Padmakshi Sharma, 13/04/23
In a plea seeking directions to stop alleged attacks against Christian priests and Christian institutions across the country, the Central Government argued before the Supreme Court on Thursday that as per collated data from States, the figures of attacks on Christians provided by the petitioner were incorrect.
The matter was argued before a bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha, and Justice JB Pardiwala.
In today’s hearing, the Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Central Government contended that the Apex Court had taken note of the matter on basis of the figures provided by the petitioner. However, the said figures were incorrect. He said–
“The petitioner claimed that there are some 500 incidents where Christians were attacked. We sent everything to the State governments. We collated all information we got. First let’s see Bihar. The total number which Petitioner gave are internal fights between neighbours one of which happens to be Christian – this they have resolved…The figure given by them, which obviously persuaded your lordships, was not correct.”
Arguing that it was apparent that the petitioners just wanted “the pot boiling“, SG Mehta also submitted that the petition sent a wrong message to the public. He said–
“This is how it is being displayed outside the country. This is the message that goes out to the public that Christians are in danger. This is wrong.”
Advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for petitioner, stated that the affidavit was placed late last night and requested for more time to respond to it.
The court granted a time of three weeks to petitioners to place a response.
Archbishop Of Bangalore Diocese Dr. Peter Machado along with the National Solidarity Forum, the Evangelical Fellowship of India are the petitioners in the mattter. According to the petition, the present PIL has been filed against the “sinister phenomena of violence” and “targeted hate speech” against the Christian community of the country by vigilante groups and members of right-wing organisations. It submits that such violence has been rising owing to the failure of the State machinery to protect its own citizens.
The petition argues that there is failure by the Central and State Governments and other State machineries in taking immediate and necessary actions against groups that have caused widespread violence and hate speech against the Christian community including attacks at their places of worship and other institutions run by them.
The Union Government has filed a counter-affidavit stating that the claim of “Christian persecution” in India is false and alleged that the petitioners have relied upon certain biased and one-sided reports. The Union further stated that the petitioners have projected certain cases arising out of personal disputes as communal attacks.
Case Title: Most Rev. Dr. Peter Machado And Ors. v. UoI And Ors. WP(Crl) No. 137/2022
Figures Showing Attacks On Christians Incorrect: Central Government Tells SC In Plea Seeking To Stop Attacks Against Christian Priests & Institutions
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