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A. Pooornachandrarao Vs. Government of Andhra Pradesh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. No. 4220 of 1970
Judge
Reported inAIR1982AP141
ActsAndhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1966 - Sections 2(5) and 21(1); Constitution of India - Article 226
AppellantA. Pooornachandrarao
RespondentGovernment of Andhra Pradesh and ors.
Appellant AdvocateT. Veerabhadrayya, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateGovt. Pleader for Gad.
Excerpt:
.....poverty or distress or imparting education or affording medical relief do not clearly taken in the trust purpose. this argument is based on a clearly erroneous assumption. defines charitable purpose by adopting the well-known method of inclusive definition. it is well known that this is the difference between an inclusive definition clause and meaning definition clause and meaning definition clause (see mellows v. so long as the rendering of those services and providing of those amenities is not charged for by tapovanam and those purposes cannot be denied to be for the good of the general public, it is not unreasonable to hold that the purposes of the trust are charitable in nature. the age-old objects of hindu life embracing dharma, artha, kama moksha clearly take in spiritual pursuits...........the trust had undergone the dedication of the properties to truse remained unaltered; so were the trust purposes. the aforesaid avadhuta died in the year 1965. on the death of advadhuta the present writ petitioner charitable & hindu religious institutions and endowments act act 17 of 1966) (hereinafter referred to as the 'act') he filed a petition before the deputy commissioner. endowments, kakijada for a declaration to that effect. the petitioner asked for this statutory relief. because a doubt was created about his position as a trustee. while he was mentioned as one of the trustees in the first and the second trust deeds he was omitted from the list of 12 trustees mentioned in the last trust deed dated 28-10-1963. the deputy commissioner by his order dated 31-3-75 rejected the claim.....
Judgment:
ORDER

1. One Seethatamavadhuta of Patmatalanka of Vijayawada. Krishna District. had founded 'Tapovanam' and created a trust for its running. The trust deed was first registered on 15-4-1951. The land and the buildings belonging to the said Avadhuta, were declared to be the trust properties to be used for the purpose mentioned in the trust deed which are those to help and enable the spiritually minded to pursue and practise Sadhanas connected with Bhakthi, Gnana and Yoga, Although the founder desired that such persons should be tradition-bound, he laid it down that the use if the Tapovanam should be open to all irrespective of the caste, creed and religion. In this first trust deed the aforesaid Seetharamavadhuta had appointed himself as the sole Managing Trustee. He nominated the present writ petitioner to succeed him as the trustee on his demise. Later, on 20-3-58 the aforesaid Seetharamavadhuta had educated a supplementary trust deed appointing five trustee including himself to administer the trust. On a subsequent date on 22-10-1963 the said Avadhuta had modified the earlier first trust deed dated 15-4 -4-1951 and the supplementary trust deed dated 20-3-58. On 28-10-63 he executed yet another registered trust deed appointing one Sri Pingali Narasimharao as President and Managing Trustee and vesting properties and all his powers in him for the proper administration of the trust. Under the last trust deed he had nominated twelve persons including himself as trustees to assist the above Managing Trustee Sri Pingali Narasimharao. Through all these changes the trust had undergone the dedication of the properties to truse remained unaltered; so were the trust purposes. The aforesaid Avadhuta died in the year 1965. On the death of Advadhuta the present writ petitioner Charitable & Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act Act 17 of 1966) (hereinafter referred to as the 'Act') he filed a petition before the Deputy Commissioner. Endowments, Kakijada for a declaration to that effect. The petitioner asked for this statutory relief. because a doubt was created about his position as a trustee. While he was mentioned as one of the trustees in the first and the second trust deeds he was omitted from the list of 12 trustees mentioned in the last trust deed dated 28-10-1963. The Deputy Commissioner by his order dated 31-3-75 rejected the claim of the present writ petitioner to be the hereditary trustee. Sec. 77 of the above Act gives such powers of decision to the Deputy Commissioner. The above statute provides a remedy against such a decision of the Deputy Commissioner. Accordingly, the present writ petitioner filed a suit in O. S. No. 30/76 before the District Court. Machilipatnam under Sec. 78 of the Act. In that suit, which is now pending. the petitioner is claiming to be a hereditary trustee and the decision of the Deputy Commissioner dated 31-3-75 is wrong.

