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The President, Hindu Religious Endowments Madras Vs. Venkatarama Ayyangar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberA.A.O. No. 540 of 1949
Judge
Reported inAIR1954Mad65; (1953)2MLJ357
ActsMadras Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1927 - Sections 9(11A)
AppellantThe President, Hindu Religious Endowments Madras
RespondentVenkatarama Ayyangar and ors.
Appellant AdvocateM. Chockalingam, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateS. Rangaswami Ayyangar and ;T.R. Srinivasa Ayyangar, Advs.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases ReferredH. R. E. v. Marutha Naicker
Excerpt:
.....of the term 'kattalai'.muttuswami ayyar j. in ordinary parlance the term 'kattalai' as applied to temple endowments, signifies a special endowment for certain specific services or 'religious charity in the temple'.ardajama katalai, or endowment for midnight service is an instance of the former and annadana kattalai or an endowment for distributing gratis food to the poor is an example of the latter. one thing has to be satisfied and that is the endowment must be of property or money for the performance of any specific service or charity 'in a temple' or mutt. various other castes like reddis, komatties, naidus and pillais also maintain feeding charities to feed their caste-men during the festival. all the evidence on the side of the petitioners as well as on the side of the board points..........mudaliar', 17 mad 199 (a), says as follows:'in ordinary parlance the term 'kattalai' as applied to temple endowments, signifies a special endowment for certain specific services or 'religious charity in the temple'. ardajama katalai, or endowment for midnight service is an instance of the former and annadana kattalai or an endowment for distributing gratis food to the poor is an example of the latter.'the meaning of the word 'kattalai' was discussed in -- 'vythilinga pandara sannadhi v. ranganadha mudaliar', air 1934 mad 126 (b) and ramesam j. observes that the word kattalai has got two distinct senses, a stricter and a looser sense, and that in the stricter sense it is religious endowment the object of which was the perfomance of some kind of religious duty in the temple for the benefit.....
Judgment:

Govinda Menon, J.

1. There were proceedings before the Hindu Religious Endowments Board for the determination of the question as to whether the endowments standing in the name of Sri Gunaseelam Prasanna Venkataehalapathi Perumal Purattasi Radhothsavam Samaradhanai, is a religious endowment as defined in the Act and whether it is a 'specific endowment' attached to the said temple. The Board came to the conclusion that the entire endowment is religious in character and as such it is a religious endowment within the meaning of Section 9 (11-A) of the Act, namely, that it is a specific endowment by which property or money is endowed for the performance of any specific service or charity in the temple. Against the decision of the Hindu Religious Endowments Board, the managers of the Kattalai applied to the District Court of Tiruchirapalli under Section 84 (2) of the Act for setting aside the order of the Board and the learned District Judge held that the endowment did not come within the definition of Section 9 (11-A) of the Act. The result was that the order of the Board was set aside.

2. The well known Perumal temple at Gunaseelam on the banks of the Cauvery attracts worshippers from various parts of the district and during the annual car festival, provision had to be made for the feeding and lodging of large concourse of devotees who flock to this famous institution. Some years ago lands were purchased in the names of the managers of the kattalai to the extent of about 7 acres of wet lands from out of the surplus funds collected for the purpose of giving food and shelter to the Brahmins who congregate during the festival time. Since then, the entire income from the lands is utilised for the feeding and in fact, as stated by the learned District Judge, subscriptions are still levied since this income from the lands is insufficient to meet the expenditure. If any amount is left over after the feeding during the festival, a vanabhojanam is conducted every year in the month of Karthigai in the village of Kariamanickam.

3. The Board in the present appeal contests the decision of the District Judge that the Kattalai js not a specific endowment and as such the Act would not apply. In the Tamil Lexicon published under the authority of the University of Madras, Vol. II, part I, at page 047, among the meanings given to the word 'kattalai' in the various contexts, so far as the word appertains to functions in the temple, the meaning given is as follows:

'Endowment for some special services in a temple, distinct from one for the general upkeep and maintenance of the institution.' Another meaning given is:

'Provision for the free feeding of a certain number of pilgrims in a temple or mutt.' Both these meanings emphasise the fact that the special services, or the free feeding should be in a temple or a mutt. That is, if there is poor feeding in connection with a religious ceremony in a temple but the same is conducted outside the precincts of a temple either in a private building or in any public building, it would not come, according to the above meanings, within the meaning of the term 'kattalai'. Muttuswami Ayyar J. in. explaining the meaning of the word 'kattalai' in -- 'Vythilinga Pandarasannadhi v. Somasundara Mudaliar', 17 Mad 199 (A), says as follows:

'In ordinary parlance the term 'kattalai' as applied to temple endowments, signifies a special endowment for certain specific services or 'religious charity in the temple'. Ardajama Katalai, or endowment for midnight service is an instance of the former and Annadana kattalai or an endowment for distributing gratis food to the poor is an example of the latter.'

