Indian Catholic News

Pune court resolves 7-yr-old spat at Khadki church

St Andrews church was built in 1861 to cater to the British army personnel, whose families belonged to the Church of Scotland.

 
Pune: 

In a recent judgment, the magistrate’s court of Khadki Cantonment has acquitted all six trustees and a priest of the Saint Andrews Church in the same area, from charges leveled against them that they have been running this more than century-old church “against the Blue Book” (the constitution of all Presbyterian Churches, which were originally established in the country under the United Church of Northern India or UCNI).

The order came out in a tussle going on since 2010 between two factions of the community; the matter had even been escalated to the Bombay High Court in the interim, with several cases and counter-cases filed against the opposing parties.

The case in question was filed in May 2014, making the allegation that the current ruling faction forcefully evicted the other faction, and appointed a ‘palat’ (priest) in the church who does not belong to the Presbyterian sect. Thereby, the charge said, the accused faction violated church norms and hurt the sentiments of several followers.

However, in the course of the trial, the complainant faction failed to prove the charges levelled against the trustees and others. The accused faction (church trustees) managed to establish that the church is no longer run under UCNI rules, but has been, since 1980, registered with the joint charity commissioner as per the Bombay Public Trust Act.

During the hearing, a few witnesses, who are trustees at the moment, admitted that the trust is being run as per the Bombay Public Trust Act.

One of the acquitted accused and a church trustee Benjamin Gaikwad told Mirror, “The trust has been run as per the Bombay Public Trust Act since 1980. The allegation that the church has been run by UCNI till date is laughable. The affiliation with UCNI was cancelled in 1970, so there is no issue of running the church as per the Blue Book. The case was just filed just to take control of the church. The palat’s appointment was also a unanimous decision of the trustees; the issue of his sect is irrespective. His appointment was based on his qualifications and it is not a permanent post.”

The St Andrews church was built in 1861 to cater to the British army personnel, whose families belonged to the Church of Scotland. Saint Andrews is one of the oldest churches in the city and over 5,000 Presbyterian families attend it for daily and weekly prayers. These include residents of Khadki, Dapodi, Bopodi, Pimple Gurav, Yerwada, Hadapsar and Sangvi.

Source: Pune Mirror

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