Will a direction to a Bishop to seek pardon from Jesus absolve him of the charge of contempt of court? A single judge and the first bench of the Madras High Court has held in the affirmative.
The charge against Dr HA Martin, Bishop of TN Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tiruchy, was that he had convened the general body meeting of the Church on April 26 and 27 unilaterally and thereafter closed the central office to prevent the conduct of elections by convening the 42nd Triennial Synod, in violation of a court order.
Passing orders on a contempt application from ED Charles and six others, the single judge, after holding that the manner in which the general body was convened, the validity of the notice issued, the right of the members who participated in the general body meeting, are all matters to be settled by the Civil Court. He categorically held that the Bishop is liable to be punished for contempt.
The judge, however, refrained from punishing the Bishop by observing that he “should seek pardon from the source in whose jurisdiction he has some faith.”
Aggrieved, the Bishop preferred the present appeal. The first bench of Acting Chief Justice SK Agnihotri and Justice KK Sasidharan also held that the order of this nature holding the contemnor liable for his contemptuous act and a clear declaration with regard to the conscious violation of the order of the court and the initial decision to impose fine, change of opinion with regard to sentence subsequently and directing him to take pardon from the divine faith, would amount to a clear case of punishment.