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ICC Note:

Christians in Mumbai, India have won a court battle over rights to a new cemetery. According to the Christians, the local government had been discriminating against their community and had not approved a new cemetery since the year 2000. Since then, all other Christian cemeteries had become full, interfering with Christians rights to a Christian burial. The court found in favor of the Christians and has ordered the government to take steps to set aside a new plot of land of a cemetery. 

11/11/2017 India (DNA) – “Don’t be a dictator. We live in a democratic society. We live in a secular state. You (the government) cannot distinguish on the basis of religion,” Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Manjula Chellur said on Thursday, while asking the Commissioner Dairy Development Department and senior officers from the Urban Development Department to remain present in court on November 13, along with records to show why it recommended cancellation of land allotted in Goregaon for the use of a Christian cemetery.

Chellur was surprised at the stand of the government that an alternative plot of land was being allotted to the trust in Andheri. The United Christian Community Centre, which moved the court, claimed that government after revoking the previous allotment of 12,500 square meters of land for the cemetery has allotted a smaller plot of 2,500 square meters, and has not given possession of the same.

“What is the rationale behind recommending cancellation? Are you doing charity work by giving the land? Or does your officer think that people of that community will never die,” the court asked.

Advocate Yashwant Shenoy, appearing for the trust, argued that while Hindus and Muslims have been allotted land for cemeteries, Christians have been singled out. Furthermore, from Dahisar to Khar, there is no place available for Christian burial.

The plea said that the government has discriminated against the Christian community by not allotting a single burial ground since the year 2000, thereby depriving the community its rights of proper and decent burial of the dead.

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