SC agrees to examine plea against attacks on Christian institutions, priests

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on a Monday agreed to examine a plea alleging increase in attacks on Christian institutions and priests across the country.

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The petitioners are the Archbishop of the Bangalore Diocese, along with the National Solidarity Forum, and the Evangelical Fellowship of India.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves mentioned the matter before a vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and J.B. Pardiwala and sought urgent listing of the matter.

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He submitted that on an average, between 40 to 50 violent attacks occurred against Christian institutions and priests every month across the country, as he pressed on implementation of guidelines which were issued by the top court in a 2018 judgment to curb hate crimes.

Gonsalves emphasised that in month of May, more than 50 cases of violent attacks took place as he sought the implementation of the guidelines issued in the Tehseen Poonawala judgment (2018).

He cited that in the judgment, direction was passed for the appointment of nodal officers to take note of hate crimes and register FIRs across the nation. In the 2018 judgment, the top court had said hate crimes, cow vigilantism and lynching incidents should be nipped in the bud.

The top court told Gonsalves that if it is happening, then it is very unfortunate. As he pressed for urgent listing of the matter, the bench replied: “What we can ensure is that your matter is listed on the re-opening day itself.”

After a brief hearing in the matter, the bench directed the registry to list the matter on the reopening of the court after summer vacation. The matter is likely to come up for hearing on July 11.

The top court, in 2018, passed a slew of guidelines for the Central government and state governments, which included disciplinary action against lax law enforcing officials, fast tracking of trials etc,

It had said state governments should designate a senior police officer not below the rank of Superintendent of Police as nodal officer in each district, and one DSP rank officer will assist these officers to form a task force to develop methods to prevent mob violence and lynching.

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