In wake of the criticism over its remarks on conversion, the Supreme Court today expunged its two controversial observations in its judgement on the killing of Australian missionary Graham Staines.
A bench of justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan, which had given the verdict in the Staines case on Friday, replaced the original remarks in two different paragraphs with new sentences.
The new sentence, replacing one paragraph, said, "However, more than 12 years have elapsed since the act was committed, we are of the opinion that the life sentence awarded by the High Court need not be enhanced in view of the factual position discussed in the earlier paras."
The original para in this context had read: "In the case on hand, though Graham Staines and his two minor sons were burnt to death while they were sleeping inside a station wagon at Manoharpur, the intention was to teach a lesson to Graham Staines about his religious activities, namely, converting poor tribals to Christianity."
The other replaced para read, "There is no justification for interfering in someone's religious belief by any means."
The original paragraph in this context had read, "It is undisputed that there is no justification for interfering in someone's belief by way of use of force, provocation, conversion, incitement or upon a flawed premise that one religion is better than the other."
The court's rare action of expunging its own remarks, which it called a clarification, came in the wake of criticism in the media and by Christian organisations against reference to conversion.
Dara Singh and his accomplice Mahendra Hembram, convicted for burning alive the Australian missionary and his two minor sons in January 1999, had on January 21 escaped death penalty with the Supreme Court ruling that the crime was not "rarest of rare" and upheld the life sentence awarded to the duo by the Orissa High Court.
Staines Case: SC Changes Controversial Paras
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