The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a petition claiming that hate crimes against Christian institutions and priests have increased across the country, PTI reported.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves has sought an urgent listing of the plea before the court.

“On an average, 45 to 50 violent attacks take place against Christian institutions and priests every month throughout the country,” Gonsalves said. “In May this year itself, 57 cases of violence and attacks on Christian institutions and priests took place.”

A vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala said that the situation is unfortunate if the claims were true, reported PTI.

“What we can ensure is that your matter is listed on the re-opening day itself,” the bench said.

The courts will reopen after a summer vacation on July 11.

The plea has sought that Supreme Court’s earlier guidelines on curbing hate crimes in the country are implemented.

In the Tehseen Poonawalla case judgement in 2018, the Supreme Court had issued guidelines to the Centre and states on the matter such as special courts to conduct trials, a compensatory scheme with provision for interim relief for victims and their relatives and disciplinary action beyond what is recommended in service rules for officers who do not deal with lynching incidents properly.

The court had asked Parliament to consider creating a new penal provision to deal with incidents of vigilantism, saying that mobocracy cannot be allowed in society.

It had also ordered appointing nodal police officers in all districts, ensuring that efficient patrolling in areas where there was possibility of such incidents are conducted and that trials in these cases are completed within six months. The trial courts shall award the highest punishment in relevant sections of the law for lynching, it had said.

Attack on Christians

Over the last one year, there have been several instances of Hindutva groups attacking churches and Christian prayer halls after accusing them of engaging in forced conversions.

In June, police officials in Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada district had raided a Christian prayer hall after a Hindutva group claimed that forced religious conversions were being carried out there.

On February 25, a Christian pastor alleged he was assaulted by a mob in Delhi that accused him of being on a conversion mission.

A fact-finding report released on December 5 found that 305 attacks had taken place on the members of the Christian community across India between January and September last year.

The report, “Christians Under Attack in India”, was a joint initiative of non-governmental organisations Association for Protection of Civil Rights, the United Christian Forum and United Against Hate.

The report also stated that of the 305 cases, 66 incidents were reported from Uttar Pradesh, followed by 47 from Chhattisgarh and 32 from Karnataka.

In another report released in December, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties listed 39 incidents of violence against Christians in Karnataka alone, between January 2021 and November 2021.