1. These two appeals arise out of two suits instituted by the karanavan and two junior members of a tarwad known as Parassini Madappurakkal in Andoor Amsom, Chirakkal Taluk. The suits are O. S. No. 3/1951 and O. S. No. 7/1953 on the file of the District Court of North Malabar, the former suit being by the karanavan of the tarwad and the latter being by the two junior members of the same tarwad. Both the suits were instituted for substantially the samerelief and accordingly they were tried together and disposed of by a common judgment by which the learned District Judge dismissed both the suits.
Against the dismissal of O. 3. 3/1951, the plaintiff in that suit has preferred A. S. 588/ 1953, while the appeal A. S. 998/1953 is by the plaintiffs in O. S. 7/1952 against the dismissal of that suit. The dispute in both the suits relates to the question as to whether the Parassinikadavu Muthappan Sthanam in Andoor Amsom. Chirakkal Taluk, is a public temple as defined in the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act and in the Madras Temple Entry Authorisation Act, or whether it is only a private temple belonging exclusively to the tarwad of the plaintiffs in the two suits.
An investigation into this matter was conducted as early as in the year 1926, as contemplated by Section 80 of the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1925 (Act I of 1925) and the Religious Endowment Board constituted under that Act came to the conclusion that the Parassinikadavu Muthappan temple is a public temple to which the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act applies and a notification to that effect was published by the Board on 9-8-1926. Ext. B5 is copy of that notification and Ext. B6 is copy of the annexure to the same. After the passing of the Madras Temple Entry Authorisation Act, 1947, another notification as contemplated by Section 6 of that Act was published by the Madras Government declaring that the Parassinikadavu Muthappan temple is a public temple as defined in the Act. That notification is dated 21-3-1951, and Ext: A2 is copy of the same. Section 6 of the Temple Entry Authorisation Act runs as follows:
'If any question arises as to whether a place is or is not a temple as denned in this Act, the question shall be referred to the State Government and their decision shall be final subject, however, to any decree passed by a competent civil Court in a suit filed before it within 6 months of the date of the decision of the State Government.'
It was in exercise of the right of suit reserved under this section that the karanavan of the Parassinikadavu Madupurakkal tarwad instituted the suit O. S. No. 3/1951 on 20-9-1951 to have the notification Ext. A2 set aside and to have a declaration that the Parassinikadavu Muthappan Sthanam is a private temple owned by the plaintiff's tarwad. The main ground on which the lower court dismissed the plaintiff's suit is that the plaintiff was bound by the earlier order Ext. B5 dated 9-8-1926 which has become final and conclusive.
That order was passed with notice to the plaintiff in O. S. No. 3/1951 and after hearing his objections and after conducting the necessary investigation into the question as to whether the temple is a private temple of his tarwad or whether it is a public temple. The inquiry was conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1925. At that inquiry, the plaintiff in O. S. 3/1951 had presented a petition before the Endowment Board urging his claim that the Paras-gonikadavu Muthappan Sthanam is a private temple exclusively owned by his tarwad.
Ext. Bl is copy of that petition presented by him on 23rd August 1925, and it shows that the petitioner was urging his claim in his capacity as the fearanavan of his tarwad and as the Ooralan of the temple. For pressing his claim that the temple belongs exclusively to his tarwad, he had also engaged a lawyer, as is evident from Ext. B3, which is copy of the vakkalath executed by him in favour of Advocate Shri V. P. Karunakaran Nambiar. The petition Ext. B1 is seen, to have been forwarded by the Secretary of the Board to the Inspector of South Canara and North Malabar, for inquiry and report. In the petition Ext. Bl as also in the statement given, before the inspector who conducted the inquiry, the present plaintiff had admitted that the Hindus in general and even some Christians and Muslims used to worship in this temple and also to make offerings to the temple and that all such offerings were spent for the expenses of the temple.
At the same time, he maintained that the temple belongs exclusively to his tarwad. In view of such a stand taken by him, the President of the Endowment Board heard the petitioner and his counsel even subsequent to the inquiry conducted by the Inspector and it was after dis-consideration of all the points urged on his behalf that the Board passed the order Ext. B5 declaring the temple to be a public temple. The grounds on which such a declaration was made are stated in Ext. B6, the annexure to Ext. B5.
