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Tell them they are part of India: SC to judges in Kerala

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New Delhi, Sep 07: "Tell judges in Kerala that they are part of India," the Supreme Court said while taking strong exception to the state high court's tinkering of its 2017 verdict on right to conduct administration and prayers in churches in a dispute between two factions.

The top court set aside the Kerala high court order that prayer services at the churches should be performed alternately by the two rival factions of the Malankara Church.

Tell them they are part of India: SC to judges in Kerala

The Supreme Court in 2017 said that prayer services have to be performed in consonance with the 1934 Malankara Church Constitution and guidelines.

It had also said that 1,100 parishes and their churches under the Malankara Church should be controlled by the Orthodox faction as per those guidelines.

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A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah on Friday got furious after coming to know about the high court order and said, "It is a very objectionable order. Who is this judge? The high court has no right to tinker with our decision. This is the height of judicial indiscipline. Tell judges in Kerala they are part of India".

The bench was hearing the matter related to the implementation of the apex court order on giving control of 1,100 parishes and their churches under the Malankara Church to the Orthodox faction.

Father Isaac Mattemmel Cor Episcopa, the Vicar of St Mary's Orthodox Syrian Church, had filed an appeal against the Kerala high court order passed earlier this year.

On July 2, the SC had observed that "is Kerala above rule of law" and warned that chief secretary may be put behind bars for not implementing its 2017 judgment.

Jacobite church followers have been accused of preventing access to the Orthodox faction, despite orders of the high court and the Supreme Court.

The St Mary's Orthodox Church and others in its appeal had said that the high court had "closed" their two writ petitions on the issue, after taking note of arguments of the counsel appearing for the state that earnest steps have been taken by them for an amicable resolution of the disputes between the factions.

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The petitioners have claimed in the top court that some of the directions passed by the high court in the matter were contrary to the top court's directive.

They had placed reliance on the 2017 verdict of the SC to contend 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.

St Mary's Orthodox Church and others had filed two pleas in the high court seeking implementation of the apex court's orders passed in the matter and police protection for offering prayers in the churches there.

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