Kochi, Feb 16 2019: The State Law Reforms Commission has sought public opinion and suggestions on the proposed Kerala Church (Properties and Institutions) Bill, 2019 by March 6.
The Bill is being proposed “to ensure fair and transparent administration of the properties and funds” of different Church denominations in the State.
The Bill also seeks to provide remedies for any maladministration. The proposal said that “it was expedient” to enact a law regarding the administration of properties and funds of churches of various denominations.
The proposals at their outset reiterate that under Article 26 (d) of the Constitution of India every religious denomination or any section can administer their property in keeping with the law. However, there is no law at present relating to administration of the property of different denominations.
“The Churches in Kerala have vast properties and assets acquired through various sources. The properties are managed by the bishops or other heads of each denomination and the parishes. There are instances in which, Church properties are alienated, mortgaged or leased out without any consultation at proper forums resulting in financial loss to the Churches,” the introduction said.
There is also no mechanism to prevent “arbitrary transfers of Church property.” As a result, the faithful have no forum to complain against arbitrary transfers or misuse of Church funds.
“The government feels it proper to enact a law regulating such activities. Hence this Bill,” it said.
There has been widespread call for reforms in the administration of the Church property in the wake of several complaints including the recent ones involving the property of the Syro-Malabar Church.
Several groups, supported by both lay people and the clergy have been vociferous in the demand for such an Act.
The suggestions are to be submitted by March 6 on lawreformskerala
@gmail.com. For details, visit www.l awreformscommission.
(Source: The Hindu, February 15 , 2019)