2. During the pendency of the above petition filed by the present writ petitioner before the Deputy Commissioner of Kakinada a departmental Executive Officer had been appointed under S. 77 (4) of the above Act to manage the properties of the trust, Since then the Tapovanam institution is being managed by that officer. Now it is said that the immediate provocation for filling this petition is a threat from the Endowment authorities to hand over a portion of the building of the Tapovanam to the Government Ayurvedic College.

3. In this writ petition, petitioner raised a basic issue. The writ petitioner now says that the Tapovanam institution is not a charitable institution at all and that therefore the application of the provisions of the aforesaid Act 17 of 1966 to the Tapovanam trust is illegal.

4. Sri Veerabhadrayya, the learned counsel of the petitioner argued in support of this contention that the stated purposes of the Tapovanam trust cannot be described as charitable purposes within the meaning of the Act and that therefore the Tapovanam cannot be called as a 'charitable institution' under the above Act. Basing himself on this argument Mr. Veerabhadrayya contends that the action of the State authorities appointing an Executive Officer for the management of the Tapovanam trust properties should be declared illegal. This contention is countered by the respondents.

5. Under the terms of the trust deed certain properties were endowed for the maintenance of the Tapovanam and certain purposes were enumerated as trust purposes for the furtherance of which alone the trust property should be applied. From the terms of the trust deed it is clear that the founder intended that the Tapovanam should be used by those spiritually high-minded persons desirous of practising Bhakthi. Gnana and Yoga. The question is whether those purposes can be regarded as charitable purposes under the above Act. The argument of the counsel for the petitioner is that those purposes of the trust cannot be described as a charitable purpose within the meaning of Sec. 2 (5) of the Act. Sec. 2(5) defines 'charitable purpose' in these words:-

'Charitable purpose,' includes :-

(a) relief of poverty or distress :

(b) education

(e) medical relief :

(d) advancement of any other object of utility or welfare to the general public or a section there of: not being an object of an exclusively religious nature; It is admitted that the trust purpose of using Tapovanam properties for facilitating practice of Bhakti, Gnana and Yoga Sadhanas does not fall under any one of the enumerated purposes under S. 2 (5) of the Act. The enumerated purposes under Sec. 2 (5) of the Act such as providing relief to the public from poverty or distress or imparting education or affording medical relief do not clearly taken in the trust purpose. The question then reduces itself to a consideration whether the trust purposes fall under object of utility or welfare to the general public or section thereof. Which is not exclusively of a religious nature. The petitioner's argument is that the trust purpose does not fall even under the residuary clause.

