Rahul Govind


The following paper will analyse the concept and context of the ‘juristic person’ as it takes form in the Ayodhya case and the Ayodhya judgments (2010 and 2019) thereby revealing in a concrete sense the deep and dense entanglement of the religious, the secular, and the national. After a brief introduction to the case, where the title was given to Ramlalla as a juristic person by the Supreme Court, the paper moves on to show that the concept had arisen in Europe which had provided the historical and theoretical context for its employment in relation to the Hindu deity in colonial and post-colonial Indian jurisprudence. The next section will analyse the applicability of limitation on the plaintiffs Ramlalla and Janmasthan (as juristic persons) as discussed and adjudicated upon by the judgments of the High Court as well as Supreme Court. This will be followed by a discussion of the argument of the continuity of faith, belief, and worship at the disputed site ‘since time immemorial’. The penultimate section will focus on the implications of the Supreme Court’s denial of juristic personality to plaintiff 2 (Janmasthan) and its affirmation of plaintiff 1 (Ramlalla) as a juristic person in the 2019 judgment. It will argue that the very same reasons which led to the denial of juristic personality, which would require precise evidence of a founding moment, to Janmasthan were equally applicable to Ramlalla who by the same logic should have been denied a juristic personality. The conclusion shows that notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s stated commitment to secularism in the judgment and its cognizance of the case as one over title to immovable property, the only (unstated) ‘rationale’ for its findings lie in the acceptance of ‘belief and faith’; a faith and belief which is ultimately subtended by a conflation between the religious and the national. This reveals a central contradiction at the heart of the judgment, with unstated and questionable assumptions about the national and the religious.