Parishioners Cannot Be Deprived Of Their Right To Burial In Church Cemetery: Kerala High Court

“The right to a burial in the cemetery must be seen as flowing from his status as a Parishioner of the Church” Reiterating that the Church and the cemetery cannot be confiscated by anybody, the Kerala High Court has held that, irrespective of his allegiance, a parishioner cannot be deprived of his/her right to burial in the church of which he/she is the parishioner. While considering a batch of writ petitions regarding the ongoing turf between Orthodox and Jacobite church factions, the bench comprising Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice AK Jayasankaran Nambiar noticed that the parishioners of a particular church, who owe allegiance to the Patriarch faction, were denied their right to bury their family members, in the space allotted for burial of their family members in the cemetery attached to the church concerned.

The bench observed:  “This, in our view, would not be in accordance with the declaration of the Supreme Court in the cases referred above. As observed by the Supreme Court in paragraph 228.17 in K.S. Varghese’s case [supra], the Church and the cemetery cannot be confiscated by anybody.

It has to remain with the Parishioners as per the customary rights and nobody can be deprived of the right to enjoy the same as a Parishioner in the Church or to be buried honourably in the cemetery, in case he continues to have faith in the Malankara Church.”  The bench added that, so long as the person claiming a right to burial continues to be a parishioner of the church, and his/her name is not removed from the register of parishioners of the church pursuant to a due process of law, the mere fact of allegiance of the Parishioner to the Patriarch, who is admittedly the spiritual head of the Malankara Church even as per the 1934 Constitution, or his/her inclination to the ideology of the Patriarch faction, cannot deprive the parishioner of his/her right to burial in the church of which he/she is the parishioner.

“This right cannot be taken away even if, in particular circumstances, the parishioner chooses to forego funeral services in the church or its cemetery or opts for a funeral service at any other premises by a priest of his/her choice. The right to a burial in the cemetery must be seen as flowing from his status as a Parishioner of the Church.”, the court added. While closing another connected writ petition, the bench noted that the State Government is brokering peace between the rival church factions.

 

Approach SC on Sabarimala issue: HC to petitioner


Kochi: 
The Kerala High Court on Thursday dismissed a Public Interest Litigation seeking barring of entry of women in the menstrual age group into the Lord Ayappa shrine at Sabarimala till additional facilities were set up for them, and said the petitioner can approach the Supreme Court.

Rejecting the plea, a bench comprising Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy and A K Jayasankaran Nambiar observed that all constitutional institutions are bound to abide by the directions of the apex court.

On September 28, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra, had lifted the centuries-old ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the temple.

The high court said the petitioner P D Joseph can approach the Supreme Court over the matter.

After the ban was lifted, the shrine, which was opened for the monthly pooja on October 17, witnessed protests by a section of devotees, who prevented at least a dozen women in the 10-50 age group from entering the temple.

Though the government had considered deploying women police personnel, the plan was dropped following the protests.

The entry of menstruating women had been restricted in the hillock shrine as, according to tradition, the principal deity Lord Ayyappa is considered to be the ‘Naishtika Brahmachari’ or the perennial celibate.