Internet Banking in Bank of Baroda – A brain frying exercise!

Never ever open a Bank of Baroda account, if internet banking is a priority! I didn’t open mine! My old senior opened it for me, and my first pay-cheque got encashed in Bank of Baroda, Ernakulam North Branch. So, I am retaining it merely due to the said nostalgia. Basically, it is a stupid bank, with some branches, and ATM-CDM kiosks. Apart from that, there is no decent Mobile App, Internet Banking system or proper UPI connectivity. True-caller is its UPI partner! So, guess the state of things at Bank of Baroda.

One should crawl into the branch! It is for security!

This write up is about the super-complex Internet Banking system of Bank of Baroda. It is so secure that a customer will eventually end up locking his own bank account. It is not designed to facilitate internet backing, but rather, it is a memory test for all its customers – about his/her grandmother’s maiden name, name of the first pet dog, and such other things. In any login, one will have to pass the said memory test, enter his phone number and system generated OTP, just reach the Home page. OPTs are 8digits long. If any of your password is more than 180days old, you are dead. You should play the memory game again, and enter OPTs again, just to renew those password. Memory game has more than twenty one questions! So guess the chance of anyone remembering it all! Then, memory-responses are case-sensitive to make the system air-tight secure. If you accidentally, double clicks any button, or copy-paste any entry, you will be thrown back to square one. Then there are several java run-time-errors, obviously expected from such complex system! If you are lucky, you may able to check your bank balance online! Or else you will end up locking the account itself.

I wonder who is behind this complex layout of Bank of Baroda Internet Banking. He genuinely hates the bank, and wants all the customers to flee to other banks. I have about 9bank accounts, in different banks, and none of it is so complex and frustrating. Bank of Baroda fries the brain!

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The 1st edition of 1934 Constitution of Malankara Church

It is relevant to note Article 3 of the 1st edition of the 1934 Constitution. It is stated therein that the Malankara Church is ‘also known’ as Malankara Jacobite Church. But this clause was secretly amended later to state that the Malankara Church is ‘wrongly known’ as Jacobite Church! There laid the first seeds of malankara church disputes!

A question of identity of a community!

Fall of Jacobites, and what can be done Now!

It is a sad phase for the Malankara Syrian Jacobites in Kerala. Our constitution of the year 2002 was held illegal by the Supreme Court, and all our Churches are plunging into disputes or falling into the Orthodox fold.

The cause for this disaster is the judgment in KS Varghese v. St. Peter’s & St. Paul’s Church, Kolenchery. I have many reservations about the correctness of this judgment, but the fact is that, it is not going to be corrected anytime soon, or never at all.

In that judgment, it was held that all Malankara Churches should be governed by the 1934 Constitution, and they are not separate individual churches, but one single entity/trust called the ‘Malankara Syrian Orthdox Church’. This means that, whether one like it or not, all the individual churches which were hitherto considered as separate individual public trusts, are all merged into one single trust/Sabha – ‘The Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church’.

When this judgment was pronounced in the year 2017, I thought that Orthodox and Jacobite would unit for good, through some mediation or conciliation. However, that did not happen, because the Orthodox hierarchy decided not to do any compromise or participate in any mediation talks. On the other side, the Jacobite leadership miserably failed to comprehend the seriousness of the situation, and they left their followers and parish churches, to defend all by there-own!

I have briefs of two Jacobite Churches, and I have wondered many times what the leadership is thinking, what their strategy is, to meet the impending crisis. There is no instruction. Only a shrilling silence from the top. In contrast, the Orthodox have proper a legal team and unified strategy to take on the Jacobites. They appoint the Vicar under the 1934 Constitution, and follow it up with a civil suit for injunction, and police protection for enforcement of ad-interim injunction. A mercilessly good strategy! As on today, about 27 Jacobite Churches have fallen flat on this Orthodox conquest. Still, the Jacobites are yet to formulate a valid and consistent defence, to withstand the onslaught of civil cases instituted against their churches.

Before going into the legal defences available to the Jacobites, I have to say that I am not against the unification of two fractions or achievement of peace. I deeply desire it. But, the means of achieving peace define its sustenance. What the Orthodox Hierarchy is doing now, is downright cruel, callous and inhuman, to say the least. Ousting Jacobites from their Churches like Kothamangalam, Piravom and Perumbavoor cannot be justified under any circumstances.

So, here I write the legal defences I think are available to the Jacobites to defend the Orthodox litigational juggernaut. This is written on a public forum because 1) Jacobites sadly do not have a centralised legal team, 2)everyone thinks that Jacobites’ is a lost case. It is not so!

