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N.K.R.M.N. Nagappa Chettiar and ors. Vs. Raja Srimanthu Muthu Vijaya Raghunatha Doraisingam Alias Gouri Vallabha thevar Avl., Zamindar of Sivaganga Through His Authorised Agent and Diwan Mr. R.M. Sundaram Esq. and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1940Mad532; (1940)1MLJ442
AppellantN.K.R.M.N. Nagappa Chettiar and ors.
RespondentRaja Srimanthu Muthu Vijaya Raghunatha Doraisingam Alias Gouri Vallabha thevar Avl., Zamindar of Siv
Cases ReferredJodhi Rai v. Basdeo Prasad I.L.R.
Excerpt:
- - it is clear that if the suit is to be regarded as a suit by the trustees, the notice must be held defective as the requirements of section 49 have not been satisfied. the respondents must pay the costs of the appellants both in this court as well as in the district court......material particulars and therefore invalid. differing from the trial court, the learned district judge on appeal upheld that contention and accordingly dismissed the suit. a second appeal was preferred to this court and it came on before wadsworth, j. he concurred with the decision of the learned district judge and dismissed the second appeal. leave was however given by the learned judge for preferring a letters patent appeal against his judgment and the appeal accordingly now comes before us.2. the notice in question is as follows:to,1 the district collector of ramnad and agent of the court of wards sivaganga estate at madura.2. the estate collector, court of wards, sivaganga estate, sivaganga.sir,on behalf of the devasthanams of perumal koil, sivan koil; and pillayar koil, etc. in.....
Judgment:

Krishnaswami Aiyangar, J.

1. This is an appeal under the Letters Patent from the judgment of Wadsworth, J., who confirmed on second appeal the decision of the District Judge, Ramnad, reversing the judgment of the Subordinate Judge of Devakottah in O.S. No. 131 of 1929 on his file. The suit had been instituted by the trustees and hukhdars of three temples in the village of Naganathapuram, for a declaration that the boundaries fixed by the survey authorities between the village of Veeriyanandal belonging to the temples, and the adjacent village of Senjai belonging to the zamindar of Sivaganga were wrong and for the rectification of those boundaries in accordance with the true lights of the parties. At the time of the survey and at the date of the suit the Sivaganga zamindari was under the management of the Court of Wards and the latter were accordingly joined as the first defendant in the suit. The Court of Wards however dropped out of the litigation after the disposal of the suit in consequence of the zamindar having assumed possession of the estate. The zamindar stepped into their place in the lower appellate Court and has since been contesting the claim of the plaintiffs. The Subordinate Judge decreed the suit disallowing all the contentions raised by the Court of Wards. One of those contentions was that the suit was incompetent as the condition precedent to the institution of a suit against the Court of Wards, namely, the issue of a proper notice under Section 49 of the Madras Court of Wards Act, had not been fulfilled. A registered notice Exhibit M in the case had been given to the Court of Wards before suit, but it was attacked as being defective in material particulars and therefore invalid. Differing from the trial Court, the learned District Judge on appeal upheld that contention and accordingly dismissed the suit. A second appeal was preferred to this Court and it came on before Wadsworth, J. He concurred with the decision of the learned District judge and dismissed the second appeal. Leave was however given by the learned Judge for preferring a Letters Patent appeal against his judgment and the appeal accordingly now comes before us.

2. The notice in question is as follows:

To,

1 The District Collector of Ramnad and Agent of the Court of Wards Sivaganga estate at Madura.

2. The Estate Collector, Court of Wards, Sivaganga Estate, Sivaganga.

Sir,

On behalf of the devasthanams of Perumal Koil, Sivan Koil; and Pillayar Koil, etc. in Naganathapuram and the trustees thereof V N. Venkatachaiam Chettiar and others, I hereby give you notice under the provisions of the Court of Wards Act as follows.

