Kerala High Court throws out plea on confession in churches

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Thursday dismissed a petition for declaring sacramental confession among Christians unconstitutional, noting whether or not to confess one’s sin was an individual’s right. 

A division bench of the court comprising Acting Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar said nobody was compelled to follow the custom. 

The court said people living in a secular state have the right to choose their religious faith, and if someone does not want to follow a religion, he has every right to leave it. 

“Whether to confess or not is an individual’s right. No one is compelled to follow the custom. In a secular state, one has the right to live without a religion also,” the court observed. 
C S Chacko, the petitioner, had submitted that imposing “implied or expressed compulsion” on a member of a church to confess a sin before a priest infringed the Right to Privacy. 
The respondent churches, including the Latin Catholic Church, the Syro Malabar Catholic Church, the Syro Malankara Church, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church were “deliberately” violating the rights of people by following the practice, he said in the petition. 
The petitioner said members of these churches always had the apprehension that they would be denied their spiritual and temporal rights if they did not confess their sins before a priest. 
The threat of “undeclared sanction” by the church and isolation from society in which they live creates fear in the minds of such members, he said, adding the “menace” of getting oneself and family into trouble would emotionally compel a member to go and confess. 
“This is nothing but depriving one of the Right to Privacy and a violation of one’s fundamental rights under Article 21 and 25(1) of the Constitution,” he said.