Home Equality & Justice India’s Supreme Court agrees to early hearing of hate crimes petition

India’s Supreme Court agrees to early hearing of hate crimes petition

“We filed the petition as attacks against Christians, their places of worship and institutions are increasing by the day,” said Archbishop Machado of Bangalore

India’s Supreme Court has agreed to list on July 11 a petition seeking the court’s directions to stop attacks against the Christian community and institutions in the country.

Early this week, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves pleaded before a vacation bench of the court for urgent listing of the petition, saying the attacks against Christians are on the rise.

He cited the 57 cases of violence against Christians that were reported last month alone, the highest tally for a month thus far.



A two-judge bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice J B Pardiwala agreed to list the petition on the apex court’s reopening day.

On April 26, a plea was made for urgent listing of the petition, but it was turned down by Chief Justice N V Ramana who said that “there is no urgency…”

The petition was filed by Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore along with the National Solidarity Forum, the Evangelical Fellowship of India, and the United Christian Forum.

“We filed the petition as attacks against Christians, their places of worship and institutions are increasing by the day,” said Archbishop Machado.

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“We want the Karnataka Right to Freedom of Religion Bill to be withdrawn as it is against human rights,” he said, adding that every section “is against freedom of religion.”

The Karnataka Right to Freedom of Religion Bill or the anti-conversion Bill prohibits conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, fraud, allurement or marriage.

Vijayesh Lal, secretary general of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, said hate crimes against Christians are rising “purely because of the failure of the state machinery to protect its own citizens.”

According to the Indian ecumenical watchdog United Christian Forum, 2021 was the most violent year for Christians with 505 hate crimes from 21 states recorded.

In just the first five months of this year, as many as 107 incidents have been reported.

The petitioners have sought that the court direct the states to provide police protection for prayer meetings and prosecute errant officials who fail to enforce the law.

They also pleaded for the setting up of a Special Investigation Team with officers from outside the states to investigate and prosecute offenders.

The top court had in 2018 issued guidelines to the federal government that there should be special courts to conduct trials, compensatory schemes and disciplinary rules for errant officials besides a new penal provision to deal with incidents of vigilantism.

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