1. The dispute in this appeal relates to the property left behind by Mangal Singh son of Sobha Singh of Village Madnipur, who died issueless and without a widow on 28th February, 1964. The appellants got the mutation of this property sanctioned in their names on 3rd April, 1964. Alleging that prior to his death, on 1st January, 1964, Mangal Singh had executed a will (Exhibit P.W. 1/1) in favour of Shri Guru Granth Sahib installed in the Gurdwara Sahib Madnipur, the respondents assailing the validity of the mutation, brought the suit for possession. The defendants in contesting the suit did not admit that any will had been executed by Mangal Singh and also objected that the suit was not maintainable in its present form. Both these pleas have been rejected by the Courts below and the learned Additional District Judge has affirmed the finding of the trial Court that the will Exhibit P.W. 1/1 was duly executed by Mangal Singh. Though it has been observed that Shri Guru Granth Sahib was not a juristic person, the suit has been held to be maintainable on behalf of the remaining plaintiffs, one of whom is Gurdwara Sahib Madnipur.
2. In this second appeal against the decree of the Additional District Judge, Patiala, dated 8th September, 1966, the concurrent finding of the Courts below that the will Exhibit P.W. 1/1 was executed by Mangal Singh while he was in good health and possessed of sound disposing mind, being a finding of fact, has not been challenged and the only contentions raised on behalf of the appellants are:
(1) That Shri Guru Granth Sahib and Shri Gurdwara Sahib Madnipur are not juristic persons and as such the suit was not maintainable; and
(2) that the will having been made in favour of Shri Guru Granth Sahib, which is neither a juristic person nor capable of holding property, is not valid.
3. Both the courts below have held that Shri Guru Granth Sahib is not a juristic person, but in holding that the suit was maintainable, they have pointed out that besides Shri Guru Granth Sahib, there are two other plaintiffs in the suit, namely, Shri Gurdwara Sahib Madnipur and Gujjar Singh, and they are competent to sue. It cannot be disputed that Gujjar Singh being a natural person could institute the suit. The appellants' objection to the locus standi of Shri Gurdwara Sahib Madnipur to sue is untenable as it is now well settled that a Gurdwara is a juristic person. This was so held by Harbans Singh, J., (as his Lordship then was) in Shri Guru Granth Sahib Khoje Majra v. Nagar Panchayat Khoje Majra, (1969) 71 Pun LR 844. It was ruled that a Gurdwara is a juristic person which can own property and can bring a suit in its name to protect the property owned by it through its manager. Reliance in this connection was placed upon the following observations of the Full Bench of this Court in Mahant Lacahman Dass Chela Mahant Ishar Dass v. State of Punjab, ILR (1968) 2 Punj 499 (FB):
'From the above discussion of the law on the subject it is clear that though juristic personality carrying with it the locus standi to institute a suit or initiate an action in a Court of Law necessarily depends on the procedural and municipal law of a country, it has all along been recognised by jurists and by the highest Courts than an institution in the sense of fictitious corporation composed of an idea or a purpose such as a Mutt for purposes germane to the same, and such as a mosque for the purposes of Muslim worship can exist in the eyes of law wholly independently of and separate from the property belonging to such an institution i.e., independently of the building of the Mutt or the building of the mosque itself. It is, therefore, nothing strange that the Punjab Legislature while using the word 'Gurdwara' in some parts of the Act intended therein to refer to the institution of the Gurdwara and not to the physical Gurdwara of brick and mortar.'
4. This dictum is in consonance with the observations of their Lordships of the Privy Council in Mosque known as Masjid Shahid Ganj v. Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee, Amritsar, AIR 1940 PC 116. In view of these authorities, the finding of the Courts below that the suit was maintainable must be upheld.
5. The due execution of the will has been held to be proved by both the Courts below and this finding has not been assailed before me. The contention that the will was invalid as Shri Guru Granth Sahib, in whose favour it was made, was incapable of holding property, has been put forward for the first time and was never raised before in either of the Courts below. The property in dispute is situate in the areas which formed part of the erstwhile State of Patiala. It is an undeniable fact that under the Farman-e-Shahi by the ruler of that State the properties attached to the religious institutions though standing in the names of their Managers, were ordered to be mutated and entered in the name of Shri Guru Granth Sahib of those institutions. Whatever may have been the position in the others States, in the areas which formed part of India that was in British possession, it is abundantly clear that by an order of the Ruler of the Patiala State Shri Guru Granth Sahib installed and worshipped in religious institutions was recognised as capable of holding the property. Had the question of competency of Shri Guru Granth Sahib to hold property been agitated before the Courts below, the matter could have been fully gone into and adjudicated upon on merits. Under the circumstances, this question cannot be permitted to be raised at this stage.
6. It may, however, be pointed out that recently a Full Bench of this Court in D. A. V. College, Hoshairpur Society v. Sarvada Nand Anglo Sanskrit Higher Secondary School, Managing Committee, Bassi Kalan L. P. A. 122 of 1966, decided on 20-9-1971=(AIR 1972 Punj 45 (FB)), while dealing with the objection that a school is not a juristic person and thus incapable of holding property, ruled as follows:
'If the object of the educational institution or the school is such as is recognised as charitable religious under the Hindu Law, such an educational institution or school will be regarded as possessing a juristic personality and will be capable of holding property.'
