In a major development, the Ernakulam central police station on Monday booked Cardinal Mar George Alencherry from the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, and three others in the sensational land deal case.
On March 6, the Kerala High Court had directed the police to file a case against the Cardinal and others. The others who are booked in the case are Archdiocese procurator father Joshy Puthuva, father Sebastian Vadakumpadan and real estate middle man Saju Varghese.
However, the Cardinal and others have moved an appeal in the High Court against the division bench's verdict.
They have been booked under Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 415 (Cheating and deceiving any person fraudulently or dishonestly) of the IPC.
“Further action in the case can be taken only after the court pronounces its judgment of the appeal," Central police station CI Anantha Lal told TNM.
Earlier, the petitioner against the Cardinal, Shine Varghese, had again approached the court against the police not taking up the case despite the court’s directions.
Just last week, the court came down heavily on the Cardinal and asked whether the "Cardinal is the King.”.
On the Cardinal’s defence that he was only answerable to the Pope, the court said that it was strange to hear that the law of the land was not applicable to the Cardinal.
The Ernakulam Archdiocese in 2016 had sold a three-acre piece of land in Kochi to repay a Rs 60 crore bank loan it had earlier taken to buy land in Maddur in Ernakulam, to construct a medical college. The agent appointed by the church to facilitate the deal had estimated the value of the land at Rs 27.30 crore, but priests and local people claimed that the property's real value was at least Rs 80 crore.
The allegations raised by the Save Archdiocese Campaign, a forum in which most of diocese priests are members, is that the church had incurred huge losses by selling the land owned by it for lower prices.