The Calcutta High Court on Thursday ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the National Investigation Authority (NIA) to probe an alleged case of forced conversion in West Bengal's Malda district.
Justice Rajasekhar Mantha was adjudicating upon a plea moved by two women who had claimed that their husbands, brothers by relation and residents of Kaliachak area of the district, were converted from Hinduism to Islam by force as part of a punishment for working for a political party which lost the last assembly election.
Accordingly, the Court sought inputs from the agencies with regard to allegations of forced conversions, cross-border infiltration, threats and intimidation by accumulation and storage of huge quantities of arms and ammunition, and counterfeit currency.
"Since the NIA and the CBI are the party respondents to the instant proceeding, appropriate inputs may be given from their side as regards the allegations made in the writ petition, the Court directed.
Furthermore, the Superintendent of Police (SP), Malda was also asked to cooperate with the two agencies.
The petitioners, who are also sisters, claimed that their husbands were missing since November 24 last year but the police authorities had not taken any step in the matter even after being informed. The state government, however, submitted that the two had converted to Islam voluntarily and they had left home because of a family dispute
Pursuant to the rival submissions, the Court observed that it is surprising to note that the police station had not registered first information reports (FIRs) or ordered any steps as per the dictum in the Supreme Court case of Lalita Kumari v. Govt of UP & Ors.
Thus, the Court instructed the Superintendent of Police, Malda to independently submit a detailed report on the allegations of the petitioners, steps taken by the police, or any other vital information that would be necessary for the determination of the issues raised in the petition. The Superintendent of Police was also ordered to review the security of the petitioners and take immediate measures in that regard, since they apprehended serious threat to their lives.
"A detailed chronology of events before and after receipt of complaints from the petitioners may also be set out by the SP," the order read.
Other allegations made by the petitioners such as random forcible conversion, cross border infiltration, threats and intimidation, storage of huge quantities of arms and ammunition and counterfeit currency may also be addressed by the agencies, the Court stated.
"The aforesaid allegations may not be directly in issue to the claim of the writ petitioners but appear vitally linked to the allegations of abduction and forcible conversion of the petitioners' husbands", the Court directed further.
Accordingly, the matter was listed for further hearing on June 21.
Case Title: Smt Kalabati Mondal v. Union of India
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Cal) 193