BBC News, Friday, 7 December 2007
By Amarnath Tewary,Patna
A judge in India has summoned two Hindu gods, Ram and Hanuman, to help resolve a property dispute. Judge Sunil Kumar Singh in the eastern state of Jharkhand has issued adverts in newspapers asking the gods to "appear before the court personally".
The gods have been asked to appear before the court on Tuesday, after the judge said that letters addressed to them had gone unanswered. Ram and Hanuman are among the most popular Indian Hindu gods.
Judge Singh presides in a "fast track" court - designed to resolve disputes quickly - in the city of Dhanbad. The dispute is now 20 years old and revolves around the ownership of a 1.4 acre plot of land housing two temples.
The deities of Ram and Hanuman, the monkey god, are worshipped at the two temples on the land. Temple priest Manmohan Pathak claims the land belongs to him. Locals say it belongs to the two deities.
The two sides first went to court in 1987. A few years ago, the dispute was settled in favour of the locals. Then Mr Pathak challenged the verdict in a fast track court.
Judge Singh sent out two notices to the deities, but they were returned as the addresses were found to be "incomplete".
This prompted him to put out adverts in local newspapers summoning the gods.
"You failed to appear in court despite notices sent by a peon and later through registered post. You are herby directed to appear before the court personally", Judge Singh's notice said.
The two Hindu gods have been summoned as the defence claimed that they were owners of the disputed land. "Since the land has been donated to the gods, it is necessary to make them a party to the case," local lawyer Bijan Rawani said.
Mr Pathak said the land was given to his grandfather by a former local king.