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Lotha Baptist Church imbroglio: No end in sight

Nagaland News

DIMAPUR, NOVEMBER 6: The ongoing dispute within Lotha Baptist Church appears to be headed for one more courtroom tussle in Kohima Bench of Gauhati High Court.
This time, the petition has been filed by the Lotha Baptist Churches Association (LBCA) Mission Centre, Vankhosang.
According to Court records, the current petition was filed on October 10. The LBCA has named 5 respondents in the petition: the State of Nagaland, represented by Home Commissioner; Commissioner of Nagaland; Additional Secretary and ex-officio Registrar of Societies; Deputy Commissioner of Wokha; and the Lotha Baptist Churches Association (RCC), represented by Rev. Dr. Ezamo Murry.
The latest hearing was held on November 4, where the Court was informed that pleadings (submission of written representations) have been completed.
In his order, Justice Kakheto Sema stated: “Let it come up for hearing in the normal course. Interim order passed earlier shall continue till the next returnable date”.
The interim order referred to by the Judge was issued on October 18. “In the meantime, the order No. HOME-SRC/RNW/559/2018 dated September 30, 2022, passed by the Additional Secretary to the Government of Nagaland & Ex-officio Registrar of Societies, Nagaland, shall remain suspended till the next returnable date”, it had stated.
According to reports, said order issued by the Additional Secretary had directed elections/selections to be conducted on October 11, 2022 vis-à-vis dispute between members of Lotha Baptist Church Association.
While hearing one of the related cases last year, the Court earlier requested the Nagaland Baptist Church Council to mediate and bring amicable solution to the dispute between members of LBCA.
“Considering the nature of the dispute and the parties involved who are religious bodies, this Court is of the view that mediation should be given a chance to settle the dispute between the parties. Therefore, with the consent of the parties, Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) is hereby requested to mediate and bring amicable solution to the dispute between the parties”, stated an order issued in November last year.
On June 12 this year, the Lotha Hoho also issued a statement clarifying that it had not interfered in any Court proceedings on LBCA issue. It listed some Court cases and asked the State Government to verify from the Court concerned whether the Lotha Hoho had interfered in any Court proceeding.
According to the statement, the ongoing High Court Case No.(Civil) 13/22 (linked Case Review Pet.3/2021) was filed by the Legal Cell of Wokha Town Baptist Church (WTBC) for possession of the sector church buildings and immovable assets. The review petition has nothing to do with either the LBCA or the Lotha Hoho, it stated.
The Lotha Hoho further stated that the criminal revision No. 2/2021 was filed by Rev. Dr. Tsanso in the Kohima Bench of Gauhati High Court against 5 members of the modality committee of WTBC. The criminal complaint has nothing to do with either the Lotha Hoho or the LBCA, it stated.
Back then, it had inferred that the State Government authorities have been misguided by the letter of Deputy Commissioner of Wokha, dated March 27, 2022.
It clarified that the Lotha Hoho ‘knows the ground reality, what is good for the Lothas as a whole, who is doing right and who is doing wrong and the matter is also within Lotha community, hence the State Government should not intervene’.
(Page News Service)