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DEITY IS THE OWNER OF LAND ATTACHED TO TEMPLE: SUPREME COURT

DEITY IS THE OWNER OF LAND ATTACHED TO TEMPLE: SUPREME COURT

Context:

According to the supreme court bench consisting of Judge Hemant Gupta and A S Bopanna, the Deity is the owner of land attached to a temple.

Court’s Ruling:

  • According to the bench, the priest cannot be considered as Bhumiswami (landowner).
  • The priest is in charge of the land by the administration of the temple property only.
  • The SC bench has seen that the patent column only needs the name of the god alone because god as the person with legal authority owns the land.
  • Occupation of the land is also a god performed by a servant or manager in the name of God. Therefore, the name of the manager or priest does not need to be mentioned in the column of an occupier.

SC’s Ruling on Priests:

  • According to the bench, the law clearly states that Pujari is not a tenant in cultivation (Kashtkar Mourushi) or a government lessee or ordinary tenant of the land exempted from payment of revenue (maufi lands). But he holds such land on behalf of Aukaf Department (relating to Devasthan) for its management.
  • The priest is the sole donor to manage the property of God. Such donors can be reconsidered if they fail to perform their assigned tasks such as praying and managing the land.

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