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'Necessary Force Will Have To Be Taken To Implement The Supreme Court Judgment': Kerala High Court In Church Feud Matter

Hannah M Varghese
5 Oct 2021 11:31 AM GMT
Necessary Force Will Have To Be Taken To Implement The Supreme Court Judgment: Kerala High Court In Church Feud Matter
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The Kerala High Court on Tuesday while hearing the matter of prolonged clashes between the Orthodox and Jacobite factions in the State, yet again called for both factions to implement the clear directions issued by the Apex Court to solve the dispute.Justice Devan Ramachandran during the proceedings observed: "The Court is not in favour of sending forces into a Church. However, if...

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The Kerala High Court on Tuesday while hearing the matter of prolonged clashes between the Orthodox and Jacobite factions in the State, yet again called for both factions to implement the clear directions issued by the Apex Court to solve the dispute.

Justice Devan Ramachandran during the proceedings observed: 

"The Court is not in favour of sending forces into a Church. However, if the situation demands, it will be forced to do so as an inevitable solution to implement the decision of the Supreme Court in the K.S Varghese case. I repeat that this is not the last resort and that the Court does not prefer the same."

The Bench expressed its dismay over the fact that the long-standing rift between the two sections continued despite the Apex Court having laid down an elaborate decision in the matter. 

"Both the factions have to understand that their litigative history is over by the K.S Varghese decision. As per this decision, this Court cannot recognise two factions. Moreover, every parish member will have the unbridled right to take part in the activities of the church including the management as long as he abides by the 1934 constitution." 

The Court added:

"I am trying to find peace; not for you, for the State. This dispute has gone too far and wide. The Supreme Court has tried to do so through successive judgments." 

It was informed to the Court that a meeting was conducted by the Managing Committee of the Jacobite faction and another one was scheduled for next week. some more time to come to a decision regarding the means to implement the 1934 Constitution without bitterness or strife.

Advocate Mathews J Nedumpara tried to argue that the Supreme Court K.S Varghese decision was not sound and was not binding on them. The Counsel went on to argue that none of the Apex Court decisions in the matter was to be given the benefit of a binding force as precedents.

"My intention is not to send the police or army or any other forces to a Church. I will be the last person to do so," the Court clarified. 

Both the factions today agreed that they were bound by the 1934 Constitution and that a vicar or a believer cannot be obstructed from entering a church. 

The Court also allowed an impleading petition of a parishioner in the matter today. The matter will be taken up again on 26th October. 

This development ensued in a petition seeking the takeover of six Orthodox churches by the Orthodox faction, presently under the control of the Jacobite faction. A set of petitions were filed by the Orthodox faction seeking police protection for vicars to enter their churches.

The Court had called upon the Patriarchs of both the factions under dispute to change their mindset and to come to an amicable settlement. The factions were also warned that if the entry of priests or office bearers appointed under the 1934 constitution was blocked, the Court will have to step in.

The Court further slammed the inaction of the State for failing to comply with the orders issued by the Apex Court in K.S Varghese & Ors v St. Peter's & St. Paul's Syrian Orthodox Church and Ors.

Through an interim order issued recently, the Court had sought the stand of the State government in the matter.

In its statement, the State had expressed that although the Government was ready to obey the directions of the Court in letter and spirit, the impediment now being faced by the District Administration in complying with the directions was the ongoing spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in the State.

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


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