New election bye-laws in CSI’s constitution upheld

“Litigation does not even spare God, or rather the followers find avenues of litigation even in matters of religious affairs,” the Madras High Court observed while dismissing appeals challenging the bye-laws introduced for the Election of Moderator and Deputy Moderator for the Church of South India (CSI).
New election bye-laws in CSI’s constitution upheld
Madras High Court

Chennai

The appeals filed by the members of the CSI had questioned whether the byelaws introduced can be said to be in derogation of the CSI’s constitution. 
The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sundar on holding that “Properties held by religious institutions and the power which flows from posts held, which are religious in character, seeks to be the bane of this litigation,” upheld the by-laws as being in tune with CSI’s Constitution. 
It said “Prima facie the bye-laws cannot be said to be in derogation of the Constitution and thus for the coming election process both the amended constitution and the bye-laws as framed would apply.” 
The appellants had contended that the bye-laws have introduced a system of election in derogation of the Constitution. They submitted that instead of the  Moderator being elected by a majority of votes out of 406 Synod Members, a principle of only ratification of the Moderator as proposed by the Bishops is sought to be brought in place.  
Refusing the contentions, the Counsel for CSI submitted that what the  bye-laws seek to do is to put a check and balance which are in consonance with the Constitution. 
It was further contended on behalf of CSI 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 nominate a person. But, the final say was of the Synod. 
The bench while ruling in favour of CSI held that “We have to keep in mind that the CSI’s constitution is the governing book to facilitate the functioning of the Churches and provides a democratic process for elections to various office-bearers. The constitution itself provides the procedure for amendments and the documents placed before the learned Single Judge show that such amendment was made by following the procedure at least prima facie.”

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