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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Missionaries of Charity case: Intimation on use of sections awaited, court adjourns bail hearing of two nuns

According to the complaint by the Child Welfare Committee, the organisation had forced a girl of Hindu origin to marry into a Christian family as per Christian traditions.

Written by Aditi Raja | Vadodara |
Updated: January 1, 2022 2:34:23 pm
The next date of hearing in the matter has been fixed for January 5. (File)

A Vadodara court Friday adjourned the hearing in the anticipatory bail of two nuns of the Vadodara home of the Missionaries of Charity, a centre affiliated to the Kolkata-based organisation founded by Mother Teresa, who were booked under the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003 for allegedly “hurting Hindu religious sentiments” and “luring towards Christianity young girls” in the shelter home run by the organisation.

The court adjourned the hearing at the request of the Vadodara District Government Pleader (DGP) Anil Desai, who informed the court that an intimation from the office of the Government Pleader of the Gujarat High Court was awaited in the question of law over the use of Section 3 and 4 of the Act in the police case.

In a previous hearing in the case, Additional Sessions Judge RT Panchal of Vadodara had directed DGP Desai, appearing for the Vadodara police in the case, to “discuss” the legal question arising over the use of the two sections of the Act to book the Missionaries of Charity, since the sections had been stayed by the High Court in August while hearing two petitions challenging the inclusion of conversion in an interfaith marriage as being a “forceful conversion”.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Vadodara DGP Anil Desai said, “We informed the court (on Friday) that we are awaiting an intimation in the matter of the use of the two Sections of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, used by the police in the case. We have sought a further date as the reply from the office of the Government Pleader of the Gujarat High Court is expected…” The next date of hearing in the matter has been fixed for January 5.

The Vadodara police FIR, lodged December 12, is based on the complaint of District Social Defence Officer Mayank Trivedi, who had visited the Home for Girls run by the Missionaries of Charity in Makarpura area of the city along with the Chairman of the Child Welfare Committee of the district on December 9.

The FIR states that during his visit, Trivedi found that the girls sheltered inside the Missionaries of Charity were being “forced” to read the Christian religious texts and participate in prayers of Christian faith, with the intention of “steering them into Christianity”.

According to the complaint by the Child Welfare Committee, the organisation had forced a girl of Hindu origin to marry into a Christian family as per Christian traditions.

The woman in question, however, has filed an affidavit before the court stating that her interfaith marriage was with her “consent and free will” and she was “not forced to convert” as claimed by the police case.

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