The Indian Supreme Court ordered states to verify allegations of persecution after the federal government described cases as fake.
Newsroom (06/09/2022 12:06 PM Gaudium Press) Christian leaders have lauded India’s top court for directing the states to verify allegations of persecution against the community after the federal government refuted their complaints as baseless.
“We are satisfied with the Supreme Court order,” Archbishop Peter Machado of the Archdiocese of Bangalore (now Bengaluru) said on Sept. 5.
Archbishop Machado, based in Bengaluru, capital of southern Karnataka state, is one of the petitioners in the public interest litigation (PIL) that sought direction to end the persecution against Christians in the country.
In an interim order, a division bench comprising Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli directed chief secretaries of eight states to verify allegations of persecution of Christians listed in the PIL.
The verification, the court said, would help it know the reality after the federal government described the incidents listed in the PIL as fake cases and urged the court to dismiss the petition.
In its Sept. 1 order, the top court directed the states to provide information such as preliminary police reports, investigation status, arrests made and charges filed.
The top court also directed the petitioners to provide a detailed breakdown of the incidents of violence indicated in the PIL to the office of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta within four weeks ordering to complete the verification process within two months because of the gravity of the allegations and file an affidavit before it.
The federal Home Affairs Department has collected the eight states’ verification reports.
“We have filed detailed reports of persecution against Christians from 22 states in our PIL. The Supreme Court, however, has sought details from eight states such as Bihar, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh regarding more than 20 cases of violence against Christians that were reported,” said A. C. Michael, another petitioner.
“It is a very satisfactory order and it will help bring out the truth. We have submitted complete documents related to each case to the top court,” Michael said on Sept. 5.
While passing this order, the court had made it clear that it had not expressed any opinion on the veracity of the allegations raised in the plea.
Archbishop Machado, the National Solidarity Forum and the Evangelical Fellowship of India, in their petition, said on average, 45 to 50 violent attacks take place against Christian institutions and priests every month throughout India. The petitioners sought direction from the top court to end such violence and seek protection for community members.
In its affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court on Aug. 16, the federal government denied the allegations of Christian persecution and rejected any targeted attacks.
“In some cases, incidents of a purely criminal nature and arising out of personal issues have been categorized as violence targeting Christians,” it added.
The government said the PIL seemed based on misleading and self-serving data compiled by specific organizations.
The petitioners, in their rejoinder, refuted the government’s claim and reiterated that their reports were authentic as they collected them after proper verification from the victims and the local police involved.
Now, with the top court ordering verification of the details of the cases listed in the PIL, Christians believe the reality will come out.
They claim that more than 500 incidents of attacks were recorded in 2021, which they described as the worst year for Christians.
Christians make up 2.3 percent of the 1.3 billion population, with Hindus accounting for more than 80 percent of the population of India.
– Raju Hasmukh
(With files from UCAN News)