The extent to which we turn our gods into materialistic human beings, came home to me with a news item I came across on page 1 of the most widely read Marathi daily in Pune, “Sakal”. This is how it went:
“Mumbai, 16 July:
The Ganapati Panchayatan Sansthan Trust, set up by the Raja of Sangli, administers five deities—Ganapati, Chintamaneshwari Dev, Chintamaneshwari Devi, Suryanarayan Dev and Laxminaryayan Dev. The income-tax department has issued pan cards in the names of all five deities. The Trust believed that since the law permitted deities to acquire property and the income-tax department had issued pan-cards to all five deities administered by the Trust, the law would also allow them to invest in shares. With this in mind, the Trust applied to the Karur Vaishya Bank to open demat accounts in their names. But the Bank turned down the request. In pursuance of their request, the Trust then filed a plea in the High Court. However, the NSDL, which governs demat accounts, submitted that according to the law, only Trusts that were registered as Public had the right to acquire shares in the name of deities. Private Trusts could acquire shares only in the name of Trustees and not the deities.
The case was heard today by Justice P. B. Muzumdar and Justice Rajendra Sawant. The question that bothered the bench was this. Since anybody could open a demat account in the name of deities and commit fraud, who was to be held responsible for it? The Bench therefore suggested that some responsible member of the Trust should be nominated to accept responsibility for managing the deities’ demat accounts.
The suggestion of the bench was vetoed in toto by the NSDL which stuck to its stand that deities could not be allowed to have demat accounts in their names. Explaining their stand to the Trust, the bench pointed out that the buying and selling of shares required a particular kind of skill which deities did not and could not be expected to possess. Consequently, the bench regretfully rejected the plea filed by the Trust.”
Forget demat accounts. One didn’t even know deities were issued pan cards. The idea has set off a whole chain of puerile posers in my head, beginning with how deities would answer mandatory questions about their names, middle names, surnames and fathers’ names without which nothing can be opened or closed in banks?