Kerala church feud: Single bench's directive to CRPF to take over Kothamangalam Marthoma Church deferred till Nov 9

A Division Bench comprising Justice A Muhamed Mustaque and Justice Sophy Thomas issued the order on the appeal filed by the state government challenging the Single Judge's order.

Published: 28th October 2021 12:56 PM  |   Last Updated: 28th October 2021 12:56 PM   |  A+A-

Kerala Hight Court.

Kerala High Court. (File photo)

By Express News Service

KOCHI: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Thursday extended till November 9, the interim order deferring all actions based on the Single Judge's judgment directing the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Group Centre, Thiruvananthapuram to take over the Kothamangalam Marthoma church if the court's order was not complied with by the Ernakulam District Collector.

A Division Bench comprising Justice A Muhamed Mustaque and Justice Sophy Thomas issued the order on the appeal filed by the state government challenging the Single Judge's order. In the appeal, the state government stated that the directive to the CRPF to take over the church on December 8 last year was beyond the jurisdiction and totally against the original order directing the Ernakulam District Collector, who is the highest executive in the District to exercise powers under Chapter X of the Criminal Procedure Code, to take over the possession of the church. The court cannot grant power to any other authority. The action of the Single Judge directing central force to take over the church premises within the state was an interference with the sovereign power of the state to control the law and order situation. It is for the state and police authorities to assess the law and order situation within the state.

The state government's appeal also stated that in contempt proceedings, if the court finds that the action of the Collector is contemptuous, the Single Judge can only refer the matter to the Division Bench. Hence, the Single Judge's order violates the scheme of contempt of court proceedings.

When the case came up for hearing, Advocate Suvin R Menon, central government counsel submitted that the petition filed by the CRPF seeking to review the order to take over Kothamangalam church, its precincts after removing any physical obstructions is pending before the Single Judge. The review petition stated that ordinarily the responsibility to maintain law and order vests with the state executive though the central force is expected to render aid only on request of the state executive. Further, even if the central forces offer assistance for implementation of the court order, the assistance of state police and state revenue authorities also may be absolutely necessary for effectively accomplishing such functions. The direction should have been issued to the District Collector or state executive to seek the aid of central force if the situation warranted.


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