Archbishop to face court trial in priest “poisoning” case

A magistrate in Bhopal ordered the case registration in February 2013

By Matters India Reporter

Bhopal: A Catholic archbishop in central India may soon face trial along with his two officials for allegedly conspiring to poison a priest.

“Now all the accused will have to appear in the trial court,” Rajesh Chand, the lawyer of Father Anand Muttungal, the alleged victim, told Matters India on April 19, a week after the High Court of Madhya Pradesh state allowed Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal to withdraw his appeal. The Divine Word prelate had gone to the court to seek quashing of Father Muttungal’s case.

The priest had filed a complaint in a lower court in Bhopal, the state capital, that the prelate along with his vicar general Father VC Mathew and archdiocese spokesman Father PJ Johny had conspired to make him mentally unstable through slow poisoning. On February 7, 2013, a magistrate ordered the registering of a case against the three accused. Father Muttungal, an activist priest, was the former archdiocesan public relations officer.

The prelate then went to the high court for the case’s dismissal.

On April 12, the high court agreed to the request of the prelate’s counsel, Vasant Daneil, to withdraw his plea regarding the case titled “Leo Cornelio Versus Anand Muttungal.”

The judge J K Maheshwari dismissed the petition “as not pressed with the liberty.”

The court allowed this after Daniel argued “at length” and the priest’s counsel responded. Daniel then told the court that the prelate did not want to press his petition further. The appellate court also agreed to the prelate’s lawyer plea that he would present his side of the case in the trial court.

Father Muttungal’s lawyer said the prelate and his officials can approach the High Court again if they are not satisfied with the trial.

The case alleges that Father Muttungal’s superiors targeted him after he accused them of mismanaging the archdiocese.

As the case was first filed, Archbishop Cornelio dismissed the allegations as baseless and said he suspected behavioral problems in the priest.

The prelate then told media persons that he had consulted psychiatrists about the matter and they advised medicines. However, the plan was abandoned later as the priest began behaving normal, he added.

The prelate also alleged that Father Muttungal had tried to challenge his authority and discredit the Church with malicious intent.

Father Muttungal on the other hand said he had gone to the court after he failed to receive response from a police complaint he filed soon after he became aware of the alleged conspiracy against him.

Father KP Philip, a Bhopal archdiocesan priest, submitted an affidavit in the court supporting Father Muttungal’s allegations.

According to the affidavit, Father Philip had accompanied the archbishop and vicar general to a psychiatrist in December 2012, where they discussed with the doctor a plan to render Father Muttungal mentally unstable. Father Philip said he refused to be a party to the plan and informed Father Muttungal.

The affidavit alleged the diocesan officials pressured Father Philip to add drugs in Father Muttungals’s food and drink. But he refused.

The then archdiocese spokesman said Father Muttungal had rebelled when he was removed from the post of public relation officers after seven years. Father Johny also alleged Father Muttungal suffered from fear psychosis and believed that he could get his way through threats.

The court filed the case against the accused based on the submissions of Father Philip and other evidence including audio-visual materials.

If convicted, the accused could spend up to ten years in jail.

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21 thoughts on “Archbishop to face court trial in priest “poisoning” case

  1. I see Satan’s hand in all this. We have as a church, Christ’s body, observed Lent in all holiness, and the holy week culminating in His glorious Resurrection is just over. Remember when the devil tempted Jesus? Yes, soon after His desert experience. And he’s still at his game. It’s up to us as a church to repeat His words:” Get behind me … ” Let’s recall what St. Augustine said:” We are Easter people and Alleluia is our song.”
    Let us therefore stop judging or taking sides, for that would not be His Way. Instead let us love one another as He taught us at the Last Supper. In the Name of Jesus we have the victory.
    Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia.

  2. I read most reports in Matters India and respond to several of them. I find that even on vital issues there are hardly any responses. But here I find 16 responses, which is some kind of a record for Matters India.All the responses seem to support the complainant, giving rise to the suspicion that this is am orchestrated campaign.This is not a healthy development.

    I do not know any of the dramatis personae, but I find it very difficult to believe that an archbishop would be so foolish or vile as to administer slow poison to one of his own priests. This case smacks of personal vendetta in the garb of social justice.

  3. The rigid pryramidical structured leadership & clergy controlled administration is the cause of all these problems. Unless leadership is dissipated, involving the laity, especially women & youth, Catholic Church is sure to fall into the hands of corrupt politicians who are waiting like sharks to control our institutions. Whether its Fr. Anand or Bishop, it is shameful that church linen is washed in public.

  4. These days some of the prelates are lies take as granted. They don’t feel any remorse of telling lies. They justify with their authority or threaten the subordinate who are true and bold.

    Untrue statements by the priest also is not correct.

    Can you thing of RTI possibilities in the Church?

  5. it is time priests and nuns wake up and let the world know what is happening behind the 4 walls of the convent.

  6. Fr.Dr.Anand Muttungal brought Christian leadership into existence.His goals and feelings towards the community are very much positive and clear.His aim is to work for the upliftment of those people in the community who are really needy and poor.Also,because of His kind efforts,today many Christians are heading towards a successful path of Leadership.

    Dear Father the whole Christian Community stands with you.Your courage is very much admiring.

  7. Fr. Anand Muttungal is a fine person. He takes his stand to fight for the justice. He successfully facing a bunch of crooks.

    1. Mr. Chhotebhai.
      If it happened with your son , brother or relative, what would have been your response? Jesus said, stop doubting Thomas, believe that Archbishop and priests are human being mistake can take place. Pray that good sense may prevail in both parties to settle the case.

  8. Father, Anand Muttungal is very active in all field where he is involved,his intervention on all social issues are very much sincere.

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