1. In an application by the present trustees of Sri Ramalayam appointed by the Hindu Religious Endowments Board under Section 76 of the Hindu Religious Endowments Act for possession of certain godowns from* the petitioners, who claimed to be the private owners of the temple as well as of the godowns which were the subject of this application, it was held by the lower Court that Sri Ramalayam is a public temple and that the property belongs to the temple and not to the petitioners. In this revision petition the only question is whether the lower Court had jurisdiction to decide the question whether the property belongs to the petitioners or to the temple.
2. The petitioners rely on a decision of Patanjali Sastri, J., reported in (1940) 52 L.W. 7 I have read a copy of the judgment provided by Mr. Appa Rao and I find that Patanjali Sastri, J., held, in a case where possession was resisted by a tenant claiming to be an occupancy tenant that the Court had no jurisdiction to hand over property unless it admittedly belonged to the temple. He relied on an obiter dictum of Ramesam, J., in Subrahmaniam v. Subbayi (1933) M.W.N. 934. In the latter case the District Judge had refused to go into a difficult question of title; and Ramesam, J., upheld the refusal of the District Judge on the ground that he was not bound to do so. Disagreeing with Pandalai, J,, in Ramireddi v. Sreeramulu : AIR1933Mad120 and Curgenven, J., in Guruoammal v. Arumugha Padayachi : AIR1932Mad164 . he held that Section 78 was intended to apply only to admitted endowments. He later said that even if that was not the case and an enquiry was a matter for the Court's discretion, he would still be justified in dismissing the petition. He also disagreed with the opinion of Devadoss, J., in Vyihilinga v. Ramanuja : AIR1929Mad845 and distinguished Narayana lyengar v. Desikachariar : AIR1933Mad689 . So it is clear that Ramesam, J., expressed an opinion which was contrary to the trend of the decisions of this Court. It seems to me, with due respect to Patanjali Sastri, J., and Ramesam, J., that where a Court is empowered to hand over temple property to the trustees, it must be deemed to have also the power to decide whether a property is temple property. The power of a Court to go into these ancillary questions is dealt with very fully by Beasley, C. J. and Bardswell, J., in Narayana Iyengar v. Desikachariar : AIR1933Mad689 . The section itself does not use the expressions 'admitted endowments, etc.' If a Court could order the handing over only of admitted endowments then Section 78 could be rendered nugatory by the respondent's claiming the property as his own. Immediately that plea was raised, the Court would be automatically precluded from passing an order in favour of the petitioners and the petition would have to be dismissed.
3. I am not prepared to say, therefore, that the order of the lower Court was one without jurisdiction. The petition is therefore dismissed with costs.