The Supreme Court of India on Thursday ordered the Ministry of Home Affairs to obtain verification reports from eight states - Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, and Jharkhand - on the steps taken to redress alleged attacks on Christian institutions and priests.
The apex court went to to say that the Chief Secretaries of these states should ensure that information regarding registration of FIRs, status of the investigation, arrests made, and charge sheets filed is readily available, and gave them two months to conduct the exercise.
A bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hima Kohli said that it "can't form an opinion on the veracity of allegations made (in the plea) submitted to us".
The bench added that it would be better to verify the allegations made in the plea.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, representing the petitioner, submitted that 700 prayer meetings of Christians were stopped and violence was used against them.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said the MHA on verification found that many incidents referred to in the plea as communal attacks, were found to be either false or exaggerated.
The Central government has told the Supreme Court there is no merit in the plea alleging increasing attacks on Christians in the country.
It said that such deceptive petitions, creating unrest throughout the country and perhaps for getting assistance from outside the country to meddle with internal affairs of the nation.
The MHA, in a written response, said: "It is submitted that there appears to be some hidden oblique agenda in filing such deceptive petitions, creating unrest throughout the country and perhaps for getting assistance from outside the country to meddle with internal affairs of our nation."
The Ministry said the petitioner has resorted to falsehood and self-serving documents and also cited press reports, where Christian persecution is either false or wrongfully projected.
The MHA's response came on a plea alleging rising number of attacks on Christian institutions and priests across the country and seeking the implementation of its guidelines to curb hate crimes.
The petitioners Rev. Peter Machado and others sought implementation of the guidelines issued by the apex court in the 2018 Tehseen Poonawala judgment.