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A.B. Nageswara Rao Vs. the Deputy Commissioner, Endowments Department, Kalkinda and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Appeal No. 185 of 1978
Judge
Reported inAIR1982AP110
ActsAndhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1966 - Sections 5, 6, 8(3), 10 and 77
AppellantA.B. Nageswara Rao
RespondentThe Deputy Commissioner, Endowments Department, Kalkinda and ors.
Appellant AdvocateC. Poornainan, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateGovt. Pleader for G.A.D. and ;M. Jagannadha Rao, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....pradesh charitable and hindu religious institutions and endowments act, 1966 - order passed by deputy commissioner that a custodian should be appointed for administration of property and money of institution was challenged on ground that he has no jurisdiction to deal with such religious institution - deputy commissioner has territorial jurisdiction over institution or endowment without reference to list published under section 6 (b) - held, order is maintainable. - maximssections 2(xv) & 3(1) & (3): [v.v.s. rao, n.v. ramana & p.s. narayana, jj] ghee as a live stock product held, [per v.v.s. rao & n.v. ramana, jj - majority] since ages, milk is preserved by souring with aid of lactic cultures. the first of such resultant products developed is curd or yogurt (dahi) obtained by..........the application till 1977. instead, on 24-8-1977 he submitted a report to the first respondent the deputy commissioner, charitable and hindu religious endowments, kakinanda stating that the application of the application of the appellant for registration of the matham was opposed by his holiness jagadguru sri sankaracharya of sringeri, the fourth respondent, who claimed that the ultimate control of the matham vested in the peethadhipathi of sringeri as per the will dated 23-5-1913 of the founder of the matham. the assistant commissioner expressed the view that it would be desirable if the deputy commissioner decided the nature of the endowment and the particular person in whom the right of management should vest by instituting appropriate proceedings suo motu under s. 77 of the act......
Judgment:

Ramanujulu Naidu, J.

1. This above Writ Appeal is preferred against the order rendered by Chinnappa Reddy, J., (as he then was) dismissing Writ Petition No. 3473 of 1977 filed by the appellant therein for issue of a writ, order or direction quashing the order passed by the first respondent herein, the Deputy Commissioner, Endowments Departments, Kakinada, in I.A. No. 8 of 1977 in O.A. No. 132 of 1977 of his file.

2. The relevant facts giving rise to the above appeal may be briefly stated :-

The appellant claims to have been functioning as trustee of :'Sankara Matham, Rajahmundry and managing the affairs of the Matham ever since the death of Sri Narayanananda Saraswati as trustee of the Matham under a registered will dated 5-10-1973 executed by Sri Narayananda Saraswati. Due to pressure from the Endowments Department he submitted an application to the Assistant Commissioner, Charitable and Hindu Religious Endowments, Rajahmundry on 24-4-1974 for registration of the Matham under S. 38 of the A. P. Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1966, hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'. The Assistant Commissioner did not deal with the application till 1977. Instead, on 24-8-1977 he submitted a report to the first respondent the Deputy Commissioner, Charitable and Hindu Religious Endowments, Kakinanda stating that the application of the application of the appellant for registration of the Matham was opposed by His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya of Sringeri, the fourth respondent, who claimed that the ultimate control of the Matham vested in the Peethadhipathi of Sringeri as per the will dated 23-5-1913 of the founder of the Matham. The Assistant Commissioner expressed the view that it would be desirable if the Deputy Commissioner decided the nature of the endowment and the particular person in whom the right of management should vest by instituting appropriate proceedings suo motu under S. 77 of the Act. Pursuant to the report of the Assistant Commissioner, the first respondent instituted proceedings suo motu under Section 77 of the Act to decide upon the nature of the institution, etc., pending his decision, he thought that it would be in the interests of the institution if an order was made under S. 77 (2) of the Act for the administration of the property belonging to the institution. He, therefore, appointed Sri, L. V. Narasimha Rao, Executive Officer, of Sri Pandiri Mahaderudu Choultry, Rajahmundry as the Custodian for the administration of the property and money of the institution. This order of the first respondent was challenged by the appellant in W. P. No. 3473 of 1977. It was urged on behalf of the appellant that the jurisdiction of the Deputy Commissioner was defined by Section 10 read with S. 6 (b) (ii) of the Act and confined to the religious institutions and endowment other than maths whose annual income exceeded Rs. 20,000 but did not exceed rupees one lakh, that maths were expressly placed outside the jurisdiction of the Deputy Commissioner and that the first respondent had no jurisdiction to make an order under S. 77 (2) of the Act in respect of a math. The contentions put forward by the appellant did not find acceptance with Chinnappa Reddy J., (as he then was) and he dismissed the Writ Petition by his order dated 7-3-1978. Sri Poornaiah, learned counsel for the appellant, reiterated before us the submissions made before the learned single Judge.

