Kerala HC slams govt over inaction in Orthodox-Jacobite Church feud

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Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Monday slammed the inaction of the Pinarayi Vijayan government in not doing what a state government should do, after an order is put out by the judiciary.

Justice Devan Ramachandran came down heavily on the Vijayan government while taking up a petition filed for the takeover of six Orthodox churches by the Orthodox faction, presently under the control of the Jacobite faction.

The court pointed out that the apex court in its final verdict in 2017, gave the Orthodox faction the right to administer 1,100 churches and parishes under the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and said there was no ground for the Jacobites to claim any of the churches.

The helplessness of the government under the pretext of issues surfacing if the order is implemented and its silence is frightening as the onus is on the government to implement the orders of the judiciary.

The court asked the state government to file its reply and posted the case for hearing on September 29.

A non-Catholic Christian community in Kerala, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, has two factions - the majority Orthodox, who have their headquarters in Kottayam, and the Jacobites, who consider the Patriarch of Antioch in Beirut (Lebanon) as their supreme leader.

The community first split into Orthodox and Jacobite in 1912, but came together in Kottayam for a brief period between 1958 and 1970, following a Supreme Court ruling. Since 1970, they have been at war over church control.

After decades spent in trial, the apex court in its final verdict in 2017, gave the Orthodox faction the right to administer 1,100 churches and parishes under the Malankara Church and said there was no ground for the Jacobites to claim any of the churches.

Consequent to this, the Orthodox faction has been taking control over churches hitherto run by the Jacobite faction.

While by now the Orthodox faction has taken over a few Churches with directions from the high court after the police was given specific instructions, in some the Jacobite faction is unrelenting.

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