Christians Deprived of Basic Rights; Bombay Court Slams State for Discriminating

Published 15 November 2017  |  
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Bombay High Court, Fort, Mumbai.

The Bombay High Court on Nov. 9 has slammed the state government for not allotting a land for the use of a Christian cemetery. Hindus and Muslims have been allotted land for cemeteries, but Christians have been singled out.

"Don't be a dictator, we live in a democratic society, we live in a secular state; you (government) cannot distinguish on the basis of religion," said Manjula Chellur, Chief Justice of Bombay High Court.

Chellur asked the Commissioner Dairy Development Department and senior officers from the Urban Development Department to submit records on Nov. 13 to show why the government recommended cancellation of land allotted in Goregaon for the use of a Christian cemetery.

There is no place available for Christian burial between Dahisar and Khar, said Advocate Yashwant Shenoy, who appeared for United Christian Community Centre (UCCC).

The state had canceled the initial allotment of 12,500 square meters of land for the Christian cemetery and allotted a smaller plot of 2,500 square meters. Even that small plot is still not been given into possession. So the UCCC moved the court.

To the Chief Justice's surprise, the state has proposed allotting an alternative plot of land to the Christian community in Andheri.

"What is the rationale behind recommending cancellation? Are you doing charity work by giving the land? Or does your officer think that people of that community will never die," asked Chellur, according to DNA.

The plea by UCCC said the state has singled out Christian community by not allotting a single burial ground since the year 2000, thereby depriving the community its rights of proper and decent burial of the dead.

In 2014, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had identified a plot of land for the cemetery but it was not given in possession, read the plea. In 2016, reservation was reported but in 2017, the department of animal husbandry refused to hand over the land.

"The preamble of the Constitution of India promises Socialist Secular Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens, discrimination will not be allowed," said the court.

UCCC seeks the state to allot land in Goregaon which was initially considered and notified.

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