24 National News

posted Apr 10, 2019, 8:36 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 10, 2019, 8:36 AM ]

Christians look to Supreme Court for religious freedom

Christian leaders and activists in India are pinning hopes on the Supreme Court to set aside guidelines made by a state court on individuals changing religion.

India's top court on April 5 postponed hearing a petition of Christian leaders that challenged the guidelines of Rajasthan High Court, saying the directions violate religious freedom guaranteed in the Constitution. The court postponed the hearing after the federal government said it needed more time to offer a response to the petition.

Christian leaders took up the case after the Rajasthan High Court on Dec. 14 last year passed general guidelines in restricting conversions. The High Court was hearing a habeas corpus petition regarding a Hindu girl who married a Muslim, presumably after changing her religion to Islam. The court directed, among other things, that a person desirous of changing religion should inform the district's top government official, who would publicise it for a week. "Only after a week's time, any one converting for purpose of marriage can do so," said the court.

The state court's guidelines "infringe upon the fundamental rights of all persons" and violates provisions of the Indian Constitution, said Christian leader A.C. Michael, whose Alliance Defending Freedom organisation was first to object in the Supreme Court. The directions violate the freedom of religion, equality before law and personal liberty guaranteed to all Indian citizens without any discrimination based on religion, caste, age or gender, Michael said.


Pope's UAE trip inspires India's religions to plot peace

Muslims and Christians in India are working to popularise a document on human fraternity released during Pope Francis' historic visit to the United Arab Emirates in February.

The 'Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together' focuses on religious tolerance, cross-faith dialogue and world peace, and it transcends all faiths, Delhi Minority Commission Chair Zafarul-Islam Khan said at a conference in the Indian capital on March 29.

"It talks about brotherhood, love, peace, women's and children's rights, and the futility of war and terrorism. [It contains] words of wisdom from the highest level," he said. However, "very few people know about it, so we want to give it more publicity."

The Jesuit-run Islamic Studies Association joined New Delhi's Minorities Commission in consulting on the paper penned by Vatican and Muslim scholars. The Jesuit organisation works to build Christian-Muslim relations in South Asia, while the state Commissions are tasked with caring for the interests of these and other religious minorities.


Salesians herald a new chapter in Mumbai hockey

Don Bosco High School, Matunga has been the cradle of sports and academics in many ways. Over the years, there have been great names who have received instruction at this illustrious institution established in 1950. The school has produced many sportsmen, political bigwigs and Bollywood stars. Edgar Mascarenhas, Joaquim Carvalho, Mervyn Fernandes, to name a few Olympians, and Ravi Shastri, Farokh Engineer in the past, and in the present - the cricketer Shreyas Iyer among others.

The school has always nurtured the underprivileged and this is the word that comes to mind, when one thinks of the state of Indian hockey. Naturally, it has taken Salesians to come to the rescue of this national sport. An FIH-approved, 91.4 metre x 55 metre turf has come up on its premises, and in the process opened a new chapter in Mumbai schools, as Don Bosco is the first school to have a full-sized hockey ground at its disposal.

And may this be an eye-opener to those among us who say they are taking this sport to new heights, but have not done so. The recently concluded Gold Cup Hockey event was one such, wherein the promoters could not garner a single sponsor - a clear indication that hockey is not getting the push it needs.


Vasco residents urged to follow St Andrew's teachings

Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Rt Rev. Filipe Neri Ferrao has urged people to follow the noble path and teachings of St Andrew and Jesus Christ. He was speaking on the occasion of the celebration of 450 years of St Andrew's Church, Vasco. The Archbishop unveiled the name plaque at the entrance of the church, and released yellow balloons as a symbolic gesture of the commencement of the year-long celebration.