ANR Programme 2009-2013
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A Joint Programme on Justice and Governance in India and South Asia
(Hosted by Centre for Himalayan Studies)

Publication 2016: Filing Religion

Starting July 4, 2016 - Ending July 4, 2026

'Filing Religion. State, Hinduism, and Courts of Law' explores how the apparently 'technical'-legalistic action taking place in the courts of law significantly shapes the place that Hinduism occupies in Indian and Nepalese societies

Filing Religion. State, Hinduism, and Courts of Law

edited by Daniela Berti, Gilles Tarabout, and Raphaël Voix, 2016, New-Delhi, Oxford University Press LINK to the Publisher's Announcement

The Indian Constitution posits a separation between a secular domain that the state regulates and a religious domain in which it should not interfere. However, defining the separation between the two has proved contentious - the state is directly involved in the administration of several religious institutions and the courts are regularly asked to decide on rights linked to religious functions and bodies. Such decisions contribute to (re)defining the religious categories and practices.

This volume explores how the apparently 'technical'-legalistic action taking place in the courts of law significantly shapes the place that Hinduism occupies in Indian and Nepalese societies, perhaps even more so than the ideology of any political party. The approach developed in this volume is resolutely historical and anthropological. It considers law as part of social, religious and political dynamics, and does not deal as much with the politics of secularism in general, as with how courts deal in practice with Hinduism, and how it contributes to shaping contemporary Hinduism.

Table of Contents:

Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan: Foreword

Daniela Berti, Gilles Tarabout, & Raphaël Voix: Introduction

  • Section I: Secular Issues and Court Pratice
    • Gilles Tarabout: Birth vs. Merit: Kerala Temple Priests and the Courts
    • Chiara Letizia: National Gods at Court: Secularism and the Judiciary in Nepal
  • Section II: Gods' Affairs
    • Daniela Berti: Plaintiff Deities. Ritual Honours as Fundamental Rights in India
    • Deepa Das Acevedo: Celibate Gods and 'Essential Practices' Jurisprudence at Sabarimala, 1991-2011
    • Ute Hüsken: Slaves and Sons: The Court Dynamics of a Religious Dispute in South India
  • Section III: Ascetics and the Law
    • Raphaël Voix: The Legal Making of a 'Hindu Sect'. Understanding the Tandava Case in its Context
    • France Bhattacharya: British Justice and the Lustful Mahant
    • Malavika Kasturi: 'This Land is Mine': Mahants, Civil Law and Political Articulations of Hinduism in Twentieth Century North India
    • Catherine Clémentin-Ojha: Claiming Religious Rights from a Secular Power. Judgment Regarding the Rules of Succession to the Position of Shebait in a North Indian Temple
  • Section IV: Personal Law: Twists and Turns
    • Jean Louis Halpérin: Recent Changes in Case Law Concerning Hindu Marriage
    • Srimati Basu: Unfair Advantage?: Polygyny and Adultery in Indian Personal Law