In a major development, the Additional Munsiff Kottayam court on Thursday ruled that the St. Mary’s Jacobite Syrian Church, Manarcad, was not part of the Malankara church and it should be governed under a constitution codified in 1958.
According to Anil D. Kartha, one of the counsels who represented the church committee, the court dismissed a suit filed by two individuals seeking injunction on the entry of Jacobite priests into the church and its cemetery for carrying out sacraments.
The court further observed that the Manarcad church was not part of the Malankara church constitution of 1934 and, hence, the Supreme Court order on the K.S. Varghese case of 2017 was not binding for it.
He said further details would be available only on getting a copy of the order.
The latest order comes in direct contravention of another order by a subcourt in Kottayam in September last year that the church should be governed by the Malankara Church constitution of 1934. The Jacobite faction has moved a petition against this order in the High Court.
Legal battle on cards
With the Orthodox faction likely to approach a higher court against the latest order, the stage is now set for another round of legal battle between the rival factions of the Malankara church over the ownership of the Manarcad church.
Responding to media reports, the Orthodox faction held the munsiff court was understood to have only suggested the execution of the Kottayam subcourt’s order instead of a fresh case.
“The latest verdict pertains to a separate petition seeking the appointment of a receiver for the administration of the church. We are awaiting a copy of the judgment to decide on the course of action,” said Youhanon Mar Diascoros Metropolitan, Episcopal Synod Secretary, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.
The church, with over 3,500 families as its members, is one of the most important churches of Syrian Jacobite Christians.
It is also an internationally renowned Marian pilgrimage centre.