'Kerala Is An India Territory; Its Courts Are Bound By SC Judgments': SC Sets Aside Kerala HC Order In Church Case [Read Order]

"It is made clear to all concerned more so, to the Courts that in future the violation of judgment and order to be viewed seriously."

The scathing oral observations made by Justice Arun Mishra while hearing an appeal against a Kerala High Court order in Malankara Church case, is seen reiterated in an order passed by the Supreme Court.

The bench, also comprising of Justice MR Shah, observed that, in future, violation of the orders and judgments by Courts 'will be viewed seriously'.

Background

The bench was considering the appeal filed by Father Isaac Mattemmel Cor Episcopa, the Vicar of St Mary's Orthodox Syrian Church, against the Kerala High Court order passed earlier this year.

Recording the submission made on behalf of Jacobite faction that, till 9.3.2019, it was the turn of Orthodox faction to conduct the religious services and thereafter for the next week it is the turn of patriarch faction, the High Court had allowed 'this arrangement' to continue for three weeks. This interim order was later extended until further orders.

In appeal before the Apex Court, it was contended that this order by the High Court, is in violation of 2017 verdict which had held that no parallel service can be allowed in the church and only orthodox faction are allowed to do the religious service in accordance with the 1934 Malankara Church Constitution.

'Passes Comprehension', 'Judicial Indiscipline', 'Kerala An Indian Territory'

While setting aside the Interim order passed by Kerala High Court, observing that the same is in violation of the judgments and orders passed by the Supreme Court, the bench observed:

"It passes comprehension that how the judge has passed the impugned interim order which runs expressly contrary to the decision of this Court in K.S. Verghese v. St. Peters & St. Pauls Syrian Orthodox Church & Ors., (2017) 15 SCC 333. This Court has passed several judgments and orders to the effect that no such interference can be made by any court after the decision has been rendered by this Court in a representative suit which is binding on all concerned and it is the constitutional duty of all concerned to obey the judgment and order of this Court. As per Article 141 of the Constitution of India, the law declared by this Court is binding on all courts and under Article 144, civil and judicial authorities within the territory of India shall act in aid of Supreme Court. Kerala being Indian Territory all concerned are bound to act accordingly."

Restraining all the Courts in Kerala not to pass any order in violation to its judgment in K.S. Varghese, the bench observed:

We have intended peace to come in Church but due to such orders passed in contravention of law laid down by this Court law can never be obeyed. This amount to a violation of judgment and order. The High Court has passed an interim order in violation of the judgments and orders passed by this Court. We are not able to understand what kind of judicial discipline is reflected while passing the impugned order, which should not have been passed at all. We restrain all the Civil Courts and the High Court in Kerala not to pass any order in violation of the mandate of this Court's decision in K.S. Varghese (supra).

Violations By Courts To Be Viewed Seriously

While setting aside the order, the bench further observed:

The appeal arises out of the suit, pending before the High Court, is disposed of in terms of the decision passed by this Court in K.S. Varghese (supra) as there is no scope left for further litigation on the issue. The High Court has no right to tinker with the judgment and order passed by this Court which is binding and the judicial propriety has to be maintained at all costs. There is no scope for further litigation in the matter which we have concluded. We direct the Courts to decide all pending matters following the aforesaid decision which has been affirmed thereafter by umpteen number of times.

It is made clear to all concerned more so, to the Courts that in future the violation of judgment and order to be viewed seriously. Let similar matters which are pending be decided following aforesaid judgment and order. There can be no further litigation as the decision in representative suit is binding.

The Registrar General of Kerala High Court has also been directed to submit a report within three months as to how many litigations are pending in the Court as to the Church dispute in the various courts.


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