SC Directs Home Ministry To File Affidavit In Plea Alleging Attacks Against Christians, Refuses To Issue Notice To States For Now
The Supreme Court today adjourned the plea regarding the alleged attack against the Christian community by two weeks. The Court directed the Union Home Ministry to file its affidavit within two weeks. The Court refused to issue notice to the States at this stage.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha and Justice JB Pardiwala told the Centre that the matter was filed in September, and we are in March. We don't even have an affidavit. Let the ministry file an affidavit, the CJI said.
Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves for the petitioner submitted that he expected the filing of the plea to be a deterrent. "There has been an exponential rise in the attacks. Chattisgarh came out with a book pointing out 600 attacks. There is a pattern where you attack the community, you stop the prayer meeting and you register the FIR against the Christians", he said.
"The main point is that your Lordship has already given order in terms of Poonawalla (Tehseen S. Poonawalla vs Union Of India). Nodal Officer was supposed to be a buffer who was to register the FIRs or to see that the FIRs are registered. Nodal Officers are notified but the Nodal Officers are not registering a single case", he submitted. He also said that hate speech is exploding and that the media and rallies are full of it but that the Nodal Officer is not registering any case.
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati for the Centre submitted that the plea was filed with sweeping allegations and that States had not furnished information and that now information has been received. "States are here", she said.
The Counsel for the State of Chhattisgarh said that no notice has been issued on the petition and that if he is confronted with a list of alleged incidents, he wont be able to address it.
Colin Gonsalves then asked for issuance of notice to States. The CJI responded by saying that let's first get the report for the Centre first and then we will decide about notice.
On February 6, the Supreme Court directed the seven states that have not furnished information to the Union Home Ministry as per its previous order to take peremptory steps within three weeks.
The Court noted that only Haryana has submitted its report to the Union, out of the eight states that were directed.
The states that were directed to furnish information are Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. The state of Uttar Pradesh was directed to furnish the information once again, since it said that it had already furnished information.
The Public Interest Litigation filed by Rev. Dr. Peter Machado, National Solidarity Forum, Rev. Vijayesh Lal of Evangelical Fellowship of India and others, seeks directions to the Centre and States to take action to prevent violence against the members of the Christian community in the country and setting up of an SIT to probe alleged incidents of violence against the Christian community.
On September 01, the petitioners filed a rejoinder stating that in 2021 and 2022 (till May), the total number of incidents was 700 and only 53 FIRs were registered against perpetrators.
Thereafter, the Apex Court directed the Ministry of Home Affairs to obtain verification reports from the eight States (Bihar, Haryana, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh) in respect of the incidents of alleged violence against Christians. The Court said that due information shall be furnished regarding the (a) registration of FIRs; (b) status of investigation; (c) arrests made; and (d) the charge sheets filed.
Earlier, the Central Government, through the Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs had 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.
The Court 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.
Cause Title- Most. Rev. Dr. Peter Machado & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors.