THE Supreme Court is considering whether it should make a ruling on the spiritual status of a Sikh leader in a case that could impact upon law and religious institutions in this country.

Sant Baba Jeet Singh Ji Maharaj and his followers have asked the courts to intervene in an international dispute over the ownership of three Gurdwaras, or temples, of which one is based in High Wycombe.

Baba Jeet Singh became the Third Holy Saint and head of the Nirmal Kutia Johal branch of the Sikh religion in Punjab, India, in 2002.

But the legitimacy of his position is being called into dispute by trustees of the three temples, who currently manage and control the Gurdwaras.

The Birmingham High Court ruled in favour of Baba Jeet Singh but, in May, the Court of Appeal overturned the decision and decided the case was non justiciable - an issue that cannot be settled by the court.

Baba Jeet Singh is asking the Supreme Court to challenge the Court of Appeal’s ruling that the issue is non justiciable, in a case that could have implications for both the parties involved and the precedent it could set.

Luke Patel, of Blacks Solicitors LLP which represents Baba Jeet Singh and his followers, said: "His succession is not a religious issue but a factual issue. The courts in India have given a judgment to say that his is the true succession.

"If the courts do not allow an appeal, they are effectively saying that they are not interested in the administration of any English faith-based charities or organisations.

“This could apply to many other organisations: mosques, synagogues or temples."

Professor Satvinder Juss, barrister for the claimants, said the case could impact upon other issues such as the Church of England’s rejection of female bishops and the way the Archbishop of Canterbury is appointed.

He added: “If it’s a case of doctrine or miracle, fair enough, but the court can hear evidence on a case, which it can here, it is justiciable.

“Succession here is a matter of pure evidence - in much the same way as the succession of the ‘Dalai Lama’ is in Tibetan tradition. “If so, and evidence can be called to prove it, then the court cannot disqualify itself from deciding such an issue of fact.”

The Supreme Court is expected to reveal its decision in the new year.