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Delhi High Court ends entry ban on Christian doctor

Summary

  • Dual citizenship of alleged missionary reinstated
  • Landmark ruling for religious freedom in India

NEW DELHI (17 January 2019) –The High Court of Delhi recently overturned an order by the Ministry of Home Affairs, which stopped Dr Christo Philip, a US doctor of Indian descent, 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 New Delhi High Court which struck down the Ministry’s decision.

“This is a landmark judgment protecting the rights of people 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 of their faith,” said Tehmina Arora, Director of ADF India, a legal organization that assisted Dr Christo in his case.

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.”

 “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.”

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 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.

Last week, on 8 January, the New 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.

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