Catholics pray during a Good Friday service at an East Delhi church on April 14, 2019. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News)
Christian leaders have lauded India’s top court for directing the states to verify allegations of persecution against the community people after the federal government refuted their complaints as baseless.
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.
A division bench comprising Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli in an interim order 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.
The top court in its Sept. 1 order also directed the states to provide information such as preliminary police reports, status of investigation, 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.
The court also ordered to complete the verification process within two months in view of the gravity of the allegations and file an affidavit before it.
The federal ministry of Home Affairs has been authorized to collect the verification reports from eight states.
“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 told UCA News 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.
The federal government in its affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court on Aug. 16 denied the allegations of Christian persecution and denied any kind of 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 to be based on misleading and self-serving data compiled by certain 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 as well.
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.