KOZHIKODE: The Church reformists are planning a series of legal battles against the authorities in connection with the shady land transactions across the state. This comes in the wake of the court order to register a case against the Church leaders of Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese, including Cardinal George Alenchery, in the land scam. The sale of a plantation owned by Mananthavadi diocese in Wayanad, suspected sale of a Church land, including cemetery for quarrying at Pushpagiri under the Thamarassery diocese in Kozhikode district and a series of secretive land transactions by Kollam diocese in Kollam district are being taken up in the first phase.
According to Catholic Laymen's Association, a reformists platform in Malabar, the believers should fight the selling spree of Church properties by those in high offices. CLA secretary M.L. George told DC that there was no open discussion in the Church on handing over the land of Pushpagiri church for quarrying. "For over a decade, the Church operated the quarry and the revenue has been handled secretively," he said. "Now it is suspected that the land has been sold and moves are afoot to remove the cemetery," he added.
Similarly, the 760 acres of land owned by the Mananthavadi diocese at Belthangadi in Karnataka was sold for settling the huge loss incurred by the diocese while executing various projects. Reformists' organisations alleged that some priests who facilitated the deal received crores as kickbacks. Another two acres of land owned by the diocese at Bengaluru city also was sold, it was pointed out.
The believers in Kollam district are already on a legal battle against the Kollam diocese for selling Church properties without consultation with the Church bodies. Apart from countless properties across, a 40-acre prime property at Munroe Thuruthu also was sold secretively, according to the reformists. All-Kerala Church Act Action Council chairman George Joseph told DC that all these incidents of Church officials selling out properties at throw-away prices proved the need for legislation to bring the Church properties under the law of the land. Let the priests concentrate on spiritual affairs, he pointed out.
HC criticises state’s delay
The single bench of Kerala High Court on Thursday criticised the state government and the police for the delay in registering case against the accused in the controversial land deal in Ernakulam – Angamaly archdiocese. The court, which was hearing a contempt petition, however, disposed it off “considering the nature of the case.” The court said the delay in registering a case despite a directive by the court amounted to contempt of court but desisted from initiating proceedings.
The government counsel told the court the police got the copy of the court order, issued on March 6, on March 8 and registered an FIR on March 12. The court also rejected contention of the government counsel that the petition by Martin Payyappilly, a native of Angamaly, will not stand as a case was registered, and confirmed that it indeed amounted to contempt of court....