SC: A temple is a public temple if its manager is appointed by the Govt.

Today, i.e. on 27th February 2019, in the matter of Shri Ram Mandir Indore v. State of Madhya Pradesh and Others, the Hon’ble Supreme Court pronounced that if the Temple property is taken on lease from the Government, the manager of such temple is estopped from denying that the temple properties are under the management and control of the Government.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

The onus of proving that a temple falls within the description of private temple is on the person who is asserting that the temple is a private temple and that he is the manager of the temple. (This inference has been drawn on the basis of Para 12)

The participation of the members of the public in the Darshan in the temple and in the daily acts of worship or in the celebrations may be a very important factor to consider in determining the character of the temple. (Para 14)

Absence of blood-relationship between successive managers of temple is indicative of public character of the temple because in case of a private temple, the succession would be hereditary and would be governed by the principles of Hindu succession i.e. by blood, marriage and adoption. Therefore if each manager is not having a blood relation with his predecessor manager, a temple cannot be held to be a private temple. (This inference has been drawn on the basis of Para 16)

Appointment of manager of a temple by the Government, estops him from contending that the temple is a private temple and such an appointment is indicative of the public character of the temple. (This inference has been drawn on the basis of Para 18)

If the Temple property is taken on lease from the Government, the manager of such temple is estopped from denying that the temple properties are under the management and control of the Government. (This inference has been drawn on the basis of Para 25)

Copy of judgement: Judgement_27-Feb-2019

-Tushar Kaushik

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