A Kerala High Court judge said on Tuesday he has received an anonymous letter threatening that he will be burnt alive for directing authorities to take over a church near here from the Jacobite faction and hand it over to the Orthodox group as per a Supreme Court order.
Justice P B Suresh Kumar said this while taking serious note of the state government's failure in complying with the court order in the case.
He directed the Ernakulam district collector S Suhas to appear in person again on March 2 with a detailed report on the steps taken to take over the church.
The court also pulled up the collector for not implementing its order directing to take over the church, known as Kothamangalam Cheriyapalli, from the Jacobite faction and hand it over to the Orthodox group as per a 2017 Supreme Court order.
The court rejected the two months time sought by the collector for implementing the court order.
Hearing the contempt plea filed by a priest of the Orthodox faction in connection with the case,Justice Suresh Kumar criticised the collector's absence in court and summoned him before issuing the directive to come up with the report on Monday.
As the collector reached the court on being summoned, the judge sought his explanation as to why he was not present, despite a directive being issued earlier.
The court on January 9 had given a direction to the collector to appear if its order was not implemented.
The judge noted that administration was bound to implement the order as the court is answerable to the petitioner.
Criticising the inaction of the state government, Justice Suresh Kumar also said he had received an anonymous letter threatening that he will be burnt alive for directing the church's takeover.
Justifying the delay, the state attorney said the state wanted to consider the law and order situation while implementing the court order.
The court said the case was an example of the failure of the law enforcing system in the state.
The district collector then sought two months time for implementing the order which was rejected.
On January 9, the court had pulled up the state government for not implementing its December 3 order directing the takeover of the church.
The court had ordered the government to take control of the Kothamangalam Cheriyapalli after authorities allegedly failed to implement an apex court verdict granting its possession to the Orthodox faction due to protests by followers of rival Jacobites.
Directing the government to implement the order before January 23, Justice Suresh Kumar had said if it fails to abide by the order, the collector will have to appear in person before the court.
The court gave the order on a contempt plea filed against the state government by Orthodox faction priest Thomas Paul Ramban.
In its earlier order, the court had directed the collector to use force to remove the protesters and take over the church.
According to an affidavit submitted by the collector on January 9, the delay in implementing the order was due to "shortage of police force for maintenance of law and order".