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Indian Courts Uphold that Deities Are Legal Entities

on 2010/10/10 9:04:01 ( 8260 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 2010: It may have come as a surprise to many when a God, Bhagwan Sri Ram Virajman, fought litigation for the last 21 years before the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court through his representative, Deoki Nandan Agarwal and has now won ownership rights over the disputed site in Ayodhya.

Can a Deity, like a normal human being, fight a legal battle? The HC replied in the affirmative. This court is of the view that place of birth, that is Ram Janmabhoomi, is a juristic person.

In the Indian judicial system, deities have always been regarded as legal entities who can fight their case through the trustees or managing board in charge of the temple in which they are worshiped.

[HPI note: The ancient Indian system of law recognized Gods as legal entities. Many of the lands around Chidambaram temple, for example, were registered as property of "Nataraja." Alas, under the British, many men named Nataraja successfully claimed vast swaths of land as their own.]

The Supreme Court, in Sri Adi Visheshwara of Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi, vs State of UP [1997 (4) SCC 606 recognized, though not for the first time, the right of a Deity to move court and said, Properties of endowment vest in the Deity, Lord Sri Vishwanath. It dismissed the claim of the priests that they alone had the right to manage the temple on behalf of the Deity and said management of the temple by mahant/pandas/archakas did not mean it became their property. It upheld the Act saying it was merely for better management of the temple.

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