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Two are accused of spreading communal tension but no arrests yet; outfit said last month it will set up ‘Hindu courts’ along lines of Sharia courts.

New Delhi: A month after the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha announced the setting up of religious ‘tribunals’ on the lines of Sharia courts, the Uttar Pradesh police have booked two office-bearers of the outfit for allegedly spreading communal tension.

ThePrint has learnt that police in Meerut have registered cases against Pandit Ashok Sharma, national vice-president of the Hindu Mahasabha and Abhishek Aggarwal, city president of the organisation.

Also read: Coming up in UP: ‘Hindu courts’ to protect the faithful, hand out death penalties

They have been booked for allegedly spreading communal tension under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code. Although the offence is cognisable, allowing the police to make an arrest without a warrant, the two accused have not been arrested yet.

The Supreme Court had in 2014 declared parallel courts such as Darul Qaza — Islamic family courts — unconstitutional, but it stopped short of banning them. The decisions of such courts are not enforceable.

The police claimed the cases were registered based on the report of the local intelligence unit that was present on 15 August at the outfit’s Meerut office where the first ‘tribunal’ was set up.

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On the same day, 36-year-old Pooja Shakun Pandey took ‘oath’ in a special ceremony as the “chief justice” of the Hindu courts.

ThePrint had earlier reported that the Hindu courts will hear cases affecting the “Hindu asmita” or pride in a panchayat-like setup. According to Pandey, the “Hindu courts” would award punishment, including death penalty, for the offences it would identify.

The outfit had also planned to inaugurate five “courts” in Agra, Mathura, Aligarh and Firozabad on 2 October, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, which the Mahasabha observes as “black day”.

Undeterred by the cases, Pandey plans to go ahead with announcing “by-laws” for the Hindu courts.

“We will proceed as per our schedule. Our intention is to protect our Hindu families and not to disturb the society. The by-laws will be announced and courts will be functional by 2 October,” Pandey told ThePrint.

Separately, the Allahabad High Court is also hearing a PIL against setting up of the ‘Hindu courts’. It has sought replies from the Hindu Mahasabha and the Yogi Adityanath government in the state.

Also read: Once again, an IIT Kharagpur grad is bringing his regressive World Hindu Congress to US

Ankit Singh, the petitioner, had alleged that the Mahasabha had set up “parallel courts to seemingly capitalise on the communal atmosphere prevalent in the state”.

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