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Sheo Prasad and anr. Vs. Aya Ram and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily
CourtAllahabad
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1907)ILR29All663
AppellantSheo Prasad and anr.
RespondentAya Ram and ors.
Excerpt:
.....that the appellant had absolute power to appoint whomsoever they liked for the worship of the granth saheb. baba kishan das confirms him in this in short, we have very strong and voluminous evidence showing that the religious endowment was founded by the appellants and that each of the two mahants in turn who had presided over it had been appointed by the appellants......necessary rites connected with the endowments, and in succession to him they also appointed one baba sadho ram. upon baba sadho ram's death they appointed as a temporary measure baba kirpal das to carry on the duties connected with the sangat until such time as they could make a further appointment.3. the first four defendants, who represent themselves as nanak shahi fakirs and as disciples of baba sadho ram and also of baba kirpal das, aforesaid, denied the plaintiffs' title to make any appointment to the religious endowment. they attempted to realize certain bonds belonging to the religious endowment on the ground that these bonds and the properties connected with the endowment were the self-acquired property of baba sadho ram. the plaintiffs accordingly asked for a declaratory.....
Judgment:

George Knox, Acting, C.J. and Dillon, J.

1. This first appeal arises out of a suit brought by the appellants who were plaintiffs in the Court below. According to them, they in Sambat 1914, corresponding to the year 1857, made a religious endowment consisting of certain buildings situate at Sarsya Ghat in the city of Cawnpore.

2. The religious endowment was for the promotion of the Nanak Shahi religion. They installed one Baba Gobind Das to carry out all the necessary rites connected with the endowments, and in succession to him they also appointed one Baba Sadho Ram. Upon Baba Sadho Ram's death they appointed as a temporary measure Baba Kirpal Das to carry on the duties connected with the Sangat until such time as they could make a further appointment.

3. The first four defendants, who represent themselves as Nanak Shahi Fakirs and as disciples of Baba Sadho Ram and also of Baba Kirpal Das, aforesaid, denied the plaintiffs' title to make any appointment to the religious endowment. They attempted to realize certain bonds belonging to the religious endowment on the ground that these bonds and the properties connected with the endowment were the self-acquired property of Baba Sadho Ram. The plaintiffs accordingly asked for a declaratory decree to the effect that the property scheduled in the plaint was endowed property dedicated to the Sangat Nanak Shahi; that the defendants had no right of their own to that property, and that the plaintiffs had power to appoint on their behalf any person they liked as manager. The defence was that the property in dispute was not the Sangat property, not was Baba Sadho Ram a superintendent, nor was he appointed on behalf of the plaintiffs, The whole of the property in dispute was the self-acquired property of Baba Sadho Ram. The property had been purchased in his name and stood in his name in the khewats and other revenue papers. He was not a manager on behalf of, or subordinate to, the plaintiffs. All suits which it had been necessary to bring in respect of these properties had always been brought by Baba Sadho Ram in his own right. Baba Sadho Ram died intestate, and the answering defendants being his disciples are entitled to succeed him. Baba Kirpal Das, defendant No. 5, filed a separate written statement, but it is not necessary to enter at length into what was stated therein, except to say that he sets up in himself a right as Mahant of the Sangat upon appointment by the plaintiffs. Four issues were framed by the Court below, but only the third and the fourth require consideration for the purpose of this appeal. They are as follows: 3rd. Whether the property in suit appertaining to the Sangat is dedicated property; 4thly, if so, whether the plaintiffs have any title to the property as superintendents and also have a right to appoint a successor of Baba Sadho Ram. The learned Subordinate Judge decided the third issue in the plaintiffs' favour and gave them a declaration to the effect that the properties in question are endowed property appertaining to the Sangat at Sarsya Ghat. He dismissed that portion of the plaintiffs' claim in which they seek for a declaration that they arc superintendents of the property and have the power to appoint any person they like as a manager. The arguments addressed to us during the hearing of this appeal referred only to this portion of the reliefs claimed. The respondent has printed no evidence, and throughout the hearing of this appeal our attention was confined to the evidence printed by the appellants. The plaintiff went into the witness-box and said without any hesitation that the appellant had absolute power to appoint whomsoever they liked for the worship of the Granth Saheb. He gave the origin of the endowment, deposed that first Baba Gobind Das, and, in succession to Baba Gobind Das, Baba Sadho Ram after an interval was appointed by the appellants as the superintendent of the endowment. He gave more than one instance of direct interference in the affairs of the endowment, and it was not elicited by cross-examination that in making the endowment the founder had imposed any limitation on their powers with regard to the same. His statement was confirmed by the evidence of Kirpal Das, who, while, it is true, stating that all who belonged to the sect had power to appoint Mahants, said that the plaintiffs had more authority than others because the buildings belong to them. They installed Granth Saheb. To the same effect is the deposition of Fateh Singh and Gopal Singh who belong to this form of worship. A witness, Bakhtawar Singh, claimed to have been present on the day Baba Sadho Ram was installed, and he says his installation was the work of Sheo Prasad, one of the appellants. The witness Ram Charan gives a very graphic account of the filling up of the vacancy caused by the disappearance of Baba Gobind Das. He too says that Baba Sadho Ram was appointed by Lala Sheo Prasad. Baba Kishan Das confirms him in this In short, we have very strong and voluminous evidence showing that the religious endowment was founded by the appellants and that each of the two Mahants in turn who had presided over it had been appointed by the appellants. Upon this finding the proposition of law enunciated by their Lordships of the Privy Council in the case of Gossamee Sree Greedhareejee v. Rumanlolljee Gossamee (1889) L.R., 16 I.A., 137; I.L.R., 17 Calc., 3 would apply. Their Lordships say: 'According to Hindu law, when the worship of a Thakur has been founded, the Shebaitship is held to be vested in the heirs of the founder in default of evidence that he deposed of it otherwise or there has been some usage, course of dealing or some circumstance to show a different mode of devolution.' The rule of law laid down in that case was applied by this Court in the case of Sheorotan Kunwari v. Ram Pargash. (1896) I.L.R., 18 All., 227 It was for the respondents to establish that the appellants had divested themselves, either at the foundation or afterwards, of the powers which naturally belong to them. This they have not done. In the present case, moreover, as no one has been shown to be entitled to succeed Baba Sadho Ram, the right of management reverts to the heirs of the founder (see Mussumat Jai Bansi Kunwar v. Chattar Dhari Sing (1870) 5 B.L.R., 181. It cannot be claimed for Baba Sadho Ram that he held the office of trustee of this religious endowment, for it will be remembered that the case set up by the defendants is that the endowment is not a religious endowment, and that all the buildings and other property, the subject-matter of this appeal, are the self-acquired property of Baba Sadho Ram. This neither the Court below found, nor do we find supported by any evidence that has been shown to us. If no trust was created, then the nomination vests by law in the founder and his heirs, unless there has been some usage or course of dealing which points to a different mode of devolution--see Sheoratan Kunwari v. Ram Pargash, (1896) I.L.R., 18 All., 227. The result is that we allow this appeal and modify the decree of the Court below so far that we decree the plaintiffs' suit in full, with costs as against all the respondents save Kirpal Das.


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