God is the sole owner, not the priest or manager of the temple property : SC

Priests, Managers, other staff are only servants !

Editor’s Comments

  • Hindus expect the Supreme Court to now direct the Government to hand over the temples to devotees by issuing a similar order in the context of Government-takeover of temples.

New Delhi – When it comes to the land and property of a temple, the Deity in the temple should be referred to as the ‘owner’. The priest only worships and manages the property. The name of the priest or manager is not required to be mentioned in the revenue certificates because the land belongs to that Deity, the Supreme Court ruled in a case. It gave this important verdict in the context of a petition filed by the Madhya Pradesh Government, which had issued two orders to remove the names of priests from the records of the Revenue Department.
This step was taken so that the priests should not sell temple property unauthorisedly. However, Madhya Pradesh High Court quashed those circulars. The MP Government had filed a special petition in the Supreme Court against the High Court verdict.

The SC said that only the name of the Deity should be mentioned in the column ‘property owner’ because according to the law, the land belongs to that Deity. The land is also used by the Deity Himself through servants or managers, etc. Therefore, there is no need to write the name of the administrator or the priest in the column ‘User’. The priest is only a servant, and he serves the Deity concerned. Although these servants have performed various ceremonies and functions for a long time, they do not receive independent ownership rights over the temples.

All the evidence shows that the work of the priest concerned was only to worship and he did not have any other rights which are entrusted to other servants.
Citing the relevant rules and previous judgments, the Supreme Court clarified that name of the manager need not appear in the land records. The priest is appointed to manage the property of the Deity, and if his services were found unsatisfactory, he may be stripped of his post. There is no need to accept him as the ‘owner of the temple land’.