'Irregularities' in church land deals: Kerala High Court issues notice to Syro Malabar Church
A petition to Kerala HC alleged that large scale malpractices had been committed by officials of the archdiocese and they had resorted to "sophisticated cheating" in the sale of the properties.
KOCHI: The Kerala High Court today issued notice to the head of Syro Malabar Church, Cardinal George Alencherry, and three others on a petition seeking a police probe into alleged irregularities in land deals involving the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese.
Justice B Kemal Pasha issued the notice and posted to February 28 the petition filed by one Joshy Varghese from Perumbavoor for further hearing.
The petitioner alleged that large scale malpractices had been committed by officials of the archdiocese and they had resorted to "sophisticated cheating" in the sale of the properties.
Claiming that several witnesses were required to be examined, he said an investigation by a special wing of the police alone may subserve the interest of justice.
The petition has been filed days after a committee of the Church, which probed the alleged irregularities in financial and land transactions of the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese, said that it found numerous instances of violation of canon and civil laws and recommended necessary action against those responsible.
The six-member enquiry committee also had said Cardinal Alencherry, "seems to have fully known and involved" in the alienation and purchase of lands by the archdiocese between April 1, 2015 to November 30, 2017.
The panel comprising priests was appointed by Alencherry, who is also the Major Archbishop of the archdiocese, after some priests and faithful accused him of having sold prime land of the archdiocese for "a very low price".
The Syro-Malabar Church has over 30 dioceses in the country and four outside-in the US, Canada, Australia and Britain-serving over 5 million faithful.