Indian High Court Rules in Favor of American Doctor and Religious Freedom
01/11/2019 India (International Christian Concern) – On January 8, the Delhi High Court ruled in favor of Dr. Christo Philip, an American doctor and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI), who was deported by the country’s Ministry of Home Affairs in April 2016. The judgement is being seen as a victory for religious freedom in the face growing intolerance in India.
Dr. Philip practiced medicine at a mission hospital in India’s Bihar state. As an OCI holder, he is granted a lifelong visa that allows him to live and work in India as a doctor. On April 26, 2016, Dr. Philip was refused entry into India at Indira Gandhi International Airport after attending a medical conference in Greece. Immigration officials informed Dr. Philip that he was not allowed entry into the country because he was accused of being involved in missionary activities.
Ruling in favor of Dr. Philip, the Delhi High Court held that the Ministry of Home Affairs failed to establish how Dr. Philip was in violation of the OCI Card regulations. Taking a strong position, the Court said, “India is a secular country. All persons in this country have a right to practice their faith in the manner they consider fit so long as it does not offend any other person. If Dr. [Philip’s] faith motivates him to volunteer for medical services at a hospital, he is free to do so. There is no such law that stops him from doing so.”
The Court went on to say that it was at a loss to understand how such work or medical services could possibly be construed as contrary to the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India.
False allegations of religious conversions and missionary activity are used by radical Hindu nationalists to stir up hatred against Christians in India. These false allegations are often used to justify assaults and the imprisonments of Christian leaders.
Reacting to the judgement, Tehmina Arora, Director of Alliance Defending Freedom India, said, ““This is a landmark judgement protecting the rights of foreign nationals working in Christian organizations to freely live out their faith in India. It restricts the arbitrary action of the Ministry of Home Affairs targeting foreigners merely because they are Christians.”
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