Only priests elected as per 1934 charter can do it: Kerala High Court

The court noted the issue regarding the right of parishioners to bury their family members in the cemetery attached to the church concerned.

By Express News Service

KOCHI: The High Court on Wednesday clarified diocesan metropolitan, vicars, priest, and prelates appointed in accordance with the 1934 Constitution of the Malankara Church can only discharge spiritual duties of the Malankara Churches.

The order said those who had been ordained diocesan metropolitan, vicars, priests, prelates during the pendency of the disputes before the Supreme Court had no authority to continue in the posts as the declaratory judgment of the Supreme Court on the issue had rendered their very ordainment a legal nullity.

A Division Bench headed by the Chief Justice passed the verdict while disposing of the petitions filed by the Orthodox faction vicars of St Mary’s Church, Varikoli, and St Mary’s Church, Kattachira, seeking police protection for enabling vicars, duly appointed by Diocesan Metropolitan in accordance with the 1934 Constitution, to discharge their spiritual and managerial duties.

The court noted that the situation at the moment in the churches is peaceful. However, the court made it clear that in the event of any violation of the directives in this judgment, resulting in a law and order situation on the church premises, it would be open to the petitioners to approach the police authorities for protection and the police authorities should act based on the observations of the court.

The court also noted the issue regarding the right of parishioners to bury their family members in the cemetery attached to the church concerned.

As observed by the Supreme Court, the church and cemetery could not be confiscated by anybody. It has to remain with the parishioners as per the customary rights and nobody could be deprived of their right to enjoy as a parishioner and to be buried honourably in the cemetery in case he/she continued to have faith in the Malankara Church.

The right to burial could not be taken away even if, in particular circumstances, the parishioner chooses to forego funeral services in the church or its cemetery or opts for a funeral service at any other premises by a priest of his/her choice.

The right to burial in the cemetery must be seen as following his status as a parishioner of the church.

Church dispute: HC declines to issue further orders

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday declined to issue further orders on a petition seeking a directive to amicably settle the dispute between the Orthodox and the Jacobite factions of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church.

The court issued the order while closing a petition filed by the parishioners of the Piravom St Mary’s Jacobite Syrian Church. The court took note of the submissions made by the State government that earnest steps had been taken to bring the Jacobite faction as well as the Orthodox faction to the negotiation table for bringing about an amicable solution to the pending disputes between the two factions. The court observed that the State has already taken steps towards brokering peace between the factions; hence it was not necessary to issue any further direction to the state.