Court Summons Hindu Gods

Hindu gods get court summons – Telegraph: “An Indian judge has summoned two Hindu gods to help resolve a 20-year-old property dispute.

Sunil Kumar Singh has placed notices in newspapers in the coal mining town of Dhanbad, in the eastern state of Jharkhand, asking gods Ram and Hanuman to appear in his court next week to present their arguments.

“You failed to appear in court despite notices sent by a messenger and later through registered post. You are hereby directed to appear before the court personally,” Judge Singh’s notice stated.”

Evidently it’s not uncommon for Hindu gods to be deemed legal entities when, as here, the action is a property dispute affecting a Hindu place of worship.

Slaw has blogged about god before:

The Devil Made Him Do It


  1. As Simon C reminded us, the last time around there’s

    the Mallick v. Mallick case of 1925 which says, “a Hindu idol is according to the long established authority founded upon the religious customs of the Hindus, and the recognition thereof by the courts of law in India and the Privy Council a juristic entity. It has a judicial status with the power of suing and being sued.”

  2. That’s all very well but how do you levy execution and what do you get if you do?

  3. On the metaphysical level? Probably a date with Shiva or her avatar for which one had best be well-armed, for what little good that would likely do.

    On the mundane level? Deities have been known to acquire earthly manifestations of their proclaimed status.

    One solution, no doubt, assuming the deity has assets in Ontario would be to levy in Ontario where, as Ontario lawyers and some readers of Slaw will recall, non-humans don’t have status to sue in the civil courts.

    In short, grab and take one’s chances. If the deity appears, you’ll make a fortune selling the story to the supermarket tabloids. (if you survive the encounter. This presumes the deity would consider itself bound by local rules and would not resort to, shall we say, extraordinary rendition or other forms self-help.

  4. Just a little note on this one: we might want to make that “Shiva or his avatar”…

  5. Ah but surely Lord Shiva is beyond mere gender. An iconographic representation of Shiva called Ardhanarishvara shows him with one half of the body as male, and the other half as female. According to Ellen Goldberg, the traditional Sanskrit name for this form, (Ardhanārīśvara) is best translated as “the lord who is half woman”, and not as “half-man, half-woman”. Certainly looks mezzo-mezzo:

  6. Dieties are ONLY juridical persons, just as a company is. Company cannot be summoned. its directors ca. Company cannot be imprisoned, but directors can.

    A juridical person CANNOT be summoned, only those acting on its behalf can be.

    The summon was idiotic and should have been issued to the custodian of the temple.

  7. Nicely put Mr. Sharma. Just to add to it, this is a legal fiction which has been introduced into the Indian legal jurisprudence (as not sure if there are other countries as well which share the feeling) such that religious temples, shrines and deities could be dealt with under law and their properties etc. could be brought to tax.
    India is a nation with lot of religious following, which translates into millions in donations and charities in the name of God. To put it straight, Tirputi Balaji is the richest God in the world, if compared in terms of the donations it receives annually.
    Legally, the deity (the main God to whom the temple is devoted) is considered a legal entity but a perpetual minor and therefore the Pujari (the temple-keeper) is the deemed legal guardian entrusted with fulfilling all the legal obligations of the deity, such as keeping accounts, spending the collections received in the best interest of deity and even filing tax returns.
    So the summons should rightly have been sent to the Pujari of the temple.