(1) The petitioner in this revision petition was the defendant in the Court of the Civil Judge, Kunita, in which the respondent was the plaintiff, who brought a suit against him for the recovery of Rs. 491-3-0 which amount, according to the plaintiff, had been received by the defendant from the Collector between the year 1949 and the year 1952. It is not disputed that these amounts represented the grants which the plaintiff was entitled to recover from the Collector. The plaintiff is the Matadhipathi of a Mutt known as Ramachandrapurmath and the case for the plaintiff was that the defendant, who was an agent appointed by the predecessor Swamiji, had collected the grants due to the Mutt, in the manner mentioned above, masquerading himself as the agent of the plaintiff Mutt although his agency had terminated when the predecessor Swamiji died. The allegation in the plaint was, as I understand it, that the defendant had wrongfully retained those monies which he had collected in that capacity.
(2) The defendant resisted the suit on the ground that for from his being liable to pay to the Mutt any sum of money, the mutt itself was liable to pay him a sum of Rs. 2,000/- which represented the remuneration due to him. His case was that he had not ceased to be the agent of the Mutt after the death of the previous Swamiji and that, on the contrary, he continued to be an agent even thereafter. His case was that, in the capacity, as the agent of the Mutt, he had collected the sum of money in question from the Collector. He also contended that a portion of the amount so collected had been utilised for the expenses of the Mutt.
(3) All the contentions urged by the defendant were negatived by the learned Civil Judge, and the appeal which the defendant preferred from the decree which the learned Civil Judge made in favour of the plaintiff was also unsuccessful.
(4) In this revision petition, Mr. Datar, the learned Advocate for the petitioner, has raised two contentions. His first contention is that the suit as brought by the plaintiff was barred by the provisions of section 4 of the Pensions Act (XXIII of 1871). His second contention is that the defendant was not a person against whom the plaintiff could maintain his suit as on the allegations of the plaintiff himself the defendant had collected the monies after he had ceased to be an agent to the Mutt. Incidentally, Mr. Datar also tried to contend that the findings of the courts below that the defendant was no entitled to recover any sum of money by way of remuneration or that it was not true that he had spent any portion of the money collected by him for the express of the Mutt, were erroneously recorded.
(5) Both the Courts found, as I have mentioned, that the defendant had failed to establish that any sum of money was due to him by the Mutt towards his remuneration or that he had spent any portion of the money collected by him for the expenses of the Mutt. That finding being a finding on a question of fact, is not liable to be disturbed in revision.
(6) The next question is whether, by reason of the fact that, as alleged by the plaintiff the defendant had collected the sum of money in question from the Collector after he had ceased to be the agent of the Mutt, the plaintiff had no cause of action against the defendant and whether the suit against the defendant in those circumstances is not maintainable.
(7) Mr. Datar, in support of his contention that the suit is not maintainable, drew my attention to the plaint wherein, according to him, the plaintiff had said that the defendant had wrongfully collected the amount although he had ceased to be the plaintiff's agent when he did so. I do not read the plaint in that way, and, in my opinion, that is not the correct way of reading it. In my opinion, the allegation amounts only to this; that the defendant masquerading himself as the plaintiff's agent, although in fact he was not, managed to collect from the Collector what was due from the Collector to the Mutt and wrongly retained it.
In those circumstances, it appears to me very clear that the defendant having acquired those sums of money and deriving an advantage by using his position as the erstwhile agent of the Mutt, although indeed he was so, the money that was paid into his hands must be regarded as money had and received by him for the Mutt. This is not all that could be said about it. The defendant's own allegation was that he had not ceased to be an agent. When he received the monies from the Collector, he does not dispute that he received those monies for the Mutt.
His only defence was that he had a right to keep those monies in his hands in the exercise of his lien as agent for the purpose of enforcing the recovery of the remuneration due to him from the Mutt. His other contention was that a portion of that amount had been used for the mutt itself. If both these contentions were negatived by the courts below, and in my opinions very rightly too, the position is that the defendant who admits that the monies in his hands are those belonging to the Mutt for and on behalf of the whom he has collected is no longer entitled to retain them in his hands.
This is a case in which it is clear that, on the defendant's own admission, the plaintiff has a cause of action against him and this suit, in my opinion, was therefore perfectly maintainable. The contention to the contrary urged by Mr. Datar has therefore to be rejected.
(8) The only other contention which remains to be considered is whether the suit was barred by the provisions of the Pensions Act, as contented on behalf of the defendant. The contention rests on the provisions of Section 4 of that Act which reads:
'Except as hereinafter provided, no Civil Court shall entertain any suit relating to any pension or grant of money or land revenue conferred or made by the Government or any former Government, whatever may have been the consideration for any such pension or grant, and, whatever may have been the nature of the payment, claim or right for which such pension or grant, may have been substituted.'
It is urged by Mr. Datar that it is only in circumstances such as those specified in Section 6 of that Act that a Civil Court has the power to take cognizance of a suit, the institution of which is otherwise barred by Section 4 of the Act. Section 6 reads:
'A Civil Court, otherwise competent to try the same, shall take cognizance of any such claim upon receiving a certificate from such Collector Deputy Commissioner or other Officer authorised in that behalf that the case may be so tried, but shall not make any order or decree in any suit whatever by which the liability of Government to 'pay any such pension or grant as aforesaid is affected directly or indirectly.'
(9) It is not disputed that the monies collected by the defendant in this case were grants made by the Government which the Mutt was entitled to receive from it. It is not disputed by Mr. Bhatta who appears for the plaintiff in this case could be regarded as a suit relating to such grant, its entertainment by the Civil Court was forbidden by Section 4 of the Act. But, what Mr. Bhatta urges is that this is not a suit relating to a grant of money made by the Government. His argument is that it was only at the stage when the defendant received that money from the Collector that that money was a grant made by the Government and that, after the defendant received it from the Collector on behalf of the Mutt, as he admits he did, the suit brought by the plaintiff for recovering it from the defendant, who had wrongfully retained it, is not a suit relating to a grant of money made by the Government within the meaning of Section 4 of the Pensions Act.
(10) But Mr. Datar contends that the suit as brought is still a suit relating to the grant of money made by the Government whose institution was barred by the provisions of Section 4. He urges that the works 'relating to' occurring in Section 4 are comprehensive enough to include even a suit of this description.
(11) In support of his contention. Mr. Datar relied on three decisions of the High Court of Bombay. The first of those decisions is Babaji Hari v. Rajaram Ballal, ILR 1 Bom 75, in which the question that arose was whether a suit brought by the plaintiff to have his right declared to a ninth share in the Kulkarni, Jyotishi and Deshpande Watan of certain villages in the Collectorate of Satara and also for the payment to him of eleven years' arrears of this watan, which consisted partly of Inam lands and partly of allowances paid from the Government Treasury, was maintainable in a Civil court without the certificate granted in that regard by the Collector under section 6 of the Act.
The view taken by the learned Judges in that decision was that it was not maintainable and the reason they came to that decision is, as stated by West J. in his Judgment, that the intention of the Act being to guard the executive Government against responsibility to the Civil Court, the suit as brought was not maintainable and did come within the ambit of Section 4 of the Act. The present suit is not similar to the one with which their Lordships of the High Court of Bombay were dealing. That was a case in which the question involved in the suit was the plaintiff's right to recover his share of the allowance payable by the Government, a decision on which would have undoubtedly made the executive Government responsible to the decision of the Civil Court. The present suit is not a suit of that description.
