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Rights of a ‘Shebait’ in Property Dedicated to Deity

Introduction:

Meaning of Shebait:

A Shebait is any person who serves and supports the deity and works as a manager of the debuttar property.

The properties like the temple or any other land or property which is vested with the deity are managed by the Shebait. Shebait is the only person who has the power to talk on behalf of the deity that is the god or goddess. He has the power to deal with all the affairs of the deity.

Shebaitship gives us two important ideas:

  1. The ministrant of the deity

(ii)      Its manager

Some points on the Relationship between Shebait and Deity:

Shebait and deity have great nature of the relationship. Shebait works as a manager on behalf of the deity. Shebait looks after the requirements of the deity and controls the properties of the deity. It is thought that the properties belong to the deity but in the real sense, the properties are vested with the Shebait who can nurture the properties as he like and according to the requirement of the deity. Shebait and Deity play the role like the two sides of a coin. There is no value of the Shebait without the deity because Shebait performs his duties for the deity and enjoys the property of the deity.

Right and Interests of Shebait in the Debuttar’s Property of the Deity:

“Chintamani Khuntia And Ors. vs The State Of Orissa And Ors. on 5 October 1993”

(Showing the contexts in which Vidya Varuti v. Balusami, appears in the document)

“There is no precise definition for the legal position of a shebait but its applications and implications are well established. The Privy Council in the case Vidya Varuti v. Balusami, 48 TA 302 observed that the relationship of the Shebait in relation to debuttar property is not the same as the trustee to trust property. It is observed in Hindu religion that the ownership of the dedicated property is given to the deity and Shebait acts as a manager on behalf of the deity. The Shebait not only has duties to perform for the deity but has interest and rights in the debuttar property. The Privy Council observed that the shebait has a share in the usufruct of the debuttar property and which depends upon the terms of the grant or upon custom or usage.”

Shebait’s Right of Possession and Alienation:

Since it is considered that deity is the owner of the property, the deity requires human personality or any living person to act on behalf of the deity. He is given the power to provide service to the deity or the idol and work for the benefit and preservation of its property.

“The Calcutta High Court (Appellate Side) Smt. Shakuntala Devi Dalmia & Anr vs Howrah Municipal Corporation & … on 20 November 2009 (Heard on November 20, 2009, Judgment on November 20, 2009) has held that it is not required by the shebait to take the permission of any court for alienating a property which is owned by the deity.” 

Sri B.K Mukherjee in his book “The Hindu Law of Religious and Charitable Trusts” has specified some conditions under which the office of the shebait can be delivered to any other person:

  1. When there is no pecuniary benefit and the transferee is the next heir of the transferor and suffers no disqualification relating to the performance of the duties.
  2. And where the delivery is made in the interests of the deity.
  3. And also where a valid institute is proved sanctioning alienation of shebaiti right with a limited circle of purchasers who are potential shebaits of the deity.

Conclusion:

This is an important topic discussed above and day by day many disputes are arising in the matters of shebait and deity. Shebait works as a manager on behalf of the deity. Shebait looks after the requirements of the deity and controls the properties of the deity. There are legal aids to solve disputes of shebait and deity. The above content mainly explains the rights and relationship between the shebait and deity.

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