Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed the state government to file a detailed report on the control of a church and its chapels in Piravom in Ernakulam district of Kerala, doors of which were thrown open to the orthodox faction for conducting holy mass. It also asked the government to continue police protection to it.
A division bench comprising justices A M Shaffique and T V Anilkumar said the possession of the church should remain with the orthodox faction as ordered by the Supreme Court.
Holding that the Jacobite faction would not have any authority over the assets and ownership of the church, the court however, said they can offer prayers in the church.
The state government submitted that the police forces could not be deployed on a daily basis in the place of worship.
The government also said it could not be made a party to the "Mickey Mouse" play by the two factions in the church.
The high court considered the matter, two days after priests of the orthodox faction conducted holy mass at the church, known as Piravom Valiyapalli, amid tight security as a nearly two-year-old Supreme Court order in favour of them was finally implemented.
Armed with a Kerala High Court directive, the orthodox faction had entered the church, a major Christian spiritual centre in the state.
The orthodox faction could enter the church after Ernakulam district administration took over its control from rival Jacobite group using police force.
After the district administration took control of the church, the Kerala High Court had on Friday directed that orthodox faction priests can conduct holy mass.
The court gave the direction while considering pleas filed by an orthodox priest and others seeking police protection to implement the Supreme Court verdict.
The court, however, has directed that the key of the church shall be kept by the Ernakulam district collector.
The orthodox and Jacobite factions have been locked in a tussle over the possession of the church and matters worsened after the Supreme Court ordered that the control of the place of worship be given to the orthodox group.
The orthodox faction had moved the high court after the state government failed to implement the order of the top court.
In its 2017 verdict, the apex court had held that 1,100 parishes and their churches under the Malankara Church should be controlled by the orthodox group as per the 1934 Malankara Church guidelines.
The Jacobite-orthodox row dates back to 1912 and has led to violent clashes between the two groups in Kerala.