The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Union Ministry of of Home Affairs to seek verification reports from Bihar, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh on a plea alleging attacks on the Christian community.
The apex court granted two months to conduct the entire exercise, which includes registration of FIRs, arrests made, status of investigation, and the charge sheets filed.
A bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hima Kohli said that it “can’t form an opinion on the veracity of allegations made (in the plea) submitted to us”.
The bench added that it would be better to verify the allegations made in the plea.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, representing the petitioner, submitted that 700 prayer meetings of Christians were stopped and violence was used against them.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said the MHA on verification found that many incidents referred to in the plea as communal attacks, were found to be either false or exaggerated.
The Central government has told the Supreme Court there is no merit in the plea alleging increasing attacks on Christians in the country.
It said that such deceptive petitions, creating unrest throughout the country and perhaps for getting assistance from outside the country to meddle with internal affairs of the nation.
The MHA, in a written response, said: “It is submitted that there appears to be some hidden oblique agenda in filing such deceptive petitions, creating unrest throughout the country and perhaps for getting assistance from outside the country to meddle with internal affairs of our nation.”
The Ministry said the petitioner has resorted to falsehood and self-serving documents and also cited press reports, where Christian persecution is either false or wrongfully projected.
The MHA’s response came on a plea alleging rising number of attacks on Christian institutions and priests across the country and seeking the implementation of its guidelines to curb hate crimes.
The petitioners Rev. Peter Machado and others sought implementation of the guidelines issued by the apex court in the 2018 Tehseen Poonawala judgment.
Meanwhile, a church was vandalised in Tarn Taran, Punjab on Wednesday. Four masked men broke into a church in Punjab’s Tarn Taran district, vandalised it and fled after setting the pastor’s car on fire, the police said.
Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann condemned the vandalism and has ordered a probe. Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh Raja Warring said such incidents are deliberate attempts by some mischievous elements to divide people.
The incident comes a day after Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Harjinder Singh Dhami condemned alleged efforts by “some so-called Christian missionaries” to convert people.