In a major setback for Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, who has been facing serious allegations in the controversial land deal case, Ernakulam Central Police have registered a case against him as per directions from the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court.
According to reports, the court gave direction to arrest Cardinal Alencherry —the supremo of Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and 24 others, while considering a petition filed by Chowwara native Pappachan. The petitioner had alleged that the church chief was involved in land deals which incurred crores of loss to the church.
In 2016, the Ernakulam Archdiocese had sold a three-acre piece of land in Kochi to repay its bank loan worth Rs 60 crore. The loan was reportedly taken to buy land in Maddur in Ernakulam, for the construction of a medical college. The agent who was appointed by the church to assist in the deal had estimated the value of the land at just Rs 27.30 crore. But local people and many priests in the church claimed that the property’s real value was at least Rs 80 crore.
According to reports, the petitioner had said in the complaint that money from the land deal has not reached the church’s account.
Officials of the Ernakulam Central station told TNM that a case has been charged against Alencherry on Monday. The cardinal has been charged under Sections 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 406 (Punishment for criminal breach of trust), 120B (Punishment of criminal conspiracy), 329 (Voluntarily causing grievous hurt to extort property, or to constrain to an illegal act) and 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention). Cases have been registered against 24 other people also.
The Kerala High Court had directed the police to register a case against George Alencherry in March last year over the petition filed by Shine Varghese. Though the church chief had been booked by the Ernakulam Central Police, the High Court issued a stay order on further proceedings in the case just a few weeks after that on receiving an appeal from Alencherry.