Is the Supreme Court to rule on the legitimacy of a “Holy Saint”?
20 Tuesday Nov 2012
The Guardian has reported that an application has been made to the Supreme Court by the followers of Sant Baba Jeet Singh Ji Maharaj over a dispute about the ownership of three Sikh temples (or Gurdwaras). The legitimacy of Jeet Singh as the “Third Holy Saint” has been challenged by other leaders in the Kutia Johal branch of Sikhism.
The Court of Appeal ( EWCA Civ 983) defined the question for the court to answer as:
“Whether the 9th claimant, Sant Baba Jeet Singh Ji Maharaj, is, as he and his fellow claimants assert, “the Third Holy Saint” and whether he is “successor” (via the Second Holy Saint) to the First Holy Saint, who was the founder of the Gurdwaras in the 1980s. In rather more concrete terms, is the 9th claimant in the designated line of spiritual succession that entitled him to exercise a power conferred by the trust deeds of two religious charities to remove the defendants as trustees and to replace them with his fellow claimants?”
Mummery LJ held that the issue was not justiciable, stating that the court could not “possibly decide that kind of question with any degree of confidence or credibility”.
Jeet Singh’s supporters argue that there are broader issues at stake, such as whether powers held by leaders in religious institutions are enforceable in law or are technically worthless, and that the dispute over his succession is a factual issue. If the Supreme Court accepts that the case is admissible there could be a full hearing listed for next year.