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Byreddi Narasi Reddi Vs. Thamballa Balamma - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies;Property
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 665 of 1958
Judge
Reported inAIR1963AP130
ActsHindu Law
AppellantByreddi Narasi Reddi
RespondentThamballa Balamma
Appellant AdvocateGopal Rao, Adv. for A. Bhujanga Rao, Adv. and ;M.S.H. Subrahmanyam, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateK. Jayachandra Reddy, Adv.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Excerpt:
trusts and societies - grant of lands - hindu law - gift deed made in favour of manager of temple for performance of certain rites and services in temple -whether lands referred in gift deed have been wholly and absolutely dedicated to temples or they have been granted to a named individual burdened with an obligation to render service in manner prescribed in deed - instrument is executed in favour of 'sankarrayya' as a trustee of temples for time being -held, it was complete dedication to temple. - - 200/-(rupees two hundred only). he enjoyed the lands till his death and as you continued to perform the pooja in the abovesaid manner and enjoy the lands i thought it is better to execute this document. you and your heirs shall pay the government taxes and enjoy the schedule mentioned..........to render service in the manner prescribed in the deed.5. there are four categories into which grants in favour of idols or religious establishments may generally bedivided: (1) a complete dedication in and by which theentire beneficial interest in the property is conveyed tothe idol or religious institution; (2) a dedication to meidol or religious institution subject to a charge as to pan of the income in favour of private person; (3) a gift only with reference to a part of the income in favour of the idol or religious establishment, and the disposal of the surplus for a purpose unconnected with the trust; and (4) a grant of the property to a private person subject to a charge in favour of the idol or the religious establishment in respect of a portion of the income for purposes of.....
Judgment:

Seshachalapati, J.

1. This Second Appeal arises out of O. S. No. 220 of 1954, on the file of the District Munsif Court, Proddatur, instituted by the Respondent in this appeal, Thamballa Balamma. That suit was filed under the following circumstances. By an order dated 5-4-52, the Hindu Religious Endowments Department, appointed the defendant in the present suit Byreddi Narasi Reddy, as trustee of the temples of Eswara Parvathi Devathalu and Navagraha Devathalu in Peddamudiam of Jammalamadugu Taluk. The Assistant Commissioner, Hindu Religious Endowments by his memorandum dated 24-6-1954, directed the trustee Narasi Reddi to lease out the temple lands in public auction. The trustee purported to do so. Thereupon, the respondent Thamballa Balamma filed O. S. No. 220 of 1353 for a declaration of her title to items 1 to 8 of the plain) schedule, and for an injunction restraining the defendant from interfering with her possession.

According to her items 1 to 4 were gifted by B. C. Naramma and others to the Archakas in the suit temples, that the Archakas were enjoying the properties and rendering service, that her husband Sankaraiah, who died about 20 years ago, was the last holder of the office, that after his death she was getting the services performed through her son-in-law and that, therefore, she was entitled to the possession of those Items. She claimed items 5 and 6 on the foot of adverse possession. items 7 and 8 were claimed by her as being the personal properties of her husband Shankaraiah, and that the trustee of the temple has, in any case, no manner of right over them. The present appellant Byreddi Narasi Reddi contested the suit by contending that items 1 to 4 were lands granted to the deity and not to the Archakas, that the plaintiffs husband was never a hereditary Archaka, that items 5 and 8 were also Devadayam lands, and that on 28-6-1954, be notified that the lease-hold rights would be sold in a public auction, and that the present suit of the plaintiff was wholly without any merits.

2. The learned District Munsif, after framing the appropriate issues and on a review of the evidence, oral and documentary, held that the plaintiff Thamballa Balammewas entitled to a declaration and injunction only with respect to items 7 and 8 and dismissed the suit with respect to the other items. In appeal by the plaintiff, the learned District Judge, Cuddapah, allowed the plaintiff's claim with respect to Item 1, while agreeing with the District Munsif that her claim with respect to items 2 to 6 must be rejected. The defendant-trustee of the temple has filed this Second Appeal, which is, therefore, confined to item 1 of the plaint schedule only.

3. Item 1 of the plaint schedule is of an extant of 3.31 cents and covered by a registered instrument of gift (Ex. A3). The instrument is a brief one, and may be extracted in full. It is in these terms:

COPY OF DOCUMENT Ex. A-3

'17-7-1934 (Seventeenth day of July, Nineteen hundred and thirty four) Bhoodan deed executed by Chinnamma wife of Velapuram Buchireddy, resident of Peddamudiem village in the sub-District of Jammalamadugu, Kapu, cultivator, in favour of Sakarasayya, son of Thambalia Chinna Nagayya, resident of Paluru village in the sub-district of Jammalamadugu, Cuddapah District Tapodara caste, living on Devata Inams and for the time being manager of both (a) Sri Parvathi Devi Idol installed by me (Prathishta) in Mukkanti Eswara temple situate near Mukagulla which is to the north of Peddamudiem village in Jammalamudugu sub-district, Cuddapah district, and (b) Sri Sivalingaswamy ldol trict, Cuddapah district, and (b) Sri Sivalingaswamy ldol which I brought from Kasi and installed in the other temple which I got constructed in the same compound of the abovesaid temple in the same village.