3. In order to appreciate the contentions put forward by the learned counsel for the appellant, it will be useful or refer to the scheme and certain provisions of the Act.

4. Chapter I consisting of three sections is a preliminary chapter. S. 2 deals with definition. 'Assistant Commissioner' 'Deputy Commissioner'., 'Joint Commissioner' and 'Commissioner' are separately defined. 'Assistant Commissioner' is defined as meaning the Assistant Commissioner appointed under S. 3 (1) of the Act and as including every officer who for the time being exercises the powers and performs the functions of the Assistant Commissioner under the Act or the rules made thereunder in respect of any charitable institution or endowment as specified in sub-sec. (5)of S. 3 'Deputy Commissioner',, 'Joint Commissioner' and Commissioner' were similarly defined. The expressions 'Charitable Endowment',, 'Charitable Institution', 'Religious Endowment',, 'Religious Institution',, 'Math',, 'Temple',, 'Trustee' and 'Hereditary Trustee' are all defined. S.2 (17) defines 'math' as meaning a Hindu religious institution presided over by a person, whose principal duty is to engage himself in the teaching and propagation of Hindu religion and philosophy or the teachings and philosophy of the dominating sect or Sampradaya to which the math belongs and in imparting religious instruction and training and rendering spiritual service or who exercises or claims to exercise spiritual headship over a body of disciples and as including any place or places of religious worship, instruction, or training which are appurtenant to the institution. S. 2 (22) defines 'religious institutions' as meaning a math, temple or specific endowment and includes a Brindavan, Samadhi or any other institutions established or maintained for a religious purpose.

5. Chapter II comprising of Ss. 3 to 13 is titled 'Commissioner, Joint Commissioners, etc., and their powers and functions'. S. 3 (1) authorises the Government to appoint a Commissioner and such number of Joint Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners as may be necessary. S. 3 (5) enables the Government to direct the Commissioner and every Joint, Deputy or Assistant Commissioner and appointed under sub-sec. (1) to exercise the powers and perform the functions conferred on or entrusted to them by or under the Act, in respect of charitable institutions or endowments. S. 4 prescribes the qualifications for appointment as Commissioner, Joint Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner. S. 5 empowers the Commissioner with the previous approval of the Government to divide the State into a number of divisions and Evan division into a number of sub-divisions. Each such division is placed in charge of a Deputy Commissioner and each sub-division is placed in charge of an Assistant Commissioner. Section 5 thus enables the Commissioner, subject to the approval of the Government to determine the territorial jurisdiction of every Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner. S. 6 requires the Commissioner to prepare a list (a) of (I) charitable institutions and endowments, and (ii) religious institutions and endowments, other than maths, whose income exceeds rupees one lakh (b) of such institutions and endowments (other than maths) whose income exceeds rupees twenty thousand but does not exceed rupees one lakh (c) of such institutions and endowments (other than maths whose income does not exceed rupees twenty thousand; (d) maths irrespective of income. S. 8 deals with the powers and functions of the Commissioner. Section 8 (1) vests in the Commissioner the general superintendence over the administration of all charitable and Hindu religious institutions and endowments. In particular, S. 8 requires the Commissioner to exercise all the powers and perform the functions entrusted to him under the Act in respect of the institutions and endowments included in the lists published under cl. (a) and cl. (d) of S. 6. S. 8 (3) and S. 8 (4) empower the Commissioner to delegate to a Deputy Commissioner and an Assistant Commissioner any of the powers conferred on or functions entrusted to him under the Act, but not the powers and functions under Ss. 6. 8. (1), 15,44,46,60,80,82, and 92. Ss. 9, 10 and 11 define the powers and functions of Joint Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner respectively. S.10 enacts that every Deputy Commissioner shall, within the division in his charge, exercise the powers conferred on and perform the functions entrusted to a Deputy Commissioner as such, by or under the Act in respect of such institutions or endowments as are included in the list published under cl. (b) of S. 6. Section 11 dealing with the powers and functions of Assistant Commissioner is similarly worded. Every Assistant Commissioner shall., within the subdivision under his charge exercise the powers conferred on and perform that functions entrusted to an Assistant Commissioner as such by or under the Act in respect of all institutions and endowments included in the list published under cl. (c) of S. 6. Section 12 gives the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner having jurisdiction the power to enter and inspect institutions and endowments.

