CSI places diocese of Krishna Godavari under national church administration

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The CSI Synod has appointed an Administrative Committee to manage the affairs of the Krishna Godavari Diocese. In an “order” dated 28th November 2019 and addressed to Bishop George Cornelious, the Synod has said this was needed to fill an “administrative vacuum” created in the diocese. The Committee with Bishop Cornelious (seen in pic with his wife) as chairman has 15 members including Vijay Pradhan (KG Diocese) as administrative secretary, N. D. Solomon Raju (Karnataka Central Diocese) as financial administrator and Babu Abraham (Cochin Diocese) and Samuel Cornelius (Madras Diocese) as two of its members from outside the KG diocese.

Explaining the circumstances leading to the decision, the order issued on a Synod Secretariat letterhead in the name of Moderator Thomas K. Oommen states: “The new Diocesan Council of Krishna Godavari diocese for the triennium 2019-2021 was convened and constituted on 8th November 2019. Then came a status quo order with regard to conduction (sic) of elections if they are not completed by 1.00 p.m. from the High Court of Andhra Pradesh at Amaravati in writ petition no 17759 of 2019. The election of the Executive Committee and other Boards and Committees were not completed by 1.00 p.m. as per the report of the Election Officer and that the new officers elected were not installed as the Council came to be adjourned around 1.30 pm.” Youth4CSI has a copy of the Synod order (strangely it carries only a round stamp of Moderator beside his name at the end, not his signature) but is not able to attach it here as the photocopy we received is rather faint.

The AP High Court was moved by the same petitioners who had got former Moderator and Bishop of Krishna Godavari G. Dyvarsirvadam arrested last December and jailed for a month on major corruption charges. They contended that incumbent Diocesan Secretary G. S. Sudheer, a nephew of Dyva, who had issued notices convening the Council stood incapacitated from taking such action by pending criminal and civil cases involving him. Sudheer is a co-accused in the criminal case against his uncle and is currently out on bail.

An interesting strategy adopted by the petitioners was that they made senior government officials including the Collector and Police Commissioner of Vijayawada the lead respondents (see order copy attached) in the WP and argued these officials were not performing their duty in restraining the diocesan officials from violating status quo orders passed in other cases against them. Most stays brought against Diocesan Council elections are from local courts. As the KG diocese had already taken caveats in local courts in Vijayawada, the petitioners directly moved the AP High Court where, to make the petition stick, they used alleged inaction by senior government officers as the cause of action. Though the ex-parte stay sought by the petitioners did not fructify, a curiously worded order saying status quo will be maintained if elections had not been completed by 1.00 pm on the date of hearing, which was the opening day of the Council, was issued (see attachment) .

While the immediate purpose of getting the Council stayed has been served, it will be a greater challenge for the petitioners to ensure the stay continues longer than if the matter were in a local trial court. The case is again coming up for hearing next week, when the petitioners are to file the counter to the submission made by the diocese. The stayed Council election was also meant to elect the 17 members who will represent the diocese in the triennial Synod session being held in Trichy in January 2020. Now it is unlikely they will be present in Trichy.

Bishop Cornelious who succeeded Dyvasrivadam is said to be not much different than his predecessor when it comes to making a fast buck be it through unofficial fees for teacher appointments, transfers, conducting confirmation services, etc. He suffered a mild stroke last month but is said to have made a full recovery. Meanwhile the chargesheet against Dyva, who is currently out on bail, has yet to be filed by the CB-CID even a year after he was arrested and jailed. Sources say transfers of several officials after the installation of the new Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh in May 2019 has led to the delay and are hopeful of this happening early in the new year.