Implement church order or face jail, SC tells Kerala chief secretary

The Supreme Court has warned the Kerala government that it would put the chief secretary behind bars for failing to implement its 2017 order on a case relating to a feud between Orthodox and Jacobite factions of the church in Kerala, according to reports.

Justice Arun Mishra rapped the Kerala government, saying it was trying to delay implentation of its order, allowing the Orthodox church to administer 1,100 churches and parishes under the Malankara Church, as per the 1934 Malankara Church guidelines.

Citing the Bihar shelter homes sexual assault case, wherein the state chief secretary was summoned to the court to explain why the state government did not take action against 14 homes, Justice Mishra said Kerala chief secretary could also be summoned to the court, the reports said.

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The Jacobite faction has opposed the order and has been involved in several fights with people of the Orthodox faction.

The Syrian Orthodox Church has two factions — the Orthodox one, which has its headquarters in Kottayam and the Jacobites, which follow the Patriarch of Antioch based in Beirut.

Despite centuries-old fight, the two groups came under the Kottayam head briefly after independence, but fights began again from 1970 for control over the church.

The 2017 Supreme Court order was seen to put an end to the long feud, but is yet to be implemented.

Noting the inaction, Justice Mishra told the Kerala counsel to inform the chief secretary of the matter immediately.

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