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Church Feud: Kerala High Court Issues Interim Orders, Respective District Collectors To Monitor The Situation

Hannah M Varghese
24 Nov 2021 4:03 PM GMT
Church Feud: Kerala High Court Issues Interim Orders, Respective District Collectors To Monitor The Situation

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday started issuing interim orders in the batch of petitions where vicars sought police protection to enter churches to perform religious service and rituals which is an aftermath of the Orthodox-Jacobite factional dispute. The Court has directed the respective District Collectors to supervise and monitor the situation.

Today, Justice Devan Ramachandran began hearing each petition individually and addressing the concerns therein. The Court issued interim orders in strict compliance with the decision rendered by the Apex Court in the matter, K.S. Varghese & Ors v St. Peter's & St. Paul's Syrian Orthodox and Ors [2017(3) KLT 261 SC].

As per the Supreme Court judgment, all the Malankara Parish Churches are bound by the 1934 Constitution, and there are no factions. The vicar is to head the administration and he has to call for an election. It is with respect to the manner of this election that most of the cases are filed.

Upon being informed that the Poothrikka Church at Kolanchery has been locked out for a while, the single judge ordered for its immediate reopening and directed for it to be handed over to the Orthodox faction as per the K.S Varghese decision.

The Bench also directed that elections should be held as per the 1934 Constitution under the leadership of the vicar. It had previously made several futile attempts to bring the factions to reconcile their differences. During the proceedings today, the Court emphasised that it intended to bring a positive change being a constitutional authority:

"I'm a die-hard optimist. I still have hope. It's not too late to end this dispute and I will do everything in my power to make sure I can stop this from being passed on to the next generation."

During the hearing, the Court also observed that the factions were acting ruthlessly, without paying any heed to how God would have wanted the situation to be handled.

"I think I'm the only one who is even trying to think of how God would have wanted this to end, and I am not even a Christian. The factions have forgotten about Jesus altogether."

Case Title: St. Mary's Orthodox Syrian Church v. State of Kerala and connected matters.

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