NEW DELHI: Calling religious conversions by use of force or allurement a threat to national security, the Supreme Court on Monday sought a detailed affidavit from the government on steps being taken to curb this "dangerous trend." As solicitor general Tushar Mehta told the court that it is common knowledge that such conversions are rampant in tribal areas, the court asked what the Cenre and states have done to stop it. The Centre must step in and make its stand clear, the bench of Justices MR S hah and Hima Kohli said. Forced conversions a threat to national security, says SC Expressing grave concern over alleged religious conversions by use of force, allurement and deception, the Supreme Court on Monday warned that this posed "a very serious threat to the security of the country" and sought a detailed affidavit from the government on the steps being taken to curb this "dangerous trend". Hearing a PIL filed by advocate-petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay, a bench of Justices M R Shah and Hima Kohli told solicitor general Tushar Mehta that "everyone has the freedom of conscience to choose a religion. But religious conversions through force or any kind of temptation is a dangerous thing which must be stopped".

The church should have studied and discussed the judgment in detail before rushing to welcome it. India’s Supreme Court upholding the economic criteria for granting educational and job quotas to the privileged upper castes could be the final nail in the coffin for the country’s affirmative action program for historically disadvantaged groups such as the Dalits or former untouchables and the indigenous tribal people. The Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Church deserves its share of the blame for missing the woods for the trees by welcoming the decision and expressing its readiness to ignore the historical injustices unleashed on the marginalized sections of Indians in the name of the caste system. For centuries, people in the lowest strata of Indian society were ostracized from public life. The idea of educational and job reservations for the ‘outcastes’ was to enable them to have a level playing field with the so-called upper castes. India’s constitution-makers, fully aware of the rampant poverty in the country, decided that the criteria for reservations should be the social poverty that a community faces, and not economic poverty. However, a 1950 presidential order limited the affirmative action program only to people from the Hindu religion on the grounds that casteism was practiced only by them.

The narrative of Muslims and Christians being casteless is more significant to India’s handling of caste than we assume. After years of it remaining confined to academic discussions, the prospect of Scheduled Caste status for Dalit Muslims and Christians suddenly feels real. The last month has seen much activity on the question. The Union government’s appointment of a commission under KG Balakrishnan on October 8 has received much press coverage. However, it is not well known that the government did not set up the commission of its own accord but after the Supreme Court asked it to respond to an ongoing case. On August 30, the Supreme Court had listed the case of M Ejaz Ali vs Union of India, combining a batch of public interest litigations from Muslim and Christian groups demanding Scheduled Caste status. Some of these petitions go as far back as 2004. Denial and opposition While the anticipation of Scheduled Caste status brings hope for the most marginalised Muslim and Christian communities as it will allow them to access reservations in educational institutions and government jobs, it is also met with denials and opposition from several spheres. Predictably, groups the like All India Muslim Personal Law Board, who have claimed to represent

Some Church leaders upset as all criminal cases under a scrapped provision of Information Technology Act are to be dropped Church officials in southern India have expressed concern over India’s Supreme Court asking to drop criminal cases filed under a controversial provision meant to ensure government control over social media. Human rights groups including a Catholic priest though say the move will stop the government machinery from unfairly targeting its critics and innocent citizens. The Supreme Court on Oct. 12 directed the federal and state governments to drop all cases initiated under the provision of section 66A of the Information Technology Act 2000, some seven years after it was scrapped. The provision criminalized online communication that was "grossly offensive, menacing,” or the sender knew to be false “to cause annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will.” A Bench led by Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit directed “all Directors General of Police as well as Home Secretaries of the States and competent officers in Union Territories to instruct their entire police force in their respective States/Union Territories not to register any complaint of crime with respect to alleged violation of section 66A,” reported The Hindu newspaper. Father Jacob G Palakkappilly,

States ordered to verify allegations of persecution after federal government described cases as fake Christian leaders have lauded India’s top court for directing the states to verify allegations of persecution against the community people after the federal government refuted their complaints as baseless. “We are satisfied with the Supreme Court order,” Archbishop Peter Machado of the Archdiocese of Bangalore (now Bengaluru) told UCA News on Sept. 5. Archbishop Machado, based in Bengaluru, capital of southern Karnataka state, is one of the petitioners in the public interest litigation (PIL) that sought direction to end the persecution against Christians in the country. A division bench comprising Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli in an interim order directed chief secretaries of eight states to verify allegations of persecution of Christians listed in the PIL. The verification, the court said, would help it know the reality after the federal government described the incidents listed in the PIL as fake cases and urged the court to dismiss the petition. The top court in its Sept. 1 order also directed the states to provide information such as preliminary police reports, status of investigation, arrests made and charges filed. The top court also directed the petitioners to provide a detailed breakdown of the

