The Supreme Court of India today denied relief to Cardinal George Alencherry (the Major Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Church) as the bench refused to quash the criminal cases against him over irregularities in the sale of Ernakulam-Angamalay Archdiocese’s properties. A Special Leave Petition was filed by George Alencherry against the 2021 Kerala High Courts order, which refused to quash criminal proceedings against him in context with the land scam, before the top Court. Moreover, the Catholic Diocese of Thamarassery and the Eparchy of Bathery also filed Special Leave Petitions challenging High Court’s observation that Bishops do not have the power to alienate church assets. Currently, George Alencherry is facing various charges for criminal breach of trust, criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, and others that are punishable under different Sections of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) including 34, 120B, 406, 409, 418, 420, 423, 465, 467, and 468. During the hearing, Justice Bela Trivedi said, “We express our displeasure towards the subsequent orders passed by the High Court and quashed them. At the same time, dismissed the appeal and SLPs. Subsequent orders, which have been passed after the impugned order, are quashed. The impugned judgment is upheld with certain observations and directions.” In January, the judgment was reserved by the Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Bela Trivedi and Dinesh Maheshwari. They questioned the approach taken by the High Court after the dismissal of the petition (Section 482 CrPC) filed by the Cardinal. In addition, certain follow-up directions were issued to the state by the High Court in order to identify the public properties that have been encroached upon by the religious trusts.
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