Panaji: A court in North Goa granted early bail to the pastors of the Five Pillars Christian ChurchDomnic D’Souza and Joan D’Souza.
“As to the grounds for deterring the plaintiff from professing and propagating his faith, there can be no such restriction as it is guaranteed by the Constitution of India,” the court said.
“In my view, although the offense is described as being of a serious nature, questioning in custody is not required in such offences, more so where the applicant has cooperated with the investigation. The search of the premises is also carried out according to the version of the investigator. In view of the above discussion, the petitioner may be summoned to the police station for investigation and her custody is not warranted,” said Judge addl sessions-1, FTC, Mapusa, Sharmila To Patil.
Although the investigator said that their detention was necessary to interrogate and uncover all financial transactions related to the crime, the court said that to investigate in this direction, the petitioners were not required to be in detention.
The petitioners stated that they are pastors of the Five Pillars Christian Church carrying out its religious activities in accordance with the right given to them by Article 25 of the Constitution of India.
They stated that they have been practicing and professing their religion for over a decade from the aforementioned church premises where people from various sects of life come to surrender to the teachings of Jesus of their own free will.
The claimants argued that the entire church premises are under CCTV surveillance and records will show that they are not involved in any illegal activity as alleged.
The police registered two FIRs against the petitioners. One related to the complaint of a Prakash Khobrekar regarding alleged illegal religious conversions in 2010 and the second related to the complaint filed by a certain Nikhil Shetye despite the fact that Shetye had never visited the claimant’s premises.