In the year 1894 for performing nitya sandhya deeparadhana and for nivadyam on every Monday in the above-said Parvathi, Sivilingaswamy temples, I had given to your brother Sarabhayya for offering pooja the schedule mentioned lands which are approximately valued Rs. 200/-(Rupees two hundred only). He enjoyed the lands till his death and as you continued to perform the pooja in the abovesaid manner and enjoy the lands I thought it is better to execute this document. You and your heirs shall pay the Government taxes and enjoy the schedule mentioned lands and perform the abovesaid poojas.'

4. The question that I have to determine in this Second Appeal is whether the lands referred to in the above instrument of gift have been wholly and absolutely dedicated to the temples, or whether they have been granted to a named individual burdened with an obligation to render service in the manner prescribed in the deed.

5. There are four categories into which grants in favour of idols or religious establishments may generally bedivided: (1) a complete dedication in and by which theentire beneficial interest in the property is conveyed tothe idol or religious institution; (2) a dedication to meidol or religious institution subject to a charge as to pan of the income in favour of private person; (3) a gift only with reference to a part of the income in favour of the idol or religious establishment, and the disposal of the surplus for a purpose unconnected with the trust; and (4) a grant of the property to a private person subject to a charge in favour of the idol or the religious establishment in respect of a portion of the income for purposes of service. The question in this case is whether the grant under Ex. A-3 falls under the first category, namely, art absolute and entire dedication in favour of the temples, or a grant to a named individual burdened with an obligation of rendering the services to the idol.

6. As pointed out by Venkatasubba Rao, J., in Sami Ayyangar v. Venkatramana Ayyangar, AIR 1934 Mad 381, the question whether a grant of land is to an institution represented by its manager, or to a named individual burdened with service, is always a difficult one to determine. It is especially, so when the terms of the deed are not clear, and may lend support to one interpretation or the other. In the case of a large number of grants, at any rate, in the territories, which originally comprised the Madras presidency, we have the benefit of the inam statements and the extracts from the Inam fair Register and the title-deeds issued in conformity with the inam enquiry. This is a case where no help can Be got from the inam enquiries, because admittedly the gift-deed is of the year 1934. We have, therefore, to rely on the recitals of the deed only. There are a large number of decisions laying down the principles upon which an instrument like Ex. A-3 should be construed. 8ut in view of a recent decision of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Dasaratha rami Reddi v. Subba Rao, 1957 SCJ 835 at p. 838 : ((S) AIR 1957 SC 797 at p. 800), it is unnecessary to refer to many of the earlier cases. Gajendragadkar, J., speaking for the Court observed:

'Now it is clear that dedication of a property to religious or charitable purposes may be either complete or partial. If the dedication is complete, a trust in favour of public religious charity is created, if the dedication is partial, a trust in favour of the charity is not created but a charge in favour of the charity is attached to, and follows, the property which retains its original private and secular character. Whether or not dedication is complete would naturally be a question of fact to be determined in each case in the light of the material terms used in the document. In such cases it is always a matter of ascertaining the true intention of the parties; it is obvious that such intention must be gathered on a fair and reasonable construction of the document considered as a whole.' It is in the light of the aforesaid observations that we have to examine Ex. A-3.

7. From the instrument it is to be gathered that the land comprised in the first item to the plaint schedule was, as early as 1894, put in possession of Sarabhayya, the brother of Sarabhayya, for performing 'nitya Sandhya Deeparadhana' and for 'Naivadyam' on every Monday in the suit temples. The said Sarabhayya enjoyed the lands till his death, and it is stated in the deed that Sankarayya was performing the services and enjoying the properties after the death of Sarabhayya, and the donor Naramma executed Ex. A-3 for the purpose of giving a permanence to the arrangement. The deed (Ex. A-3) is executed in favour or Sankarayya described as the manager for the time being or the temples of Sri Parvathi Devi and Mukkanti Eswara. the purpose of the grant is the performance of 'nitya Sandhya deeparadhana' and 'naivadyam' on every Monday. The land itself was valued at Rs. 200/- in 1934, which goes to show that the income could only have been very meagre. The deed does not quantify the expenditure to be incurred for the performance of specific services, or indicate how the surplus, if any, should be disposed of.

