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Jagannath and ors. Vs. Satya NaraIn and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberFirst Appeal No. 67 of 1969
Judge
Reported inAIR1973Raj13; 1972()WLN709
ActsRajasthan Public Trusts Act, 1959 - Sections 29 and 73; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Sections 9
AppellantJagannath and ors.
RespondentSatya NaraIn and ors.
Appellant Advocate M.C. Bhandari, Adv.
Respondent Advocate Sumerchand Bhandari and; Rajesh Balia, Advs.
Cases ReferredEbrahim Aboobakar v. Custodian General.
Excerpt:
rajasthan public trusts act, 1959 - section 17--registration of public trusts is necessary.;it has been made incumbent on the working trustees to make an application for the registration of the public trusts within the specified time on the pain of punish merit.;(b) rajasthan public trusts act, 1959 - section 29--suit for enforcement of rights in public temple--bar cannot be avoided--asst. commissioner's jurisdiction depends on valuation.;the present suit is undoubtedly for enforcement of the rights on behalf of the trust and the bar created by section 29 of the act cannot be avoided once it can be held as a result of any inquiry in accordance with law that this was a public temple.;it is only for such public trusts which satisfy the condition of valuation that the exclusive jurisdiction.....kan singh, j.1. this is an appeal bythe defendants directed against the 'judgment and decree of the learned district judge, partabgarh (camp chittorgarh) end. inter alia, raises the question whether the suit was barred by the provisions of section 29 of the raiasthan public trusts act. 1959 (act no. 42 of 1959), hereinafter referred to as the 'act'.2. the suit was filed on 27-8-1962 by the panch mahesihwaris of chittorgarh and it concerns a temple known as shri laxmi narainii's temple situated at chittorgarh. it was for an injunction requiring the defendants jagan nath and laxmi lal to hand over certain articles of the temple which were in their custody as puiaris of the aforesaid temple and further refrain from performing the work of 'sewa 'pooia' in the temple.stated in brief the.....
Judgment:

Kan Singh, J.

1. This is an appeal bythe defendants directed against the 'judgment and decree of the learned District Judge, Partabgarh (Camp Chittorgarh) end. inter alia, raises the question whether the suit was barred by the provisions of Section 29 of the Raiasthan Public Trusts Act. 1959 (Act No. 42 of 1959), hereinafter referred to as the 'Act'.

2. The suit was filed on 27-8-1962 by the Panch Mahesihwaris of Chittorgarh and it concerns a temple known as Shri Laxmi Narainii's temple situated at Chittorgarh. It was for an injunction requiring the defendants Jagan Nath and Laxmi Lal to hand over certain articles of the temple which were in their custody as Puiaris of the aforesaid temple and further refrain from performing the work of 'Sewa 'Pooia' in the temple.

Stated in brief the plaintiffs' case was that the temple belonged to the Maheshwari Community and was being managed through their Panch as. The latter had employed the defendants for performing the 'Sewa Pooia' at the temple and for this the plaintiffs relied on certain agreements allegedly executed by the defendants. In view of the services the defendants were to receive the offerings of foodgrains (Patia) and what-evpr would be offered by the worshippers and visitors to the deity.

The defendants-appellants contested the suit. They denied that the temple was of the Maheshwari Community or that Maheshwari Panchas had the au-thority to manage the temple affairs. They took the position that the temple wag a public temple where any Hindu could, as a matter of right, go for 'Dar-shan'. They proceeded to say that the temple was constructed in the time of Maharana Udai Singh of Mewar and some property had been endowed for its upkeep and the defendants' ancestors were appointed as Puiaris and since then the defendants had been acting as hereditary Puiaris and performing the Sewa Pooia' at the temple. The defendants thus denied the authority of the plaintiffs to remove them or to call upon them to deliver the properties of the temple to them or to refrain from performing 'Sewa Pooia' at the temple.

