Thiruvananthapuram: In an unprecedented development, the Kerala High Court on Tuesday ordered a probe against a Cardinal in connection with the controversial land deal in Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese.
The court ordered the police to lodge an FIR and conduct a detail investigation against Cardinal Mar George Alencherry who is also the head of the Syro-Malabar Church and three others, including two senior priests.
The three other accused are Joshy Puthuva, the Procurator (finance officer) of the archdiocese, Sebastian Vadakkumpadan, a Pro Vicar General and Saju Varghese, a middleman for the land sale.
The court came down heavily upon the Cardinal during the proceedings which began on Tuesday morning.
The court observed that the 'Cardinal is not a king' and nobody is above the law. This came as a reply to the argument of the Cardinal's counsel that the Cardinal is 'the supreme authority and a King cannot do wrong'.
However, the court observed that Cardinal is only a representative for conducting the transactions on behalf of the Diocese. The assets do not belong to the Cardinal or the priests as it belongs to the Diocese. The contention that the Major Archbishop (the Cardinal) is the supreme authority head of the Church cannot be accepted. Even the canon law does not consider the Cardinal as the supreme authority, said the court.
The counsel for the Cardinal had argued that there is no need for an investigation on the deal as a magisterial-level probe is being conducted in the matter.
However, the court said that conducting a police investigation is not an obstacle to a magisterial probe.
The Ernakulam Angamaly Archdiocese, in 2016, had sold a three-acre property in Kochi to repay a bank loan worth Rs 60 crore it had taken to purchase another property in the district for a medical college. Though the agent appointed for the deal estimated the land's value at Rs 27.30 crore, a section of the priests and the laity claimed that its real value would be more than Rs 80 crore.