The Kochi police on Monday, filed a case against Cardinal George Alencherry, head of Syro–Malabar church who along with three others has been accused of shady land deals. The other accused include, two priests Joshy Puthuva, Sebastian Vadakkumpadan and Saju Varghese Kunnel, a real estate broker involved in the land deals.
These charges come after the Kerala High Court had directed the police to do the same, after observing that prima facie there was enough evidence about the land deals involving criminal conspiracy, breach of trust and misappropriation of money.
This case pertains to the Cardinal been accused of favouring a middleman who sold Church land worth 27 crores for a price of 13 crores. In spite of selling below its market value, the Church had received only 9.3 crores. In his defence, the Cardinal had claimed that the balance had remained unpaid due to demonetisation. In total, reports have speculated that the church has lost about 93 crores.
The Cardinal has now been booked under sections 120B, 406, 415 and 420 of the IPC. These sections pertain to crimes like cheating, dishonesty, criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy.
As per the reports, even though a case has been filed against the the accused, the action taken would depend on the outcome of appeal moved against the singe bench’s order in the High Court.
This whole episode regarding the church lands has in recent days snowballed into a big controversy.
It was reported on Friday, how Kerala priests had outright demanded the resignation of the Cardinal and had even protested in front of his home. The Cardinal though has found support in form of four bishops who are part of his Church’s permanent Synod, and now of about 200 supporters.
Earlier while the Kerala High Court was hearing the matter, the Cardinal had decided to brazen things out by claiming that only the Pope could punish him under Canon law. The High Court promptly retorted that the Pope had no jurisdiction in India.