Chennai High Court withdraws charges against 'dangerous' Christian schools

Judge S Vaidyanathan had written that mixed classes are "very dangerous" for girls and that Christian missionaries are often accused of carrying out forced conversions.  The objection of Bishops, of the National Commission for minorities, of women's associations.


New Delhi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Chennai High Court yesterday removed a controversial sentence pronounced by one of its judges against Christian schools

Rejecting the appeal of a university assistant of Madras Christian College, accused of sexual harassment against 34 female students, Judge S Vaidyanathan had declared that the mixed classes are "very dangerous" for the girls' future.  He then added that Christian missionaries are often accused of "enforcing forced conversions" to Christianity.  The sentences aroused deep indignation in the Christian community, pushing the bishops to openly criticise the opinion of the judicial body.

Among the Christian associations that have stood against the sentences is the Council of Catholic Bishops of Tamil Nadu.  Its president, Msgr.  Antony Pappusamu of Madurai, stated that the sentences are "really regrettable.  Because they come from the highest judicial power, they can damage the reputation of our schools in the eyes of public opinion”.  Then he expressed deep concern about opinions that "may shape public opinion, especially in the atmosphere charged with sectarianism that prevails in the country".

The National Commission for Minorities came out in support of the bishops.  George Kurian, vice president, said the court statement caused "dismay and grief among members of the Christian community".  He later added that it is wrong to generalize, attributing to an entire community the actions committed by a single individual.

Two other organizations, the All India Democratic Women's Association and the Indian Christian Association of Tamil Nadu, have criticized the Court's opinion.  S. Valentina, president of the women's association, stressed: "A judge can have a personal opinion on a subject or can adhere to a specific political ideology.  But when the judge exercises justice, it must be impartial and interpret according to the lens of the Indian Constitution".