Filing Religion: State, Hinduism, and Courts of Law

ISBN : 9780199463794

Daniela Berti; Gilles Tarabout; Raphael Voix
372 ページ
138 x 216 mm

The Indian Constitution posits a separation between a secular domain that the state can regulate and a religious one in which it should not interfere. However, defining the separation between the two has proved contentious: the state is involved in various ways in the direct administration of many religious institutions; and courts are regularly asked to decide on rights linked to religious functions and bodies. Such decisions contribute to (re)defining religious categories and practices. This edited volume aims at exploring how apparently technical legalistic action taking place in courts of law significantly shapes the place Hinduism occupies in Indian and Nepalese societies, perhaps even more so than the ideology of any political party. Thus, this volume does not deal so much with politics of secularism in general, but with how courts deal in practice with Hinduism. The approach developed in this volume is resolutely historical and anthropological. It considers law as part of social, religious, and political dynamics while relying on in-depth ethnography and archival research.


1. Birth vs Merit: Kerala Temple Priests and the Courts
Gilles Tarabout
2. National Gods at Court: Secularism and the Judiciary in Nepal
Chiara Letizia
3. Plaintiff Deities: Ritual Honours as Fundamental Rights in India
Daniela Berti
4. Celibate Gods and 'Essential Practices' Jurisprudence at Sabarimala, 1991-2011
Deepa Das Acevedo
5. Slaves and Sons: The Court Dynamics of a Religious Dispute in South India
Ute Husken
6. The Legal Making of a 'Hindu Sect': Understanding the Tandava Case in Its Context
Raphael Voix
7. British Justice and the Lustful Mahant
France Bhattacharya
8. 'This Land is Mine': Mahants, Civil Law and Political Articulations of Hinduism in Twentieth Century North India
Malavika Kasturi
9. Claiming Religious Rights from a Secular Power: Judgment Regarding the Rules of Succession to the Position of Shebait in a North Indian Temple
Catherine Clementin-Ojha
10. Recent Changes in Case Law Concerning Hindu Marriage
Jean-Louis Halperin
11. Unfair Advantage? Polygyny and Adultery in Indian Personal Law
Srimati Basu
Notes on Editors and Contributors


Daniela Berti is a social anthropologist and research fellow at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Paris, and a member of the Centre for Himalayan Studies (CEH), Villejuif.; Gilles Tarabout is a social anthropologist and Emeritus Senior Fellow at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Paris.; Raphael Voix is a research fellow at National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Paris, and a member of the Center for Indian and South Asian Studies (CEIAS).