Kothamangalam church row: Kerala seeks adjournment of contempt of court proceedings

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The Kerala government on Thursday filed an affidavit at the High Court seeking adjournment of the proceedings in the contempt of court case related to the implementation of the court order to take over the St Thomas Church at Kothamangalam and hand it over to the Orthodx faction of the Malankara Church by three months. 

Additional Chief Secretary TK Jose in the affidavit said that it was expected that there would be a peaceful and amicable solution to the disputes in three months. The HC on Tuesday had criticised the state government and Ernakulam District Collector for not implementing its December 2019 order. The affidavit has been filed in the wake of criticism.

The government also informed the court on Thursday that the heads of both the Jacobite and Orthodox had conveyed to the Chief Minister that they won't further precipitate the issue.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on November 4 had held a third round of discussions with the Orthodox and Jacobite representatives. The CM conveyed in the meeting that both the factions should settle the issues through further discussions and the government interest is to avoid tension and blood shed.

"There is a clear understanding that until a final decision is taken, both parties will not precipitate any further issues and won't insist on taking over the church from one faction by use of force," the affidavit said. It also said that the present situation will continue until further meetings and an amicable resolution for the dispute is reached. 

The HC on Monday had asked the Union government to inform it about its view on deployment of Central forces to implement its directive. The rivalry between two factions of the Malankara Christians in the Kerala Malankara Orthodox church and Jacobite Syrian Christian church has been existing for over half a century.

The HC in December 2019 had directed the state government to take over the St Thomas Church. The court's directive came on a plea by the Archdeacon seeking implementation of the Supreme Court verdict in 2017.  The SC in 2017 had ordered handing over more than 1,000 parishes and churches of the Malankara Church to the Orthodox faction.

Also Read: From 1599 to today: Tracing Kerala’s Jacobite vs Orthodox church battle