Bala Sanyasa Legal; No bar against the minor becoming Swami: High Court of Karnataka
The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday upheld the legality of “bala sanyasa” and ruled that there were no legal obstacles preventing a minor from becoming a swami.
A divisional bench of Acting Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum delivered the judgment while dismissing a motion for brief filed questioning the legality of the appointment of 16-year-old Aniruddha Saralathaya (now called Vedavardhana Tirtha) as Peetadhipathi of the Shiroor Mutt in Udupi.
The judiciary read the following excerpt from the judgment when delivered today.
“In other religions like Buddhism, infants have become monks. There is no rule as to the age at which sanyasa / bhiksha can be given. Moreover, there is no of law, no legal prohibition and even less constitutional for a person under the age of 18. To be initiated to sanyasa.
And the religious text that was quoted in the arguments of the amicus curiae makes it very clear that religion allows a person to become a sanyasi before reaching the age of 18 and that there is no such thing as a such prohibition and according to the respondent 6 was certainly empowered bearing in mind the essential religious practices to appoint the respondent 7 as peetatdipati of the Shirur mutt.
According to the opinion concerned, the courts are certainly not intended to draft religious texts. However, they have the obligation to follow the religious texts in matters of religious disputes and to follow all the practices which prevail in the religion, as long as they do not violate the constitutional rights of the individuals ”.
In the present case, Shirur Mutt is a religious denomination and, in accordance with essential religious practices, Respondent 7 became a sanyasi and was appointed peetadhipati of the Shirur mutt. Therefore, without any stretch of the imagination, one cannot assume that the pooch’s core religious practices violate constitutional rights. “
Dismissing the petition, the Court said:
“The petition has not been able to establish a violation of any legal provision or a violation of the constitutional rights guaranteed to the respondent 7. The essential religious practice has continued for 800 years and the appointment of the pontiff is a practice which has existed for the past 800 revealing years of the philosophy and teaching of Sri Madhvacharya.
The Madhya Pradesh High Court Division Bench in Aaarsh Marg Seva Trust et al. V. Madhya Pradesh State, WP No 8310/2019 dealt with essential religious practices and stated in paragraph 72 that “This tribunal is not a wizarding theological tribunal and would transgress its role as constitutional authority by interfering with essential religious practices, which is certainly not contrary to public order, morality, health or any other right fundamental.
In light of the aforementioned judgment, in which the Divisions Tribunal refused to interfere with essential religious practices which have continued from time immemorial, the issue of this tribunal’s interference with the essential religious practice of Shri Shirrrur Mutt who continues for 800 years does not arise. Accordingly, the request is dismissed “
A full copy of the judgment is awaited.
Petitioner P. Lathavya Acharya, represented by lawyer DR Ravishankar, argued that forcing a minor to do “material abandonment” was a violation of the right to life under article 21 of the Constitution.
“You cannot force a minor to do what is not appropriate for his age. The anointing of a minor as sovereign pontiff amounts to imposing a material abandonment on the child, which is contrary to article 21 of the Constitution. In essence, there can be no sannyasa because that will oblige him (minor) to include material abandonment “, argued the petitioner. The petitioner argued that “bala sanyasa” is akin to child labor.
To resolve the issue, the court appointed lead lawyer SS Naganand as amicus curiae, who was of the view that there was no legal obstacle to a minor becoming a swami.
Regarding Bal-sanyasa, he submitted, “The age of majority is estimated at 18 years only for the purpose of entering into a binding contract and assuming responsibilities as majors. It was for this purpose that the Majority Act, 1875 was enacted. While prescribing the age of majority at 18 for this purpose, a specific exception is provided in Article 2 which says that nothing in the law shall affect the religion or religious rites and customs of any category of Indian citizens. … “
“Consequently, for the purposes of religion or religious rites and customs which benefit from the protection of the Constitution as well as international treaties, a person cannot be presumed to be a minor simply because he is under 18 years of age. When the question arises whether any of such person’s rights are violated, it must be considered in all the circumstances and it may not be appropriate to assume that he is a minor for all purposes.
Moreover, it has been said “Among the followers of Madhwacharya in the Udupi region, especially the Ashta Mathas, the practice is to give Sanyasa Deeksha only to a Brahmachari (celibate, celibate). There is, however, no inflexible rule that a person must to be certain It is not necessary that only young boys be introduced to Sanyasa.
Also, it has been said, “If the person thus initiated is under 18, it is only a coincidence. There is no rule of Bala Sanyasa. There is no compulsion or force involved in Sanyasa’s case. wholehearted consent, Sanyasa Deeksha will not be given. There is nothing like the imposition of Sanyasa on a child.
The state government attorney also opposed the petition on maintainability grounds. It was said “A declaration has been requested using a public law remedy, while a private law remedy must be invoked.
(Report to be updated after receipt of the full copy of the judgment)
Case title: P Lathavya Acharya and Karnataka State
Case n °: WP 8926/2021