In this article, we are going to discuss the topic Law of Status or legal status of an unborn child, dead man, animals, idol, mosque, and Guru Granth Sahib, etc. Let’s begin.
In the last article, we discuss the topic of legal personality and kinds of person.
Status is a condition that arises due to the membership of a class or group and affects the rights and duties of the members of that class. Law of status is the law that determined the natural, the domestic and the extra domestic relation of a man with the others in a civilized society.
Legal Status of Unborn Person/Child:-
A child in the womb of the mother is presumed as already born by legal fiction. If he is born alive, he will get legal status.
English law –
Under English law, in case of Re Wilmers Trusts Moore vs. Wingfield, (1903) 1Ch S 38 it was held that a child in mother’s womb is treated as in existence and property can be vested in its name. Article 906 of the French Civil Code permits the transfer of property in favour of an unborn person.
Indian law –
Under sec.13 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, the property can be transferred for the benefit of an unborn person by way of trust.
Injury to a child in the womb is a punishable offence under sections 312, 313, and 316 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. And the punishment for it is provided under section 315 of the IPC, 1860.
Legal status of Dead Man:-
Dead person is not a legal person. As soon as a man dies he ceases to have a legal personality. Dead men do not remain as bearers of rights and duties anymore. Actio personalis moritur cum persona- which means action dies with the death of the man. Personality comes to an end with the death of a person. Yet, law to some extent recognizes and takes account of the desires or intentions of a deceased person. Law ensures a decent burial, it respects the wishes of the deceased regarding the disposal of his property, protects his reputation and in some cases continues pending action instituted by or against a person who is now deceased. Basically, the dead person gets three types of rights:-
1. Right relating to his Body (Burial)
2. Right relating to Reputation,
3. Right related to his Estate.
Legal status of Lower Animals:-
Animals are not capable of having legal rights and duties and hence they are not legal persons like a human being because they are merely things and have no natural or legal rights. Salmond regards them mere objects of legal rights and duties but never subjects of them.
The modern law holds the master liable for the wrong caused by their pets, beasts and animals and vice-versa. The liability so imposed on the master does not arise out of the principle of vicarious liability but due to the negligence in keeping the animal well within the control. However, the law seeks to extend protection to animals in two ways, as follows;
1. Cruelty to animals is an offence, (The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960), and
2. A trust for the benefit of a particular class of animals as opposed to one for individual animals is valid and enforceable as a public and charitable trust.
Legal Status of Idol:-
It has been judicially decided that an idol is a juristic person and as such, it can bear property. However, its position is just like that of a minor because the priest, i.e. Pujari acts as a guardian to look after the interest of the idol/deity. In a historical case of Pramatha Nath Mullick Vs. Pradyumna Kumar Mullick, (1925) 52 IA 245 the Privy Council held that an idol/deity is a juristic person and its will as to its location must be duly respected.
Legal Status of Mosque:-
Regarding the legal personality of the Mosque, the courts have expressed conflicting views.
In the case of Maula Bux Vs. Hafizudding AIR 1925 Lah 372 the High Court of Lahore held that a Mosque was a juristic person capable of being sued.
But in the case ofMasjid Shahid Ganj Vs. Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, (1940) 67 IA 251, the Privy Council held a contrary view and held that Mosques are not artificial persons in the eyes of law and, therefore, no suit can be brought by or against them. The Privy Council, however, left the question open whether for any purpose, a Mosque can be regarded as a juristic person.
Legal Status of Guru Granth Sahib:-
The Supreme Court in the case of Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee vs. Somnath Das,(2000) 2 SCC 186, has ruled that ‘Guru Granth Sahib’, the holy Granth of Sikhs is a legal person. The Court rejected the plea to compare Guru Granth Sahib with the Hindu Idol because Idol-worship is contrary to Sikh religious tenets but at the same time asserted that the Sikhs have the same regard and respect for Guru Granth Sahib as the Hindu have for an Idol. And further the Court pointed out that Gurudwara and the Guru Granth Sahib are not separate legal entities, because the existence of the Gurudwara is because of the installation of the Guru Granth Sahib which is its nucleus.
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