Madras HC stays CSI's order banning members from approaching court
Madras HC stays CSI's order banning members from approaching court

CHENNAI:  Satyanesan (64), a retired Tamil Nadu government engineer who resides in Thoothukudi, is happy that the Church of South India (CSI), Thoothukudi-Nazareth diocese's decree prohibiting the diocesans from approaching courts directly has been stayed by the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court.

The CSI Thoothukudi-Nazareth diocese's circular was delayed by a division bench of the Madurai bench of the Madras High court consisting of Acting Chief Justice T. Raja and Justice R. Mahadevan. A public interest lawsuit brought by Devsahayam of the Christian Reformation Society, Madurai, led to the stay.

The lawsuit was postponed for two weeks after the court sent a notice to the bishop.

"It's a good verdict that would help hundreds of members of the diocese who were threatened by the CSI church office bearers of denial of burial grounds and other basic rights if they approach court directly," said Satyanesan. 

In the public interest litigation filed by Devasahayam, he pointed that the church's circular from September 16 forbade church members from immediately contacting the court with any matter pertaining to the diocese. The claimant emphasised that the circular also states that any disputes arising from a member's rights should only be resolved internally, such as through local panchayats chosen by the diocese's bishop.

The petitioner claimed that the diocese had used this circular as a vehicle to deny numerous Christians their human rights, including the right to be buried, and to excommunicate them from the church.

Another churchgoer who did not want to be identified added, "If we file a lawsuit against some matters involving the diocese, they will deny us of our fundamental rights, including the ability to be buried. The stay order is a step in the right direction, and we anticipate a favourable ruling from the court."

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