Sanal Edamaruku at Mumbai Church

It is now one year since blasphemy complaints were filed against the Indian rationalist Sanal Edamaruku, by Catholic organisations unhappy with his debunking of a supposed miracle in a Mumbai church. (Water was dripping from a crucifix statue in the church, and Edamaruku traced the source of the water to faulty plumbing nearby.)

Having been denied "anticipatory bail", Edamaruku would face imprisonment upon arrest, a fact which has forced him to remain away from his home in Delhi for much of the last year.

Last summer, we launched a petition calling on India's Catholic authorities to use their influence to encourage the Mumbai-based Catholic organisations to drop their complaints. The petition attracted more than 12,000 signatures from concerned individuals across the globe. Despite this international pressure, the Catholic Church in India has ignored the call to intervene in the interests of Indian free expression.

With Edamaruku remaining at risk of arrest and imprisonment, a new approach is required. This is why we have launched a new petition calling on India's Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, to do all he can to have the charges dropped.

Freedom of speech and the duty to develop "the Scientific Temper" are enshrined in the Indian constitution, and we are now calling upon Dr, Singh as well as Prithviraj Chavan, Chief Minister of the State of Maharashtra, to protect these values and ensure that Edamaruku can go about his important work without harassment.

Please sign the petition and pass it on to friends and colleagues.

You can also hear Edamaruku discuss his case in our special podcast at the end of this post, in which he outlines the current state of his case, and issues a defiant statement on why the legal complaints will not stop him campaigning in the name of science and reason:

"We need a free and liberal society in which criticism of anything, including our own position, should be open and fair. There is no if, no but. We need free speech, and it should be guaranteed."

You can also read more about the background to the case in our recent interview with Edamaruku, and help his fight by making a donation to his defence fund.