The grounds are that the temple is a very ancient one that pilgrims from various places on the west coast go and worship in this temple, that during the annual festivals in the month of Vrischigom people from all parts of Malabar used to gather and to make various offerings to the deity and that the amount received by way of such offerings formed the main source of income of the temple out of which the expenses of the temple are being met, These facts brought to light by the inquiry conducted at that stage, fully justified the Board's decision Ext. B5 that the Parassinikadavu Muthappan Sthanam is a public temple coming within the ambit of the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1925. In Section 5, clause 12 of that Act the expression 'temple' was defined as follows :
'Temple' means a place, by whatever designation known, used as a place of public worship and dedicated to, or for the benefit of, or used as of right by, the Hindu community or any section thereof, as a place of public religious worship.'
The inquiry already referred to revealed that the temple in question has all along been used by the members of the Hindu community in general as a place of public religious worship and that this was being done as a matter of right. The decision Ext. B5 was passed by the Board under Sub-section 1 of Section 80 of Act I of 1825 and the decision was clearly against the exclusive claim that had been put forward by the plaintiff in O. S. 3/1951 in his capacity as the managing karanavan of parassini Madapurakkal tarwad, under Sub-section 2 of Section 80, he could have taken the matter to the District Court and sought for an order setting aside the decision of the Board. A period of one year from the date of the order of the Board was prescribed, for the filing of such an application in the District Court.
The plaintiff did not care to take any steps in that direction within the prescribed time, with the result that the order Ext. B5 had become final and conclusive on the expiry of the said period of one year. It was not therefore open to the plaintiff to re-agitate the same matter under Section 6 of the Madras Temple Entry Authorisation Act, 1947. That Act did not create any new right in favour of himself or his tarwad. A temple which had already been declared to be a public temple under Section 80 of the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1925 could not become a private temple with the passing of the Madras Temple Entry Authorisation Act of 1947.
The definition given for the word 'temple' in both these Acts is substantially the same. The Madras Government was therefore fully justified, in placing reliance on the order Ext. B5 passed by the Hindu Religious Endowment Board as early as in the year 1926 declaring the Parassinikadavu Muthappan Sthanam to be a public temple and in passing the order Ext. A2 under Section 6. of the Madras Temple Entry Authorisation Act of 1947 declaring that the said temple is a public temple as defined in the Madras Temple Entry Authorisation Act also. The lower court was therefore right in holding that the legality and validity of that order could not be challenged by the plaintiff in O. S. 3/1951, against whom the earlier order Ext. B5 had become final and conclusive. The decree dismissing that suit does not call for any interference in appeal, i.e., A. S. No. 588 Of 1953 has only to be dismissed.
2. The other appeal A. S. 988 of 1953 is by the plaintiffs in O. S. 7/1952 who are two of the junior members of the Parassini Madappurakkal tarwad. They have also prayed for a declaration that the Parassinikadavu Muthappan Sthanam is a private temple belonging exclusively to their tarwad. The position taken up by them is that the earlier orders passed by the Madras Hindu Religious Endowment Board declaring this temple to be a public temple are not binding on their tarwad. Ext. B5 is the first of these orders, and it was passed on 9-8-1926 under Section 80 of the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act, Act 1 of 1925. The circumstances under which this order was passed have already been discussed in the earlier part of this judgment dealing with A. S. 588/1953 which is the appeal preferred by the karnavan of the same tarwad against the decree in his suit O. S. 3/1951.
There it has been found that the order Ext. B5 was passed after notice to him and after hearing his objections and on a due consideration of the circumstances brought to light in the course of the inquiry as to the real nature of the temple in question. The contentions now raised by the junior members of the tarwad in support of the claim that the temple belongs exclusively to their tarwad, had all been put forward by the karanavan at the inquiry conducted by the Hindu Religious Endowment Board. That he did so in his capacity as the karnavan and manager of his tarwad, is clear from the petition Ext. B1 before the Hindu Religious Endowment Board and also from the vakkalath Ext. B3 executed by him authorising his lawyer to appear before the Board and urge his claims in respect of the Parassinikadavu Muthappan Sthanam. As the karnavan of the tarwad, he was fully competent to represent his tarwad at that time and hence the order Ext. B5 is an order binding on his tarwad as a whole.
All the same, it is pointed out on behalf of the plaintiffs, who are junior members in the tarwad, that there is nothing in Section 80 of Act 1 of 1925 precluding them from challenging the validity of that order by instituting a regular suit in the civil Court. In support of this position it is pointed out that the Period of one year prescribed for such a suit as per sub-section 2 of Section 80, can govern only a suit instituted by a trustee affected by the decision of the Board. No doubt the sub-section refers only to a suit by a trustee. In the present case the trustee who was in management of the temple was the karanavan in management of the tarwad and the temple. Going by the wording employed in Sub-section 2, it is possible to argue that the other members of the tarwad affected by the decision of the Board were not obliged to institute a suit to set aside the order Ext. B5 within a period of one year as prescribed by that sub-section.