6. Chapter III comprising of Ss. 14 to 37 is concerned with 'administration and management of Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments'. Section 14 provides for the vesting of all properties belonging to or given or endowed to a charitable or religious institution or endowment concerned/ Sec. 15 empowers the Government and the Commissioner in the case of charitable or religious institutions or endowments included in the list published under S. 6. (a) the Deputy Commissioner in the case of those included in the list published under Section 6 (b) and the Assistant Commissioner in the case of those included in the list published under S. 6 (c) to constitute a Board of Trustees. Section 17 empowers the Government, the Commissioner. Deputy Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner as the case may be to nominate by rotation one of the hereditary trustees to be the chairman of the Board of Trustees. S. 19 provides for acceptance, by the Government, the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner or Assistant commissioner, as the case may be, of the resignation of his office tendered by a nonhereditary trustee. S. 20 (4) empowers the Commissioner in the case of institutions or endowments included in the list published under S. 6 (a) and the Deputy Commissioner in the case of other institutions or endowments, to appoint a fit person to perform the function of a trustee of the institution or endowment in certain situations. S. 21 prescribes the duties of a trustee. S. 22 (1), in particular provides that the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner, as the case may be, having jurisdiction over any charitable or religious endowment, may require the trustee to produce, for inspection all books, accounts, etc., of the institution or endowment. S. 23 provides for the fixation of dittam. Sec. 26 provides for suspension, removal or dismissal of trustee by the Government and the Commissioner in the case of institutions or endowments included in the list published under S. 6 (a), the Deputy Commissioner in the case of institutions and endowments included in the list published under S. 6 (b) and the Assistant Commissioner in the case of other institutions or endowments, Ss. 27, 28, 29,30,31,32 and 33 deal with the appointment of Executive Officer, Engineering staff and other office-holders and servants and their disciplinary control.

7. Chapter IV comprising of Ss. 38 to 40 deals with :Registration of charitable and religious institutions and endowments'. S. 38 (1) requires the trustee or other person in charge of management of every charitable or religious institution to make an application to the Assistant Commissioner within whose sub-division such institution or endowment is located, for its registration, s. 38 (2) provides for the procedure to be followed thereafter. S. 39 specifies the power of the Commissioner to have an institution or endowment registered.

8. Chapter V consisting of Ss. 42 to 48 is a special chapter dealing with 'maths and specific endowments attached there-to'. It is expressly stated in S. 43 that the provisions of Ss. 15 to 20, 23, 26, 27, 31, 32, 33, 35, and 87 shall not apply to maths or specific endowments attached thereto. Provision is made in the chapter for fixation of dittam, removal of math-for fixation of dittam, removal of mathadhipathi, filling up of vacancies of the office of the mathadhipathi, etc. Power to remove the mathadhipathi is vested in the Commissioner.

