- Citizenship of alleged missionary reinstated
- Doctor returns to India freely
NEW DELHI (1 March 2019) –This week, Dr Christo Philip, a US doctor of Indian descent, returned to the country after almost three years. In 2016, he was deported even though he had a lifelong visa as an Overseas Citizen of India. After a legal struggle that lead him to the Delhi High Court, Dr Christo had his visa reinstated and has now returned to India.
“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. It certainly is a landmark judgment protecting the rights of foreign nationals working in Christian organizations to freely live out their faith in India. It restricts the arbitrary action of the Ministry of Home Affairs targeting foreigners merely because they are Christians,” said Tehmina Arora, Director of ADF India.
The High Court of Delhi recently overturned an order by the Ministry of Home Affairs, which stopped Dr Christo from entering his home country. Based on allegations of missionary activity, Dr Christo was refused re-entry into India and deported. ADF India allied lawyers brought his case before the Delhi High Court which struck down the Ministry’s decision.
The judgment of the High Court stated, “All persons in this country have a right to practice their faith in the manner they consider fit so long as it does not offend any other person. If Dr Christo’s faith motivates him to volunteer for medical services at a hospital, he is free to do so. There is no such law that stops him from doing so.”
Restrictions on foreign Christians
In 2014, Dr Christo, an American citizen of Indian origin, returned to India with his family to serve at a mission hospital in Bihar. His status as an Overseas Citizen of India granted him a lifelong visa and permission to work in India as a doctor. In April 2016, after returning from a medical conference in Greece, he was refused re-entry into India and deported. The Ministry of Home Affairs had cancelled his citizen status based on false allegations of involvement in missionary activity.
On 8 January, the Delhi High Court overturned the decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs reinstating Dr Christo’s OCI status. The Court established that the Ministry had acted without any evidence against Dr Christo proving violations of OCI regulations.
“It is very encouraging to see Dr Christo return to India. The ruling of the Delhi High Court comes at a time of increasing violence against Christians and other religious minorities in the world’s largest democracy. This case sets a positive precedent for the protection of fundamental freedoms and the right of Christians to freely live out their faith,” said Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International.