SC changes controversial paras in ruling on Staines'' killings

New Delhi, Jan 25 (PTI) In wake of the criticism over itsremarks on conversion, the Supreme Court today expunged itstwo controversial observations in its judgement on the killingof Australian missionary Graham Staines.

A bench of justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan, whichhad given the verdict in the Staines case on Friday, replacedthe original remarks in two different paragraphs with newsentences.

The new sentence, replacing one paragraph, said,"However, more than 12 years have elapsed since the act wascommitted, we are of the opinion that the life sentenceawarded by the High Court need not be enhanced in view of thefactual position discussed in the earlier paras."

The original para in this context had read: "In the caseon hand, though Graham Staines and his two minor sons wereburnt to death while they were sleeping inside a station wagonat Manoharpur, the intention was to teach a lesson to GrahamStaines about his religious activities, namely, convertingpoor tribals to Christianity."

The other replaced para read, "There is no justificationfor interfering in someone''s religious belief by any means."

The original paragraph in this context had read, "It isundisputed that there is no justification for interfering insomeone''s belief by way of use of force, provocation,conversion, incitement or upon a flawed premise that onereligion 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 criticismin the media and by Christian organisations against referenceto conversion.

Dara Singh and his accomplice Mahendra Hembram,convicted for burning alive the Australian missionary and histwo minor sons in January 1999, had on January 21 escapeddeath penalty with the Supreme Court ruling that the crime wasnot "rarest of rare" and upheld the life sentence awarded tothe duo by the Orissa High Court.

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