1. This revision is against the order of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Dharmapuri in M.P. No. 108 of 1955. The respondent has been appointed as a trustee of six temples, the properties in two of which were said to be in the posession of the petitioners, and which the respondent seeks to recover possession under Section 87 of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act That the respondent has been appointed as a trustee is not disputed. The petitioners have come up against the order of the Commissioner directing the respondent to take possession, and that was the subject of attack in several proceedings by the petitioners herein. In none of those proceedings no doubt the point, that is now taken was taken For the first time the point is taken now before the Magistrate.
2. The point is that the certificate which has been issued in favour of the respondent bears only the facsimile signature of the Deputy Commissioner concerned and it does not contain the signature. Under Section 87 of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act any Magistrate of the First Class in whose jurisdiction such institution or property is situated shall, on application by the person so appointed, and on the production of the order of appointment, and whore the application is for possession of property, of a certificate by the Commissioner in the prescribed form setting forth that the property in question belongs to the religious institution, direct delivery to the person appointed as aforesaid of the possession of such religious institution or the records, accounts and properties thereof. The production of a certificate by the Commissioner in the prescribed form is therefore essential before delivery can be aked for or direction by the Magistrate. The prescribed form, which is given under Section 87(2)(a) requires a certificate to be given by the concerned authority as under 'my hand and seal'. The question now is whether the facsimile signature appended to the certificate now produced before the First Glass Magistrate can be said to come within the expression 'given under my hand and seal'. The primary meaning of 'my hand and seal' is 'my signature and seal' is 'my signature and seal.'
3. No doubt in the Oxford Dictionary several meanings for the word 'signature' are given. One of them is a stamp impression, etc. Another meaning that is given is 'an image, figure, imitative mark'. The third meaning that is given is 'a birth mark'. Thus there are several meanings given to the word 'signature'. It cannot be said that when a certificate is to be issued under one's hand, it will also include an imitative mark, because it is one of the meanings of the word 'signature'. This certificate is like a decree, on which the trustee appointed has to recover possession of the properties from the person in possession, provided the person is one of the persons mentioned in the section. It is an important document of title for the appointed trustee to recover possession of property mentioned in the certificate. In all constructions of any word in a statute or rule, it is the plain and primary meaning of the word that must be given unless a clear intention to the contrary appears on the face of it. Giving therefore the plain and primary meaning, 'under my hand' means 'under my signature' and not 'under my stamp or imitative mark'.
4. Mr. Sundaralingam, appearing for the respondent trustee, relies on a decision of an English Court in Baker v. William Dening and Ors. (1883) 8 Ad. And E. 94 : 112 E.R. 771. There a will was signed but the codicil contained only a mark of the testator both of which were no doubt duly attested. Then the question arose whether under the Statute of Frauds a mark could operate as a signature. The Lord Chief Justice held that,
The mark of a person who is not capable of writing is allowed to be sufficient, and I never heard of any enquiry being made whether the party making the mark was, at the time, capable of writing. Here it was certainly a matter of doubt whether the party, could, or could not, write at the time; it is not clear that he could; I think it much better that there should be no enquiry on such a point.
5. The other learned Judges took a different view under the construction of the particular statute concerned, whether the mark was held to be sufficient, and that they did not want to make any enquiry into the matter, whether the testator was capable of signing or was not capable of signing, and therefore, put a mark. No doubt this decision apparently seems to support the view which is contended for by the learned Counsel for the respondent. But the question in that English decision was one of construction upon the Statute of Frauds, under which a mark also can be put in the place of signature and whether in those circumtances, even if the person could sign, a mark will be sufficient. As the statute itself allows a mark as sufficient for the making of the will by the testator, provided it is attested by two witnesses, the Court held that the mark was sufficient. It does not hold that in cases where the law requires that it must be signed by an officer concerned, that it could be substituted by a facsimile signature, or even by a mark. Permission to put facsimile signatures on certificates like this will certainly give room for fraud. That no doubt should not influence in construing the words of a statute or of any document. But it is a well known rule of construction that in any statute or rule or any document, the plain meaning of the word must be given and it is only when there is doubt, other consideration will arise. Here the plain meaning of the word 'under my hand' means under my signature. I do not think that it means the facsimile signature as well. I, therefore, hold that the certificate which has been produced by the respondent before the Sub-Divisional Magistrate is not a valid certificate as that contains only the facsimile signature of the Deputy Commissioner, which is not in accordance with the form prescribed under the Act.
6. As the certificate produced is not a valid certificate under the rule, the order of the lower Court has to be set aside. The respondent apprehends that another point that may be raised is that the certificate is issued in Tamil, and not in English, and the Official language being English, a certificate in Tamil is not valid. It is pointed out by petitioners that the certificate is not in ink but in pencil. A valid certificate should be in ink. There is no harm in the certificate being issued in Tamil.
7. In the result, the petition is allowed. It is open to the respondent to produce a valid certificate and apply for delivery of possession.