6. It is thus argued by the learned counsel for the petitioner that the spiritual purpose cannot be a charitable purpose within any one of the above meanings of the Act. The learned counsel said that just as a political purpose was held not to be a charitable purpose in Laxman Balwant v. Charity Commr. Bombay, : [1963]2SCR625 the spiritual purpose should also be held in this case as not failing within the category of a charitable purpose. For more than one reason, I find that the whole argument of the learned counsel to be unacceptable. The underlying assumption of this argument of the petitioner is that Section 2 (5) of the Act defines the words 'charitable purposes.' exhaustively and that therefore what does not fall under the enumerated heads of Sec. 2 (5) of the Act cannot be called a charitable purpose. This argument is based on a clearly erroneous assumption. Sec. 2 (5) of the Act. defines charitable purpose by adopting the well-known method of inclusive definition. The definition clause defines 'charitable purpose' as including and not as meaning or as meaning and including (a) relief of poverty or distress, (b) education; (c) medical relief; (d) advancement of any other object of utility or welfare of the general public or a section thereof not being of an exclusively religious nature. The word 'includes' whenever it is so used in a definition clause cannot be taken to be exhaustive. It can only be read as word of enlargement rather than of restriction and enumeration. In other words, the original and natural meaning of the word defined by the method of inclusive definition cannot be discarded. It is well known that this is the difference between an inclusive definition clause and meaning definition clause and meaning definition clause (see Mellows v. Low (1923 1 KB 522). It is therefore clear that the definition clause in Sec. 2 (5) of the Act does not define the charitable purpose to mean only those enumerated things or objects mentioned in Sec. 2 (5) of the Act. It follows therefore that the type of charitable purposes enumerated by Sec. 2 (5) should not be taken to be exhaustive. In other words Sec. 2 (5) should only be regarded as enumerative and not exhaustive. Considering the inherent difficulties involved in exhaustively defining a charitable purpose the legislature should be taken to have adopted this strategy deliberately. This becomes clear when the strategy of inclusive definition adopted by the statute in Sec. 2 (5) of the Act is contrasted with the alternative strategy of defining the words to mean certain things exhaustively resorted to by the statue in Secs. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 of the Act. The question whether the purpose of trust in the present case falls under the category of a charitable purpose should not therefore be answered by merely looking to the few illustrations mentioned in Sec. 2 (5) the Act. We have to still ask ourselves whether in common parlance and in the natural meaning of that word the purposes sought to be promoted by the Tapovanam trust deed could be regarded as charitable purposes even though they might fall outside the scope of 'charitable purposes,' particularly mentioned and enumerated in Section 2 (5) of the Act. Examining from that point of view, I have no doubt in holding that the purpose of the trust which is to provide facilities to those spiritually minded persons to practice spiritual pursuits is a charitable purpose within the ordinary meaning of that word. So long as the rendering of those services and providing of those amenities is not charged for by Tapovanam and those purposes cannot be denied to be for the good of the general public, it is not unreasonable to hold that the purposes of the trust are charitable in nature.

7. But it appears to me that this long discussion may not stricAtly be necessary. It appears that the purpose of the trust would directly fall within the last clause of advancement of any other object of utility or welfare of the general public not being an object of an exclusively religious nature. There can be no doubt that spiritual betterment is an object of welfare at least to a large section of the public who believe in it. By providing them with physical opportunities to probe and investigate into the eternal verities of this mysterious life and death and to help themselves to feed their minds with sublimity of thought and purity of meditation the trust is promoting and advancing the welfare of the general public. The age-old objects of Hindu life embracing Dharma, Artha, Kama Moksha clearly take in spiritual pursuits. As the Bible says, man does not live by bread alone. Freedom to think is the very essence of human liberty. Man's life need not always be bound by the narrow ties of money nexus alone. It is now recognised by such secular thinkers as Eroch Fronmm that it is love alone that promises to save man from his present day torments of alienation. Creation of physical conditions that make the practice of that quest possible without asking for anything in return cannot but be called a purpose advancing general welfare. Lord Siva in disguise admonished Parvati not to starve her beautiful body in ignorance of the fact that body is an instrument of Dharma. The purpose of the Tapovanam trust I hold, comes within the description of 'charitable purpose' as defined in Sec, 2 (5) of the Act for the reason that the trust purposes subserves the great objects of advancing spiritual welfare of a section of the general public.

8. But it is argued that even on the above basis the trust cannot be held to be a charitable institution because the above spiritual object of the trust it is said is an object of exclusively religious nature. What is argued is that even if the trust advances the spiritual welfare of the general public, it cannot be called a charitable purpose within the meaning of the above definition because the object of advancing spiritual welfare is an object exclusively of a religious nature. There is no doubt that most of the spiritual exercises are closely connected with one religion or other and therefor can normally be described as promoting an object of religious nature. But it must be pursued not merely by the adherents of any known religion but even by a non-religious secular thinker. Spiritual inquiry, like scientific inquiry, can be an inquiry into the reality different from the appearance. It differs from science only in that the latter deals with verifiable facts whereas the former's data is not generally verifiable. It differs from religion so long it sheds dogma. Bertrand Russell wrote,

'' Philosophy, as I shall understand the word, is something intermediate between theology and science. Like theology, it consists of speculations on matters as to which definite knowledge has, so far, been unascertainable; but like science, it appeals to human reason rather then to authority, whether that of tradition or that of revelation. All Definite knowledge - so I should contend - belongs to science, all DOGMA as to what surpasses definite knowledge belongs to theology. But between theology and science there is a NO MAN'S Land, exposed to attack from both sides; this No Man's Land is philosophy.''

