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Supreme Court of India Arms Police to Combat Evangelism

ICC Note:

India Supreme Court decision allows police to act independently of any local or central government authority in prosecuting evangelists, thereby putting Christian missionaries at the mercy of the local police officer and denying them legal protection against fraudulent police activity.

By Dhananjay Mahapatra

The Times of India (08/07/06) – This Supreme Court order is bound to have a ripple effect on religious leaders who in one way or the other induce people to convert.

Despite the bar on courts to take cognizance of an offence relating to proselytisation without the prosecution obtaining prior sanction either from the Central government, state government or the district magistrate, the police can lodge FIRs and arrest those indulging in such activity, the court has ruled.

This ruling assumes significance in the wake of serious opposition by secular forces to efforts by some states to enact laws to prevent proselytisation. They had felt that these laws were meant to persecute those arranging legitimate conversions.

Their views, till date, appeared well entrenched in the Criminal Procedure Code which protected religious leaders from harassment at the hands of police for their efforts to get more followers to their faith.

Section 191(1-A) of CrPC says that ‘no court shall take cognizance” of an offence involving inducement for conversion unless the prosecution has obtained previous sanction of the “Central government or of the state government or of the district magistrate”.

The Supreme Court on Friday drew an important line between courts taking cognizance of the offence pertaining to proselytisation and police lodging FIRs and arresting the erring religious figures indulging in the offence…[Go To Full Story]