A TRUE ANALYSIS OF THE PRESENT SCENARIO - Part 1
THE FOLLOWING IS A TRUE ANALYSIS OF THE PRESENT SCENARIO IN THE CONDUCT OF LITIGATION RELATING TO PARISH CHURCHES. I HOPE IT WILL BE USEFUL FOR ALL CONCERNED.
ADVOCATE PHILIP P J
THE PRESENT POSITION IN THE SYRIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH IN KERALA.
1. A major litigation initiated in 1974 by the Catholicos cum Malankara Metropolitan of the Malankara Orthodox Church, OS No 142 OF 1974, of The subordinate Judges Court, Kottayam.
2. The defendants in the suit were metropolitans and priests ordained and appointed by them to parish churches. They were sued as representatives of the section in the Malankara Church who were opposing the authority of the Malankara Metropolitan cum Catholicos and the 1934, Constitution. The prayer in the petition under Order 1 Rule 8 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, filed in the said suit is as follows, viz:
The said petition was allowed and publication was given in News Papers. A true copy of the Order 1 Rule 8 petition is enclosed as
Annexure-1. A true copy of the publication in News Papers is annexed as Annexure-2.
3. In response to the said paper publication, several parish churches filed impleading applications to get themselves impleaded in the suit through their respective trustees. It was dismissed by the trial court and then confirmed by the High Court of Kerala. They contended that if the first relief in the suit is granted, it will affect the autonomy and individuality of the individual parish churches and, therefore, they should be impleaded as defendants to the suit. It was held by a learned single judge of Kerala High Court as follows:
I do not think that this apprehension is well founded. Even under Order 1 Rule 10, a party does not have any inherent right to get
himself impleaded; that lies in the discretion of the court on being satisfied that the petition is well founded on merits. The counsel for the contesting respondents [plaintiffs] would contend that all that the plaintiffs want is for a declaration of the supervisory and spiritual control over the Church.
Accordingly the revision petitions were dismissed.[Refer page 2070 of AIR 1995 SC 2001, left hand side column].
4. The suit mentioned above was taken up along with eight other connected suits for trial by the First Additional District Court, Ernakulam. After the completion of trial it was transferred to High Court of Kerala by an order passed by the Supreme Court of India and arguments were heard by a learned single judge therein. All the suits were dismissed by judgement dated 6.6.1980. The plaintiff- Catholicos cum Malankara Metropolitan preferred AS 331 of 1980 before a Division Bench of the High Court of Kerala but no stay of operation of findings was granted. The Appeals were ultimately heard in 1989 and judgement was rendered on 1.6.1990 allowing them and decreeing the suit as prayed for.
5. The defendants in the suit/Patriarch section challenged the judgement and decree of the Division Bench in the Supreme Court of India by filing a Special Leave Petition. After ordering notice in the Special Leave Petition the Apex Court directed that the existing mode of management and conduct of religious services shall be continued as such in all the churches until the final disposal of the Appeal by orders passed on 12.4.1991, 31.10.1991 and 5.12.1991.
6. It culminated in the Judgment and decree of the Supreme Court of India and its due execution. The judgment of the Apex Court is reported in AIR 1995 SC 2001, AIR 1996 SC 3121 and AIR 1997 SC 1035.The decree was framed and corrected pursuant to the directions
contained in AIR 1997 SC 1035.
7. The Apex Court itself directed execution by consent order rendered in Civil Appeal No 8185 of 2001 dated 28.11.2001 [reported in KLT].
8. The execution of the decree resulted in the formation of the Malankara Association by conducting election in accordance with clause 71 of 1934, Constitution amended by the Apex Court. It also
resulted in the formation of a new Managing Committee of the Malankara Orthodox Church.
Contd:- Part 2
Adv. Philip John