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Kerala Church Land Row: HC Tells Police to Gather Concrete Proof Before Filing FIR Against Cardinal

The division bench had earlier stayed the FIR against the Cardinal and three others - priests Joshy Puthuva and Sebastian Vadakkumpadan and middleman Saju Varghese In a petition filed in the HC, Alencherry had argued that the complaint filed against him was based on hearsay and there was no proof.

Chandrakanth Viswanath | News18

Updated:May 22, 2018, 6:17 PM IST
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Kerala Church Land Row: HC Tells Police to Gather Concrete Proof Before Filing FIR Against Cardinal
Facebook photo of Syro-Malabar Church head Cardinal George Alencherry.
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Thiruvananthapuram: A division bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday reversed a single bench’s order asking police to register an FIR against Cardinal George Alencherry and three others in connection with an alleged illegal land deal in Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese.

The division bench had earlier stayed the FIR against the Cardinal and three others - priests Joshy Puthuva and Sebastian Vadakkumpadan and middleman Saju Varghese In a petition filed in the HC, Alencherry had argued that the complaint filed against him was based on hearsay and there was no proof.

On March 6, the single bench had directed the police to file a case against the Cardinal as the first accused on grounds of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and cheating.

The complaint was filed by Chertala resident Shine Varghese over the sale of a three-acre plot belonging to the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese in 2016 to repay a Rs 60 crore bank loan taken to build a medical college.

The deal had led to a split in the Syro Malabar Church, with a section of the priests alleging that the plot was worth at least Rs 80 crore, but was sold for an estimated Rs 27.30 crore. Of this, the Archdiocese has only received Rs 9.13 crore so far.

The division bench comprising Chief Justice Antony Dominic and Justice Seshadri Naidu, which issued the order, said that the police can only initiate action if it has concrete evidence to prove any wrongdoing.

Alencherry, 72, was inducted as a Cardinal, a priest of the highest rank in Roman Catholic church, by Pope Benedict XVI in February 2013, making him one of the only five cardinals in India.

Earlier, on March 30, the Cardinal had said that the legal system of the country should not interfere in the canon laws.

"Duty of the citizen is to obey the rule of law existing in the country, but more importance should be given to the divine law. No one should think divine justice could be measured with the legal system of the country. Even in the Church, there are persons thinking that they could control it through court verdicts,” he said while speaking after the Good Friday mass.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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