9. Chapter VI consisting of only one section (S. 49) deals with 'Dharmadayam'.

10. Chapter VII comprising of Ss. 50 to 58 deals with the budget, accounts and audit. In the case of institutions and endowments included in the list published under cl. (a) or cl. (d) of S. 6 the trustee has to submit the budget to the commissioner, in the case of institutions or endowments included in the list published under cl. 9b) to the Deputy Commissioner and in the case of institutions a endowments included in the list published under cl. (c) to the Assistant commissioner.

11. Chapter VIII comprising of Ss. 59 to 66 deals with 'Finance'.

12. Chapter IX consisting of Ss. 67 to 69 deals with 'Surplus funds and utilisation thereof, etc.'

13. Chapter X comprising of Ss. 70 to 74 deals with 'Alienation of any immovable property and resumption of Inam lands.'

14. Chapter XI comprising of Ss. 75 and 76 deals with 'Encroachments'. Both the sections provide a special procedure for removal of encroachments by persons on land or building belonging to charitable or religious institutions or endowments. The Assistant Commissioner is required to submit a report of any encroachment to the Deputy Commissioner having jurisdiction over the division in which the institution or endowment is situated. The Deputy Commissioner, after considering the objections of the encroacher submitted by him in response to a notice to show cause issued to him, is empowered to require the encroacher to remove the encroachment and to deliver possession of the land or building encroached upon to the trustee. If the encroacher fails to do so, the Deputy Commissioner may apply to the Magistrate of First Class having territorial jurisdiction for evicting the encroacher.

15. The title of Chapter XII consisting of Ss. 77 to 79 is 'Enquiries'. S. 77 (1) empowers the Deputy Commissioner having jurisdiction to enquire into and decide any dispute as to the question (a) whether an institution or endowment is a charitable institution or endowment; (b) whether an institution or endowment is a religious institution or endowment; (c) whether trusteeship is hereditary or not; (d) whether any property is a specific endowment; if so whether it is charitable endowment or religious endowment; (e) whether any property is a specific endowment, etc., etc. S. 77 (2), enables the Deputy Commissioner pending his decision under sub-sec (1), to pass such order as he deems fit for the administration of the property or custody of the money belonging to the institution or endowment. Every decision or order of the Deputy Commissioner under S. 77 is required to be published in the prescribed manner. S. 78 gives a right of suit in the district court to every person aggrieved by the decision of the Deputy Commissioner under S. 77.

16. Chapter XIII consisting of S. 80 to S. 84 deals with appeal, revision, review etc. No appeal is provided against the order of the Deputy Commissioner under S. 77.

17. Chapter XIV consisting of Ss. 85 to 91 governing the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams was omitted by the A. P. Ordinance 10 of 1979.

18. Chapter XV consisting of Sections 92 to 130 contains various miscellaneous provisions.

19. Sri C. Poornaiah, learned counsel for the appellant urges that under S.6 (d) of the Act the commissioner shall prepare a list of the maths irrespective of their income, that under S. 8 (2) of the Act only the Commissioner is empowered to exercise the powers conferred on him and perform the functions entrusted to him in respect of such institutions or endowments in the list published under cl. (d) of S. 6, that under Sec. 10 of the Act every Deputy Commissioner can exercise the powers conferred on and perform the function entrusted to the Deputy Commissioner as such, by or under the Act in respect in respect of such institutions or endowments as are included in cl. (b) of S. 6., that the jurisdiction of the Deputy Commissioner to which a reference is made in S. 77 is confined only to the institutions and endowments included in the list published under S. 6 (b) only, that the maths are expressly placed outside the jurisdiction of the Deputy Commissioners and that in the absence of the delegation to the first respondent of the powers conferred on or function entrusted to him by or under the Act as provided under S. 8 (3) of the Act, the impugned order is totally devoid of jurisdiction.