The meaning of the word 'kattalai' was discussed in -- 'Vythilinga Pandara Sannadhi v. Ranganadha Mudaliar', AIR 1934 Mad 126 (B) and Ramesam J. observes that the word kattalai has got two distinct senses, a stricter and a looser sense, and that in the stricter sense it is religious endowment the object of which was the perfomance of some kind of religious duty in the temple for the benefit of some other individual or institution outside the temple & in the looser sense the temple itself is the beneficiary & the kattalais are only a number of separate trusts. This meaning given to the expression 'kattalai' was followed in -- 'President, H. R. E. Board, Madras v. Nagarathina Mudaliar', A I R 1935 Mad 417 (C). In a later case in -- 'the Board of Commrs. for H. R. E. v. Marutha Naicker', AIR 1945 Mad 368 (D), Mockett and Kuppuswami Ayyar JJ. held that an endowment for the purpose of giving water and gruel to those who drag the car on the day of the Car festival in a temple is a pious and charitable service connected with the temple and as such a kattalai for that purpose is a specific endowment within the meaning of Section 9 (11) of the Act. The learned Judges were of opinion that though the distribution of water and gruel was not within the temple premises, still the endowment for that purpose was a religious endowment. In discussing the nature of the charity, which was the subject of consideration there, the learned Judges did not advert to the cases which we have referred to above or to the etymological meaning of the term kattalai.

4. In the light of the above decisions we have to see whether the endowment in question is a specific endowment as defined in Section 9 (11-A) of the Act. One thing has to be satisfied and that is the endowment must be of property or money for the performance of any specific service or charity 'in a temple' or mutt. Admittedly, in the present case, the feeding of Brahmins is conducted not within the precincts of the temple. The temple trustee examined as first witness for the petitioner admits that during the eleven day's of the festival Brahmin feeding is done in the Seshagiri Iyer chhatram about 100 yards from the temple. He also admits that in no way can the feeding be considered as a service connected with the temple and that the trustees of the temple have no manner of control over the funds of the feeding charity, or over its performance. Various other castes like Reddis, Komatties, Naidus and Pillais also maintain feeding charities to feed their caste-men during the festival. All the evidence on the side of the petitioners as well as on the side of the Board points only to one conclusion and that is that the pious gentlemen, years ago, collected some money and founded an endowment for the purpose of feeding the pilgrim Brahmins who congregate during the time of the festival.

5. Mr. Chockalingam for the Board strongly relies upon the very wide meaning given to the expression 'religious endowment' by this Court in -- 'AIR 1945 Mad 368' (D) and contends that this charity would be a religious endowment according to that decision. In our opinion even if the observations of Kuppuswami Ayyar J. can be applied in their widest implications, still there are distinguishing features so far as this case is concerned. Supplying gruel and water to thirsty worshippers who drag the temple Car along the streets can be said to be a religious service connected with the temple because the persons who drag the car take part in a ceremony. When the Utsavamurthy or the image of God is transplanted from the temple premises into the Car, the latter becomes the abode of God at least by significance and implication and the persons who drag the car with the deity installed in it do a service to God. The decision in -- 'AIR 1945 Mad 368' (D) can therefore be authority for holding that the endowment therein was charity connected with the temple. In our opinion that decision has no application to the facts of the present case. The definition of the term 'specific endowment' contained in Sub-section (11-A) was for the first time inserted by Madras Act X of 1946 and such insertion was subsequent to the decision in -- 'AIR 1945 Mad 368' (D). We cannot therefore be guided by the expression of opinion contained in the above decision even if we are inclined to agree with the very wide observations contained therein. In view of the fact that the charity in question is not conducted within the temple precincts, we are of opinion that the kattalai or trust in question cannot be said to be a 'specific endowment' as defined in Section 9 (11-A) of the Act. The decision of the learned District Judge is therefore right and this appeal is dismissed with costs.


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