KOCHI: In a huge relief to Cardinal Mar George Alencherry in the Church land deal row, a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Friday stayed the Single Judge order that had directed the police to register a criminal case against him and three others.The Bench also said any action taken on the Single Judge order would neither affect Alencherry, Major Archbishop of the Syro Malabar Church, nor the others. The case has been posted to April 3. With the order, the investigation based on the FIR registered by the police cannot continue until final court orders.
The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Antony Dominic and Justice Dama Seshadri Naidu issued the interim order on the appeal filed by Alencherry seeking to quash the Single Judge order. Fr Joshy Puthuva, Pro-Vicar, St John’s Church, Cusat-Kochi parish, Fr Sebastian Vadakkumapadam, Pro-Vicar General, Archbishop’s house, Ernakulam, and Saju Varghese, a Kochi-based real estate agent, had also filed appeals on which the court issued notices to the state government.
when the case came up for hearing, the Bench expressed surprise over the filing of the writ petition on the same day as filing of the complaint before the police. “An order of mandamus is normally issued to ask an officer or an authority to perform a statutory duty in case it was not performed. But in this case, the writ petitioner, Shine Varghese of Cherthala, filed the writ petition on the same day of filing the police complaint, which is an abuse of judicial process,” the court observed orally.“Even before the ink could dry on the police complaint, the writ petitioner rushed to the court,” the court said.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer K V Vishwanathan, Alencherry’s counsel, submitted it was the SHO’s prerogative to decide whether a crime has been registered or not.
“But without giving him time, the complainant approached the court alleging the police refused to register a case against Alencherry and others. Though the complaint was dated February 15, it was in fact presented before the SHO on February 16. The SHO has the authority to appropriately deal with the complaint and register an FIR if the allegations appear to be constituting a cognizable offence. But the officer should be granted reasonable time to act,” the counsel argued.
The petitioner’s counsel argued city police commissioner had openly stated no case will be registered against the accused, which forced the petitioner to approach the court next day.To this, the Bench said Shine Varghese approached the court on the very same day of filing the complaint as was evident in the writ petition. Barring Shine’s counsel, none has contradicted this.“But even if we were prepared to accept the contention of the petitioner’s counsel the complaint was filed before the police on February 15, the petitioner cannot escape the blame he has, prima facie, abused the judicial process,” the court said.