KARNATAKA STATE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
4th Floor, 5th Phase, Multy Storeyad Building,
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Veedhi, Bangalore – 560001
No.HRC/3101/08 Dt: 24-09-2010
Karnataka State Human Rights Commission,
Sri P. B. D’Sa
Rathen Muller Road,Valencia
Sub: HRC No. 3101/08 and connected cases-regarding attack on Churches etc.
Please find herein enclosed a copy of the common final order dated 02-09-2010 passed by the Commission in the above cases for your information.
Karnataka State Human Rights Commission,
Before the Karnataka state human rights commission,Bangalore
Dated this the 2nd day of September,2010
Sri r.h.raddi, member,
Sri b. parthasarathy, member.
Complaint : Suo Motu taken up cases
by the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission.
COMMON FINAL ORDER.
There are the complaints registered by the commission suo motu on the basis of the reports that appeared in the media, electronic and print as well as the written complaints received from various NGOs and individuals with regard to large number of attacks on churches/places of worship by the members of fundamentalist groups like VHP and Bajaranga Dal etc.
2. The Commission after coming to know of the attacks on places of worships, mainly on churches by fundamentalist groups on 14th and 15th September, 2008, at several parts of the State, particularly , in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts of coastal belt, visited the affected areas in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi district on 25th , 26th and 27th September ,2008 to have first hand appraisal of the situation. During the said visit, the commission received number of complaints/representations etc. from the affected persons and church authorities.
3. The Commission directed the chef secretary to the government, government of Karnataka, and the district administration of the concerned districts and send detailed reports with regard to the attacks on churches/places of worship in their respective districts. All of them have sent reports.
4. There is no need to deal with each and every individual attack on places of worships/ churches in various districts of the State during the past 2-3 years. Suffice it to state that these attacks have been taking place consistently and repeatedly despite the claim put-forth by the state authorities that they have taken all possible steps and measures to contain such incidents and to prevent recurrence of such incidents. In the reports of the Government of Karnataka resting with the Commission , it is stated that the Government of Karnataka had directed formation of a Peace Committee in every district headquarters headed by the Deputy Commissioner and consisting of the Superintend of Police, Members of Legislative Assembly, and leaders from backward and minority communities. It is also claimed that the Government has directed the district administration of all districts to provide adequate security and protection to he places of worship like Churches and Masjids.
5. The Commission having taken cognizance of the attacks on Churches and Masjids and other places of worship in Dakshina Kannada,Udupi, Chikmagalur,Mysore, Kolar, Kodagu, Davangere and other districts and in the course of the proceedings had directed the Government to furnish details of number of attacks, number of crimes registered , number of persons arrested and prosecuted etc. in the report submitted to the Commission, it is stated that a total number of 83 cases have been registered in various districts. The report has given split up details: in Dakshina Kannada 72, in Kolar 01, in Chickmagalure 05, In Davangere 01, And In Udupi 04 crimes have been registered. It is reported that total number of 214 accused persons were arrested and sent to judicial custody and that in most of the cases charge sheets have been filed and in the remaining cases the police have sought approval of the Government to file charge sheets. As could be seen from the reports from the State Government and the district administration of the concerned districts, in number of cases it is reported that accused could not be traced and the crimes registered by the police went undetected etc.
6. One thing is certain and the Commission can take judicial notice of the sane that is phenomenon of attacking places of worship particularly on churches and mosques by fundamentalist groups is of recent origin. The situation that we notice in the immediate past was not at all a situation that existed before 2006 or 2007. In that view of the matter, it is absolutely necessary for the State Government and all law-enforcing agencies quite honestly and seriously to search for the causes and factors for the emergence of this phenomenon and take all possible effective measures and steps to nip this menace in the bud. The Commission is not satisfied with the Government’s action in registering the crimes and making a few arrests here and there. What is important is that the State and law-enforcing authorities should see that such incidents do not take place in the State. Otherwise, well designed and thought secular fabric of the polity of the nation would be torn into pieces and disharmony, distress and hatredness would be the order of the day resulting in chaos and disharmony in the society.
7. Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees that every person in India shall have the freedom of conscience and has a right to profess, practice and propagate religion of his/her choice, subject to restrictions imposed by the State on the grounds of (i) public order, morality and health; (ii) other provisions of the Constitution, (iii) regulations of non-religious activity associated with religious practice; (iv) social welfare and reform and (v) throwing open of all Hindu religious institutions of public character to all classes of Hindus. This freedom belongs to every person; but the freedom of one cannot encroach upon a similar freedom belonging to other persons.
8. According to some persons and Hindu organizations as highlighted in the press, fraudulent and forcible induced conversions are taking place in some Churches. No doubt, forcible, fraudulent and induced conversion undeniably would be violate of Article 25 of the Constitution of India and is punishable. Even assuming that the above version is correct, even then, it is impermissible for private persons to raid or attack places of worship and damage the properties or harming persons. Ours is a polity governed by the Rule of Law, the Constitution and the various public laws to deal with all violations of law. Ours is not an anarchy. Inasmuch as fraudulent or forcible conversion is an offence and punishable under the law, it is for the law-enforcing authorities to take action against the concerned church authorities and punish them, and it is not for private persons to take law into their own hands and indulge in moral policing. It is the bounden duty of the State to prevent the private persons from taking law into their own hands and attacking places of worship, mosques, Gurudwaras and temples. But, as pointed out supra by the Commission, despite the claim made by the State Government and the districts administration that they have taken all possible steps and measures to prevent attacks on places of worship, they have failed to prevent occurrence of such incidents in the last three years. The steps and measures taken by the State Government and the law-enforcing authorities should achieve results, otherwise, the Commission tends to think that the steps and measures taken by the State Government are not effective and result oriented. One of the best and most effective measure is to identify each and all persons who are involved in the attacks of places of worship and punish them with iron hand and with promptitude. Recurrence of such events takes place, because, most of the culprits are not made accountable or punished due to loopholes and defective investigation and prosecution of the crimes registered after attacks on places of worship.
9. As could be seen from the representations made by persons belonging to minority communities and their religious organizations as well as other Non-governmental Organizations [NGOs], the people of minority communities strongly feel insecure and threatened, and that they are not in a position to enjoy freedoms and rights promised to them under the Constitution of India and other public laws.
10. in the result and for the foregoing reasons, the Commission by virtue of the power conferred on it under Sec. 18[e] of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, makes the following recommendations to the Government of Karnataka:
I. to make the superintendent of police of every district and every Commissioner of Police accountable for any attack on places of worship withim their respective territorial jurisdiction.
II. To form a Committee at the headquarters of every district headed by the Deputy Commissioner and consisting of Superintendent of Police, all Members of Legislative Assembly and MLCs hailing from the district and representatives from minority communities charging it with a duty to continuously monitor and oversee any and every situation of communal disharmony that may arise within their jurisdiction and to empower that Committee to take all steps and measures to deal with any such situation effectively.
III. Furthermore, the Commission directs the Principal Secretary to the Government,Home Department,Government of Karnataka, to send a detailed report with regard to the results of the crimes that have been registered with regard to the attacks on places of worships, year-wise and police station-wise for the years 2007,2008, 2009 and 2010 and outcome of the investigaton and the prosecution in those crimes, within two months from the date of receipt of this order. The report should also include the details of receipt of this order. The report should also include the details of those accused who have been absconding and the steps taken by the police to trace them.
HRC No.3101/2009 and other connected cases are disposed of in the above terms.
(Dr. Justice S.R. Nayak ) chair person.