Among scholars of note who have written to the apex court in the light of the Zakia Jafri judgment are Noam Chomsky, Martha Nussbaum, Wendy Brown and Sheldon Pollock. Top Global Scholars Urge SC to Review Recent Orders Harming 'Human Rights in India' A view of the Supreme Court building Photo: Reuters New Delhi: Top international scholars have written a statement expressing that they are deeply disturbed by some recent judgments of the Supreme Court which they believe have had a “direct bearing on the future of civil liberties and human rights in India.” The signatories draw attention to the apex court’s judgment in a plea by Zakia Jafri, the wife of slain MP Ehsan Jafri, challenging a Special Investigation Team’s clean chit to 64 people, including then chief minister Narendra Modi, in the 2002 Gujarat riots case. The statement is signed by: Bhiku Parekh, House of Lords, London, UK. Noam Chomsky, Professor emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Professor, University of Arizona, USA. Arjun Appadurai, Professor, Max Planck Institute, Germany. Wendy Brown, Professor, Institute of Advanced Studies, Princeton, USA Sheldon Pollock, Professor Emeritus, Columbia University, USA. Carol Rovane, Professor, Columbia University, USA. Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus, McGill University, Canada. Martha Nussbaum, Professor, University of

One of the convicts spoke to and claimed he was innocent. He also claimed he had come home straight from prison, a fact belied by photos of the event. In Godhra, Bilkis Bano convicts felicitated by RSS member soon after their release Eleven men convicted in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case walked out free on August 15. They were felicitated at the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Trust auditorium by a member of the RSS. | Sitting in his family-run grocery store on Tuesday, flanked by a host of relatives, 47-year-old Radhshyam Shah kept referring to himself as the “accused”. When it was pointed out to him that he had, in fact, been convicted of gangrape – a verdict upheld by the Supreme Court – his response was matter-of-fact: “Yes, the court did say that.” “But,” he was quick to add, “we are innocent.” In 2008, Shah and 11 other men from Randhikpur in Gujarat’s Dahod district were sentenced to life imprisonment for raping a young pregnant woman from their village, Bilkis Yakub Rasul Patel, more commonly known as Bilkis Bano, and for murdering 14 of her relatives during the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat. Those killed included a day-old infant and Bano’s three-year-old daughter. The

Seeks dismissal of a petition for urgent intervention of Supreme Court to end attacks on Christians and their institutions India’s federal government has sought dismissal of a petition that sought to end the persecution of Christians, saying there could be a “hidden oblique agenda” behind it. In its affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court on Aug. 16, the government said there seemed to be an agenda behind filing “such deceptive petitions.” The government alleged that such petitions were meant to “create unrest throughout the country and perhaps for getting assistance from outside the country to meddle with internal affairs of our nation.” The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore, the National Solidarity Forum and the Evangelical Fellowship of India, said that an average of 45 to 50 violent attacks against Christian institutions and priests were reported every month. A record 57 attacks were recorded in May, the petition said and sought urgent intervention from the top court. Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the federal government, told the court that such “half-baked and self-serving facts and self-serving articles and reports culminating into a petition — based upon mere conjectures — clearly appear to be for an oblique purpose.” Describing the petition as

No merit in reports judges not keen on anti-violence case filed by Christians, says Archbishop Peter Machado India's Christian community has immense faith in the nation's judiciary, says Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore India's Christian community has immense faith in the nation's judiciary, says Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore. (Photo: UCAN files) A Catholic archbishop has condemned media reports saying India’s top court was delaying the hearing of a case seeking an end to violence against Christians. “I am extremely distressed about articles in newspapers that the honorable Supreme Court, India’s top court, is not taking up the matter of attacks against Christians. There is no merit in the allegation. I strongly condemn it,” said Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore in southern Karnataka province, on July 30. The prelate’s statement came a couple of days after Supreme Court Justice D Y Chandrachud criticized a section of the media for carrying news items hinting that the top court was not very keen on hearing the petition. Ucan Store “You get it published in newspapers that the Supreme Court is delaying the hearing. Look, there is a limit to which you can target the judges. Who supplies all this news,” asked Justice Chandrachud on July 27 while clarifying the

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