were isloated after refusing to
convert.

The Division Bench had directed the state government to clarify the
steps taken to take care of the alleged victims' families

But, the HC order issued on Wednesday goes a step further as it asks
the state government to direct all the District Magistrates "to take
appropriate actions" in such cases.

The court suggested that actions in such cases could be taken under
Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Act.

http://sify.com/news/othernews/fullstory.php?id=13878443

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