In Bala Tripura Sundaramma v. Secy. of State AIR 1928 Mad 282, Ramesam and Cornish, JJ. have laid down certain broad tests for guidance in Interpreting instruments like Ex. A-3. According to the learned Judges, firstly where the grant is made to a person in the capacity of a manager or even of a servant of the mosque or temple, and where it does not appear that there is some other trustee, it may be regarded as a grant to the temple or mosque it-self. Secondly, where it appears that substantial part of the income goes to the benefit of the institution, the grant may be considered as a grant to tile institution itself, even though some surplus may be used by the trustees for their own maintenance. In this case, there is no evidence that at the time of Ex. A-3 there was any de jure trustee functioning. In fact, the description of Sankarayya as 'the trustee for the time being rules out any such possibility. It may, therefore, be concluded that the grant was made to him in the capacity of a manager of the temples. There is also no evidence that a substantial portion of the income of the property was meant for the beneficial enjoyment of Sankarayya as remuneration for his service.

As already observed the value of the land has been set at Rs. 200/- and the income, therefore, could not have been at all considerable. Perhaps it was just sufficient to meet the expenditure of the worship of the temples and it is very likely that there was no surplus let! for the beneficial enjoyment of the grantee, in which case, the presumption would be that the grant is for the benefit of the institution. But even on the assumption that the donor intended that a portion of the income should he enjoyed beneficially by the grantee as remuneration, it would not militate against the theory of a complete dedication to the temple. In Jadu Nath Singh v. Thakur Sitaramji, 44 Ind App 187 : (AIR 1917 PC 177), the Privy Council had to consider a case where a deed of dedication provided that after the death of the grantor certain female members of the family should succeed the founder as manager and that half the income of the property dedicated should be enjoyed by them without powers of alienation, and that upon their death, the Government should become manager and the whole net income should be applied for the expenses of the temple.

The question was whether the provision for the beneficial enjoyment during their lives by the two family managers of a moiety of the income made a difference in the nature of the dedication. The Privy Council held that the deed constituted a valid endowment of the whole property to the temple. Lord Haldane observed that the income from the property was only Rs. 800/- and the portion allotted to the ladies was of the most trifling kind. Further, it was emphasized that there was an expression of a clear intention of the donor to apply the entire property for the benefit of the idol 'sub modo' by a direction that the whole of which had already been given part was to be applied for the upkeep or the idol itself and the repair of the temple and the other is to go for the upkeep of the managers. It is true that in Har Narayan v. Sarja Kunwari, 48 Ind App 143 : (AIR 1921 PC 20), a decision upon which the learned District Judge has placed reliance -- it was held by the Privy Council that the nature of the grant trust be determined by construing the instrument as a whole, and that in that particular case there were provisions in the will which showed that the residue alter defraying the expenses of the temple should be used by the testator's legal heirs to meet their own expenses, and a small portion of the income should be utilised for the Idol, whereas a large balance was left available to the heirs. That occasion has no application to the facts of this case, for, in the first place, we do not Know whether the surplus meant to be enjoyed beneficially by the grantee Sankarayya after defraying the expenses of the pooja, is a large one justifying the presumption that the property was granted to the named person. In the second place, there is no quantification of the expenditure to be incurred for the performance of the service; so much so,one does not know whether there would be any surplus at all left.

8. In facts very similar to this case a Bench of the Madras High Court in Srinivasacharyulu v. Dinavahi Pratyanag Rao, AIR 1921 Mad 467, held that the grant was to the Deity, and not to the named individual. In that case the donor executed a deed of gift in favour of the temple in Buchapeta dedicating four kithis of land as maniam for conducting the daily 'neivedyam' and 'deeparadhana' by the archaka. The concluding words of the grant are 'so he shall cultivate the same every year and use the produce thereof; he, his sons and grandsons in succession shall enjoy the same for ever and render the daily 'naivedyam' and 'deeparadhana' of Sri Swamivaru and live happily'. Upon the concluding words above extracted, an argument was founded for the archakas that they were entitled to the beneficial enjoyment of the surplus income. That argument was repelled by the High Court on the ground that the archaka referred to in the deed was not the donee, but was a person designated to carry out the objects of the gift. In my opinion, that decision has a direct Bearing upon the construction of this instrument.

9. Mr. Jayachandra Reddy, the learned counsel for the respondent has endeavoured to point out that the above decision has no application to the facts of this case, because, there the instrument was executed in the name of the deity: Whereas Ex. A-3 in this case is executed in favour of a named individual, Sankarayya, I do not think that there is any valid basis for this contention. The instrument is executed in favour of Sankarayya not in his individual capacity, but as a trustee for the time being or the temples. I am not prepared to agree with the contention of Mr. Jayachandra Reddy that the expression 'trustee for the time being' is a mere innocuous description at the donee for the purposes of identification. Those words, in my opinion, are designedly put into show that the gift was being made to him as representing the deity.

10. For the aforesaid reasons, I am of the opinion that the property covered by Ex. A-3 is gifted by the donor to the temples, and not to Sankarayya personally subject to an obligation on his part to render service in the temples. The decision of the learned District Judge is therefore, set aside and the judgment and decree of the District Munsif are restored. The appeal is allowed with costs. Leave refused.


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