Kerala High Court in church dispute case
The High Court of Kerala on Tuesday, when hearing the issue of the protracted clashes between the Orthodox and Jacobite factions in the state, once again called on both factions to implement the clear instructions issued by the Apex Court to resolve the dispute.
Judge Devan Ramachandran during the observed procedure:
“The Court is not in favor of sending forces to a church. However, if the situation demands it, it will be forced to do so as an inevitable solution to implement the Supreme Court’s decision in the KS Varghese case. I repeat that this is not the last resort and the Court does not prefer the same. “
The judiciary expressed dismay that the long-standing disagreement between the two sections continued despite the Apex Court making an elaborate ruling on the matter.
âThe two factions must understand that their contentious history is ended by the KS Varghese decision. According to this decision, this Court cannot recognize two factions. In addition, each member of the parish will have the unlimited right to participate in the activities of the church including leadership as long as it meets the 1934 constitution.
The Court added:
“I am trying to find peace; not for you, for the state. This dispute has gone too far. The Supreme Court has tried to do so through successive judgments.”
He was informed in court that a meeting had been arranged by the Jacobite faction management committee and that another was scheduled for next week. still a little time to decide on the means of implementing the Constitution of 1934 without bitterness or discord.
Lawyer Mathews J Nedumpara tried to argue that the Supreme Court ruling KS Varghese was not sound and did not bind them. The lawyer went on to argue that none of the Apex Court rulings on the matter should be legally binding as a precedent.
“My intention is not to send the police, army or any other force to a church. I will be the last person to do so,“said the Court.
The two factions today agreed that they are bound by the 1934 Constitution and that a vicar or a believer cannot be prevented from entering a church.
The court also today allowed a reckless petition from a parishioner in the case. The file will be resumed on October 26.
This development resulted in a petition calling for the takeover of six Orthodox churches by the Orthodox faction, currently under the control of the Jacobite faction. A series of petitions have been filed by the Orthodox faction calling for police protection for vicars to enter their churches.
The court called on the patriarchs of the two disputing factions to change their minds and reach an amicable settlement. Factions have also been warned that if the entry of priests or officials appointed under the 1934 constitution is blocked, the court will have to intervene.
The court further criticized the state’s inaction to fail to comply with orders issued by the Supreme Court in KS Varghese & Ors v Syro-Orthodox Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul and Ors.
By a recently issued interim order, the court asked for the state government’s position in this case.
In its statement, the state expressed that although the government is prepared to obey the Court’s instructions in letter and in spirit, the obstacle the district administration is currently facing in complying with the instructions was the continued spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. in the state.
Case title: Syrian Orthodox Church of St. Mary c. Kerala state