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Published 19:21 IST, May 7th 2024

Litigant Adds Lord Hanuman as Party to Case, Delhi HC Imposes Rs 1 Lakh Cost

The Delhi High Court slapped Rs 1 lakh costs on a litigant for including Lord Hanuman as a party in a dispute over a temple constructed on private land.

Reported by: Digital Desk
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Litigant Adds Lord Hanuman as Party to Case, Delhi HC Imposes Rs 1 Lakh Cost | Image: Pexels
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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court slapped Rs 1 lakh costs on a litigant for including Lord Hanuman as a party in a dispute over a temple constructed on private land. 

Justice C Hari Shankar prevented the litigant from claiming that Lord Hanuman should share the costs of the petition by saying sarcastically, “In order to avoid Appellant 1 Ankit Mishra now advancing the contention that the costs had to be shared by Lord Hanuman, it is clarified that the costs would be entirely payable by him- with a small 'h‘.”

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The order came in a matter in which certain persons (defendants) took land by adverse possession and built a temple on it. 

The actual owner of the land (plaintiff) moved a plea seeking to vacate the defendants from the land. 

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A settlement decree was eventually passed by the trial court by which plaintiff agreed to pay Rs 11 lakh to the defendants to vacate the land. 

However, the defendants refused to vacate the land which led the plaintiff filed an execution petition. 

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An objection plea was filed by the appellant in the High Court (Mishra) before the lower court stating that the land belongs to Lord Hanuman  (in whose honour the temple was built), he was entitled to protect the deity's interest as his next friend. The lower court dismissed the plea, Mishra knocked the doors of the High Court.

Justice Hari Shankar began his judgment by saying, "I never thought that God would, one day, be a litigant before me. This appears, however, thankfully, to be a case of Divinity By Proxy."

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He added that this is the worst and most pernicious kind of practice that can be resorted to.

"Worse, in order to lend a veneer of credibility to his ill-motivated objections, Ankit Mishra chose to include Lord Hanuman as objector 2," the Court stated.

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"The submission that Appellant 1 was entitled to defend Lord Hanuman as his next friend does not, therefore, survive for consideration," the Court added.

The High Court further stated that there is no restriction on permitting the public to pray at a temple during holidays provided the temple is built on private property primarily for the benefit of the founder and their family.

The Court noted, public worship at a private temple does not ipso facto imply that the temple is open to the public.

"Neither does the land on which a private temple is constructed vest in the deity, merely because the public are allowed to worship there. What is of essence is the purpose for which the temple was constructed and dedicated to the deity consecrated in it, and the purpose for which the temple has been thrown open to the public. The onus to establish that the temple, though initially privately constructed, acquires public character with the passage of time, is all the persons who asserting," said the court. 

The court dismissed the appeal at the threshold and directed Mishra to cover the costs for Malik.


 

19:21 IST, May 7th 2024