3. On 9-4-1965. Shri Bansal, learned counsel for the plaintiffs, requested the learned District Judge to add the Commissioner Devasthan as a party to the case. This request of the learned counsel was not opposed by learned counsel for the defendants and accord-ingly the Court ordered that the Commissioner Devasthan be added as a defendant in the case. Accordingly, the Commissioner Devasthan was added as defendant No. 23 and he also filed the written statement. He too denied the claim of the plaintiffs that it was a private temple belonging to the Maheshwari Community of Chittorgarh. He averred that the temple in question was a public temple and the plaintiffs were not entitled to manage the affairs of the same. According to him in the past it was the ex-Mewar State who had endowed the property to the temple and it was being treated as a public temple. He further proceeded to say that one Jasrai Bhoiak was constituted as a Pujari and Muafi land was granted to him and it was the duty of Jasrai and his desce-dants to perform the 'Sewa Pooja' at the temple. Apart from this a cash grant of Rs. 21/14/- was being made to the Puiaris Jagannath and Laxmi Lal for the 'Sewa Pooia'. Further this temple like other public temples of the State was looked after by the Government through the Devasthan Department. He referred to a claim one time made by the Maheshwari Community for the temple and this led to an inquiry in the year 1941. As a result of that inquiry though the temple was allowed to be managed by the Panch Maheshwaris it was held that it was a State temple. The Puiaris were to get the offerings for the services they were to render besides the enjoyment of the Muafi land granted by the State. This decision was given on 17-7-1947.

4. Some issues were framed by the learned District Judge after the defendants-appellants had filed their statements and certain additional issues were framed after the Devasthan Commissioner had filed the written statement. I may read the issues which came to be tried :

'(1) Are the Panchas of Maheshwari Community of Chittorgarh Shebaites and Managers of the temple of Laxmi Narain Ji or

Are the descendants of Jasrai Shebaites of the temple of Laxmi Narain Ji ?

(2) Are the defendants Nos. 1 and 2 Pujaris appointed by the plaintiffs, or are they hereditary Puiaris ?

(3) Are the defendants Nos. 1 and 2 guilty of misconduct rendering them liable for removal from the temple ?

(4) Is court-fee paid, insufficient ?

(5) Whether defendants 1 and 2 executed the agreements in plaintiff's favour under pressure and coercion ?

(6) Whether for reasons stated in para. 19 of the written statement of Devasthan defendant No. 23. this court has no jurisdiction to entertain this suit ?

(7) Whether this temple is public trust, if so, whether its registration, under the Public Trusts Act is essential andwhether the plaintiffs are not entitled to institute or prosecute this suit in absence of such registration ?

(8) To what relief are the plaintiffs entitled ?'

5. Both the parties produced their evidence. The learned District Judge decided issues Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in favour of the plaintiffs. Issue No. 4 regarding the court-fee was also decided in favour of the plaintiffs. Regarding issue No. 5 which was regarding the documents Exs. 1 and 2. the learned District Judge held that the defendants had iailed to prove that the documents were executed by them as a result of coercion or undue influence. Regarding issue No. 6, the learned District Judge held that the question whether the removal of the Pujaris Jagannath and Laxmi Lal by Maheshwari Panchas was on valid grounds and under proper authority cannot be said to be covered by Section 73 of the Act and consequently the jurisdiction of the Court to decide the same was not barred. The learned District Judge refrained from deciding or dealing with issue No. 7, observing that it was not at all necessary in the present suit which was between the management and the Pujaris as regards the right of the management to remove the Pujaris for acts of misconduct on the part of the Pui aris. In the result, the learned District Judge decreed the suit.

6. In assailing the judgment and decree of the learned District Judge, learned counsel for the defendants-appellants has placed at the forefront the argument that without determination of issue No. 7 the Court could not have proceeded to determine the other issues. He maintained that here Section 29 of the Act created a bar. He took the stand that this was a public temple and thus a public trust within the meaning of the Act and accordingly to enforce any right for and on behalf of the Trust, registration of the public trust under the Act was necessary. Learned counsel submitted that apart from every thing else on the plaintiffs' own averments in the plaint there was Muafi land granted by the State for the upkeep of the temple and it further appears that besides this there was a cash annual grant for the temple and these were clear and almost conclusive indicia for showing that this was a public temple and the plaintiffs could not arrogate to themselves that the temple belonged to only one of the Communities at Chittorgarh and the public in general had no right of 'Darshan'. As regards the relief sought against the defendants-appellants who were Puiaris it was submitted that even according to the position accepted by the plaintiffs in the plaint the plaintiffs wanted to have a sign board put on the temple that it belonged to the Mabeshwari Community and this the Pujaris had opposed and this was the cause of hostility between the plaintiffs and the defendants-appellants.

