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Home Dictionary Definition shebaitship
Shebaitship, property dedicated to an idol vests in it in an ideal sense only; ex necessitas, the possession and management has to be entrusted to some human agent. Such an agent of the idol is known as shebait in Northern India. The legal character of a shebait cannot be defined with precision and exactitude. Broadly described, he is the human ministrant and custodian of the idol, its earthly spokesman, its authorised representative entitled to deal with all its temporal affairs and to manage its property. As regards the administration of the debutter, his position is analogous to that of a trustee; yet, he is not precisely in the position of a trustee in the English sense, because under Hindu Law, property absolutely dedicated to an idol, vests in the idol, and not in the shebait. Although the debutter never vests in the shebait, yet, peculiarly enough, almost in every case, the shebait has a right to a part of the usufruct, the mode of enjoyment; and the amount of the usufruct depending again on usage and custom, if not devised by the founder. Shebaitship being property, it devolves like any other species of heritable property. It follows that, where the founder does not dispose of the shebaiti rights in the endowment created by him, the shebaitship devolves on the heirs of the founder according to Hindu Law, if no usage or custom of a different nature is shown to exist, Profulla Chrone Requitte v. Satya Chorone Requitte, AIR 1979 SC 1682 (1686): (1979) 3 SCC 409: (1979) 3 SCR 431.

(ii) Shebaitship is in the nature of immovable property heritable by the widow of the last male holder unless there is an usage or custom of a different nature in cases where the founder has not disposed of the shebaiti right in the endowment created by him. Shebaitship is a property which is heritable. The devolution of the office of shebait depends on the terms of the deed or the Will or on the endowment or the act by which the deity was installed and property consecrated or given to the deity

Shambhu Charan Shukla v. Thakur Ladli Radha Chandra Madan Gopalji Maharaj, AIR 1985 SC 905 (909): (1985) 2 SCC 524: (1985) 3 SCR 372.
Latest Supreme Court Judgment on shebaitship – Sri Marthanda Varma (D) Th. Lr. . Vs. State of Kerala . – Supreme Court Judgment (13 July 2020)