Letter and Spirit of Church Cases
- Letter and Spirit of Church Cases
The IO Church filed the Church case in June 1974 as O.S. 4/1974 at Kottayam. One of the main reliefs sought in the case was to capture administration of parish churches. This case was transferred to Special court set up for church cases on 30/06/1976. It was alleged that the Judge is biased and the IO church approached Supreme Court and the case was transferred to High Court. Hon. Justice Shri. Chandrashekhara Menon heard the case and pronounced the judgment on 6th June 1980. The case was renumbered as O.S. No. 4/1979 (Old No. 4/1974). The suit was dismissed with two important findings - -
(1) 1934 CONSTITUTION IS BINDING ONLY ON COMMON TRUST PROPERTIES AND NOT BINDING TO PARISH CHURCHES AND (2) EACH PARISH GENERAL BODY CAN ACCEPT OR REJECT THE 1934 CONSTITUTION AS PER THE MAJORITY DECISION.
The IO church preferred appeal before High Court (No. 331/1980). Hon. Justice Shri. U. L. Bhatt and Shri. Balanarayana Marar decreed the appeal on 1st June 1990. The major finding was that the parish churches are to be governed by 1934 constitution.
The Jacobite church preferred appeal before the Supreme Court (No. 4958-50/1990). Status quo was ordered on 12th April 1991. In subsequent orders on 30/10/1991 and 5/12/1991 the court allowed ordination and appointment of clergy as required. The appeal came before Hon. Justice Shri. B.P Jeevan Reddy, Shri. Suhas C. Sen and Shri. Sahai. The important finding is:
We are however of the opinion that in this suit no declaration can be granted affecting the rights of parish churches in their absence nor it can be declared that the properties held by Malankara parish churches vest in the Catholicos or the Malankara Metrapolitan or the metropolitan of the concerned diocese as the case may be. Indeed no such specific relief has been asked for in the suit and without impleading the affected parties, no declaration can be claimed by the plaintiffs that their church is Episcopal in nature, if that declaration means that it gives the catholicos/Manlankara metropolitan/metroplolitan of the diocese any title to or any control over the properties held by the parish churches.
Any mediator can read and understand the letter and spirit of the judgment. That is why IO church leaders fear the outcome of mediation. Ultimately, we are left with the findings of the Hon. Justice Shri. Chandrashekhara Menon. In a democratic country, IO church cannot subdue the majority and take over the control of parish churches.
Dr. Mani Rajan Corepiscopo