No targeted attacks on Christians, Centre tells SC

Published on Aug 16, 2022 04:15 PM IST

The lawyer for the petitioners said there were 500 attacks on Christians across the country in 2021 alone and sought guidelines similar to those the Supreme Court issued in 2018 on how to prevent mob lynching and hate crimes

The Supreme Court. (PTI)
The Supreme Court. (PTI)
ByAbraham Thomas

There have been no targeted attacks on Christians in the country, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Tuesday and suggested a “hidden oblique motive” behind a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by Christian organisations and individuals demanding an independent probe into them.

“There appears to be some hidden oblique agenda in filing such deceptive petitions, creating an unrest throughout the country and perhaps for getting assistance from outside the country to meddle with internal affairs of our nation,” the Union home ministry said in an affidavit.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Centre, told a bench of justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and AS Bopanna that the affidavit is only a “preliminary note” and not a detailed response to the petition. Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, who appeared for the petitioners, sought time to file a response.

The court gave both sides a week to prepare responses and posted the matter for hearing next on August 25.

The Centre said a perusal of “half-baked and self-serving facts and self-serving articles and reports culminating into a petition - based upon mere conjectures - clearly appears to be for an oblique purpose.” It added it is a recent trend that certain organisations start “planting articles and preparing self-serving reports themselves or through their associates, which eventually become the basis of a writ petition or PIL.”

The Centre called it a hazardous trend and added it defeats the object of the Supreme Court providing for PIL jurisdiction. “The issues highlighted can always be taken care of by law enforcing agencies in respective states under the process of law or by the affected parties by approaching the respective High Courts….The petitioner, based upon such self-serving articles and reports wishes that this Court conducts a fishing enquiry in the entire country without even bothering to inform the court that none of the facts are either verified by the petitioner or by the so called organisations who have prepared the reports,” the affidavit said.

Gonsalves said there were 500 attacks on Christians across the country in 2021 alone and sought guidelines similar to those the Supreme Court issued in 2018 on how to prevent mob lynching and hate crimes.

Archbishop Peter Machado, National Solidarity Forum and Evangelical Fellowship of India filed the petition based on news reports and other independent findings of non-profit organisations. They demanded an independent probe into the atrocities against Christians, police protection for prayer meetings, compensation for damages caused to churches, etc.

The Centre said a majority of the incidents alleged as Christian persecution in the reports were either false or wrongfully projected. “In some cases, incidents of purely criminal nature and arising out of personal issues, have been categorised as violence targeting Christians.”

It added disputes in some instances had nothing to do with religious background of parties. “Clearly, the reports seem to be based on misleading and self-serving data being compiled by certain organizations...”

The petitioners cited a report titled “Hate and Targeted violence against Christians in India, 2021”.

The Centre referred to a preliminary factual check and said about 162 incidents were not truthfully recorded and the remaining 139 were either false or deliberately projected wrongfully as instances of targeted violence against Christians.

The petitioners alleged the police were negligent and biased in their approach, and their complicit role strengthened the vigilante groups leading to an atmosphere of intolerance.

The Centre said instances, where police questioned complaints against certain persons, were projected as “biased” action. It produced a chart showing how the events actually took place and how facts were “distorted” in some of the news reports cited in the petition. “Police had taken prompt action in numerous cases and conducted necessary investigation as per rules.” The Centre’s demanded dismissal of the PIL citing serious discrepancies.

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