Ernakulam police book head of Syro-Malabar church over murky land deal

The FIR against Cardinal George Alencherry and three others was registered nearly a week after the Kerala High Court ordered the police to do

The FIR against Cardinal George Alencherry and three others was registered nearly a week after the Kerala High Court ordered the police to do

Kochi: The Kerala police on Monday registered a case against cardinal George Alencherry, major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar church and head of the archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly and three others, in connection with a land deal that reportedly brought about financial losses to the church. The FIR was registered nearly a week after the Kerala High Court ordered the police to do so based on a complaint filed by Chertala resident Shine Varghese.

Along with the cardinal, three others - senior archdiocesan functionaries Father Joshy Puthuva and Father Sebastian Vadakkumpadan and a parishioner Saju Varghese - are also under investigation.

Earlier, the police had sought the advice on the case from the director general of prosecution after the High Court ordered filing of cases against the cardinal and three others.

They have been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including sections 120b (criminal conspiracy), 405 and 406 (criminal breach of trust), and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), police said.

The FIR was registered almost a week after the Kerala High Court ordered the police to do so against the cardinal, priests Joshy Puthuva and Sebastian Vadakkumpadan, and middleman Saju Varghese on a petition filed by Shine Varghese from Cherthala.

They had alleged the role of land mafia in the sale in a "non-transparent manner", violating even civil and canon laws.

It had recommended necessary action against those responsible. A spokesman of the archdiocese said an appeal will be filed against the HC directive.

Alencherry submitted after allegations were made on the sale of land belonging to the Archdiocese, he appointed a committee to probe the matter.

It is likely that the police may register a case against him and others by today noon.

This is unedited, unformatted feed from the Press Trust of India wire.

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