The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to apprise it of the specific role attributed to Islamic scholar Kaleem Siddiqui, who was arrested in a case related to alleged illegal religious conversions, PTI reported.
Siddiqui, one of the prominent clerics from western Uttar Pradesh, was arrested by the state’s Anti-Terrorist Squad in September 2021.
The Anti-Terrorist Squad claims that Siddiqui was running India’s “biggest [religious] conversion syndicate”. It has alleged that Siddiqui’s Jamia Imam Waliullah Trust was conducting illegal religious conversions in the name of running “communal harmony” programmes.
Siddiqui was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court in April. The Uttar Pradesh Police has challenged the order before the Supreme Court.
During the hearing on Tuesday, Senior Advocate Garima Prashad, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, argued that the High Court had granted bail to Siddiqui solely on the basis that two co-accused in the case were also granted relief, reported Live Law.
“There was no other consideration,” Prashad said. “But Siddiqui is the main accused and the key conspirator in this case.”
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Siddiqui, questioned the allegations made by the Uttar Pradesh government against his client.
“They are producing statements of the accused under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure [which deals with oral statements made to the investigating officer] and asking the court to rely on them,” Sibal said. “This is unbelievable.”
The bench then directed the Uttar Pradesh government to give details about Siddiqui’s role in the case and what was placed before the Allahabad High Court.
The Supreme Court will hear the case next on September 5.