India’s Supreme Court Rejects Monitoring of Christian Missionaries

June 09, 2022
The Supreme Court of India

The Indian Supreme Court rejected on March 25, 2022 a request from the Hindu nationalist group HDP (Hindu Dharma Parishad) which called for the creation of a surveillance commission to monitor the activities of Christian missionaries in India.

The Supreme Court judges responded that such initiatives are more like a publicity stunt, that they do not serve the public interest and they disturb the harmony between communities.

The petition was first dismissed by the Madras High Court last year. The Supreme Court, in dismissing the petition this year, warned the HDP that they will be fined if they file a similar petition again.

The Hindu nationalist group claimed that “anti-social and anti-national” individuals are forcibly converting people from Hinduism to other religions, particularly to Christianity. The text proposed, “in order to strengthen the unity, sovereignty, and stability of India, that all Christian missionaries, including their income, should be monitored.”

In an India which has more than 1.3 billion inhabitants, the vast majority of whom are Hindus, attacks against the small Christian minority, only 2.3% of the population, have multiplied during 2021, the Foreign Missions of Paris agency reports.

On October 30, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Pope Francis at the Vatican and invited him to visit India despite the hostility of radical Hindu groups. “The Prime Minister was photographed with the Pope and almost immediately upon his return, a commotion started in the state of Karnataka with the introduction of an anti-conversion law,” commented John Dayal, a committed Catholic and spokesman for the All Catholic Union.

The Karnataka State Legislative Assembly, led by the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), the Hindu nationalist party of the Prime Minister, passed the Karnataka Religious Freedom Protection Act on December 24, reports the  Churches of Asia.

These anti-conversion laws, ironically called religious freedom laws, criminalize Christian and Muslim men wanting to marry Hindu women. Haryana state in northern India is the 11th state in the country to consider a law against religious conversions, despite protests by opposition members who see the policy as divisive.

The pro-Hindu local government of the BJP presented the new Unlawful Conversion of Religious Bill, 2022, to the Haryana legislature on March 4.

If the law is passed, announces Churches of Asia, Haryana will be subject to the same laws previously passed by the BJP. Nine other states besides Karnataka – Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Jharkhand – have already passed their own anti-conversion laws.