“India a secular country”: Tripura High Court slams Chakma committees for boycott of Christian converts

“India a secular country”: Tripura High Court slams Chakma committees for boycott of Christian converts

“India is a secular country and everybody has the fundamental right to choose his own religion,” the Court said while reprimanding certain Chakma committees for encouraging a boycott of the Christian converts.
Justice Arindam Lodh and Tripura High Court
Justice Arindam Lodh and Tripura High Court

The Tripura High Court on Tuesday reprimanded certain Chakma community groups for allegedly calling for a social boycott of a Chakma man (petitioner) and his family members who had converted to Christianity [Tarun Chakma v State].

Justice Arindham Lodhi emphasised that India is a secular country and every citizen possesses a fundamental right to propagate, practice, and select their religion.

They (members of Chakma committees who were engaging in the boycott) are violating the Indian Constitution. They are trying to infringe fundamental rights of the citizens of India. The members of Chakma community … must keep in mind that India is a secular country everybody has the fundamental right to preach, profess and choose his own religion. Nobody can invade into such right of a citizen,” the Court said.

The Court proceeded to order the State authorities to take necessary measures to stop the religious persecution of the petitioner and his family.

The authorities were told not to hesitate in arresting any person found violating the Indian Constitution.

The respondents … are directed to take stern action against those Samajpatis or self-styled headman and the members of Chakma community who indulge themselves in such unconstitutional activities … The State Administration would not hesitate to arrest any of the members of any community who indulge in unlawful activities and the offenders of violation of the provisions of Indian Constitution,” the order stated.

The petitioner before the Court had made certain allegations against two committees, namely the Uttar Andharcharra Chakma Samajik Bichar Committee and Kanchancherra Chakma Samajik Adam Panchayet, and related members.

The petitioner claimed that these committees had exiled him and his family from the community after he embraced Christianity in 2022.

The petitioner said that he was labelled as anti-social and banished from the Chakma community. He was also warned against socialising with other Chakma members while the community members were told to isolate him and his family.

The committees allegedly also warned community members not to use the auto-rickshaw of the petitioner, who worked as an auto-rickshaw driver.

The counsel appearing for the petitioner argued that these committees were engaging in unlawful activities that contradicted the principles of the Constitution of India and the Chakma Customary Laws Code of 1997, which are typically adhered to by members of the Chakma community in Tripura.

Taking into account the submissions, the Court directed the committee members to explain their alleged conduct. The matter will be heard next on November 29, 2023 by when the State authorities are also expected to submit an action taken report.

Senior Counsel S Kar Bhowmik along with Advocates EL Darlong, S Bal and P Das appeared for the petitioner.

Advocate General SS Dey and advocate A Chakraborty appeared for the State authorities.

source : https://www.barandbench.com/news/india-secular-tripura-high-court-chakma-committees-boycott-christian-converts

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