(12) The next case on which Mr. Datar relied is Damodar v. Satyabhama Bai, ILR 31 Bom 512. That was a case in which the plaintiff brought a suit claiming arrears of maintenance for ten years at the rate of Rs. 52/- a year and a declaration that she had a right to receive during her life time Rs. 52/- a year which the defendant received from the Government as cash allowance. If I may say so, with great respect, it was rightly held by the High Court of Bombay that such a suit was not maintainable. That was not a suit like the present one, which was instituted against the defendant for the recovery from the defendant of a sum of money which had been collected by him on behalf of the plaintiff as was done in this case. Chandavarkar, J. in the course of his Judgment, said this:--
'We do not agree with the District Judge when he says that in the plaint all that the plaintiff asks is a declaration that the respondent has a right to receive Rs. 52/- from the appellants. The words 'out of the cash allowance' mean a charge, nothing less or more, and the construction which the learned Judge has placed upon the relief claimed is, we think, wrong.'
It is, therefore, clear from the judgment of the learned Judge that the provisions of Section 4 can have no application to a case where the plaintiff brings a suit to receive personally from the defendant the sum of money which, according to him, belongs to the plaintiff, although at one stage, it might have partaken the character of a grant such as what is referred to in Section 4 of the Pensions Act.
(13) The third case on which Mr. Datar relied is Sadashiv Atmaraj v. Annabhat Venkanbhat : AIR1927Bom81 . That was a case in which the plaintiff sued to recover a sum of Rs. 139-8-0 at the rate of Rs. 46-8-0 per year out of the revenue of the Inam village of Kaillol. The plaintiff in the plaint said that he was in possession of all the lands belonging to defendant 3, his adoptive father, except the revenue of the village of Kallol. The suit as framed by him, as pointed out by Patkar, J. clearly related to a grant of land revenue.
As pointed out by Marten, C. J., in his separate judgment, the suit was, in effect, one to establish the plaintiff's right to share the land revenue jointly with his father. He refrained from expressing his opinion on the question as to what would have been the position if the case belonged in a different class of suits, for example, as in the nature of a suit for the administration of the estate of a deceased man, in which some question relating to land-revenue might arise in working out the ordinary accounts and enquiries.
(14) In my opinion none of these three decisions on which Mr. Datar has relied can be of any assistance to him. In each of those cases, the Court was called upon to decide the right of the plaintiff either to a grant or an allowance payable by the Government. None of those cases was like the present one. On the contrary the decision of the High Court of Bombay in Harshadlal Ambalal v. Bai Ichha, AIR 1945 Bom 496, is the nearest approach to the present case. That was a case in which the plaintiff brought a suit to recover his share of the pension received by the defendant from the convernment, the plaintiff's case being that the defendant having rightfully received the pension from the Government, wrongfully retained the plaintiff's share of the pension. It was contended on behalf of the defendant that the institution of the suit was barred by Section 4 of the Pensions Act. In negativing that contention, Chagla J. as he then was, came to the conclusion that that was not a suit for the recovery of any pension or relating to it, but was one for the recovery of the monies had and received by the defendant.
(15) If seems to me that that is the view which I should also take in the present case. As it is admitted by the defendant that he received the grants from the Collector on behalf of the Mutt and in his capacity as its agent and did not claim any right in himself to those monies except by way of remuneration, which was negatived by the Courts below, the suit by the plaintiff was not one relating to any grant made by the Government but was only one for recovery of monies due from the defendant to the plaintiff, which he had received from the Collector on behalf of the plaintiff. In my opinion, the second contention of Mr. Datar must also fail.
(16) I should, I think, mention before concluding that, at one stage during the argument Mr. Datar contended that the power of attorney executed in favour of the defendant by the previous Swamiji did not come to an end with his death and that notwithstanding the death of the previous Swamiji, the defendant continued to be the agent of the Mutt. In support of his case, he relied on a decision of the High Court of Calcutta reported in Dasarathi Chatterjee v. Asist Mohan, AIR 1920 Cal 848, Mr. Datar had to admit that there was no analogy between the decision in the Calcutta case and the present suit. The decision in the Calcutta case involved the question whether a person who had been appointed as a Tahsildar of Devasthanam property continued to be the Tahsildar even after the death of the Shebait who had appointed him. The question that arises in this suit is entirely different.
(17) This revision petition, therefore, fails and is dismissed with costs.
(18) Revision dismissed.