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Sri Emberumanar Jeer Swamigal Vs. the Board of Commissioners for Hindu Religious Endowments and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1939Mad511; (1939)1MLJ901
AppellantSri Emberumanar Jeer Swamigal
RespondentThe Board of Commissioners for Hindu Religious Endowments and ors.
Cases ReferredAthan Sadagopa Chariar Swamigal v. Elayavalli Srinivasa Chariar
Excerpt:
- - on this ground they said that the board should cancel in its entirety the order complained of and reopen the question. 4. we are in entire agreement with the learned judge when, he says that it cannot be said that the board's decision has declared any one's legal right or deprived any one of any legal right which he had and that the order of the board complained of was merely an order dealing with the internal management of the temple. the issue of the writ of certiorari is a matter which lies within the discretion of the court but in a case like the present one there is no question of discretion......with regard to the right to receive theertham and other honours in the temple on festival and non-festival days. the quarrel commenced so long ago as 1905 and in that year a suit was filed in the court of the subordinate judge of tinnevelly by certain persons to establish what they claimed to be their right to recite in the temple the sacred texts. the appellant and the seventh respondent were defendants. the suit was dismissed and appeal filed against this decision met with a similar fate: vide the judgment in athan sadagopa chariar swamigal v. elayavalli srinivasa chariar (1913) m.w.n. 289. in the course of that suit the question was raised whether the present appellant or the seventh respondent, who is the head of the vanamamalai math, was entitled to precedence in the distribution.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, C.J.

1. This is an appeal from an order of Pandrang Row, J., refusing to issue a writ of certiorari. The appellant is the head of a math known as the Sri Emberumanar jeer Math, which is situate in the village of Alwarthirunagari in the Tinnevelly District. In the math is a shrine and it is said that this shrine is a subsidiary shrine of the Sri Athinatha Alwar Temple which also lies within the village limits. The Sri Emberumanar Jeer Math is one of four maths which are particularly interested in the temple, the others being the Vanamamalai, Sri Ahobila and Thirukkurangudi Maths, the heads of which are respondents 7, 8 and 9. There has been great strife with regard to the right to receive theertham and other honours in the temple on festival and non-festival days. The quarrel commenced so long ago as 1905 and in that year a suit was filed in the Court of the Subordinate Judge of Tinnevelly by certain persons to establish what they claimed to be their right to recite in the temple the sacred texts. The appellant and the seventh respondent were defendants. The suit was dismissed and appeal filed against this decision met with a similar fate: vide the judgment in Athan Sadagopa Chariar Swamigal v. Elayavalli Srinivasa Chariar (1913) M.W.N. 289. In the course of that suit the question was raised whether the present appellant or the seventh respondent, who is the head of the Vanamamalai Math, was entitled to precedence in the distribution of theertham on festival days. Sadasiva Aiyar, J., who delivered the main judgment on appeal considered that the seventh respondent was entitled to precedence and said so in his judgment, which was delivered on the 18th February, 1913.

2. The question as to the right of precedence continued to be agitated and in 1927 the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Board took action. By an order dated 12th May, 1927, the Board settled a list setting out who should receive the honours on festival days and who should receive them on non-festival days. By this order the appellant was given the right to receive the honours first on non-festival days. The seventh respondent was dissatisfied with the Board's order, and on the 6th June, 1927, filed a suit on the Original Side of this Court (C. Section No. 306 of 1927). The defendants were the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Board and the trustee of the temple. The seventh respondent asked for a declaration that the order of 12th May, 1927, was invalid. The suit was dismissed on the 21st September, 1932, on the ground that it was a suit relating merely to temple honours and involved no question of civil right. The seventh respondent appealed against this decision, but his appeal was dismissed on the 7th November, 1934. In 1930 respondents 2 to 6, who are said to be the disciples of the seventh respondent, filed a petition asking the Board to set aside its order of the 12th May, 1927. They claimed that they were entitled to the ninth place in the order of precedence on all days. On this ground they said that the Board should cancel in its entirety the order complained of and reopen the question. This petition was heard by three members of the Board, who by order dated the 6th April, 1935, declined to interfere with the order of the 12th May, 1927. Five days later respondents 2 to 6 filed another petition asking the Board to review its order of the 6th April, 1935, one of the grounds advanced being that the petitioners had not been given the ninth place to which they said they were entitled. This application, which was an application to review an order refusing to review a previous order, was heard by two of the three members of the Board who passed the order of the 6th April, 1935. This application succeeded and on the 15th May, 1935, the, order of the 12th May, 1927, was set aside. The result was that the trustees of the temple were directed to follow the observations by the Court in the appeal arising out of O.S. No. 22 of 1905 in respect of non-festival days, but no change was made so far as festival days were concerned. The appellant then became the dissatisfied party and on the 30th May, 1935, filed an application asking the Board to review its order of the 15th May, 1935. This application was heard by one member of the Board who on the 7th August, 1935, held that the Board had no power to review its own order. The application was accordingly dismissed. This led to an application to this Court by the appellant for a writ of certiorari with a view to the order of the Board of the 15th May, 1935, being quashed. This was the application dealt with by Pandrang Row, J.

3. We consider that the decision of the learned Judge refusing to issue the writ asked was right. It is acknowledged that a question relating to the distribution of theertham or other temple honours cannot be made the subject-matter of a suit as it is not a question which affects a legal right. By Section 18 of the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1926, the Board is given the power of general superintendence of all religious endowments in the Presidency, excepting those within the City of Madras. The Board may do all things which are reasonable and necessary to ensure that maths and temples are properly maintained and that all religious endowments are properly administered and duly appropriated to the purposes for which they were founded or exist. It is not disputed that the Board has by virtue of this section power to settle questions relating to the allocation of honours in religious institutions over which it has superintendence, but in settling such questions the Board acts in its administrative capacity.

4. We are in entire agreement with the learned Judge when, he says that it cannot be said that the Board's decision has declared any one's legal right or deprived any one of any legal right which he had and that the order of the Board complained of was merely an order dealing with the internal management of the temple. The issue of the writ of certiorari is a matter which lies within the discretion of the Court but in a case like the present one there is no question of discretion. It would obviously be improper to order the writ to issue.

5. The appeal will be dismissed with costs (one set).


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