1. This is a plaintiff's appeal against an appellate decree of the District Judge, Amritsar, allowing the appeal against the decree of the trial Court to the extent of one-third of the property.
2. Sohan Lal was the landlord of an area of land measuring 18 'kanals' of which the occupancy tenant was Mahant Raghunath Das. This is how it was shown in the revenue records in 1934. Sometime in March 1934 occupancy rights in this area of land were released by Mahant Raghunath Das in favour of the landlord. On the 3rd of March 1934, Sohan Lal transferred to Rattan Chand for a sum of Rs. 6000/-one-third of 18 'kanals'.
3. On the 16th of December 1935, a suit was brought to set aside the release which was made by the Mahant jn favour of Sohan Lal. This suit was decreed in 1937, but on appeal it was held that the person who is the Chela of Mahant Raghunath Das would be entitled to possession after the death of the Mahant--an event which occurred on the 30th of January, 1942.
4. On the 18th of January 1945, the present suit was brought for possession of the whole of the land which was transferred to Sohan Lal by Mahant Raghunath Das. The first Court held that the property belonged to the idol and that the exchange was not for the benefit of the idol, and therefore decreed the suit. On appeal, the learned District Judge upheld the finding jn regard to the property belonging to the idol and the exchange not being for its benefit, but held that the sale in favour of Rattan Chand was governed by section 41 of the Transfer of Property Act and being a 'bona fide' transaction for value it was screened against an attack by the plaintiff, and he therefore allowed the appeal to the extent of one-third of the property in dispute.
5. The first question to be decided is whether it is proved that Sohan Lal (sic) was a 'bona fide' purchaser for value, I have gone through his evidence and I find that he purchased the one-third share for a sum of Rs. 6,000/- out of which he paid Rs. 2,000/-and the rest was not paid although Sohan Lal claims that he did pay, he had a receipt and it was in his books. Neither the receipt nor the books have been produced. It is also in the evidence of Sohan Lal that he knew that the tenancy rights originally were in the name of Mahant Raghunath Das. He made inquiries from Mahant Raghunath Das who told him thatthey were his personal property and did not belong to the temple. It is on these facts that the learned Judge has held that the sale was a 'bona fide' one and for value. The appellate Judge has, in my opinion, misdirected himself on the question of law relating to such transactions and has misread the evidence. Although it has been found that Rs. 4,000/- was not paid, yet the learned Judge has held that the purchase was for consideration. He has also held that Sohan Lal represented himself to be the sole owner and in possession by reason of self-acquisition and therefore Sohan Lal was the ostensible owner.
6. The law in regard to properties which stand in the names of Mahants cannot be different from that when the property stands in the names of minors. A minor is incapable of giving his consent, express or implied, and it has been held that the doctrine of estoppel under section 41, Transfer of Property Act does not apply to them: see p. 199 of Mulla's Transfer of Property Act--and idol is in a state of perpetual tutelage and minority.
7. In his evidence Rattan Chand says that he made no inquiries whatsoever as to the title of Sohan Lal. All that he appears to have done is that he has relied upon the word of Sohan Lal and of Raghunath Das which cannot be termed 'reasonable care' within the meaning of the word as used in the Transfer of Property Act.
8. It was then submitted that this is not a case of transfer from Raghunath Das but the transfer was from Sohan Lal who was the proprietor and who had obtained the occupancy rights from Raghunath Das. There is no doubt that if the sale was by Raghunath Das the principles of section 41, Transfer of Property Act, would not have been applicable. Two cases have been cited by the counsel for the appellant that section 41, Transfer of Property Act, does not apply in the case of properties belonging to deities which are in possession of or stand in the names of Mahants. 'BASDEO GIR v JUG-RAJ PRASAD', AIR 1948 Oudh 247, is one of them, and the other is a case of 'wakf' under Mohammadan Law and is 'ANJUMAN ISLA-MIA v. LATAFAT ALI', AIR 1950 All 109. In the former which was a case of alienation by a Mahant of a temple the Mahant was held not to be an ostensible owner within the meaning of section 41 of the Transfer of Property Act and it was also held that it could not be said that the deity, which could express only through the Mahant, had allowed him to hold himself out to be the owner. In the latter case, it was held that, the question of 'bona fide' nature of the purchase is unnecessary to be decided because there can be no estoppel against God, and the heirs who by means of a collusive decree had the property partitioned and transferred in the names of different persons could not pass a better title than what they themselves had. The question is that if Sohan Lal had no title to the occupancy rights could it be said that he could pass a better title than he himself had to Rattan Chand. I have already held that Rattan Chand knew all the time about the title of Sohan Lal as also of Mahant Raghunath Das and I have also hold that it cannot be said that he acted with reasonable care. In the circumstances, he cannot claim the benefit of any estoppel which equity might raise in his favour if he had acted 'bona fide'. In the cir-cumstances of this case, Rattan Chand has not been proved to have acted in good faith.
9. I, therefore, allow this appeal, set aside the judgment and decree of the appellate Court and restore that of the trial Court. The parties will bear their own costs in this Court.