A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court led by Justice C.T. Ravikumar on Tuesday recused itself from hearing an appeal filed by the State government against a single judge’s directive to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Group Centre, Thiruvananthapuram to take over the Kothamangalam Marthoma church and its movables if the Ernakulam District Collector did not comply with court’s earlier directive in this regard by January 8.
The single judge’s order came on a contempt of court petition filed by the Vicar of the Orthodox faction against the Ernakulam District Collector for not complying with the court’s directives to take over the church and its properties.
In the appeal, Ernakulam District Collector S. Suhas said that the directive was beyond the jurisdiction of the single judge. It amounted to interference with the sovereign power of the State over law and order issues.
In fact, the court could not give the power vested with the District Collector under Chapter X of the Criminal Procedure Code to any other agency, the appeal said.
The order was issued in violation of the provision of the Contempt of Court Act. Instead of appreciating the facts and circumstances of the cases which led the government to seek more time for implementing the court directive, the action of the court was a challenge to the Constitutional power enjoyed by the government to deal with land and order situation, it noted.
The single judge ought to have directed the Chief Secretary to initiate appropriate action if the Collector did not comply with its directive. The single judge’s order had the effect of encroaching on the power of the State government, the appeal pointed out.