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Supreme Court to hear plea against mandatory and forced confessions in Kerala Malankara Orthodox Syrian church

A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court against the unconstitutional practice of  mandatory and forced confessions in Kerala Malankara Orthodox Syrian church involving exploitation of both men and women relying on several newspaper reports wherein priests have sexually exploited women parishioners after forcing them to confess and have also used their confessions to blackmail their spouses/parents.

The petition filed by Mathew T. Mathachan and others have  submitted that

the Church is forcing the members to mandatorily confess and mandatorily make payment of monies/dues and the said practices indulged in by the church are of public nature, affecting human dignity and liberty of thought and that the believers have been forced to remain meek and quiet out of fear of removal from parish membership, social ostracization etc.”

The petition also highlights sexual exploitation of women and blackmailing women out of their confessions and if the person refuses to confess his part, then that person’s name will be struck off from the parish register and he/she is barred from all the activities of church.

Petitioners are also concerned about the marriage practices as church forces the people to confess before permitting them to marry.

The petition seeks direction  that mandatory confession is violation of right of privacy guaranteed under Article 21 and that men and women should not be compelled to make mandatory confession or payment of monies, restrain parishioners and to direct that no coercive action to be taken by removing parishioners from the said church or excommunicating them or ostracising them in any manner.

Also Read: Calcutta HC asks municipal corporation to formulate clear policy for building public toilets

The petition is listed for hearing on Monday, December 14, 2020 before a bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

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