Kerala

HC orders Collector to takeover Kothamangalam church

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The church to be handed over to Fr. Thomas Paul Ramban of Orthodox faction

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed the Ernakulam District Collector to take over the Kothamangalam Marthoman Cheriyapally, its precincts and all movable property after removing all persons squatting on the church premises and make arrangements he considers proper to look after the church and its property.

Justice P.B. Sureshkumar ordered the Collector to forthwith ensure that public order, peace and tranquillity prevail in the locality by deploying the provisions under Chapter X of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The court said that if the Collector is satisfied, after the takeover, that the situation in the area was conducive for the petitioner, who is the vicar of the church (who owes allegiance to the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and its constitution) to conduct religious ceremonies, the church, its premises and movable property shall be handed over to the petitioner.

Burial of the dead

In the meanwhile, if the dead body of any parishioner is to be buried, there shall not be any impediments for the same and the religious services required for the same shall be rendered by the petitioner, the court directed.

The court ordered that once the church and its precincts are handed over to the petitioner, he shall be extended necessary police aid for conducting religious ceremonies. If any persons creates any law and order situations or obstructs the religious services in the church, the police shall forthwith arrest and remove such persons.

The court directed that necessary police force shall remain on the premises of the church until peace and harmony is attained and the petitioner would be in a position to manage the affairs of the church.

The directives were issued on a writ petition filed by Fr. Thomas Paul Ramban seeking police assistance to implement a Supreme Court judgment and orders of a lower court in Muvattupuzha in favour of the Orthodox faction. Though he sought police assistance to conduct religious services in the church in December 2018, parishioners belonging to the Patriarch faction (Jacobites) had prevented him from entering the church. However, the police allowed priests of the Patriarch faction to conduct religious ceremonies in the church. The police machinery had failed to implement the orders of the court, he alleged.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 8:37:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/hc-orders-collector-to-takeover-kothamangalam-church/article30150662.ece

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