SC Stays Indore Admin’s Order, Allows Christian Prayer Meeting

SC Stays Indore Admin’s Order, Allows Christian Prayer Meeting

The bench also issued notices to the Madhya Pradesh government and the Indore administration on the plea of one Suresh Carleton.

Staff ReporterUpdated: Thursday, April 11, 2024, 12:37 AM IST
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Supreme Court | PTI

Indore (Madhya Pradesh): Terming as “unjustified”, the Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the decision of the Indore administration to cancel its permission for a prayer meeting of the Christian community on the ground of law and order situation.

“Prima facie, we find that the revocation of the permission which was granted in favour of the petitioner of holding the prayer meeting is not justified. The permission which was granted vide order dated March 22, 2024 and revised on April 05, 2024 specified various conditions so as to safeguard the interest of all the stakeholders and also to ensure that no law and order situation would arise. In these circumstances, the revocation of permission, in our view, was not justified,” a bench comprising Justice B R Gavai, Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sandeep Mehta said.

The bench also issued notices to the Madhya Pradesh government and the Indore administration on the plea of one Suresh Carleton.

The petition was filed against the order of the Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court upholding the revocation of the nod to hold the prayer meeting.

“It is needless to say that the petitioner will be entitled to hold the prayer meeting at 5:00 p.m. today (Wednesday), i.e., 10th April, 2024, however, the same shall be subject to the petitioner’s strictly complying with the directions/conditions stated in order dated March 22, and March 05, this year,” it said.

The bench directed its registry to communicate the order “forthwith to the Registrar (Judl.), High Court of Madhya Pradesh, Bench at Indore, who shall communicate the same to the Collector, Indore”.

Earlier, the Indore administration cancelled the permission for a prayer meeting of the Christian community scheduled on Wednesday, citing law and order situation.

Chennai-based Christian preacher Paul Dhinakaran was slated to address about 8,000 persons as the keynote speaker at the meeting.

An assistant election officer of the Indore Lok Sabha constituency in Madhya Pradesh, in an order issued on Sunday, cancelled the permission for the prayer meeting, for which nod was given on April 5.

The order stated that there is opposition to the meeting from Hindu outfits and other social organisations, who have filed a complaint in this connection with the poll officer.

In the complaint by the representatives of different Hindu organisations to the assistant election officer on April 5, it was alleged that the prayer meeting was being organised with an intention to mislead people of the Hindu community and encourage them for conversion.

“There is a strong possibility that the event might disturb peace,” the complaint said, adding that its permission should be cancelled.

Carleton, chairman of the prayer meet’s organising committee, rejected the allegations of the Hindu organisations.

“In our prayer meeting, only those 8,000 persons of the Christian community who live in Madhya Pradesh were invited. In the meeting, we were going to pray collectively for the happiness, peace and harmony of the country,” he had told.

Carleton had filed a petition in the Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court challenging the administration’s order to cancel the permission for the prayer meeting at the last moment.

After hearing both sides, the bench of Justice Subodh Abhyankar dismissed the petition on Monday.

“….the possibility of apprehension raised by the respondents of disruption of the law and order situation can also not be said to be unsubstantiated,” the order had said.

Prayer meeting couldn’t be held

The SC’s order had paved the way for the prayer meeting but the same could not be held as it was scheduled from 5 pm on Wednesday and the organisers could not make arrangements at the eleventh hour. “Though the event could not be held, the SC cleared that the administration was wrong at withdrawing the permission to the prayer meet,” the petitioner’s counsel Ravindra Singh Chhabra said.

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