KOCHI: In a major victory for the Orthodox faction, the Kerala High Court on Friday granted permission to the vicars appointed by the Diocesan Metropolitan to conduct Holy Mass at St Mary’s Church in Piravom at 7 am on Sunday. Those parishioners who pledge allegiance to the 1934 Constitution of the Malankara Church and want to attend the Sunday mass shall alone be permitted to enter the church.
The court made it clear that if any person creates a law and order problem during the relevant time or obstructs the peaceful service, the police should arrest and then detain him/her in prison until further orders of the court.
A division bench headed by Justice A M Shaffique issued the order on a plea filed by the Orthodox faction seeking protection to discharge their spiritual and managerial duties based on the 1934 constitution.
When the petition came up for hearing, the government submitted that the police have removed all persons squatting inside and outside the church.
The Ernakulam district collector took charge of the church and its entire premises after completing an inventory of articles in the church and its premises by 7.30 pm on September 26. The court held that the status quo shall be maintained.
The Bench said that the contingency of police shall remain to ensure that there is no interference during holy mass. The court directed the Orthodox faction to inform the time of the holy mass to the district collector and the police. Besides, the court said that if any parishioner dies or if a funeral has to be conducted, there shall be no impediment for the same and the collector or police shall ensure that no untoward incident takes place during the burial service.
When the counsel for Jacobite faction alleged that the Orthodox faction was planning to restrict entry into the church, the court orally observed that “we are all one and the citizens of this nation.” Though the counsel for Orthodox faction pointed out that there are chapels near the church to be taken over, the court said that it intervened in the Piravom church issue as it was a law and order issue. The court cannot instruct collectors to take over the charge of all churches.