Madurai High Court

An Indian court has struck down a diocesan rule banning Christians from seeking legal redress from civil courts. The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court last week struck down a regulation promulgated by the Church of South India’s Thoothukudi-Nazareth diocese that mandated any complaints or challenges to diocesan rules or procedures be adjudicated by the diocese.

Acting Chief Justice T. Raja and Justice R. Mahadevan stayed the September 2022 regulation issued by the diocese finding it was against the public interest. 

The complainant, Satyanesan (64) told IANS, “It’s a good judgment that will benefit 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.”

Satyanesan explained the diocese’s rule required church members to bring all complaints to diocesan appointed adjudicators. This had resulted in the diocese excommunicating troublesome lay people and refusing permission to bury Christians in churchyards if they were out of favor with the diocese.

The court handed down a two week stay of the 16 September 2022 regulation on 3 November 2022 and set the matter for trial in two weeks time.

The case continues.