December 17, 2016 3:52:16 pm
The Madras High Court has dismissed petitions filed challenging the by-laws introduced for the election of moderator and deputy moderator of the Church of South India (CSI). The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sundar on Thursday dismissed the appeals filed by three members of CSI, who sought to know whether the procedure prescribed for election in the by-laws can be in derogation of the constitution of CSI.
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The bench observed that the election has to take place from among the Bishops, who in a religious hierarchy are at the highest level.
“They from amongst them would find a suitable person and that too by unanimity or a overwhelming majority of two-third. The matter does not end at this since the Synod would have to ratify the same by a simple majority.”
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The final say thus remains with the Synod, it noted. This cannot ipso facto be called a derogation of the Constitution, especially when the by-laws have been approved, as also the amendment to the Constitution, it said and dismissed the appeals.
The appellants had contended that bye-laws have introduced a new system of election in derogation of the constitution of CSI.
Instead of electing the Moderator and Deputy Moderator by a majority of votes of 406 Synod members of the electoral college, a principle of only ratification of the Moderator as proposed by the 22 Bishops is sought to be brought in place, they submitted.
As per the laws, the Bishops would meet and nominate one from among themselves either unanimously or by two-third majority subject to the condition that he is not due to retire in the ensuing term.
Though for such a nomination, an overwhelming mandate is required, the fact remains that the Synod would be confronted with either approving or disapproving the nomination made by the Bishops by a majority of votes.
If someone is not proposed by the Bishops despite a majority of the Synod Members, the said person would stand no chance.
The appellants said these provisions were contrary to the CSI constitution.
However, the CSI counsel submitted that they are not dealing with a registered body like a society and thus analogous principles cannot apply to it.
He further contended that the power of the Synod was in no manner curtailed and thus the right to election would be of the 406 persons.
No doubt, the Bishops would meet before to nominate a person from among themselves either unanimously or by two-third majority.
Such a nomination while sought to be put before the Synod, if it did not appeal to them, could be rejected by a simple majority, he said.
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