7. Learned counsel for the respondents contests this position. He submitted that Section 29 of the Act was inapplicable to the present case firstly because there had never been a determination of the question, whether it was a public trust or not, by the Assistant Commissioner and consequently the bar under Section 29 of the Act was not attracted. Then learned counsel submitted that this cannot be said to be a suit for and on behalf of the public trust for enforcing its rights. On the other hand, according to learned counsel, this was a suit by the Shebaits or the trustees of the temple for the delivery of certain articles belonging to the temple as the Pujaris had been removed by the management for their misconduct. Then learned counsel took the position that Section 73 of the Act barred the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts to determine any question that was required to be determined by an Assistant Commissioner or any other authority under the Act and it will not, therefore, be open to the Civil Courts to decide the question whether this was a public trust or otherwise. Therefore, for that reason also the plaintiffs should not be precluded from suing the defendants-appellants for the reliefs that were sought in the plaint. Here learned counsel also called attention to the Government notification by which Chapters V, VI, VII, VIII, IX and X of the Act were extended. Learned counsel submitted that unless the valuation of the trust property was Rs. 30,000/- or more, or the annual income of the trust was Rs. 3,000/- or more, the authorities created by the Act namely, the Assistant Commissioner and others would not be empowered to make any pronouncement regarding the trust in question being a public trust or not -and to insist for its registration. In the circumstances, therefore, maintains the learned counsel, the Civil Court was not precluded from dealing with the matters raised in the suit. Learned counsel pointed out that at best the points raised were analogous to those arising under Section 92 of the Civil Procedure Code and were not covered by the provisions of the Act. He relied on Gandhi Sewa Shikshan Samiti, Chimur v. Gulam Hussein Welji, (1962) 64 Bom LR 206.

8. For a proper appraisal of the questions debated I may first read the relevant provisions of the Act.

9. The Act was passed by the Rajasthan Legislature to regulate and to make better provision for the administration of public religious and charitable trusts in the State of Rajasthan. It was reserved for the assent of the President who gave his assent to the same on 22-10-1959. The Act came into force from. 1-7-1962 by virtue of the Notification No. F.3F(II)Rey./A/59 dated 28-6-1962 published in the Rajasthan Gazette Part-C, dated 28-6-1962. Sub-section (2). of Section 1 provides that the Act extends to the whole of the State of Ralas-than. Sub-section (3) thereof provided that Chapters I, II. III and IV shall come Into force at once. Sub-section (4) provided that Chapters V. VI, VII, VIII, IX end X of the Act shall come into force on such date and shall apply therefrom In relation to such class or classes of public trusts as the State Government may by notification in the Officer Gazette specify and for the purpose of such application the State Government may classify such public trusts in the State on the basis of the income thereof or on the basis of the value of their total assets or on the basis of other financial factors. Regarding Chapters XII and XIII it was provided that the Act shall commence to apply in relation to the provisions of each of the other chapters of this Act on the date on which auch other Chapter comes into force.

10. Then I may read the defini-tion of the term 'public trust' occurring In Sub-section (11) of Section 2. The term 'public trust' means an express or constructive trust for either a public religious or charitable purpose or both and includes a temple, a math, dharmada or any other religious or charitable endowment or institution and a society formed either for a religious or charitable purpose or for both.

The term 'temple' means a place, by whatever designation known used as a place of public religious worship and dedicated to or for the benefit of or used as of right by a community or any section thereof as a place of public religious worship.

The term 'trustee' means a person In whom either alone or in association with other persons the trust property is vested and includes a manager.

The term 'working trustee' means any person who, for the time being, either alone or in association with some other person or persons, administers the trust property of any public trust and includes the manager of a public trust as well as (a) in the case of a math, the head of such math, and (b) in the case of a public trust having its principal office or principal place of business outside the State of Rajasthan, the person in charge of the management of the property and administration of the public trust in that State.

Chapter II deals with validity of certain public trusts. Chapter III is about appointment of officers and servants. Chapter IV is about establishment and functions of Board and Committees.

These Chapters, as already noticed, came into force at once when the Act became operative.

Chapter V is about registration of public trusts. Section 16 thereof provides that the Assistant Commissioner shall be incharge of the registration of all public trusts. Section 17 casts a duty on the working trustees to apply for registration of a public trust within two years from the date qf the application of this section to a public trust or from the date on which a public trust is created, whichever is later. Here I may also refer to Section 70 of the Act which lays down a penalty. It provides that whoever contravenes any provision of Sub-section (1) of Section 17 shall be punished with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees.

