May Gods Trade on the Stock Exchange?

No, reports the Economic Times (part of the India Times):

[T]he Bombay High Court … dismiss[ed] a petition seeking orders to authorities to allow Hindu gods to open demat accounts[, …] remark[ing] that dealing in shares required some skill which could not be expected of a deity. The judges wondered that in the event of a fraud committed in the demat account, could the deity be hauled up. The court was hearing a petition filed by Sangli-based Ganpati Panchayatam Sansthan, whose presiding deities are Ganesh, Chintamaneshwardev, Chintamaneshwaridevi, Suryanarayandev and Laxminarayandev. According to the Sansthan’s lawyers Anil Anturkar and Uday Warunjikar, the deities had PAN cards in their names, which makes them eligible for opening a demat account.

The court, however, observed that under the provisions of the law, it is not obligatory for the National Securities Depository Ltd. (NSDL) to provide a demat account to everyone who has a PAN card.

The Sansthan’s advocates pointed to the old Hindu law which treats deities as persons…. They said that even the SC has given the nod to giving Hindu deities the right to acquire property. The petitioners argued that property included movable assets like shares and debentures.

Senior advocate Janak Dwarakadas, counsel for the NSDL, said that as per rules only deities of registered public trusts were allowed to acquire property in their names. As the Sansthan is not registered under the Bombay Public Trusts Act, the deities cannot acquire property in their names. The Sansthan … had in 2008 applied and got PAN cards in the names of the deities. However, when the Sansthan approached a private bank to open a demat account in the name of the deities, the NSDL refused.

If any of our readers can provide some background on the relevant Indian law — and in particular, how, according to the Sansthan, a human being could show that he is acting as the agent of a god in authorizing a trade or any other property transaction — I’d love to hear it. Many thanks to Prof. Bill Poser (Language Log) for the pointer.