When the Ayodhya case was heard by the Allahabad high court, this point had come up and in previous judgments, the Supreme Court of India had addressed this issue in detail
The deity Ram Lalla is a juristic person and was represented by senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan in the Supreme Court.
The deity becoming a party to a litigation has a long and interesting history. The Indian law makes it clear that a deity of a temple is a juristic person and hence would be party to a suit and represented by a guardian and a counsel.
When the Ayodhya case was heard by the Allahabad high court, this point had come up and in previous judgments, the Supreme Court of India had addressed this issue in detail.
The Supreme Court had said that in Indian law, a deity shall be represented by a trustee. This is because the property of a temple is always managed by the trust. The court was also of the view that since the title deed of the temple is in the name of the deity, it should be made a party to a suit and represented by the trustee. In simple words, the trustee is the guardian of the deity.
In the Ram Temple case, Ram Lalla is a minor. Hence it was said that the trustee would be his guardian. It was held that the Ram Lalla Virajman or the child deity is a legal person and is represented by a human, who is also called the next friend. Ram Lalla in this case is being represented by Trilok Nath Pandey, a member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
While defining the deity as a juristic person, the law says that the legal person is an entity other than a human being which the law attributes a personality.
It further says that they are beings, real or imaginary and the law attributes a personality by the way of fiction when there is none in fact.
The Supreme Court said that a legal person is any entity other than human beings to which a personality is attributed by law. It is not a natural person, but a person artificially created which is to be recognised in law as such the Supreme Court had also said.
The court also said that it is a legal creation under a gender law, like the Companies Act, which is a specific enactment, or by a decision of the court. Such a legal person is holder of rights and duties and can own and dispose property. It can also receive gifts and also sue and be sued.
Under the Hindu law, idols have been recognised as juristic persons. This in turn would personify the deity as a legal person. The courts recognise the Hindu idols as a juristic entity having a judicial status. The interests of the deity are attended to by the person who is charge of the deity and who is a guardian or manager under the law.
The law also says that from the spiritual point of view, an idol is the embodiment of the supreme being. It can figure as a legal person so far as the deity or the idol stands as the representative and symbol of a particular purpose that is indicated by the donor, the law also states. It is also said that the property in question belongs to the idol as he is a juristic person. The possession and management of the property are vested with the manager or the guardian, the law also states.
Last Updated 10:19 AM IST