Section 18 lays down the procedure. for inquiry regarding registration. Then there is a provision for the Assistant Commissioner giving a finding about the completion of the inquiry and there is further a provision for appeal. Then there are other ancillary provisions which need not be read.

Chapter VI is regarding the management of trust property. Chapter VII is regarding Accounts, Audit and Budget. Chapter VIII is about powers of officers in relation to public trusts. Chapter IX is about the control over public trusts. Chapter X contains special provisions as respects to certain public trusts with which we are not concerned. Chapter XI Is about what is described as Dharmada. Then Chapter XII lays down the procedure and penalties. It provides that the inquiries under the Act shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings within, the meaning of Sections 193, 219 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code. According to Section 69, the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure have been made applicable to the extent they are not inconsistent with anything contained in the Act. Then there is the last Chapter No. XIII intituled Miscellaneous Chapter. Nothing turns on it and I may not read the same.

11. Now, reverting to Section 29 which occurs in. Chapter V. It runs as follows :--

'Section 29. Bar against suits by unregistered trust.--(1) No suit to enforce a right on behalf of a public trust which is required to be registered under this Act but has not been so registered shall be heard or decided in any court.

(2) The provisions of Sub-section (1) shall apply to a claim of set off or other proceeding to enforce a right on behalf of such, public trust.'

12. Section 73 which occurs in Chapter XIII runs as under :--

'Section 73. Bar of jurisdiction.-- Save as expressly provided in this Act. no Civil Court shall have jurisdiction to decide or deal with anv Question which is bv or under this Act to be decided or dealt with by any officer or authority under this Act or in respect of which the decision or order of such officer or authority has been made final and conclusive.'

13. The section that falls to be considered in the first instance is as already observed. Section 29. A barx reading of the section will show that it is a bar created against certain suite bv unregistered trusts. It applies when a public trust which is reaquired to be registered Under this Act has not been registered Then no suit to enforce a right on behalf of the public trust shall be heard or decid-ed by any court. A good deal of argu-ment centred round the question whether the present suit was one to enforce a right on behalf of a public trust. Learned counsel for the respondents has contended that this was a suit pure and simple bv the She baits of the temple for the delivery of certain properties from the Pujaris who had been earlier removed by the Shebaits and, therefore, by no stretch of imagination could it be suggested that the plaintiffs were thereby enforcing a right on behalf of the public trust.

14. Then the next leg of the argument was that the only bar was against the hearing or deciding the suit, but nevertheless the suit could be filed and was entertainable. In the circumstances, learned counsel argued, that the District Judge was right in leaving issue No. 7 alone and refusing to deal with it as it was unnecessary for the right disposal of the case,

15. The underlying intention of the Legislature has to be gathered from the scheme of the Act and from the language employed in Section 29 thereof. As the preamble of the Act suggests, the Act was designed to regulate and to make better provision for the administration of public religious and charitable trusts in the State. Registration of public trusts would be necessary for their proper administration. By registration the authorities of the State would be put In know of such trusts and they would be in a position to exercise effective control over them and without such registration it may very well be that the au-thorities may remain ignorant of such trusts. In this context Section 17 has to be viewed by reading it with Section 70. It has been made incumbent on the working trustees to make an application for the registration of the public trusts within the specified time on. the pain of punishment.

Then, to my mind. Section 29 was designed as another safeguard to compel the registration of the public trusts under the Act. Here the Legislature steps in by ordaining that no suit to enforce a right on behalf of a public trust which is required to be registered but has not been so registered shall be heard or decided in anv court. In creating the bar the Legislature has thought fit to forbid enforcement of a right on behalf of a public trust. Naturally enforcement of other rights is not within the purview of the section But then the question is what is the ambit of the words 'a right on behalf of a public trust'. One need not proceed to interpret this expression in all its aspects. The pointed question before the Court is whether the present suit can be characterised as one for en- forcement of a right on behalf of a pub lie trust Here the discussion would proceed on the assumption that it is a public trust because as will be clear from what I am going to say the question has vet to be determined in accordance with law. Let us also assume that the temple is a private one. as contended by the plaintiffs. Then, can it be said that this was a suit for enforcement, of a right on behalf of a private trust. If the answer to the question in either case is the same, then I should think Section 29 would have its play.

