Last week, the Gujarat High Court granted pre-arrest bail to a Parsi man, namely, Feroze Falibhai Contractor. He was accused by a Hindu man saying he hid his religion while selling his property under the Disturbed Areas Act, 1976. An FIR was filed pertaining to the same.
As Justice Umesh A. Trivedi granted bail to the accused, he observed:
"Prima facie, it appears that no law obliges to state his religion in the affidavit filed in support of application seeking previous sanction to transfer immovable property."
Facts of the Case
The main allegation against the Parsi man is the non-disclosure of his religion while getting the previous sanctions for the sale of an immovable property owned by him as he made an application in the affidavit annexed with it.
Charges pressed against him are for the offences punishable under Sections 177, 181, 406, 465, 467, 471 of the Indian Penal Code and under Section 6D of the Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991.
Indian Express reported that he "despite being a Parsi, did not disclose his religion…" before the District Collector’s office as for the transfer of the plot to a Muslim. It was also alleged in the FIR that he "took advantage of his Muslim-sounding first name… to get permission (for transfer of property) under the Disturbed Areas Act". It was submitted by the Advocate of the First Informant that the man represented his incomplete address rather than his actual home in the impugned affidavit, so as to get the sanction smoothly. Submissions of the Applicant
The Applicant/ Contractor contended, "unless any provision of law obliges a person to mention religion even in any affidavit, non-mentioning the same would not attract any offence under any law.”
He also went on to submit how section 6D under the Disturbed Areas only had come into force in October 2020 and, on the other hand, the alleged commission of offence took place in May 2020 following the filing of an FIR in August 2020. On the execution of a personal bond valued at Rs 10,000 with one surety of like amount, the Court agreed to grant him a pre-arrest bail after going into the merits of the case. Additionally, the Court told the investigation agency that it could still apply to the competent Magistrate as for the police remand of the Applicant. Case Title
- Feroze Falibhai Contractor v. State Of Gujarat [Criminal Misc. Application No. 16338 of 2020]