  • Concede to 1934 Constitution, and frame the defences within that framework.

The biggest folly of Jacobites at present is their hesitation to accept that 2002 Constitution is gone, and everyone is stuck with the 1934 Constitution. Admit that all are governed by the 1934 Constitution for the time being, and try to survive. There is no point in going behind the original of 1934 Constitution or the many variations of it! It is a lost case. The 1934 constitution was amended by the Supreme Court, with Judges own words, on a plea forwarded by the Jacobites, the year 1998. So all the contentions regarding the genuineness of 1934 Constitution, are doomed to fail. First, lets all get back into the right side of law, before worrying about the unfairness of 1934 Constitution. We can amend it later, when we get to power. Accept 1934 Constitution for good!

  • Question the appointment of Vicar

Vicar is appointed to lead and spiritually enrich the parish. Under the 1934 Constitution, it is done by the Dioecian Metropolitan. However, it can be argued that the Parish has a right to reject the appointment of Vicar, because salary of the Vicar is paid by the Parish Church, as per the 1934 Constitution. It can be argued that power to appoint a vicar is coupled with a duty on the Diocesan Metropolitan to appoint a vicar acceptable to the Parish Church. The Diocesan Metropolitan cannot act arbitrarily and appoint a Vicar detested by the Parish.

In PMA Metropolitan v. Morn Mar Marthoma, 1995 Supp (4) SCC 286, it was held that “(para 148 (b)(ii)) acceptance by local people was a sine qua non for any Metropolitan or Melpattakar in Malankara Church, as provided in Mulanthuruthy Synod, and given sanction by the judgement of Travancore Royal Court of Appeal ”. So, it can be argued that any Vicar or Melpattakar appointed under the 1934 Constitution should also have the acceptance of the local people and the Parishioners of the Church. A vicar, who is detested by the Parishioners cannot be imposed by the Diocesan Metropolitan upon a Church, in the name of administration under 1934 Constitution. It would not be administration, but maladministration and oppression of parishioners who believe in the spiritual supremacy of the Patriarch.

Church is in existence for the Parish and not for the Vicars. Vicars cannot perform any religious rites or holy mass in the church, if there is no willing parish to accept the Holy Mass. The court or police have no duty to enforce religious discipline, let alone, install a new Vicar, who has failed to take the parish into confidence.

  • Insist on Parish’s representation on the Dioecian Council and Malankara Managing Committee under the 1934 Constitution, through a counter claim, before enforcing appointment of Vicar.

When the Supreme Court invalidated 2002 Constitution, all the Parishes fell back into 1934 Constitution. Under the 1934 constitution, every Parish is entitled to ipso facto representation in the Dioecian Council and Malankara Managing Committee. Insist on giving such representation to the existing Parish in the Malankara Managing Committee, through a counter claim, before the appointment of Vicar by the Orthodox Metropolitan, is given effect to.

  • Insist that Jacobite Vicars ordained under 1934 Constitution can continue to officiate in churches.

Judgment in KS Varghese Case states that only vicars ordained under 1934 Constitution can officiate in the Malankara Churches. It does not disqualify Jacobite vicars who are originally ordained under 1934 Constitution, but later went out with 2002 Constitution, from continuing performance of religious ceremonies. So, find Jacobite Vicars ordained under 1934 constitution and give them responsibility of prime Jacobite Churches.

  • Question the Appointment of present Catholicos of Orthodox fraction, and demand a fresh election of Catholicos, after including the representatives of all parish Churches

The present catholicos of Malankara Orthodox Church was not elected as per the procedure provided under the 1934 Constitution. He was elected only as the ‘Catholicos-Designate’ (നിയുക്തകാതോലിക്ക), in the year 2006. It is a post not provided for under the 1934 Constitution.

According to the 1934 Constitution, a new Catholicos can be elected only after the demise of the existing Catholicos, or immediately prior to his pronounced retirement of office. Otherwise, the existing Catholicos would always have undue influence on the Managing Committee to elect the nominee of his choice, as the new Catholicos-designate. It is illegal under law and unfair to other expectants. The 1934 Constitution does not provide for election of Catholicos-designate, or automatic enthronement of the Designate as Catholicos thereafter.

The present Catholicos was designated as the would-be catholicos in the year 2006, and he took the office 5years down the lane, in 2010. In 2010, no Managing Committee or Episcopal Synod approved the election of the present Catholicos. So, his election, according to me is conducted in total violation of the procedure envisaged under the 1934 Constitution. Moreover, no invite was sent to the Patriarch of Antioch, as required under the Constitution.