16. Now the Pularis are discharging certain duties in relation to the temple when they perform the 'Sewa Pooja' and make use of the articles or the properties of the temple. When the Pujaris are removed and they are eventually call ed upon to hand over the properties and articles of the temple to the Shebaits or the trustees. then the question calls et-tention whether the Shebaits are not en-forcing a right on behalf of the trust or temple be it a private temple. If the Shebaits have no rights of their own then they are certainly acting for some one else and if not for the temple, then for whom are they acting? I have no manner of doubt that a suit to recoye the articles or the properties belonging to the temple is undoubtedly one for enforcement of a right on behalf of the temple. Here I may not decide the controversy whether the temple is a public temple or a private one. I may only concentrate on the words 'to enforce a right on behalf of a public or a private trust'.

The present suit is undoubtedly for enforcement of the rights on behalf ofthe trust and the bar created by Sec-tion 29 of the Act cannot be avoidedonce it can be held as a result of anyinquiry in accordance with lew that thiswas a public temple.

17. Now the next question is who Is to hold this inquiry and till then what is to happen. Section 73, which I have set out above, lays down that no Civil Court shall have jurisdiction to decide or deal with any question which is by or under this Act required to be decided or dealt with bv any officer or authority under this Act unless it is provided otherwise in the Act No other provision has been brought to my notice. The question whether Shri Laxmi Narainji's temple is a public temple as asserted bv the defendants-appellants and the Devasthan Commissioner or a private temple belonging to the Maheshwari Community as claimed by the plaintiffs is a mixed question of law and fact and is required to be determined bv the authorities under the Act provided certain other conditions are also satisfied. Here I may read the Government notification dated 28-6-1962 under Section 1 of the Act :

'REVENUE 'A' DEPARTMENT

NOTIFICATION

Jaipur. June 28. 1962,

No. 'F.3F(11)Rev./A/59.-- In exercise of the powers conferred bv Sub-section (4) of Section 1 of the Raiasthan Public Trust Act, 1959 (Raiasthan Act 49 of 1959), the State Government hereby directs that the provisions of Chapters V, VI. VII. VIII and IX of the said Act shall come into force on the 1st day of July, 1962, and shall apply therefrom to all public trusts throughout the State of Rajasthan whose gross annual income from all sources whatsoever is not less than Rs. 3,000/- or the total valuation of tho assets whereof is not less than Rupees 30,000/-. a draft notification to this effect having already been published, as required by Sub-section (5) of Section 1 of the said Act. in the Raiasthan Gazette Extraordinary, Part III-B. dated May 21, 1962.

G.L. MEHTA,

Secretary to the Government.'

A bare reeding of this notification shows that Chapters V. VI. VII. VIII and IX apply to all public trusts whose gross annual income from all sources whatsoever is not less than Rs. 3,000/- or the total valuation of the assets whereof is not less than Rs. 30,000/-. Since the provisions of the Act apply only to particular kinds of public trusts namely, those whose annual income is Rs. 3,000/- or more or the valuation of the assets is not less than Rs. 30,000/- the Act does not at all applv to such of the public trusts as do not satisfy the condition of valuation. Now. who is to draw the boundary line between the public trusts to which the Act shall apply and the public trusts to which the Act shall not apply. Section 73 no doubt creates a bar regarding the Civil Court deciding any question which is bv or under this Act to be decided or dealt with bv an. Officer or authority under the Act. But Chapter XIII will apply only to public trusts satisfying the prescribed conditions regarding valuation. It is not that Chapter XIII is applicable throughout Rajasthan to all public trusts. Therefore, to my mind, it is only for such public trusts which satisfy the condition of valuation that the exclusive jurisdiction is conferred on the Assistant Commissioner Devasthan and other authori-ties, but all other public trusts are outside their purview. Whether this Laxmi Naraninji's temple is a public trust or not may have to be decided by the authori-ties under the Act, but whether it is a public trust of the prescribed valuation by way of income or valuation of assets or not. is a question which could be decided by the Civil Court when such controversy is raised.

