The Kerala High Court on Friday stayed an order to file a case against the head of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in connection with a land deal that is said to have caused significant losses to the church, ANI reported. The court will hear the case next on April 3.
On Monday, the Kochi Police had filed a case against Cardinal George Alencherry and three others in the land deal that concern the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese. The case was filed almost a week after the Kerala High Court asked the police to do so based on a complaint filed by a Chertala resident.
The accusation is that the land was sold below market value in a deal Alencherry had approved. The cardinal has been under pressure to resign since.
Alencherry filed an appeal against the earlier High Court order, saying it was unsustainable in law, The Times of India reported. His plea said the police complaint was filed by somebody who had no direct knowledge about the transactions. He denied the allegations.
The cardinal, priests Joshy Puthuva and Sebastian Vadakkumpadan, and middleman Saju Varghese, have been accused of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and cheating in connection with the deal. It concerned the sale of three acres of land in Kochi by the archdiocese in 2016 to repay a Rs 60-crore bank loan it had taken to build a medical college.
The deal included the sale of three acres of land in Kochi by the Ernakulam archdiocese in 2016 to repay a Rs 60-crore bank loan it had taken to build a medical college. The agent appointed by the church to carry out the deal had estimated the value of the land at Rs 27.30 crore of which the church has so far received only Rs 9.13 crore.
However, priests and other people critical of the sale claim that the plot was actually worth at least Rs 80 crore.