The Central Government, through the Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs has filed an affidavit objecting to the maintenability of the petition filed by the Archbishop of the Diocese of Bengaluru, Dr. Peter Machado, and some others seeking the setting up of an SIT to probe alleged incidents of violence against the Christian community.

Center had said that "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 Center has stated in the affidavit that on a preliminary ascertainment of the truthfulness of the assertions as alleged in the petition, "it is found that the Petitioner has resorted to falsehood and some selective self- serving documents".

The affidavit states that the majority of the incidents alleged as Christian persecution in these 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 is submitted that several incidents, which were found to be true or exaggerated, were not necessarily related to incidents of violence targeting Christians", the Center has told the Court.

The Center explains with an example that, "incidents of minor disputes, where no religious/communal angle existed, had also been published in the self serving Reports as instances of violence against Christians. A local dispute between two parties was given a religious colour in the report".

The Center says that the reports relied upon by the petitioners seem to be based on misleading and self-serving data being compiled by certain organisations. It says that preliminary factual check and the inputs received thereof further indicates that in any alleged crime, wherein the victim practiced the particular religion, the reports have sought to assume a communal reason behind the same without even ascertainment of basic facts. Further, that a preliminary factual check and the inputs received thereof reveal that legal actions taken by local administration against illegal constructions were also being projected as instances of religious targeting of places.

The Center denies allegations of police action against purported victims and says that "incidents, wherein the Police had questioned certain persons, based on complaints against them, were being projected as biased police action".

With respect to the report of the Evangelical Fellowship of India-Religious Liberty Commission/EFI-RLC's titled 'Hate and targeted violence against Christians in India, 2021', highlighting incidents of violence against Christians and their properties, the Center says that a "preliminary factual check of the mentioned incidents and the inputs received thereof revealed that in the said report, about 162 incidents were not truthfully recorded and the remaining 139 were either false or deliberated projected wrongfully as instances of targeted violence against Christians".

With respect to the report regarding 'Christians Under Attack in India- a fact-finding report' by the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), the UCF, and United Against Hate (UAH), the Center says that a "preliminary factual check and the inputs received thereof reveals that most of the allegations and observations made in the report were found to be unfounded and the majority of the incidents quoted either were false or deliberately exaggerated, and uncorroborated".

The affidavit contains a table showing the claims of attacks against Christians and the factual position based on preliminary inputs.

"It is submitted that a perusal of half-baked and self-serving facts and self-serving articles and reports culminating in to a petition - based upon mere conjectures - clearly appears to be for an oblique purpose. 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 / PIL. This is a hazardous trend and defeats the very object as to why PIL jurisdiction was originated by this Hon'ble Court", Center says in the affidavit.

The Center says that based upon self-serving articles and reports the petitioner wants the Supreme Court to conduct 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 organisations who have prepared the reports.

The Center has said that the issues highlighted can always be taken care of by law enforcement agencies in respective States under the process of law or by the affected parties by approaching the respective High Courts.

With respect to the implementation of the guidelines in Tehseen S. Poonawalla Vs. Union of India & Ors., the Center has said that Supreme Court is already seized of the matter and has already ordered the State to report compliance.

On an earlier hearing, the Bench comprising of Justice D. Y. Chandrachud and Justice J. B. Pardiwala had said that it will only consider the implementation of its 2018 Judgment of the Court in the matter of Tehseen S. Poonawalla vs Union Of India on curbing mob violence and not individual instances of alleged violence against Christians in the Country that are cited by the Petitioners.

Prior to that, when the matter was repeatedly mentioned, the Court had expressed displeasure over news reports that it was delaying the hearing of the plea. Give us a break, the Bench of Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant had said, adding "Last time the matter could not be taken because I was down with Covid. You get it published in newspapers that the Supreme Court is delaying the hearing. Look, there is a limit to which you can target the judges. Who supplies all this news?"

Click here to read/download Affidavit