18. In the present case, therefore, for a proper decision of issue No. 7, the learned District Judge has to decide whether the temple in question satisfies the condition of valuation. If once the decision of the learned District Judge is that the temple in question does not satisfy the condition of valuation then he will be entitled to proceed with the suit, but in the event of his holding that the assets of the temple are Rs. 30,000/-or more in value or its annual income is Rs. 3,000/- or more, then the learned District Judge has to stay his hands and leave the question whether Shri Laxmi Narainji's temple is a public temple or not for the decision of the Assistant Commissioner Devasthan- In the event of the Assistant Commissioner Devasthan or other competent authority under the Act holding that the temple in question is a public trust within the meaning of the Act then the learned District Judge shall not hear and decide the case till the trust is registered under the Act.

19. Now I may deal with the case referred to by learned counsel for the respondents. In Gandhi Sewa Shikshan Samiti. Chimur v. Gulam Hussain Welji the plaintiffs who were an association known as Gandhi Sewa Shikshen Samiti. Chimur. were registered under the Societies Registration Act. They filed a suit for the recovery of Rs. 6,000/-and odd from the defendant on the basis that the latter had made certain recoveries on behalf of the Association and had retained the same without anv right. The suit was opposed, inter alia on the ground that the trust was not registered in accordance with Sections 5 and 6 of the Madhya Pradesh Public Trusts Act, Reliance was placed on Section 32 of that Act which enacted a bar analogous to Section 29 of the Act. The learned Judge consideicd the question whether the expression 'suit to enforce a right on behalf of the public trust' covers all claims to be instituted on behalf of the society even against third persons and strangers. The language was considered to be wide at first sight, but then the learned Judge observed that one cannot forget the fact that there ere different kinds of claims which a public trust can make against strangers and third parties. In the case before the learned Judge the public trust was a society registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act and consequently the learned Judge held that the society got a right of filing suits under the Indian Societies Registration Act He went on to say that a society which was registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act becomes a corporate body or a juridical person and consequently it could bring a suit. Thus, in that case the learned Judge rested his decision on Section 6 of the Societies Registration Act for holding that the society had a right to file the suit. It is sufficient to say that the case is clearly distinguishable. Here there is no question of any registered society coming into the picture and one has to fall back only on the plain language of the Act.

20. Learned counsel for the appellants invited my attention to a decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Idol Shri 'Shriji' v. Chaturbhai, AIR 1965 Madh Pra 4 in which also the provisions of the Madhva Pradesh Public Trusts Act came to be considered. Though the former was a Judgment delivered by the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court, the latter is a iudgment of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. Nevertheless the learned Judges were interpreting the provisions of the same Act. In the last mentioned case the scope of Section 32 was considered and it was observed :--

'A suit on behalf of an idol for declaration that the suit properties belonged to the idol and as such were not liable to attachment and sale in execution of a decree obtained against the ehebait of the idol was a suit 'to enforce a right on behalf of a public trust* within Section 32 of M. P. Public Trusts Act. 1951, and as the trust was not registered as per provisions of the said Act the suit could not be heard or decided by any Court'

Thus the view taken in the Bombaycase, (1962) 64 Bom LR 206. does notsquare with the view taken in theMadhva Pradesh case. AIR 1965 MadhRra 4 on the same provision. Here inthe Madhva Pradesh case a suit filedagainst the third party was also takento be barred.

21. In construing the language of the plaint in the case one has to look to its substance and not to its outward form. Though it has been argued that it was a suit by a Shebait for the possession of property in the hands of a Pujari who has been removed and thus was not a suit to enforce any right of the public trust as such, I am afraid, the plaintiffs cannot be said to file the suit on their own behalf. They are themselves not claiming any rights in the property that is said to be with the defendants-appellants. They may not like to say. in so many words, that they are suing on behalf of the temple, but. to my mind, the suit is very much for and on behalf of the temple of Shri Laxmi Narainji and thus the impact of Section 29 of the Act cannot be avoided. As I have already observed, I express no opinion on the question whether Shri Laxmi Narainji's temple is a public temple as contended by the defendants-appellants and the Devasthan Commissioner or it is a private temple belonging to the Maheshwari Community as claimed by the plaintiffs. This question will be decided by the authorities concerned in accordance with law.

