Annual Report ‘an attempt to spread communal disharmony in India’: MP High Court issues notice in plea against NGO ‘Persecution Relief’ alleging persecution of Christians in India

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Madhya Pradesh High Court issued notice to the State of Madhya Pradesh & NCPCR in a plea seeking appropriate legal action against the NGO ‘Persecution Relief’ which in its Annual Report alleged the persecution of Christians in India.

The Standing Counsel for the State, Advocate Ashutosh Mohan appearing on behalf of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights accepted notice in the plea.
Counsels for respondents requested time to file reply within six week.

Petitioner Ayyalasomayajula Sai Santosh, President of a social organization Legal Rights Protection Forum, has filed the petition before the Hon’ble High Court stating,

“That hiding behind the cloaks of the freedom of Speech and Expression guaranteed by Article 19 of the Constitution of India, the ‘Persecution Relief’ which is a US based Organisation is spreading hatred and communal divide in India and is actively involved in tarnishing the image of India in International Platforms, forums and in front of International Organizations.”

Petitioner was represented before Madhya Pradesh High Court by Advocate Gautam Jha.

The NGO ‘Persecution Relief’ has been set up by one ‘Shibhu Thomas’ who is a US citizen and resides in Bhopal, MP. This NGO is involved in the collection of information on incidents of alleged ‘Christian Persecution’ in India and submits it to various international platforms.

Averments made in the petition-

In the petition it has been stated that on 03.02.2021, the NGO issued its Annual Report alleging ‘persecution of Christians’ in India citing alleged incidents of church house being burnt, closed and lodging of false cases against priests, nuns, pastors, believers etc.

In aforesaid report, NGO 'Persecution Relief has made some suggestions/recommendations to the Central and State Governments to eliminate such persecution of minorities. The petition also states that there are many false POCSO cases registered and those falsely accused are still languishing in Jail.

In one of these recommendations the NGO has requested to instruct Child Welfare Committees (CWC) to not to harass Christian Orphanages and institution maliciously across India.

The main contention of the petitioner is that the statements made in the Annual Report of NGO and the allegations levelled therein against the Indian Government, various State Governments and other institutions in the country, are serious, unsubstantiated, and largely false.

The petitioner has argued that this action of the NGO has done an incalculable and irreparable harm to the prestige and image of India on International platforms.

Alleging that there is an attempt to spread communal disharmony in India and disintegrate her, the petitioner has prayed the Court to direct a proper investigation by the Police in activities of the NGO ‘Persecution Relief’.

Furthermore, the petition has also stated that despite his various complaints and requests no action has been taken till date either by Police of Madhya Pradesh or by any Child Welfare Committees (CWC) against NGO 'Persecution Relief for spreading communal disharmony and maliciously defaming India, though the annual report is available for public on various platforms.

The petitioner has also urged the court to take appropriate legal action against Shibhu Thomas under Section 124A (Sedition), 295A (acts intended to outrage reli­gious feelings), 505(1)(a) & (b), 505(2), 505(3) of IPC.