3. The notice then proceeds to set out the cause of action and the relief claimed. The only defect in the notice which is said to invalidate it is that it does not contain a proper description of the names and the places of abode of the intending plaintiffs. In particular it is said that whereas there are five plaintiffs who joined in instituting the suit, the name of one of them alone, namely, Venkatachalam Chettiar is mentioned in the notice and the names of the others have been entirely omitted; nor has the address even of Venkatachalam Chettiar been given. It is clear that if the suit is to be regarded as a suit by the trustees, the notice must be held defective as the requirements of Section 49 have not been satisfied. In the light of the decision of the Privy Council in Bhagchand Dagadusa v. The Secretary of State for India (1927) 53 M.L.J. 81 : L.R. 54 IndAp 333 : I.L.R. (1927)51 Bom. 725 full effect must be given to the language of the statute and it is not permissible to put a liberal construction upon that language or to say that it will be enough if there is a substantial compliance with the conditions of the section. The statute has laid down certain definite formalities to be observed as a preliminary to a suit against the Court of Wards and we cannot whittle down the effect of Section 49 by adopting a liberal or beneficent interpretation.

4. The appellants have however placed before us an argument which to our mind appears to have great force. They contend that the notice fully complies with the requirements of Section 49 in as much as the names and address of the devasthanams which are the real plaintiffs are mentioned which, it is urged, is all that is required by the statute. In the case of such temples it is now settled that the presiding deity is a juristic entity Having itself the right to sue and be sued. In Pramatha Nath Mullick v. Pradyumna Kumar Mullick (1925) 49 M.L.J. 30 : L.R. 52 IndAp 245 : I.L.R. 52 Cal. 809 Lord Shaw delivering the judgment of the Privy Council laid down the law on the point in these terms:

A Hindu idol is, according to long-established authority, founded upon the religious customs of the Hindus, and the recognition thereof by Courts of Law, a 'juristic entity.' It has a juridical status with the power of suing and being sued. Its interests are attended to by the person who has the deity in his charge and who is in law its manager with all the powers which would, in such circumstances, on analogy, be given to the manager of the estate of an infant heir. It is unnecessary to quote the authorities, for this doctrine, thus simply stated is firmly established.

5. It follows that the real plaintiffs in the suit are the presiding deities of the devasthanams mentioned. Although the managers are often described as trustees they are not trustees in law as the devasthanam properties are not vested in them in trust. A notice which complies with the requirements of Section 49 so far as the temples are concerned cannot therefore be said to be open to objection for the reason that the names and addresses of the managers have not been stated. In the notice in question the names of the temples are mentioned as also the village in which they are situate. This in our opinion is a sufficient compliance with Section 49 even on a strict construction.

6. It is true that in the cause-title to the plaint the names of the managers are mentioned as plaintiffs without reference to the temples or the presiding deities. In paragraph 3 of the plaint it is however stated that the plaintiffs are some of the trustees and hukhdars of the devasthanam consisting of the Perumal Koil, Sivan Koil and Pillayar Koil, etc., in Naganathapuram, Karaikudi. In para. 4 the further stakment occurs that the village of Veeriyanendal belongs to and is in the enjoyment of the said devasthanam. Looking at the plaint as a whole it is absolutely clear that no personal rights of the plaintiffs were asserted in the suit. Although the names of the managers are mentioned as the plaintiffs and although they have been described in the plaint as trustees, it is clear in the eye of the law that they are merely the managers, the deities themselves being the true plaintiffs in fact. The proper form of a suit where a deity figures as a party has been the subject-matter of consideration by a Full Bench of the Allahabad High Court in Jodhi Rai v. Basdeo Prasad I.L.R.(1911) All. 735. The proposition was there laid down that inasmuch as an idol is a juristic person capable of holding property, a, suit in respect of property in which an idol is interested is properly brought or defended in the name of the idol, although ex necessitate rei the proceedings in the suit must be carried on by some person who represents the idol, usually the manager of the temple in which the idol is installed.

7. Regarding the suit, as we must regard it, as a suit instituted by the presiding deities of the three temples we must hold that a notice issued on behalf of the devasthanams stating their names and the village in which they are situate is a proper notice within Section 49 of the Madras Court of Wards Act. It follows that the appeal must be allowed and the decree of the learned Subordinate Judge restored except in regard to the portion of Section No. 13 in Veeriyanendal village claimed in the suit but not referred to in the notice. The respondents must pay the costs of the appellants both in this Court as well as in the District Court.


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