Church land row goes to India’s Supreme Court
By Matters India
New Delhi: The land deal case involving the head of the Syro-Malabar Church has gone to the highest court in India.
A petition in the Supreme Court on March 22 seeks immediate quashing of a lower court ruling that ordered a stay on police enquiry into Cardinal George Alencherry’s role in the controversial deal.
Martin Payyappilly, a resident of Angamaly parish under the archdiocese, filed the petition to vacate the stay and allow police to continue its probe.
The petition also requests the apex court’s chief justice to hear the Kerala High Court ruling that halted the police inquiry into land sale.
The petitioner also seeks to keep Christian judges off the case in the High Court.
Payyapallil reportedly plans to engage senior Supreme Court lawyer Kapil Sibal in the case.
The Kerala High Court on March 6 ordered the police to register a case against Cardinal Alencherry and three others in connection with the sale of several plots of land that allegedly caused millions of rupees of loss to the archdiocese.
However, the order was stayed ten days later by a division bench headed by Kerala High Court Chief Justice Antony Dominic. The bench acted on a petition filed by Shine Varghese from Cherthala, another parish in the archdiocese. His petition alleged that he had received damp response from the police to his complaint alleging anomaly the land deal.
The division bench also said any action taken on the Single Judge order would neither affect the cardinal nor the others. It then posted the case to April 3. With that order, the investigation based on the First Information Report registered by the police could not continue until further court orders.
The FIR was against the cardinal, Fathers Joshy Puthuva and Sebastian Vadakumpadan and middleman Saju Varghese.
Father Puthuva had handled the finances of the archdiocese and Father Vadakumpadan was in-charge of its lands. Saju Varghese, a Kochi-based real estate agent, had also filed appeals.