The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday said that distributing the Bible and imparting good teachings does not amount to “allurement for religious conversion” under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, reported Live Law.

The High Court’s Lucknow bench stated that only a person who has been converted or his family can lodge a complaint related to forced conversion.

Justice Shamim Ahmad passed the order while granting bail to two persons booked under the anti-conversion law.

Jose Papachen and Sheeja were sent to jail earlier this year after a Bharatiya Janata Party functionary in Uttar Pradesh’s Ambedkar Nagar district filed a complaint, accusing them of luring people from the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities to convert to Christianity.

They moved the High Court after a special judge in the district rejected their bail application.

Their counsel told the judge that Papachen and Sheeja are innocent and had been falsely implicated in the case due to political rivalry.

“Providing good teachings, distributing Holy Bible books, encouraging children to get education, organising assembly of villagers and performing ‘bhandara’ [community feast] and instructing the villagers not to enter into altercation and also not to take liquor do not amount to allurement, rather it would be a failure on the part of the State to provide basic facilities to individuals in need of the same,” the counsel said.

The bail application also noted that the complainant is neither the aggrieved person nor related to those who have been allegedly converted.

Taking this into account, Justice Shamim Ahmed observed that there was no material to show that Papachen and Sheeja used to “allure people by undue influence” to convert them to Christianity.

“Rather appellants were involved in providing good teachings to children and promoting the spirit of brotherhood amongst the villagers and there does not appear to be existence of any material which would suggest conversion by use of force,” the judge said in the order.