Ashutosh Shukla, DNA, Mumbai, Wednesday, 20 November 2013: Is the Church of North India (CNI) disintegrating? A recent Supreme Court order stated that CNI cannot have any authority over one of five Protestant denominations over which it holds sway.
Based on this order, another denomination will approach the state to pull away from the CNI.
Formed in 1970, the CNI is an umbrella body which constitutes five denominations of the Protestant church. The SC’s order of September 30 states that the CNI cannot have any authority — religious or with respect to properties of one of the church. This order was given after a faction of one of the five denominations, The First District Church of Brethren (FDCB), challenged the power of CNI.
Following the court order in September, another of the five denominations — The Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon — has stated that they too will approach state authorities to end the role of CNI over itself.
This oppostion that is brewing among the denominations of the CNI has put a question mark over its very existence.
The various courts in which this matter came up, before being heard in the Supreme Court, raised various questions. One of these was: ‘Whether by mere merger… the CNI becomes the legal successor?’
The SC also settled the issue about following of a faith. It upheld the Gujarat high court’s decision that stated: “…in the name of unification and merger, it is aimed that there is total control of not only properties and the churches but it will also have an ultimate effect of imposing particular faith or belief, which is not permissible.”
“There is nothing legal that CNI has to show to prove that it is legally having control…We will write to the government,” alleged Sandeep Gaikwad, president of all India legal committee of People’s Synod, a body formed to counter CNI.