The top court in the country turns down an appeal by the Syro-Malabar Church head to quash seven criminal cases against him
Indian Cardinal George Alencherry and two senior priests were investigated by police over controversial land deals in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese in southern Kerala. The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by him to quash criminal cases against him in the matter. (Photo: AFP)
India’s top court has dismissed an appeal by the head of the Eastern rite Syro-Malabar Church, Cardinal George Alencherry, to quash seven criminal cases against him in connection with a controversial land deal in his archdiocese.
A division bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Dinesh Maheshwari on March 17 turned down the 77-year-old cardinal’s appeal paving the way for him to face trial in land deals he executed some five years ago in Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese in southern Kerala state.
“It is not a final order. We will consult our experts and take further course of action legally,” said Father Antony Vadakkekara, spokesperson of the Sryo-Malabar Church, the second largest among the Eastern Churches.
“We have not yet received the copy of the order and we only know from the court proceedings that the cardinal’s appeal was dismissed,” the Vincentian priest told UCA News on March 17.
Cardinal Alencherry in April 2022 moved the Supreme Court against an August 2021 order of the Kerala High Court which directed him to face trial in seven criminal cases.
The cardinal also sought a stay on the high court order. However, the Supreme Court refused to accept it but agreed to hear his contentions.
Before the Kerala High Court, all the lower courts in Kerala asked the cardinal to face trial.
The allegations against Cardinal Alencherry, who was named a cardinal in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI, came to light in November 2017.
A group of priests in the archdiocese publicly accused him along with two senior priests and a real estate agent of selling several plots of land over a period of two years, incurring a loss of US$10 million to the archdiocese.
The cardinal has denied the allegations but admitted before the Syro-Malabar Church Synod, the highest decision-making body, that there were administrative lapses and a lack of oversight on his part.
His supporters say the austere cardinal did not personally benefit from the deals and the archdiocese was trying to generate funds to pay off an accumulating bank loan.
After a sustained public campaign, the Vatican took away his administrative powers as archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, and now the archdiocese is run by an apostolic administrator.
Cardinal Alencherry, however, still holds his title as the major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church with a population of more than half a million in India and abroad.
Unequal Christians of Asian Churches is a new series of features aimed to help us see prejudice and bias that are at work in our Church. They also help us see the struggles of Catholics to live out their faith.
Such features come to you for FREE, but it cost us to produce them.
Share your comments
In a land area of 25,950 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers civil districts of Visakhapatnam, Viziangaram
In a land area of 18,831 square kilometers, the archdiocesan territory includes Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Nonthaburi,
Ningbo Diocese covers the three cities of Ningbo, Shaoxing and Zhoushan at the northeastern part of Zhejiang province,
St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi is a French colonial-era landmark and one of...
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica at Fort Kochi is one of the finest churches and a historic but also a...
Christ the King Cathedral in Nha Trang of south-central Vietnam adds to the jewels in a coastal...