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State of Madras by Collector of Ramanathapuram Vs. Rameswaram Devasthanam by Trustee V.B. Kuppuswami Mudaliar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1959)2MLJ383
AppellantState of Madras by Collector of Ramanathapuram
RespondentRameswaram Devasthanam by Trustee V.B. Kuppuswami Mudaliar and ors.
Cases ReferredAndiappa Pillai v. State of Madras
Excerpt:
.....grant. , produced by the mahajanams that a portion of this is enjoyed always as dharmasanam. the dharmasanam portion itself should be considered to consist of four equal vritties and that they are enjoyed as shown in the margin of the first sheet. 10. to sum up the foregoing, the inam register makes two things perfectly clear :one is that although the entire village was entered in the name of the devasthanam in the accounts of fasli 1211 or a. 1815, the entry was wrong, and the other is that from time immemorial and always so far as the evidence before the inam commissioner went, the dharmasanam portion which consisted of four vritties and which was distinct from the devasthanam portion of 80 vritties was being enjoyed by the dharmasanamdars, while the devasthanam portion of 80..........to the suit village. the settlement officer held in an enquiry that the grant not being of a whole inam village, the suit village was not an inam estate. in spite of the said decision, the government issued a notification under the madras act xxx of 1947 in respect of the suit village. the plaintiff filed c.m.p. no. 12038 of 1950 on the file of this court to issue a writ of certiorari and to quash the proceedings taken by the government under the rent reduction act. this court dismissed the application holding that the rent reduction act was not ultra vires and indicated that merits of individual cases might be decided in separate suits. the advocate-general waived notice under section 80, civil procedure code. defendants 2 to 20 got impleaded on their own motion for themselves and as.....
Judgment:

Ramaswami, J.

1. These are two connected appeals preferred against the decree and judgment of the learned District Judge of Ramanathapuram in A.S. No. 32 of 1954, reversing the decree and judgment of the learned Subordinate Judge of Ramanathapuram, in O.S. No. 9 of 1953.

2. The case of the plaintiff Rameswaram Devasthanam was 80 out of 84 shares in Venkatankurichi village in Paramakudi Taluk were given in Inam to the plaintiff Devasthanam by the ancestors of the Raja of Ramanathapuram and the remaining four shares were granted in Inam to the Dharmasanamdars. The Inam was confirmed in favour of the Devasthanam for the 80 shares and Inam Title Deed No. 794 was issued. For the Dharmasanamdars another title deed was issued, both Inams having been confirmed separately. Inasmuch as the confirmation was made in different portions, the village is not an estate under the Madras Estates Land Act. Consequently the provisions of the Madras Estates Land Reduction of Rent Act and the Madras Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act do not apply to the suit village. The Settlement Officer held in an enquiry that the grant not being of a whole Inam village, the suit village was not an Inam estate. In spite of the said decision, the Government issued a Notification under the Madras Act XXX of 1947 in respect of the suit village. The plaintiff filed C.M.P. No. 12038 of 1950 on the file of this Court to issue a writ of certiorari and to quash the proceedings taken by the Government under the Rent Reduction Act. This Court dismissed the application holding that the Rent Reduction Act was not ultra vires and indicated that merits of individual cases might be decided in separate suits. The Advocate-General waived notice under Section 80, Civil Procedure Code. Defendants 2 to 20 got impleaded on their own motion for themselves and as the representatives of all the tenants in the suit village.

3. The case for the State of Madras and the tenants was that the Inam village of Venkatankurichi, the grant of which has been recognised and confirmed by the British Government, is an estate as defined in Section 3(2)(d) of the Madras Estates Land Act and that the decision of the Settlement Officer affects only the question of taking over the village under the Madras Act XXVI of 1948, that the notification issued by the Government under Act XXX of 1947 is not affected by reason of the decision of the Settlement Officer, that the village is an estate and as such the Rent Reduction Act is applicable, that there are ryoti lands in the suit village and in respect of such lands Act XXX of 1947 is applicable and that the Notification issued under the said Act is legal and valid and the Government have the right to collect the rent.