So, if we argue that the present Catholicos was not properly elected, there is a fair chance for the Court to accept the said contention, and order a new election in the Malankara Churches, with a view to unite the feuding factions. A new election would be a serious Victory for all the Jacobites, at this juncture. We can return with dignity to the Malankara Church, and impose our majority strength on the Church’s administration. Once we have the power, we can also think about amending the 1934 Constitution to accommodate the spiritual powers of Patriarch of Antioch. It may also unite the Church for good, in the proper manner.

Having poured my random thoughts out, I think, I am going to get lynched at home for this. My mother belongs to orthodox, and she doesn’t like church politics. Either way, what is taking place right now, is not right and extremely unfair. It is degenerating the institution of Church and its spirituality.

PS: I do not hold any office in any Church. I am just an anguished parishioner of Perumbavoor Bethel Suloko Church, which is practically closed to public at present!

Objective of lawyers’ black jacket and gown!

I originally detested it! The black jacket and gown, a lawyer has to wear to courts! It’s alien, foreign and not conducive to Indian environment, especially Kerala’s tropical climate. That was my opinion when I started practicing at Munsiff Court, Perumbavoor, in the year 2008. The mofussil court halls there hardly had any ceiling fans and the air conditioners were reserved to the High Court and cash-rich tribunals like DRT. Being a junior, I was running around everywhere on a bike, and the black attire used to tire me and drench my inner world.

Ten years down the line, I understand why the elders prescribed this uncomfortable outfit.

To break it down, one has to get an idea about the routine work of a moderately good lawyer. He is not spending much of his time in court halls arguing cases. His juniors do that – running through courts. The senior lawyer is confined to a seat, doing hours and hours of drafting, researching, meeting clients and reading illegible depositions. Court appearances are there, but office work predominates the life of a good lawyer. The most difficult task of a lawyer is to draft a petition, correctly. Any junior can represent a case in court, but drafting requires extensive experience. So, by age, a lawyer matures from his bike to a car, and from several court halls to a select few, and is mainly confined to a seat in his office.

The perks of sitting in an office for more than 18 hours a day are increased waist line and protruding belly. Yes, one can guesstimate the success of a lawyer by gauging his belly.

Anyway, so to tame these unwanted physical protrusions, the elders prescribed lawyers to wear black coat and the gown, to courts. To make all lawyers look decent and healthy, more like a human, and less like a frog! Yes, the black coat is to tuck the unyielding tummy, and the over gown is to hide the other physical projections. That is the true objective behind the senseless attire – to make lawyers look physically sensible.

Acquittal in Rape Trial

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I am a civil lawyer, and criminal trials are done only for the money involved in it.  Yet, when a civil lawyer conducts a criminal trial, the whole thing becomes super fun. This was a trial under S.376 IPC – Rape. Rape trial is considered to be the most difficult among various criminal trials. The word of the victim ‘that accused ravished her’, is enough to convict the accused. Even murder trials are far easier, as the dead will never come to court to give evidence against the accused. But, in a rape trial, the victim will come to court, and her statement decides it all.

In most occasions, rape trial ends in conviction, unless the parties compromise to an acquittal. In this case, there was no compromise, and the acquittal was hard earned. The trial got twisted on failure of the prosecution to produce a prior statement of the victim  before the court. A rather minor technicality, but exploited with several civil citations, to free the accused.

However, once the order of acquittal was pronounced, my client was nowhere to be seen. I received only a portion of the agreed fees and rest had to be accounted to unrecoverable loss. A big lesson learned – collect whole fees beforehand in criminal cases, unlike in civil cases.

Paddy Land Amendment Act, 2018

I have written a lot about Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2008, suffering continuous amendments since its inception. Here is the scan copy of the latest amendment to the Act, which unsettles the procedure for correction of databank and conversion of paddy lands.

Recognition of Private Schools under the Right to Educational Act – Matters to be considered.

Kerala Government used to deny recognition to private unaided schools under Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, citing availability of Government aided schools in the vicinity.  Many private schools were ordered to be closed down without affording them recognition, to increase the pupil strength in the nearby government aided schools. This had led to filing of many writ petitions in the Kerala High Court. The court finally disallowed the contentions of the Kerala Government which sought to implement the criteria mentions in the Kerala Educations Rules, while considering the different issue of recognition of schools under the Right to Education Act of 2009. Here is the copy of that judgment.

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