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Bounden duty of 'shebait' or 'archak' to protect temple property: SC

Bounden duty of 'shebait' or 'archak' to protect temple property: SC

New Delhi, Sep 17 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it is the bounden duty of 'shebait' or 'archak' (devotee), who functions as the custodian of a temple, to protect temple property and they cannot usurp it for their own gains.The apex court said it is well settled that a deity in a Hindu temple is "deemed to be a minor" and the 'shebait', 'archak' or the person functioning as manager or trustee of such temple acts as the guardian of the idol and conducts all transactions on its behalf."However, the 'shebait' or 'archak' is obligated to act solely for the idol's benefit," a bench headed by Justice N V Ramana said in its verdict. "Needless to say, it is the bounden duty of the 'archak' to protect the temple property, and they cannot usurp such property for their own gains," the bench, which also comprised Justices M M Shantanagoudar and Ajay Rastogi, said.The bench said this in its verdict while setting aside the November 2007 judgement of the Karnataka High Court in a matter related to revenue records of suit property of a temple trust.The bench said the temple trust has the right, through its present managing trustee, to undertake proceedings for the benefit of idol for having such wrongful entries in revenue record set aside, and such wrongful entries would not be binding on the temple. It said that the revenue entry should continue to remain in the "name of the temple/owner of the property". PTI ABA MNL SJK RKS AAR