Even assuming this to be so, it cannot be said that the junior members can wait for any length of time and choose to institute a suit of that kind as and when they like. In the nature of the inquiry conducted by the Board and not of the contest made by the karanavan of the plaintiff's tarwad, it is difficult to believe that the members of the tarwad were not aware of the inquiry and the order then and there. All the same it is seen that the present suit was instituted only after a period of 25 years from the date of that order. It is also seen that some junior members of this tarward, other than the present plaintiffs, had made an earlier attempt to get over the effect of the order Ext. B-5. This attempt was made after Act I of 1925 was replaced by the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act (Act II of 1927). Section 84 (1) of that Act provided that if any dispute arises as to whether an institution is a Math Or Temple as defined in the Act or whether a temple is an excepted temple, such disputes shall be decided by the Board.
Some junior members, of the plaintiff's tarwad took advantage of this provision and filed a petition before the Board seeking a declaration that the Parassinikadavu Muthappan Sthanam is a Private temple belonging to their tanvad. Ext. A 1 is the order dated 24-11-1949 by which the Board disposed of that petition. By this order, the Board declined to reconsider the matter for the reason that the prior order Ext. B 5 dated 9-8-1926 had become final and conclusive. The scope and effect of an order like Ext. A-1 passed under Section 84 (1) of the Act n of 1927, are made clear by Sub-section (2) of the same section which is in the following terras:
'Any person affected by a decision under Subsection (1) may, within one year, apply to the Court to modify or set aside such decision; but subject to the result of such application, the order of the Board shall be final.'
It Is significant to note that in enacting this sub-section the Legislature has made a deliberate departure from the wording in the corresponding provision in Sub-section (2) of Section 80 of Act I of 1925, by substituting the expression 'any person affected by a decision under Sub-section (1)' for the expression 'a trustee affected by a decision under Sub-section (1)', as found in Sub-section (2) of Section 80 of Act 1 of 1925. There can be no doubt that the present plaintiffs also come under the category of persons affected by the' decision Ext. A-1, and as such they are also bound by the period of one year prescribed by Section 84 (2) for challenging the validity and the correctness of that order by filing an application, in the District Court.
Since they did not care to initiate any such proceedings within the said period of one year, the order Ext. A 1 has become final as against these plaintiffs also. Long after the expiry of the period of one year prescribed by Section 84 (2), the present plaintiffs are seen to have made an attempt to create for themselves a fresh cause of action to enable them to move the District Court for a declaration that the Parassinikadavu Muthappan Sthanam is a private temple belonging to their tarwad. With that object in view they filed a petition on 20th April, 1951 before the Hindu Religious Endowment Board under Sub-section (1) of Section 84 of Act II of 1927, seeking a declaration that the Muthappan Sthanam belongs exclusively to their tarwad.
The Board dismissed that petition on 7-6-1951 and drew their attention to the prior order dated 24-11-1949, by which a similar petition filed by other junior members of the same tarwad had been dismissed. These facts are stated in the plaint in the present suit. The stand taken by the plaintiffs that they are entitled to maintain the present suit which has its basis on the application filed by them within one year of the order dated 7-6-1951, is obviously untenable. Successive members of the same tarwad cannot by turn invoke the aid of s. 84 by filing petitions one after another and thus create a cause of action for each of them on the strength, of the order on such petitions.
It was to prevent such multiplicity of proceedings that Sub-section (2) of Section 84 of Act II of 1927 wag so worded as to make it obligatory on every person affected by an order passed by the Hindu Religious Endowment Board to file an application before the Court challening that order within one year from the date of that order. This means that once such an order is passed by the Board under Section 84 (1), it will become final and conclusive as against all persons affected by it, unless they choose to file applications before court within one year questioning the validity of that order. Such an opportunity was not availed of by the present plaintiffs in respect of the order Ext. 1 dated 24-11-1949. Their belated move to re-agitate the same matter was rightly discountenanced by the lower court and the decree dismissing their suit does not call for any interference. Thus A. S. 998 of 1953 has also to be dismissed.
3. In the result A. S. 588/1953 and A. S. 998 /1953 are both dismissed with costs.