Breaking: Supreme Court Directs Home Ministry To Collect Data About Alleged Cases Of Violence Against Christians From Eight States
Supreme Court has directed the Home Ministry to collect data from eight states about the alleged instances of violence in 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.
The Bench comprising of Justice D. Y. Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli said that the Court wants the Home Ministry to call for information from the states in relation to the alleged instances pointed out by the Petitioner and implementation of the Tehseen Poonawalla judgment.
The Home Ministry has been directed to obtain data from Bihar, Haryana, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Cheif Secretaries of all the states are directed to inform the Home Secretary regarding registration of FIR, the status of investigation, arrests made and charge sheets filed. The exercise of verification shall be carried out in two months and affidavits shall be filed in a tabulated form with the results of the verification. The above exercise of verification is being directed to determine if the judgments in Tehseen Poonawalla and other similar cases have been complied with and the manner in which compliance has been effected, the Bench ordered.
The Bench clarified that it has not gone into the veracity of the alleged incidents.
Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves appearing for the Petitioners points out instances of alleged violence against Christians in different parts of the Country. He said that pastors are being attacked and prayer meetings of Christians are being stopped. He said that the data he is relying upon is that of human rights organisations and not of any Christian organisation. He submitted that the Tehseen Poonawalla Judgment is in relation to lynching and hate speech and he is highlighting cases of violence.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and ASG Aishwarya Bhati appeared for the Union and informed the Court that self-serving news reports are being cited by the Petitioners in support of their claims. Tushar Mehta told the Court that many of the alleged instances of communal violence were found to be false.
The Central Government, through the Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs has filed an affidavit objecting to the maintainability of the PIL stating 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".
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?"