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Granthi Subbiah Chetty Vs. Sreeman Maha Mandaleswara Katari Salwa Maharaja Umade and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported in4Ind.Cas.164
AppellantGranthi Subbiah Chetty
RespondentSreeman Maha Mandaleswara Katari Salwa Maharaja Umade and ors.
Cases ReferredMaharanee Shibessuree Debia v. Mothooranath Acharjo
Excerpt:
religious endowment - idol--property dedicated to idol--statements by manager as regards property are only binding on idol when within scope of his authority. - .....to the raja but to the devasthanam.5. it was then contended that the devasthanam was bound by the raja's statement that the village is his private property and he is now estopped from claiming it as trust property. but in the words of their lordships of the privy council in maharanee shibessuree debia v. mothooranath acharjo 13 m.i.a. 270; 13 w.r. (p.c.) 18 when the village was dedicated to the religious services of the idol of the sadasiveswara swami temple, it constituted in legal contemplation its property; though the idol can enforce its rights only through a manager. the idol or deity, for this purpose, must, therefore, be treated in law as 'a person' who can be bound only by any statement of its manager or agent acting on its behalf within the scope of his authority. the raja when.....
Judgment:

1. This is an appeal from the decree of the District Judge of North Arcot declaring that the village of Kathiripalli belongs to the Devasthanam temple of Karvetnagar of which the plaintiff the Raja of Karvetnagar is the hereditary trustee and setting aside the sale of that village in execution of a decree passed against the Raja not as trustee but in his personal capacity and for a debt not incurred for the benefit of the temple.

2. In the lower Court it was pleaded by the defendant, who is the appellant before us, that the temple itself was only the private property of the plaintiff. The finding of the Judge disallowing this contention has not been attacked in appeal before us.

3. The first question that was argued before us is that there is no proof of any real and effective dedication of this village to the plaint temple.

4. Ex.--A is the instrument of gift of this village by the Raja on the 3rd March 1859 in favour of the Devasthanam. Ex.--B, is the order issued by him shortly afterwards on the 1st April 1859 to the manager of the Devasthanam giving him intimation of the gift and directing him to keep the village under his management, submit proper accounts, and devote the income to the service of the deity. The Raja also ordered his Zamindary Official the Tahsildar to give the necessary instructions to the village officials and make the required alterations in the accounts (Ex.--C) and (Ex.--GG) is the order issued to the village manager. We have no doubt these documents are genuine as found by the District Judge. The donor himself was the trustee of the Devasthanam and it is clear, therefore, on this evidence that there was a transfer of property and of possession. The Judge has shown, by a careful analysis of the evidence, that from that date till 1895 or 1896 the income of the village was utilized for the benefit of Sadasiveswara Swami temple, and also of two other temples and that the Raja himself never received anything for his own use or benefit. Besides this temple there are also two other temples in the locality of which the Raja is the trustee. The evidence shows that the Raja spent upon the services in the other temples probably the surplus that remained after defraying the expenses in this temple. The appellant's pleader relies upon this fact to show that there was no real dedication. We attach no weight to this not only because the dedication is fully proved and the diversion of the funds, if any, must, therefore, be treated only as an unauthorized use of the trust funds, but also because, it appears to have been the practice in the Zamindary to use the income from the lands admittedly belonging to one temple for the benefit of another temple. There is no documentary evidence to show that till 1881 the village was treated as other than Devasthanam property. In 1881 the Raja granted the mortgage on which the decree was obtained which led to the sale now questioned. Even after that date the lease (Ex.--L) of 1890 recognized it as Devasthanam property. We have, therefore, no hesitation in holding that the Judge is right and that the village of Kathiripalli does not belong to the Raja but to the Devasthanam.

5. It was then contended that the Devasthanam was bound by the Raja's statement that the village is his private property and he is now estopped from claiming it as trust property. But in the words of their Lordships of the Privy Council in Maharanee Shibessuree Debia v. Mothooranath Acharjo 13 M.I.A. 270; 13 W.R. (P.C.) 18 when the village was dedicated to the religious services of the idol of the Sadasiveswara Swami temple, it constituted in legal contemplation its property; though the idol can enforce its rights only through a manager. The idol or deity, for this purpose, must, therefore, be treated in law as 'a person' who can be bound only by any statement of its manager or agent acting on its behalf within the scope of his authority. The Raja when he made the statement was admittedly not acting on behalf of the temple but avowedly on his own account, and any statement made by him in that capacity cannot bind the idol or the deity or its representative. The accident that at the time of the suit its representative happens to be the Raja, cannot give that statement a force which it would not have if its manger had then been another. We are, therefore, of opinion that there is no estoppel.

6. Nor is any valid reason urged for disallowing the plaintiff's claim for mesne profits before the date of the plaint in this suit.

7. We accordingly dismiss the appeal with costs.


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