Decoding Indian jurisprudence and how Ram Lalla became a litigant in the Ayodhya case

Vicky Nanjappa

New Delhi, Nov 09: Arguments in the Ayodhya case concluded last month. Today the Supreme Court will deliver its verdict in the case.

During the hearing arguments were advanced by the counsel for Ram Lalla in length.
C S Vaidyanathan appeared for Ram Lalla, the deity, who in this case is a juristic person.

This is a very interesting aspect of the Indian law, which states that a deity of a temple is a juristic person. This question had cropped up when the Allahabad High Court was hearing the Ayodhya case.

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The issue regarding the rights of a deity has been addressed by the Supreme Court in the past. In Indian jurisprudence, a deity can be represented through the trustees, since most of the property concerning a religious place is always managed by the trust.

This indicates that the title deed is in the name of the deity and hence it can be a party to a suit.

In the Ayodhya case, Ram Lalla is being represented by a guardian since the deity is a minor.

A juristic person:

The law says they are beings, real or imaginary, to whom the law attributes a personality by way of fiction when there is none in fact. A legal personality is an artificial creation of the law. According to the Supreme Court, 'A legal person is any entity other than human beings to which the law attributes a personality'. The words 'juristic person' connote the recognition of an entity to be a person in law which otherwise it is not. In other words, 'it is not a natural person but an artificially created person which is to be recognised in law as such'.

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Juristic, legal or artificial person is any subject matter to which the law attributes a personality. It is a legal creation under a general law like the Companies Act, a specific enactment, or by a decision of the court. A legal person is a holder of rights and duties, can own and dispose of property, can receive gifts, and it can sue and be sued in its name.

Idols have been recognised to be juristic persons in Hindu law, which personifies the deity as a legal person. A Hindu idol is recognised by courts as a juristic entity having a judicial status, and its interests are attended to by a person who is in charge of the deity and who under the law is its guardian or manager.

The property in question belongs to the idol as a juristic person and the possession and management of the same are vested with the guardian or the manager.

In one case, the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court had ruled that from the spiritual point of view, an idol is the embodiment of the supreme being. So far as the deity or idol stands as the representative and symbol of a particular purpose indicated by the donor, it can figure as a legal person.

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