Little Impact on Other Religion Cases: Experts After Kerala Temple Verdict

INDIA, July 14, 2020 (Hindustan Times): The impact of the Supreme Court judgment in the Padmanabhaswamy temple case on other cases relating to Shebait [temple manager] or religious rights may be limited because the ruling is based on the existence of a 1950 law enacted by the state of Travancore-Cochin, which was the precursor to the Kerala state, legal experts told the Hindustan Times. The Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act (TC Act), more specifically Section 18 (2) of the act, provides that the administration of the Padmanabhaswamy temple and all other properties and funds of the temple be vested with the ruler of Travancore.

“The right under Section 18 (2) of the Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act, 1950, is specific to the covenants entered in this particular case. The question was whether it extended to the ruler alone or his successors as well, for which the high court answered in the negative while the Supreme Court in the affirmative. No proposition of law in rem (applicable in general) was laid down in either of the judgments,” Supreme Court advocate Sriram Parakkat said. “The impact of this judgment would be limited to such cases where there are specific laws providing for religious/Shebait rights,” he added. “Every ruler of Travancore is engaged in the service of Sri Padmanabhaswamy, and is known as Padmanabha Dasas. Under Hindu Law, the property stands vested in the God of the temple and not shebait. Shebaitship is inherent in the founder and unless a contrary custom exists, it is a heritable right,” advocate V. Shyamohan, who represented the royal family, said.

For a more technical analysis of the decision see: … nabha-swamy-temple-159837

See also: … perty-dedicated-to-deity/
for a complete explanation of the concept of “shebait.”