SC allows Christian prayer meeting in Indore after administration revoked permission

The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed a prayer meeting organised by the Christian community to take place after the district administration in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore revoked permission for the event, PTI reported.

The court stayed an order by the district administration that withdrew the permission for the event.

A bench of Justices BR Gavai, Satish Chandra Sharma and Sandeep Mehta was hearing a petition challenging the administration’s cancellation of the prayer meeting and a subsequent order by the Madhya Pradesh High Court upholding the denial of permission.

The top court observed that prima facie the revocation of the permission on the grounds that there could be a law and order situation was “not justified”.

It then allowed the petitioner, Suresh Carletons, to hold the prayer meeting on Wednesday.

Chennai-based Christian preacher Paul Dhinakaran was to address around 8,000 persons at the prayer meeting on Wednesday, PTI reported. The permission for the event was granted for the event on April 5.

On Sunday, an assistant election officer in Indore cancelled the permission citing the law and order situation. The order claimed that some Hindu outfits and social organisations had filed a complaint on April 5 opposing the Christian prayer meeting.

The complaint alleged that the prayer meeting was being organised with an intention to mislead the Hindu community and encourage them to convert to Christianity, PTI reported. “There is a strong possibility that the event might disturb peace,” it said, according to PTI.

Following the complaint, the police had also submitted a report on the law and order situation. The district administration then cancelled the permission for the event.

Carletons, who was the chairperson of the prayer meeting’s organising committee, rejected the claims by the Hindu organisations.

“In our prayer meeting, only those 8,000 persons of the Christian community who live in Madhya Pradesh were invited,” PTI quoted Carletons as saying. “In the meeting, we were going to pray collectively for the happiness, peace and harmony of the country.”

Carletons had challenged the withdrawal of the permission for the event in the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

Justice Subodh Abhyankar of the High Court had said that it may be true that the petitioner’s intention to convene the prayer meeting was “purely religious in nature”. “However, the concern raised by the respondents can also not be said to be unfounded, looking to the various objections they have received from other religious organisations,” he said.

The possibility of apprehension raised by the respondents of disruption of the law and order situation can also not be said to be unsubstantiated, the court had said while rejecting Carletons’s petition.

He had then moved the Supreme Court.

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