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Court-appointed judges to run Church of South India

A section of Protestant laity and leadership have been at loggerheads over managing the colonial-era Church's resources
Church of South India (CSI) members participate in a program on responsible citizenship in Andhra Pradesh on March 15, 2021.

Church of South India (CSI) members participate in a program on responsible citizenship in Andhra Pradesh on March 15, 2021. (Photo: youth.csi1947.com)

Published: April 18, 2024 11:33 AM GMT
Updated: April 18, 2024 12:44 PM GMT

A court has appointed two retired judges to administer the finances and all temporal goods of the crisis-ridden Church of South India (CSI), asking them to oversee the formation of a new synod, the Church’s top decision-making body.

Justices R Balasubramanian and V Bharathidasan reached the CSI headquarters in Chennai, the capital of southern Tamil Nadu state, on April 18 and took over the administration of the church, which has 24 dioceses in India and Sri Lanka.

The Madras High Court, based in Chennai, appointed the judges on April 12 following administrative disputes. 

The court-appointed administrators will continue until a fresh synod is elected, the court said.

The court asked the administrators “to ensure that the elections for all the Diocesan Councils are conducted and representatives of the Synod are also elected by the respective Diocesan Councils and a special meeting of the Synod is convened at the earliest possible opportunity to elect new office bearers of the Synod.”

D. Devasakayam, a senior Church official, welcomed the judges at the CSI headquarters on April 18.

A church official who did not want to be named said the administrators had suspended the synod's functioning and banned the Church’s treasurer from executing financial transactions until April 30.

The next meeting of the administrators will be held at the headquarters on April 30.

With the judges taking charge, all official Church bodies have lost control of its temporal goods. These include the bishops, hierarchy, the Synod, and the Trust Association, its financial arm, said a Church official who did not want to be named.

“Individual bishops, however, can continue to discharge their duties, but for all their decisions that required the approval of the Synod or the Trust Association will have to get the prior nod of the administrators,” the official told UCA News on April 18.

The case came to court following the dispute between a section of the laity and the Church leadership over managing the Church resources.

In 2022, the laity moved the high court against former moderator Bishop Dharmaraj Rasalam. The high court removed him from the moderator post in September last year.

The petitioners have accused him and the Synod under him of arbitrarily amending the Church's constitution and being involved in corruption and other irregularities.

The petitioners said ten criminal cases were pending against the moderator, and his continuance in the office would not be appropriate.

They expressed their inability to remove him from office because the Church lacked a law to remove a moderator.

The CSI was formed in 1947 after India’s independence from Britain as a union of all Protestant denominations. 

With some four million people, CSI is the second-largest Christian denomination.

Its counterpart in northern India is the Church of South India. The latter has inherited vast landed assets in most cities and hill stations from the colonial-period Anglican Church in India.

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2 Comments on this Story
CHHOTEBHAI
A truly sad day for Indian Christians. Surely the कोर्ट could have found two Christian judges for the transitional period. This is also a warning for the Catholic Church that has too much property and funds.
JOHN MASCARENHAS
i think it is a GOOD DECISION that the court has appointed 2 judges. i also approve that both are hindus and so have no bias to any factions of the church. the csi has become a HOTBED OF CORRUPTION AND CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES. i HOPE and PRAY that the RASCALS in the church have learnt their lessons and their dummed sheep wake up and play a more important role in the functioning of the church to reflect that they are true followers of christ not just in going to church or changing their names or eating beef BUT>>>>>CHRISTLIKE IN THIR DAILY LIVES!!! I ALSO HOPE AND PRAY THAT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS ALSO ADMINISTERED BY JUDGES TILL A CLEAN-UP IS COMPLETE. is the vatican paying attention?
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