Kerala decides to bring in ordinance on burial rites

Kerala decides to bring in ordinance on burial rites

Representative image. (Reuters photo)

 The Kerala government on Wednesday decided to bring in an ordinance permitting the conduct of burial rituals of Jacobite parishioners in their family cemetery now under the control of the orthodox faction of the Malankara church.

The government decided to take the ordinance route after all efforts to resolve the issue through discussions failed, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters here. A decision in this regard was taken at a cabinet meeting here this morning.

"We had been taking all efforts to resolve the issue. Though we tried to hold discussions, one section refused to come for talks," Vijayan said adding the state government had also made some efforts to resolve the vexed issue. But after all their attempts to find a solution failed, the government decided to bring in the ordinance, he said.

The relatives of the deceased have the right to conduct the funeral rites by a priest of their choice outside the church and then bring the body back to the place of worship for burial, he said. Every person has the right to be cremated in their family cemetery as per the ordinance, Vijayan said.

While pointing out that the government was not taking an adamant stand on the issue, he said their only concern was to ensure speedy burial of the dead. There were instances with the issue turning emotive and law and order problems cropping up, chief minister noted. Vijayan said there was nothing illegal in bringing out the ordinance and the government's only intention was to settle the matter as per law.

The two factions-- Jacobite and Orthodox have been at loggerheads for long over the possession of church properties. After the recent supreme court verdict, over 1000 churches, hitherto held by the Jacobites, were ordered to be handed over to the Orthodox faction, which had insisted that the burial of the body of the Jacobite faithful can be allowed in the cemetery provided their priest is permitted to conduct the last rites.

This was opposed by the Jacobite faction saying that burial rites of their faithful has to be conducted by their priest. Recently, the family of a 91-year-old woman in Alappuzha had to wait for over a month to conduct her funeral, which had got delayed due to the factional feud.

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