Lucknow, July 8, 2021: The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court has dismissed the plea of Umar Gautam, accused of allegedly carrying out mass religious conversions of hundreds of people, seeking directions to restrict the investigating authorities from providing information about the case to the media.
A Division Bench of Justice Ramesh Sinha and Justice Vikas Srivastava said there was no indication that the investigators leaked any allegations pertaining to the petitioner to the media pending investigation, or violated any norms as prescribed in the Office Memorandum issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The High Court also said the police communication to the media giving information about the case was not violative of the right of the petitioner under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The Additional Government Advocate submitted before the court that the press note was not put out as any offensive measure against the petitioner but to defend the reputation of and to maintain public trust in the U.P. Police. It was not the intention of the State Police to run a media trial, which is evident from the fact that the Police had issued only one note mentioning the petitioner’s name, the AGA submitted.
The case pertains to petitioners Umar Gautam and one Jahangir, who were arrested by the Anti-Terrorism Squad in UP and an FIR registered against them at Masoori police station in Ghaziabad alleging that they were actively involved in mass scale conversion of around 1,000 people, especially deaf and mute students, women, children and those from weaker and vulnerable sections of society through inducements such as marriage, job, money as well as mental pressure.
The High Court in its order opined that the question whether the investigators are eventually able to establish their allegations beyond any reasonable doubt is a matter for the trial court to consider after a due trial.
“It transpires from the record that there is no material which indicates that any sensitive material in respect of the FIR, which has been lodged against the petitioner, has been published by the respondent. The press note indicates the reason for lodging the FIR and name of persons arrested along with their photos. Therefore, the assertion of the petitioner that by means of press note, some sensitive information has been leaked in the ongoing investigation against the petitioner is patently erroneous,” observed the Bench in its order given on July 7.