22. Before closing I may notice a couple of other subsidiary points argued by learned counsel for the respondent He tried to make a distinction in the present case by suggesting that the Panch Maheshwaris were acting only on behalf of the worshippers and not acting as such on behalf of the temple when they removed the Pujaris and then in consequence sought recovery of the articles or Property belonging to the temple from them. It is enough to say that they are very much acting as persons managing the affairs of the temple. One may enforce his own right of worship as a worshipper, but the moment he wants an arrangement in relation to the affairs of the temple and sues for the recovery of its property, then he is very much acting for and on behalf of the temple. Learned counsel also argued that Devasthan Commissioner has himself taken a clear cut stand and. therefore, it will be an exercise in futility if the Assistant Commissioner is asked to decide the question whether Shri Laxmi Narainji's temple is a public temple or not. Learned counsel overlooks the capacity in which the Devasthan Commissioner has figured in the litigation. Here the Devasthan Commissioner has figured as a litigant as an administrative limb of the State, When the Assistant Commissioner would be deciding the question, he would be acting as an administrative tribunal, quasi-iudi-cially. This course is permissible. I may refer to G. Nageswara Rao v. A. P S. R. T. Corporation AIR 1959 SC 308 and H. C. Narayanappa v. State of Mysore. AIR 1960 SC 1073. Learned counsel also contended that the question whether a particular property was a public trust or otherwise can he dealt with by the Assistant Commissioner alone and the District Judge will not be entitled to deal with even the question of valuation involved in the rase. I em afraid, this contention too cannot be accepted. It rather over-shoots the position. Here what is created in the Assistant Commissioner is a limited jurisdiction dependent on fulfilment of a condition regarding valuation, as a preliminary to the exercise of his jurisdic-tion to determine the question whether the trust involved is a public trust or a private trust. Where such a limited jurisdiction is created the Civil Court can examine the Question if it falls outside the boundary of the limits within which the administrative tribunal has to act. In Reg. v. Income-tax Commrs. (1888) 21 QBD 313. Lord Esher, M. R. observed :--

'When an Inferior Court or tribunal or body which has to exercise the power of deciding facts, is first established by Act of Parliament, the Legislature has to consider what powers it will give that tribunal or body. It may in effect say that, if a certain state of facts exists and is shown to such tribunal or body before it proceeds to do certain things, it shall have jurisdiction to do such things but not otherwise. There it is not for them conclusively to decide whether that state of facts exists, and. if they exercise the jurisdiction without its existence, what they do may be questioned, and it will be held that they have acted without jurisdiction. 'But there is another state of things which mav exist. The legislature may entrust the tribunal or body with a jurisdiction which includes the jurisdiction to determine whether the preliminary state of facts exists, as well as the jurisdiction', on finding that it does exist, to proceed further or do something more. When the legislature are establishing such a tribunal or body with limited jurisdiction, they also have to consider whatever jurisdiction they give them, whether there shall be any appeal from their decision, for otherwise there will be none. 'In the second of the two cases I have mentioned it is erroneous application of the formula to say that the tribunal cannot give themselves jurisdiction by wrongly deciding certain facts to exist, because the legislature gave them jurisdiction to determine all the facts, including the existence of the preliminary facts on which the further exercise of their jurisdiction depends'; and if they were given jurisdiction so to decide, without any appeal being given, there is no appeal from such exercise of their jurisdiction'.

This dicta was accepted by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Ebrahim Aboobakar v. Custodian General. AIR 1952 SC 319.

23. Section 1 of the Act as also the notification issued thereunder un- mistakably show that the authorities namely. the Assistant Commissioner and others who have to decide the question are conferred only a limited jurisdiction depending on the condition of valuation of the assets involved or the income of the trust concerned. The Legislature has not conferred exclusive power to these authorities to determine the question regarding existence of the foundational facts. That being so. when the issue has been raised before the learned District Judge, to my mind he will be competent to determine the ques-tion as to what is the valuation involved regarding Shri Laxmi Narainii's temple at Chittorgarh either by way of its annual income or the valuation of the assets be-longing to it

24. In the result. I allow this appeal, set aside the judgment and decree of the learned District Judge and hereby remand the case to him with the direction that he shall first try issue No. 7 in the light of the observations made above. Should he find that the temple aforesaid satisfies the requirement of valuation, then he shall stay his hands and leave the parties to aporoach the Assistant Commissioner Devasthan to decide the question whether Shri Laxmi Narainji's temple is a public trust or not. In the light of the decision of the competent authorities under the Act on this Question the learned District Judge shall proceed further in the matter according to law. The parties are left to bear their own costs of this appeal.


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