The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Centre to seek information from seven states on a plea alleging an increase in attacks on Christians in India, Bar and Bench reported.
The court directed the Union government to get the reports from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand within two months.
“The chief secretaries of these states shall ensure that the following info is given: registration of FIRs, the status of investigation, arrests made, chargesheets filed,” the court said. “[The] court has not formed any opinion on the veracity of the allegations in the plea.”
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli said that the court was concerned whether the guidelines in the 2018 Tehseen Poonawalla case regarding hate crimes were being followed.
In the Tehseen Poonawalla judgement, the Supreme Court had asked Centre and states to set up special courts to conduct trials, form a compensatory scheme with provision for interim relief for victims and their relatives and take disciplinary action beyond what is recommended in service rules for officers who do not deal with lynching incidents properly.
The court had also asked Parliament to consider creating a new penal provision to deal with incidents of vigilantism, saying that “mobocracy cannot be allowed in society”.
At Thursday’s hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said it has been found on verification that the majority of the cases of attacks mentioned in the plea are false, according to PTI.
He said that the court should not pass an order on such a plea, otherwise it will open pandora’s box.
On August 16, the Ministry of Home Affairs had also told the court that the majority of the incidents cited by the petitioner were wrongfully projected in news reports.
“The petitioners claimed to have based the petition on information gathered through sources like press reports [The Wire, Scroll.in, Hindustan Times, Dainik Bhaskar, etc.], ‘independent’ online databases and from findings of various non-profit organisations,” the ministry’s affidavit said.
It had added: “It is submitted that enquiries reveal that majority of the incidents alleged as Christian persecution in these reports were either false or wrongfully projected.”
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.
In a report released in December, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties had listed 39 incidents of violence against Christians in Karnataka alone, between January 2021 and November 2021.
A fact-finding report released in December found 305 attacks had taken place on the members of the Christian community across India between January and September last year. The report was a joint initiative of non-governmental organisations Association for Protection of Civil Rights, the United Christian Forum and United Against Hate.