A deity does not have constitutional rights: Justice Chandrachud

Lord Ayyappa adorned with the Thanga Anki. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

A deity in a temple does not have any constitutional rights, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud wrote in his separate opinion.

Fundamental rights are meant for individuals not deities or idols.

Justice Chandrachud was countering arguments raised that the right to preserve the celibacy of the deity in the Sabarimala temple is a “protected constitutional right”. This constitutional right of the deity extends to excluding women from entering and praying at the Sabarimala temple.

Justice Chandrachud observed that the law recognises an idol or deity as a “juristic person which can own property and can sue and be sued in the court of law”. But to claim that a deity is the bearer of constitutional rights is a distinct issue, the judge reasoned.

“Merely because a deity has been granted limited rights as juristic persons under statutory law does not mean that the deity necessarily has constitutional rights,” Justice Chandrachud observed.

“The fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution are geared towards the recognition of the individual as its basic unit. The individual is the bearer of rights under Part III of the Constitution. The deity may be a juristic person for the purposes of religious law and capable of asserting property rights. However, the deity is not a ‘person’ for the purpose of Part III of the Constitution. The legal fiction which has led to the recognition of a deity as a juristic person cannot be extended to the gamut of rights under Part III of the Constitution,” Justice Chandrachud held.

On the other hand, the exclusion of women from the Sabarimala temple effects both, the religious and civic rights of the individual.

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Printable version | Oct 29, 2020 7:07:23 PM |

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