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Another inexplicable judgement from Judiciary: Bombay HC ignores forced circumcision of Hindu man saying he had relationship with accused Muslim woman

"Merely because the boy and girl are from different religions, it cannot have a religious (sic) angle. It can be a case of pure love for each other," the Bombay HC said, ignoring the pleas of the Hindu man

A Bombay High Court bench said on Wednesday that a Muslim family can’t be accused of forcefully converting a Hindu man and forcefully circumcising him, as he was in a relationship with a Muslim woman from that family. Dismissing allegations of ‘love jihad’, a bench of Justices Vibha Kankanwadi and Abhay Waghwase granted anticipatory bail to the Muslim woman and her family who have been accused of forcefully performing circumcision (Khatana) on a Hindu man and forcing him to convert his religion to Islam.

The Bench said that just because persons involved in a relationship belong to two different religions, a religious angle cannot be imbibed in the case. “It appears that now the color has been tried to be given of love-jihad, but when love is accepted then there is less possibility of the person being trapped just for converting him into the other’s religion…Merely because the boy and girl are from different religions, it cannot have a religious (sic) angle. It can be a case of pure love for each other,” the Bench observed.

The case belongs to a Dalit man named Deepak Sonawane from Sambhajinagar, Maharashtra who stated that he was forced by his Muslim girlfriend Sana to convert his religion to Islam before marriage. He also said that he was tortured and humiliated by the woman and her family.

The Court on March 1 heard an anticipatory bail plea filed by the woman who alleged that the case was deliberately given a ‘love jihad’ angle after Deepak was asked to perform some financial transactions for the woman’s family.

The Bench noted that the man in the complaint had agreed that he was in love with the woman and that he had good relations with her family. “When the initial relationship was good and the caste or the religion was not the barrier for them, then the question of raising the issue of caste or community or religion at a later point of time will not arise,” the Court noted.

The Court further said that Deepak had filed a late complaint in this case and that he hadn’t severed his relationship with the woman though she was named as the main accused in the case. “The fact will have to be observed that when the base for the relationship was the love affair, there was no barrier of caste or religion and therefore, prima facie case under the Atrocities Act cannot be said to be made out,” the judgment stated.

It was reported earlier, that Sana had lured Deepak into a relationship and later forced him to convert his religion to Islam. Deepak was also tortured and humiliated for money by the family members of the accused who got constant support from the influential local MP Imtiaz Jaleel at every step in this matter.

Deepak Sonawane studied mechanical engineering at the Marathwada Institute of Technology in Sambhajinagar. Sana was his classmate. Both first became friends and then fell in love with each other. She later lured the former into marriage and asked him to embrace Islam and read Namaz.

The victim then met her parents and told them that he was a Dalit and that he had no intentions to convert his religion to Islam. He also said that he loved Sana but would not change his religion for marriage. “They assured me that they will explain their daughter properly and that I should not worry,” Deepak said.

According to Deepak then, the family members of Sana abducted him and tortured him. They urinated on him and performed his forceful circumcision (Khatana). The accused said that they would make Deepak Muslim before he would marry Sana. They also threatened Deepak saying that they would kill his family and make his video of circumcision viral over the internet.

Deepak Sonawane had also given a detailed account of how he was extorted by these Muslims and how they hurled casteist abuse at him. He said in his complaint that “Sana and his mother asked for Rs 11 lakh and threatened to defame me on the internet. I sent a total of Rs 11 lakh, but they demanded another Rs 25 lakh from me. I refused them as I did not have money at that time.”

Later, as per the complaint filed by Deepak, Sana registered a fake rape case against him as he refused to give Rs 25 lakhs. He also mentioned in the complaint that he was beaten and threatened by AIMIM leader Imtiaz Jaleel and his bodyguards about the case. “I was beaten up there, they threatened to kill me and demanded money, and hurled casteist abuse at me. All this has been going on for the last two years,” he had said.

Deepak also said that he had filed several complaints at the local police stations and had approached several police officers but none of them took his case seriously. As reported earlier, the police also refused to register a case against the AIMIM MP.

Notably, the sessions court had granted bail to Deepak Sonawane who was charged with sections 354 and 376 of the IPC. The victim had then said that the judge had to give the bail because the allegations were fake, though the sections are meant for an unbailable offense.

On the present date, Sana happened to approach the High Court for anticipatory bail which has eventually been granted by the former. The Court said that as Deepak in the FIR mentioned that he was in love with Sana and that he had good relations with her and her family, no offense under the Atrocities Act could be made.

Though the duo was in love which was not forced as per Deepak’s complaint, the possibility of abduction, torture, casteist abuse, and forced Khatna shouldn’t have been ignored by the Court. The Court said that there was an inordinate delay in lodging the FIR and that the delay affects the story which ‘may’ lose its importance.

The Court also remarked that the investigation into the matter was practically concluded and that the police were probably going to submit a chargesheet soon. Hence, the Court continued, the petitioners would not require physical custody to conduct an inquiry.

On the ‘claims’ of forceful circumcision, the court said, “The expert was unable to say as to whether the circumcision was natural or was due to any surgical intervention. The expert was also unable to say as to whether it was done by any medical professional or in a traditional way of Islam by an unauthorized person. He was also unable to say as to when it would have been done.”

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