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Ganesamuthuriar and anr. Vs. the Idols of Sri Sappani Karuppuswami and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetters Patent Appeal No. 26 of 1970
Judge
Reported inAIR1975Mad23
ActsHindu Law; Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959 - Sections 108
AppellantGanesamuthuriar and anr.
RespondentThe Idols of Sri Sappani Karuppuswami and ors.
Appellant AdvocateS. Sitarama Iyer and ;S. Rajarama Iyer, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateS. Thyagaraja Iyer, Adv.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases ReferredV. L. N. S. Temple v. I. Pattabhiramai.
Excerpt:
- - 'it is a well settled principle that a party seeking to oust the jurisdiction of an ordinary civil court shall establish the right to do so. ' their lordships also held that a suit for accounts by a trustee against an ex-trustee is not interdicted by any provision of the madras hindu religious and charitable endowments act, 1951. we think that the learned second appellate judge was perfectly right in holding that the suit by the de facto trustee of the temple filed against the kattalai trustee for rendition of accounts is by the same token maintainable in the eye of law......against the maintainability of the suit is that pichai was not the de jure trustee of the suit temple and that he was not therefore competent to sue for rendition of accounts. there is the concurrent finding of three courts to the effect that whether pichai was a hereditary or de jure trustee or not, he was undoubtedly the de facto trustee of the temple. learned counsel for the appellants says that a de facto trustee is not competent to maintain an action of the kind that has been decreed. the learned judge has referred to the full bench decision in sankaranarayanan iyer v. poovananathaswami temple, koilpatti, 62 mlw 508 : air 1949 mad 721 where it has been laid down that a de facto trustee of a temple in possession and management of its properties is entitled to maintain a.....
Judgment:

Maharajan, J.

1. This letters patent appeal is directed against the judgment of Palaniswamy, J. and arises under the following circumstances. One Samiyadi Pichai claiming to be the trustee of a temple of five deities (Sri Sappanikarppuswami, Sri Naruveli Karuppuswami, Sri Nagappaswami, Sri Marudaiveeraswami end Sri Sannasiswami) sued the appellants, who were the defendants 1 and 2 in the trial Court, for a declaration that he is the trustee of the temple and for recovery of possession of the plaint mentioned land, measuring one acre two cents, from the appellants and in thealternative, for rendition of accounts. This suit was resisted by the appellants on several grounds. The trial court held that Pichai is the trustee of the temple, but that he was not entitled to possession by virtue of a decision in O. S. No. 119 of 1932. It, however, granted a decree declaring the title of Pichai as trustee and directing the defendants to render accounts in respect of a specific temple Kattalai. of which the defendants were the trustees. On appeal, the District Judge of Tiruchirapalli concurred with the trial court and confirmed the decree granted by the trial court. Then the defendants preferred a second appeal. The learned second appellate Judge held that Pichai was trustee of the temple and that even assuming he was only a de facto trustee, he was entitled to call for accounts from the appellants. In this view, the learned Judge confirmed the concurrent judgments of the trial Court and the first appellate Court and dismissed the appeal with costs.

2. The main attack of the appellants against the maintainability of the suit is that Pichai was not the de jure trustee of the suit temple and that he was not therefore competent to sue for rendition of accounts. There is the concurrent finding of three Courts to the effect that whether Pichai was a hereditary or de jure trustee or not, he was undoubtedly the de facto trustee of the temple. Learned counsel for the appellants says that a de facto trustee is not competent to maintain an action of the kind that has been decreed. The learned Judge has referred to the Full Bench decision in Sankaranarayanan Iyer v. Poovananathaswami Temple, Koilpatti, 62 MLW 508 : AIR 1949 Mad 721 where it has been laid down that a de facto trustee of a temple in possession and management of its properties is entitled to maintain a suit, in the absence of the de jure trustee, for recovery of possession of the property belonging to the institution from a person holding adversely to and in denial of the title of the trust. Learned counsel says that though a de facto trustee may be competent to bring a suit for recovery of possession from a trespasser, he is not entitled to sue the kattalai trustee for rendition of accounts. We are unable to agree. It has been pointed by Viswanatha Sastri, J. in the above Full Bench ruling at page 523, 'In recognising the right of de facto trustee to sue for recovery of possession of trust property. Courts must be astute to safeguard the interests of the institution, for it is only in such interest that the right of suit is at all conceded to him.' It therefore follows that the main consideration that has influenced Courts to recognise the competence of de facto trustee to institute a suit is that he is brining the suit, not on his own behalf, but for the benefit and on behalf of the deity, which is a juridical entity, and when any act is done to the prejudice of the deity, even a de facto trustee must be allowed to sue in the interests of the deity. We see no reason why a de facto trustee, who is, in the eye of law, competent to sue for recovery of possession of a property belonging to the deity, should not. in the interests of the deity, be allowed to sue for rendition of accounts in. respect of the properties which are found endowed specifically in favour of the deities. Learned counsel's next argument is that under Section 108 of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, no suit or other legal proceeding in respect of the administration or management of a religious institution or any other matter or dispute for determining or deciding which provision is made in this Act shall be instituted in any Court of Law, except under, and in conformity with, the provisions of this Act, and consequently this suit for rendition of accounts is not cognizable by the civil Court. The learned second appellate Judge rejected this contention on the ground that this is not a suit for any of the reliefs contemplated by Section 108 of Tamil Nadu Act No. 22 of 1959. The learned Judge also relied, and in our view rightly, upon the decision of the Supreme Court in V. L. N. S. Temple v. I. Pattabhiramai. : [1967]1SCR280 where a suit was filed by the then trustee of a temple against an ex-trustee for rendition of accounts and it was resisted on the ground now urged before us by the appellants. The Supreme Court, while negativing it, construed Section 93 of Madras Act XIX of 1951 (which is identical with Section 108 of Tamil Nadu Act 22 of 1959) and observed as follows: 'It is a well settled principle that a party seeking to oust the jurisdiction of an ordinary civil Court shall establish the right to do so. Section 93 of the Act does not impose a total bar on the maintainability of a suit in a civil Court. It states that a suit of the nature mentioned therein can be instituted only in conformity with the provisions of the Act; that is to say, a suit or other legal proceedings in respect of the matters not covered by the section can be instituted in the ordinary way. It therefore imposes certain statutory restrictions on suits or other legal proceedings relating to matters mentioned therein. Now what are those matters? They are: (1) administration or management of religious institutions; and (2) any other matter or dispute for determining or deciding which provision is made in the Act. The clause 'determining or deciding which provision is made in this Act', on a reasonable construction, cannot be made to qualify 'the administration or management', but must be confined only to any other matter or dispute. Even so, the expression 'administration or management' cannot be construed widely so as to take in any matter however remotely connected with the 'administration or management.' Their Lordships also held that a suit for accounts by a trustee against an ex-trustee is not interdicted by any provision of the Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1951. We think that the learned second appellate Judge was perfectly right in holding that the suit by the de facto trustee of the temple filed against the kattalai trustee for rendition of accounts is by the same token maintainable in the eye of law. The result is the appeal fails and will stand dismissed with costs.


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