7. It is thus obvious that the mere fact that a school or an institution may not be capable of suing or being sued in its own name does not lead to the conclusion that it cannot hold property. Referring to Babajirao v. Laxmandas, (1904) 28 Bom 215, the learned Chief Justice observed as follows in D. A. V. College, Hoshiarpur Society's case L. P. A. No. 122 of 1966, D/- 20-9-1971=(AIR 1972 Punj 245 (FB)) (supra):
'It follows from the above, that apart from the natural persons and the corporations, which are recognised by English Law, under Hindu Law if an endowment is made for a religious or charitable institution, without the instrumentality of a trust, and the object of the endowment is one which is recognised as pious either being religious or charitable under the accepted notions of Hindu Law, the institution will be treated as a juristic person capable of holding property.'
8. Reference in this respect may be made to Vidya Varuthi Thirtha Swamigal v. Baluswami Ayyar, AIR 1922 PC 123, where Ameer Ali, J., while delivering the judgment of the Privy Council, at Page 126 of the Report, observed as follows:--
'Under the Hindu Law, the image of a deity of the Hindu pantheon is, as has been aptly called a 'juristic entity', vested with the capacity of receiving gifts and holding property. Religious institutions, known under different names, are regarded as possessing the same 'juristic' capacity, and gifts are made to them eo nomine'.
9. As has been observed by the learned Chief Justice in the Full Bench case in D. A. V. College, Hoshiarpur Society's case L. P. A. No. 122 of 1966, D/- 20-9-1971=(AIR 1972 Punj 245) (FB) (supra), a legal or a juristic person is an extension of the conception of personality which is normally attributable to a human being. Reference in this connection was made to Salmond on Jurisprudence, 1966 Edition, wherein at page 305 dealing with 'legal persons', it is stated:
'The law, in creating legal person, always does so by personifying some real thing. There is, indeed, no theoretical necessity for this, since the law might, if it so pleased, attribute the quality of personality to a purely imaginary being, and yet attain the ends for which this fictitious extension of personality is devised.'
10. After dealing with the trade unions and friendly societies the learned author proceeded on to say:
'If, however, we take account of other systems than our own, we find that the conception of legal personality is not so limited in its application, and that there are several distinct varieties of which three may be selection for special mention.'
11. One of these categories referred to at page 307 of the Report is in these words:
'The second class is that in which the corpus, or object selected for personification, is not a group or series of persons, but an institution. The law may, if it pleases, regard a church or a hospital, or a university, or a library, as a person. That is to say, it may attribute personality, not to any group of persons connected with the institution but to the institution itself. Our own law does not, indeed, so deal with the matter.'
12. Taking note of this and after referring to various authorities the learned Chief Justice, while delivering the opinion of the Full Bench in D. A. V. College, Hoshiarpur Society's case L. P. A. No. 122 of 1966, D/- 20-9-1971=(AIR 1972 Punj 245) (FB) (supra), observed as follows:
'When we examine the Hindu Law relating to religious and charitable endowments, we find that a number of institutions of religious and charitable nature have been treated to have a legal personality falling in the second category mentioned by Salmond. Under Hindu Law both religious and charitable purposes are considered to be pious. In English law, if some property is to be left for a particular purposes, be it charitable or religious the property has to be transferred to natural persons or corporation who may be called the trustees and such trustees will be bound in equity to administer the estate or the funds so given for the purposes for which the creator of the trust intended them to be used.'
13. After referring to paragraph 407 of Mulla's Hindu Law and the relevant authorities, his Lordship succinctly put the legal position in these words:
'In view of what has been stated above, so far as Hindu Law is concerned, there is hardly any doubt that an endowment can be made to an institution created for religious or charitable purposes and such institutions known by different names are regarded as possessing juristic capacity and gifts of property can be made to them eo nomine.'
14. Reference may here by made to page 311 of Bijan Kumar Mukherjea's Hindu Law of Religious and Charitable Trusts, 1962 Edition, where dealing with this matter it is stated:
'I have told you already in the introductory lecture that in the opinion of eminent Judges 'the Hindu Law like the Roman Law recognizes not only corporate bodies with rights of property vested in the corporations apart from its individual members, but also juridical persons or subjects called foundations. Mutts, Choultries and similar other institutions obviously answer to the description of foundations in Roman Law. When a property itself impressed with that purpose is raised to the status of a juristic person and can become in law the bearer of rights and duties.
15. For all these reasons, I am of the opinion, that since besides Shri Guru Granth Sahib there were two other plaintiffs in the case, the suit cannot be held to be incompetent and the will, on the basis of which the plaintiffs claim the property in dispute, having been found to be duly executed is valid and has to be given effect to. The appeal thus fails and is dismissed with costs.
16. Appeal dismissed.