Notice to Karnataka Government on PIL against survey of churches

A division bench of the High Court of Karnataka comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum passed the order on a petition filed by People’s Union for Civil Liberties-Karnataka.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The High Court of Karnataka on Monday ordered issue of notice to the State Government on a PIL petition questioning the legality of the July 7, 2021, communication issued by the Directorate of Minorities Welfare to Deputy Commissioners to conduct a survey of churches in their districts for data collection purposes.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum passed the order on the petition filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties-Karnataka.

The petitioner contended that the communication, issued based on a meeting of the Welfare Committee held on July 7, “is illegal, discriminatory, arbitrary and unconstitutional, being violative of the right to equality and privacy under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.”

Even the Karnataka Minorities Commission Act, 1994, has no provision that empowers the collection of such data about churches, the petitioner contented, pointing out that the communication was discriminatory as it singled out churches while not including other religious or religious minority institutions.

Pointing out that the directorate had sought details such as taluk, district, and Assembly constituency-wise location of churches, their names, address, property type and property khata details, and the names of the pastor/father, the petitioner claimed that the communication was silent on the purpose of collection of data, its storage, use and accessibility.

Senior counsel Ravivarma Kumar, appearing for the petitioner, contended that the survey of churches amounted to “persecution” of minority institutions. He claimed that the survey was intrusive and seriously infringed on the fundamental right to privacy of a religious minority community.

However, the Bench orally told him that the petitioner had not produced any material on record to show that the survey of churches amounted to persecution of Christians. When the senior counsel sought an interim order to “protect churches from being persecuted”, the Bench said it would consider passing any order after receiving the Government’s response.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 5:47:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/notice-to-karnataka-government-on-pil-against-survey-of-churches/article37170401.ece

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