(''History of Western Philosophy'' by Russell P. 13.)

The example of the compassionate Buddha who pursued the path of the purest spiritual inquiry without concerning himself with the questions of first cause is an outstanding instance in point. Spiritual inquiry need not therefore be necessarily of a religious nature. In any case, such an inquiry cannot be called an object of exclusively religious nature. It follows, therefore , that the promotion of spiritual quest contemplated by the Tapovanam trust cannot be denied the status of charitable purpose on the ground that its object is of an exclusively religious nature. In as much as spiritual quest can never be said to be connected with religion alone and as it can be pursued by irreligious and secular thinkers, I hold that the object of the Tapovanam trust is not promote a purpose of an exclusively religious nature, within the meaning of S. 2 (5) of the Act. For these reasons I hold that the Tapovanam trust promotes a charitable purpose and comes within the purview of the above Act. I accordingly reject the first and the major contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner.

9. I may also say that the petitioner's past conduct disentitles him to any relief in this writ petition. He went before the Deputy Commissioner, invoking the aid of the Act for getting himself declared as a hereditary trustee. That was on the basis that the Tapovanam is a charitable institution within the meaning of the above Act. He is now pursuing his remedy by way of a suit on that basis. Although the act of the petitioner cannot conclusively determine the character of Tapovanam institution, I still hold that this conduct is determinative in granting or refusing to grant relief in this writ petition. Ordinarily the petitioner cannot be permitted to blow hot and cold pleading for the sake of getting an order of recognition from the Deputy Commissioner that the Tapovanam is a charitable trust and asserting the contrary here in this court for the sake of this writ petition. I therefore refuse the aid of this court to the petitioner on this ground also.

10. It is then argued by the learned counsel for the petitioner that even on the basis that the Tapovanam is a charitable institution, the proposed to hand over the buildings of Tapovanam for the purpose of their being used by the Government Ayurvedic college, cannot be sustained as that would amount to using the trust property for purposes other than those which are mentioned in the trust deed. I fully agree with this submission of the learned counsel. The taking over of a charitable trust by the State would not enable the State to subvert the purposes of the founder of the trust. The bringing in of a charitable institution under the provisions of the aforesaid Act is not and cannot be for the purpose of destroying the very object of the trust. Taking over of the management of the trust by the State cannot be for the purpose of burying the objects of the trust. It can only be for promoting them. Sec. 21 of the Act which reads thus;

' Section 21. (1) The trustee of every charitable or religious institution or endowment shall administer its affairs, manage its properties and apply its funds in accordance with the terms of the trust, the usage of the institution or endowment and all lawful directions which a competent authority may issue in respect thereof and as carefully as a man of ordinary prudence would deal with such affairs, funds and properties if they were his own.''

1982 Andh. Pra/10 IV G-16 clearly supports this view. The purposes of the trust in this case being to advance spiritual well-being of a section of the people by providing them with opportunities to practise sadhanas of Bhakthi, Gnana and Yoga, the authorities under the Act clearly cannot use the trust property for a purpose like running an Ayurvedic College. Accordingly. I hold that the Deputy Commissioner will not be right in handing over the buildings of the Tapovanam trust to the Government Ayurvedic College at least till such time as the objects of the trust are duly altered, according to law.

In the result the writ petition is partly allowed and partly dismissed. In the circumstances, there shall be no order as to costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 150/-

11. Petition partly allowed.


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