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Bishop jailed for contempt of court

The Bishop in Thoothukudi-Nazareth Diocese has been jailed for 15 days for ignoring a court order not to hold diocesan elections

An Indian court has sentenced a Church of South India bishop to 15-days imprisonment for contempt of court. On 4 July 2018 Justice M V Muralidharan of the Madras High Court sentenced the Rt. Rev. S E C Devasahayam, Bishop in Thoothukudi-Nazareth to jail for contempt of court.  The diocesan treasurer, who served as registrar of elections, was also jailed for 15 days.

In May four lay members of the diocese filed a petition with the court asking the June 17 elections be stayed as their names had been omitted from the electoral roll. On 14 June 2018 the court granted the stay, proroguing the elections. He further ordered the diocese to respond to the petitioner’s claims. However on 17 June 2018 the diocese proceeded with the elections. Testimony presented at the 4 July 2018 hearing showed the bishop had been advised not to proceed with the elections, but disregarded this counsel.

At the hearing Bishop Devasahayam apologized to the court for ignoring its order staying the election, however the judge ruled the bishop must nonetheless suffer the consequences of his contumacy and sentenced him and and the treasurer to serve 15 days in jail. The court ordered the 14 June 2018 elections to be overturned and appointed a retired district judge to oversee fresh elections.


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