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"There's No Urgency, Heavens Don't Fall" : Supreme Court On Request For Fixed Date For Plea To Prevent Attacks Against Christians

Srishti Ojha
26 April 2022 3:41 PM GMT
Theres No Urgency, Heavens Dont Fall : Supreme Court On Request For Fixed Date For Plea To Prevent Attacks Against Christians
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A writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to stop violence and mob attacks against the members of the Christian Community in various states across the country.Archbishop Of Bangalore Diocese Dr. Peter Machado along with the National Solidarity Forum, the Evangelical Fellowship of India are the petitioners.A request for urgent listing of the case was made on...

A writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to stop violence and mob attacks against the members of the Christian Community in various states across the country.

Archbishop Of Bangalore Diocese Dr. Peter Machado along with the National Solidarity Forum, the Evangelical Fellowship of India are the petitioners.

A request for urgent listing of the case was made on Tuesday before a bench led by the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana.

After Advocate Sanbha Rumnong appearing for the petitioner sought urgent listing of the matter, the CJI informed the counsel that a bench has already been assigned for the case.

In response to the counsel's request for a fixed date, the CJI said, "No date, there's no urgency. Inspite of that, we marked the bench. Nothing will happen, heavens don't fall."

The present petitioners are being represented through Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves and Advocates Jaiwant Patankar, Lija Merin John, Sneha Mukherjee, Aakarsh Kamra and Sanbha Rumnong.

According to the petitioners, they have filed the present PIL against the "sinister phenomena of violence" and "targeted hate speech" against the Christian community of the country by vigilante groups and members of right-wing organizations. It is the petitioners' case that such violence has been rising owing to the failure of the State machinery to protect its own citizens.

The petitioners have argued that there is failure by the Central and State Governments and other State machineries in taking immediate and necessary actions against groups that have caused widespread violence and hate speech against the Christian community including attacks at their places of worship and other institutions run by them.

Directions Sought:

The petition has sought setting up of Special Investigation Teams with officers from outside the States where the incidents set out to register FIRs, conduct criminal investigations and prosecute the criminal offenders in accordance with law

Further directions have been sought to the SITs to file closure reports in accordance with law, where false counter FIRs have been filed by the assailants against the victims.

The petitioners have sought directions for an order directing each state to provide police protection for prayer meetings, and directing the SITs to identify and prosecute such members of the political/social organizations who conspired and instigated the assaults as described in this petition.

The petition has sought further orders directing the State Governments to properly assess the damage caused to property and pay compensation accordingly, and set up a website and make information available on all these trials-state wise relating to instances of communal violence against the Christian community

Further directions have been sought to the State Governments to pay compensation to all members of the victim community who were illegally arrested, and prosecute police officials who fail in their constitutionally mandated duty to enforce the law of the land, by being complicit in attacks against religious minorities, and by shielding the attackers or otherwise scuttling due process of law.

The petition has stated that according to reports conducted by various non-governmental organisations, several incidents of violence were reported against the Christian community by vigilante groups between January - December 2021 and many such incidents both reported and unreported are continuing even today in complete violations of the principles laid down by Supreme Court in a catena of judgments more specifically in Tehseen Poonawalla v. Union of India.

While providing the details of 505 attacks from January to December 2021, the petitioners have submitted that the menace caused by such groups is spreading fast to every nook and corner of the Country and is creating disharmony among various communities and castes.

Failure and connivance of the police in many cases:

The petition has stated that it is alarming to note that as per reports in most instances of mob violence against Christians, the police have colluded with vigilante groups and have tried to criminalize the lives of Christian community and individuals instead.

Further, the complicit role of the police has strengthened such vigilante groups who have in turn managed to create an atmosphere of intolerance and bigotry.

Article 25: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion:

The petitioners have argued that the consequence of such widespread attack and targeting has caused a real sense of fear amongst members of the Christian community across the country and directly impacted their freedom to practice and propagate their faith as enshrined to them under Article 25 of the Constitution of India.

The petitioners have stated that, it is also seen that the general narrative used by the communal groups against Christians is that they engage in forceful or illegal conversions and have pressurized various state governments to enact the Anti-Conversion laws and send notices through Tehsildar in states like Madhya Pradesh more specifically in the district of Jabhua which have now been quashed after a writ petition was filed before the High Court of Madhya Pradesh.

The Petitioners state that the violence associated with the instances mentioned in the petition coupled with the constant monitoring, surveillance and threats made to the victim community has made the victim community very afraid of going anywhere near a police station or even making complaints.

The petitioners have also pointed out that the Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities in his address on National Minorities Day claimed that there are "no-religion based" atrocities against minorities in India.

Hate And Targeted Violence Against Christians In India Yearly Report-2021 Published by Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India: The petition has cited this report which highlights and reveals approximately 505 instances of communal violence against the community across the country which includes rampant vandalism and desecration of property, churches, physical violence against members of the community including three murders across India. 

It has been submitted that Uttar Pradesh alone recorded 129 cases, followed by Chhattisgarh at 74, Madhya Pradesh with 66, Karnataka with 48, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh & Jammu & Kashmir with one case each.

Case Title: Most Rev. Dr. Peter Machado, Archbishop, Diocese of Bengaluru & Ors. Vs Union of India & Ors 

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