The Supreme Court on Friday lambasted the Kerala High Court for passing an order that is contrary to the apex court’s verdict in an Ernakulam church case. Time and again, cases related to the ongoing dispute between the Orthodox and Jacobite factions have been reaching the courtroom, despite the SC passing its verdict in 2017 that gave the Orthodox faction control of all parishes and churches under the Malankara Church in Kerala.
The latest case that came up for hearing before Justice Arun Mishra-led Bench on Friday was a special leave petition filed by the Orthodox faction of Kandanad St Mary's Orthodox Syrian Church in Ernakulam. The petition said that the Kerala High Court had passed an order allowing the Jacobite faction to conduct prayers inside the church. The Orthodox faction appealed against the Kerala High Court ruling and approached the Supreme Court.
According to Bar and Bench, Justice Mishra criticised the Kerala High Court and the judge for contravening the Supreme Court's verdict in the church matter, and even pointed out the judicial indiscipline developing in the country.
“The High Court has no right to tinker with our decision. This is the height of judicial indiscipline. Tell your judges in Kerala, they are part of India,” Justice Mishra said.
In July 2017, the Supreme Court gave the Orthodox faction the legal mandate to administer 1,100 churches and parishes under the Malankara Church, as per the 1934 Malankara Church guidelines. The decades-old conflict, however, intensified after the verdict and has been turning uglier with the burial of dead bodies being delayed for weeks and months, and even preposterous demands from one faction to dig out and exhume bodies.
In the instances where the Jacobite faction members were not allowed to bury the bodies of their loved ones, the state human rights commission, district administration and the Kerala police intervened and allowed the burial to happen finally.
This is not the first time that the Supreme Court has pulled up various authorities in the case. The SC had earlier slammed the Kerala government for trying to overrule the SC verdict. In July, Justice Arun Mishra had issued a warning that the Chief Secretary would be summoned and put behind bars if the state government tried to invalidate the order. The court was hearing the petitions related to St Mary’s Church Varikoli and St Mary’s Church Kattachira.