Balakrishna Ayyar, J.
1. This is a petition for the issue of an appropriate writ to quash an order of the Deputy Commissioner for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, Madras, dated 17th August, 1957. The relevant facts are these:
2. One Raji Goundan was appointed as a trustee of the Ellayamman Temple in Tirupathur town by the Area Committee by its Resolution No. 186, dated 23rd April, 1956. He then filed an application under Section 87 of the Act for the issue of a certificate on the strength of which he could approach the Magistrate and obtain possession of certain properties which he said belonged to the temple and of which, according to him, Natesan alias Krishna Goundan, the petitioner before this Court, was in wrongful possession. The order of the Deputy Commissioner proceeds on the footing ' The Respondent (Natesan alias Krishna Goundan) is the poojari of the temple'. Natesan alias Krishna Goundan also appears to have stated before the Deputy Commissioner that the properties mentioned in the petition had been granted for performing pooja in the temple and that so long as he performed the pooja his possession could not be interfered with.
3. In all five documents were filed before the Deputy Commissioner. Exhibit P-i is the order of the Assistant Commissioner communicating the resolution of the Area Committee and showing that Raji Goundan had been appointed trustee of the temple. Exhibit P-3 is a copy of the notice issued by Raji Goundan and Exhibit P-4 is the acknowledgment of the notice by Natesan alias Krishna Goundan. None of these throw any light on the question as to whether Krishna Goundan was entitled to be in possession. The only documents that are helpful in that direction are Exhibits P-2, Extract from the Inam B Register, and Exhibit C-i which is called a copy of the inam extract--apparently it is an extract from the Permanent Register of Inams maintained in the office of the Collector. The Deputy Commissioner took the view that there was no warrant for the contention that the properties had been granted to the poojari for performing any service, that the grant was clearly in favour of the Deity and for its support, that the inability of the poojari to produce the title deeds justified an adverse inference being drawn against him, and finally concluded that he was not entitled to possession and directed the issue of a certificate under Section 87 of the Act.
4. Now, under Section 87 of the Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, before a certificate can be issued against a trustee or office-holder or servant of a religious institution, it must be shown that he has been dismissed or suspended from office or that he is otherwise not entitled to be in possession of the property. It is nobody's case that Natesan alias Krishna Goundan has been dismissed or suspended from office. The finding of the Deputy Commissioner is that he is not entitled to possession. The complaint of Mr. Chinnaiya Pillai, the learned advocate, for the petitioner, is that this finding is so manifestly ,at variance with Exhibits P-2 and C-1, the only relevant documents filed in the case, that it amounts to an error apparent on the face of the record. I am inclined to consider that his complaint is well-founded. It is no doubt true that in Column 2 of Exhibits P-2, the inam is described as Devadayam. It is also true that in Column 8 the inam is described as having been given ' for the support of Yellamrna, Goddess at Thirupa-thur '. In Colum 13, the name of the Deity is also shown as Yellamma. If the matter had stopped there, there would have been no difficulty at all. But then, in Column 15, against the heading 'Name entered in the survey or in any subsequent accounts and relationship to predecessors' the name ' Poojari Govinda' is given. In Colmnn 16, it is stated that the service was being performed by Poojari Govindan, and in Col. 21, the recommendation is 'To be confirmed tax free. Title deeds in the name of the Goddess and Poojari Govinda,' and the final order of the Commissioner is ' Confirmed '. Now, if the poojari was not entitled to be in possession, the direction that title deeds should be issued in the name of the Goddess and the poojari would not have been made. This is a circumstances of very great importance. Though in Column 1 in Exhibit C-i the inam is described as a Devadayam, in Column 12 we find the entry
The Manager for the time being of Ellamma Temple for poojari' and it may be noticed that the heading of Column 12 is 'Name and profession of Registered Inamdar.
5. This entry shows that the grant was for performing pooja and it seems to me that on these two documents alone (no other documents of any consequence were marked before the Commissioner) Natesan alias Krishna Goundan was entitled to be in possession. It cannot, therefore, be said that there was any material in Exhibit P-2 or Exhibit C-i on the basis of which the Deputy Commissioner could have come to the conclusion that Natesan alias Krishna Goundan was not entitled to possession.
6. It is contended by Mr. Ramaswami Reddi that the petitioner is not a poojari of the temple at all. But it does not appear that a clear contention to that effect was raised before the Deputy Commissioner. In these proceedings I cannot investigate that question of fact. The order complained of proceeds on the footing that Natesan alias Krishna Goundan is the poojari of the temple and I must dispose of this petition only on that basis.
7. It was then said that Natesan alias Krishna Goundan is not a descendant of Govinda, the original poojari. But again that is a question of fact which has to be agitated in separate proceedings. Though in the petition that Raji Goundan filed before the Deputy Commissioner he claimed that he was a descendant e-f Govinda, he did not say in terms that Natesan alias Krishna Gpundan was not a descendant of Govinda, the original poojari.
8. It was then said that under the last Proviso to Section 87 a person aggrieved by any order made by the Deputy Commissioner can file a suit to establish his right. That is no doubt so. On this contention it is sufficient to quote the following observations of the Supreme Court in Union of India v. T.R. Varma (1958) S.C.J. 142 : : (1958) 67 M.L.J. 123.
It is well-settled that when an alternative and equally efficacious remedy is open to a litigant, he should be required to pursuethat remedy and not invoke the special jurisdiction of the High Court to issue a prerogative writ. It is true that the existence of another remedy does not affect the jurisdiction of the Court to issue a writ; but as observed by this Court in Rashid Ahmed v. Municipal Board, Kairana : 1SCR566 , 'the existence of an adequate legal remedy is a thing to be taken into consideration in the matter of granting writs.' Vide also K.S. Rashid and Son v. The Income-tax Investigation Commissioner : 25ITR167(SC) , and where such remedy exists, it will be a sound exercise of discretion to refuse to interfere in a petition under Article 226, unless there are good grounds therefor.
9. I do not consider that regard being had to the facts of this case, the petitioner should be compelled to file a separate suit to vindicate his rights.
10. It was next said that it was open to the Deputy Commissioner to construe Exhibits P-2 and C-i for himself and that merely because he put on the documents a construction which this Court considers to be erroneous, interference under Article 226 would not be justified. Now, there are limitations to an argument of this nature. No doubt, it is perfectly open to the Deputy Commissioner to read the documents in one way. But then the construction must be one which we can say he is reasonably entitled to put on the documents. But where it appears to be manifestly erroneous, it would amount to an error apparent on the face of the record. As I said before, if the poojariwas not entitled to possession, it seems to be incomprehensible that a direction would have been given that the title deeds should be issued in his name also. The further circumstance that the grant was for pujai makes the conclusion even plainer. As only these two documents have been placed before me I am not expressing any further opinion on the nature of the grant. But reading them together, the conclusion appears to be clear that the poojari is entitled to be in possession and the machinery provided in Section 87 of the Act cannot be invoked to deprive him of his possession.
11. In the circumstances, the petition is allowed and the rule is made absolute. No costs.