KOCHI: In an unprecedented move, the Syro Malabar Church has sought a whopping Rs 1 crore compensation from its laity members for defaming the Church. Laity members Riju Kanjookkaran and Shyju Antony were served with defamation notice on January 24 for slandering the Church publicly through Facebook posts. While Riju is the convener of the Archdiocese Movement for Transparency and Shyju is Save Our Sisters’ (SOS) convener.
“Due to your false, malicious action, the Church has suffered loss and damage and therefore we are instructed to demand Rs1 crore as compensation,” says the notice, served on the laity members, which Express has accessed. Moreover, the notice says the contents of the FB posts are defamatory per se and have seriously dented the image of the Church and that of Mar George Alenchery, Major Archbishop of the Church, and other bishops.
“Further, certain posts, images and other articles published/ circulated on your FB page are apparently intended to cause enmity among various groups on grounds of religion and the same is a deliberate and malicious act intended to defame the Church and to outrage religious feelings by insulting the Syro-Malabar Church,” Adv Pranoy K Kottaram says in the notice.
It also directs the laity members to apologise to the Church for their deliberate attempts to tarnish the character, reputation, and goodwill of the Church and the Major Archbishop. Meanwhile, the laity members have replied to the notice, saying their intention was not to defame the Church. Rather they wanted to shed light on the misdeeds committed by certain people in the name of the Church. “Our intention was not to defame the Church. Rather, we wanted to make the public aware of the wrong people and their deeds. We have always stood for the truth and will continue to do so,” said Riju Kanjookkaran.
Riju said they have not done anything wrong and hence have nothing to fear about the cases. “We are willing to fight it legally rather than pay such a huge compensation. We do not owe an apology since we have not perpetrated any wrongs on the Church,” Riju said. In the notice issued, the dates of the contents published on Facebook have been highlighted and stated as false. “You are hereby called upon to immediately tender an unconditional apology to our client. You are also called upon to retract and withdraw the Facebook posts and other similar articles published on your website with immediate effect,” it says.
Laity members Riju Kanjookkaran and Shyju Antony were served with defamation notice