In Hindu law the mere fact that an idol has been established does not itself create debattar. It seems to be likewise correct to say that mere building of the fire temple did not create the endowment. It is only when the temple was accompanied by endowment of properties that it became an endowment of properties that it became an endowment in the sense that a debattar becomes. It has been stated in Mukherjee’s Hindu Law of Religious and Charitable Trust (2nd ed., p. 142) that
a religious trust by way of debattar can come into existence only when the property is dedicated for worship or service of the idol. In Hindu law, again, where there is a document, the same will prove the terms and conditions of the endowment. In the absence of document it is permissible to prove the nature and the terms of dedication or endowment. In Hindu law, various kinds of evidence have been taken into consideration in the determination of the question whether a trust is a public or private trust.
- The question of the nature of shebaiti right, it is well settled now that Shebaiti right is an amalgam of office which enjoins the performance of some religious or spiritual duties and also some material benefits and as such is a property. But the concept of “property” in its application to the office of a shebait is to be understood not in its ordinary or unqualified sense. Shebaitship thus is a property of a very special nature. Reference may be made to. Manohar Mukherji Vs. Bhupendranath Mukherji ; AIR 1943 89 (Privy Council) Pran Krishna Das Vs. Controller of Estate Duty, West Bengal, Calcutta, ; Angurbala Mullick Vs. Debabrata Mullick, ; and The Commissioner, Hindu Religious Endowments, Madras Vs. Sri Lakshmindra Thirtha Swamiar of Sri Shirur Mutt., ; Bameswar Bamdev Shiva and Another Vs. Anath Nath Mukherjee and Another, .
- Originally a shebait was considered to be only a manager of a deity and is entitled to discharge the religious, spiritual or even the mundane duties which are required for the worship of the deity. Although, unlike the law of Trust, the debattar estate is not vested in the shebait various principles relating to the law of Trust are applicable to the case of shebaitship. The duties of shebaits are personal and, as such cannot be delegated to any other person. Not onlv the shebait is enjoined to arrange or perform religious ceremonies or practices but also he is entitled to get the benefit which the settler has provided in the Deed of endowment or the Arpannama as secular benefits to the office of shebaitship. As shebaitship involves religious duties it was thought that ordinarily right of shebaitship could not be alienated. It was subsequently, however, thought that if a shebait duly appointed under the Deed of Endowment, relinquishes or surrenders his right of shebaitship he can do so provided he has transferred all his rights of shebaitship to the transferee and also that he transfers the same in favour of all the persons who are next entitled to shebaitship under the Deed of Endowment. But the courts in India have also held that the transfer of she-baiti rights is valid provided the transfer is not inconsistent with the consent of a religious office in shebaitship and also the intention of the founder of the trust. A new situation, however, arose when the Supreme Court in Angurbala Mullick Vs. Debabrata Mullick, has held that shebaitship is a recognised form of property in Hindu Law and there is nothing in the Hindu Women’s Right to Property Act, 1937 which prevents the General Law as Succession to be applicable to shebaitship as well. In certain cases, the validity of a transfer inter-vivos or by will by a shebait in favour of some or all the heirs of the last shebaits arose and the learned Judges in the farts of the respective cases came to conflicting conclusions validating or invalidating such transfer. Juristically the “concept of property” or ownership involves a right of alienation but there are special laws relating to transfer of certain categories of property. To illustrate, right of franchise is a property which cannot be transferred under any circumstances. Similarly copyright or patent rights can be transferred only in a qualified manner. A right to sue cannot be transferred but an actionable claim or a chose in action can be assigned under certain limitations. Shebaitship also constitutes a special kind ol property, transfer of which is permissible in a qualified sense. Transfer of a shebaiti right is invalid if the transferee is a person who is incapable or incompetent to discharge the religious duties according to Hindu Law or whose appointment as a shebait is not beneficial to the worship of the deity. Thus, the transfer of shebaitship might be declared valid if it does not conflict with well established principles of Hindu Law.
- Concept of debattar property
- Absolute debattar arpannama
- Debattar endowment
- Income of the debattar estate
- Conditional debattar
- Debattar for exclusive religious purpose
- Debattar and Sebait of the Debattar
- Hereditary Shebait
- Public Debattar
- Private Debattar
- Maintenance and management of Debattar
- Funds of the debattar estate
- Right of worship
- Debattar Estate and transfer of property
- The Deity
- Trust Committee
- Family Thakur / Griha Devata
- Kalighat Temple Committee
- Tax liability
- Transfer of a shebaiti right