20. It may be recalled that S. 77 provides for adjudication of disputes as to various questions, such, a whether an institution or endowments, is a charitable or religious institution or endowment, whether trusteeship is hereditary or not, etc. Math defined in S. 2 (17) of the Act means a Hindu religious institution. If the argument of the learned counsel for the appellant is to be accepted, the quasi-judicial function entrusted to the Deputy Commissioner under S. 77 is to be confined only to those institutions and endowments in respect of which the Deputy Commissioner is entrusted with various administrative functions, Such a constructive functions. Such a construction leads to the anomalous situation that while there is a quasi-judicial tribunal constituted under Sec. 77 of the Act to decide certain disputed questions in regard to institutions and endowments mentioned in the list published under S. 6 (b), there is no such quasi-judicial tribunal and, in fact, there is no provision for the decision of such disputes in regard to the institutions and endowments mentioned in the list published under S. 6 (a), S. (c) and S. 6 (d) of the Act. Surely that could not be the intention of the legislature. The expression 'Deputy Commissioner having jurisdiction' occurring in S. 77, in our opinion, means the Deputy Commissioner having territorial jurisdiction over the areas as stipulated and envisaged by S. 5. Sec. 38 of the Act, as noticed earlier, provides for the submission of application for registration of charitable and religious institution of charitable and religious institutions and endowments to the Assistant Commissioner within whose subdivision such institutions or endowments are situated. Though under S. 11 the powers and functions of the Assistant Commissioner extend only to the institutions/endowments included in the list published under S. 6 (c), it cannot e doubted that applications for registration whether they relate to institutions and endowments included I the list published under S. 6 (a) or S. 6 (b) or S. 6 (c) or S. 6 (d) have to be made only to the Assistant Commissioner having territorial jurisdiction, Likewise, all encroachments have to be dealt with by the Assistant Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner having territorial jurisdiction as provided by S. 75 of the Act. There is no substance in the submission of the learned counsel for the appellant that the disputed questions such as set out in S. 77 of the Act, in respect of the maths can be adjudicated upon by the Commissioner under S. 8 of the Act. S. 8 of the Act vests in the Commissioner the general superintendence over the administration of all charitable and Hindu religious institutions or endowments. It is also significant to note that the powers and functions conferred upon and assigned to the Commissioner under S. 8 of the Act are subject to the other provisions of the Act, including the provisions contained in S. 77 of the Act. The enquiry contemplated under S. 77 of the Act is of summary nature and it is for that reason section 78 of the Act gives a right of suit in the District Court to every person aggrieved by the decision of the Deputy Commissioner under S. 77. No such right is conferred if the Commissioner exercise the powers under S. 77 of the Act in respect of the maths and the remedy of the aggrieved person would be to invoke the revision jurisdiction of the Government under S, 83. Surely the legislature could not have treated and placed the mts on a footing worse than that provided to the other institutions or endowments as contended by the learned counsel for the appellant. We must also observe that section 43 of the Act expressly excludes application of Ss. 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 23, 26, 27, 31, 32, 33, 35, and 87 of the Act to the maths or specific endowments attached thereto. The application of S. 77 of the Act to the maths or specific endowments attached thereto is not expressly excluded under S. 43 of the Act. We are, therefore, in complete agreement with the learned single judge that the expression 'Deputy Commissioner' having jurisdiction occurring in S. 77 means the Deputy commissioner having territorial jurisdiction over the institution or endowment concerned and has no reference to the list of the institutions or endowments published under S. 6 (b) in respect of which he is empowered to exercise and perform certain powers and functions under S. 10 of the Act.

21. In the result the appeal fails and is dismissed. There will be no order as to coasts. Advocate's fee Rs. 150.

22. Writ appeal dismissed.


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