In India, law making is not left to Vatican – V R Krishna Iyer

published on March 18, 2009

Law panel head lashes out at Church

PNS | Kochi

Justice VR Krishna Iyer, head of the Law Reforms Commission appointed
by the Kerala Government, has objected strongly to the issuance of a
pastoral letter by the Catholic Church opposing certain recommendations
made by the panel. A recent pastoral letter and a prayer meet had
opposed the panel’s proposal to put controls on begetting more children
than two by couples, to legalize euthanasia and to bring the properties
of the Church under trusts.

Reacting to the pastoral letter,
Justice Iyer said that the continuance of Papal control over properties
of the Church in kerala under the pretext of Canon laws was new form of
imperialism and this was repugnant to the secular character and
sovereignty of the Indian Constitution.

He said in a statement
that a pastoral letter was in circulation in chapels and other biblical
institutions, which reportedly had the approval of the Christian high
command, and this letter was criticizing certain proposals by the
commission which had advocated “hundred percent secular reforms in the
Christian, Islamic and Hindu theological rituals”.

He urged
the bishops to withdraw the pastoral letter, pointing out that the vast
properties of the Church in the State were the product of parishioner’s
contributions. “Naturally, the management of the estate must have
democratic dimensions giving a voice to the Christian parishioners,”
Justice Iyer said.

This was the basis of one Bill objected to
by the Bishops who now enjoyed the power over the properties and
ultimately it was claimed that the Pope controlled the Bishops on the
basis of Canon Law. “In India, law making is not left to Vatican but to
the Constitutional agencies under the authority of our sovereign
suprema lex,”
the jurist said.

He said it was also relevant to
note that the Christian trust recommended by the Commission was at the
instance of representations from sincere Christians like Justice KT
Thomas, former judge of the Supreme Court, and MV Pylee, former
vice-chancellor of Cochin University of Science and Technology. “Great
Christians and believers have fully supported the commission’s
recommendations,” Justice Iyer claimed.

The second objection
raised was to a Bill recommending state grants for any Indian family
below the poverty line and conformed to the family norm of not having
more than two children. “No limitation whatever is put on the number of
children nor is there any restraint on the rights of every child
whatever the number, which belongs to every Indian child Christian or
non-Christian,” he said.

The disqualification prescribed for
violation of the family norm of not having more than two children
prescribed by the Bill, was only for claiming grants and benefits
allowed specially by the Bill for families conforming to the mentioned
family norm,
he pointed out.

The third Bill recommended was
wholly out of humanitarian and compassionate considerations rooted on
the basis of the humanist compassionate provisions of the Constitution
(Article 51 A) that euthanasia be given support by the State and not
confined to any particular religion or community, he added.

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