4. The point for determination is whether what has been granted to the plaintiff Devasthanam is an estate within the meaning of the Madras Estates Land Act. It would be an estate if originally the entire village was granted to the Devasthanam. On the other hand, it would not be an estate if what was granted to the Devasthanam was only a part of the village.

5. The learned Subordinate Judge held that what was granted was a named village and that the whole village was granted in Inam to Sri Rameswaram Ramanatha-swami and that subsequent to the grant a portion of the village became a Dharma-sanam and that therefore the original grant constituted an estate within the meaning of Section 3(2)(d) of the Madras Estates Land Act, I of 1908. On appeal the learned District Judge held that there is nothing to show that either the Dharma-sanam portion came out of the Devasthanam portion or the Devasthanam portion came out of the Dharmasanam portion and that the only reasonable conclusion was that there were two grants, one in favour of the Devasthanam consisting of 80 out of 84 shares and the other in favour of the Dharmasanamdars consisting of 4 out of 84 shares. Therefore, he allowed the appeal and decreed the plaintiff's suit. Hence these second appeals by the defeated defendants,

6. In these second appeals I am of the same opinion as the learned District Judge and here are my reasons.

7. In this case the only document available--the original grant being not available--is an extract from the Fair Inam Register. In column 1 of the register after deducting the Poramboke and after showing the remainder to be Acs. 1294-64 we find the following significant descriptions:

Devadayam 80 shares; Dharmasanam 4 shares.

In column 8 against 'Devadayam 80 shares' we find the description 'for the support of the pagoda of Sri Ramanathaswami now efficiently kept up' and as against ' Dharmasanam 4 shares' we find the description 'Dharmasanam'. Again, in column 10, what is found against 'Devadayam 80 shares' is 'permanent' and what we find against 'Dharmasanam 4 shares' is 'hereditary'. In column 12 as against the 'Devadayam 80 shares' we find entered 'account of fasli 1211, account of A.D. 1815, account of fasli 1244' and as against 'Dharmasanam 4 shares' we find entered 'Karaimal account of Kilaka corresponding to A.D. 1788'. Then in column 13 'name of the original grantee' we find as against 'Devadayam 80 shares', 'Sri Ramanathaswami' but as against 'Dharmasanam 4 shares' we find it left blank implying that the original grantee was not known. But, in the next column, we find as against 'Dharmasanam shares', 'as per Karaimal account, Kasturi Rengier'. Finally, in column 22 'decision of the Inam Commissioner or his assistant' we find the following:

It is proved that four shares out of this village have been enjoyed by the agraharamdars from before the Permanent Settlement. Two title deeds will be granted as recommended by the Deputy Collector. The Devadayam portion is confirmed on present tenure and the Dharmasanam portion in one. Title deed to the Agraharamdars on a quit rent of Rs. 15 exclusive of jodi. In future the jodi on this portion of the village will be paid direct to the Zamindar.

8. To sum up the foregoing, according to the entries found in the fair Inam Register there was not a single grant of the whole village either to the Devasthanam or to the Dharmasanamdars, but two different and distinct grants, one of 80 shares and the other of 4 shares, the former being in favour of the Devasthanam and the latter being in favour of the Dharmasanamdars.

9. This conclusion is corroborated by the account of the history of these grants given in the fair Inam Register. It starts by saying:

This is one of the villages in the Zamindary of Ramanathapuram. This was granted by one of the ancestors of the Rani of the Zamindary for the support of the temple of Sri Ramanathaswami as it is seen from the account of fasli 1211 of A.D. 1815. The object of the grant is to worship all the gods in the temple and to perform certain festivals for the God of Ramanathaswami, etc. The object of the grant is efficiently kept up and the Temple, in producing usual statement register, etc., in the office, deducted the undermentioned lands as Dharmasanam portion of the Mahajanams in column 16 : 1 wet Ac. 31-98 ; 1 dry Ac. 53-10 ; Total Ac. 85-08.

Then it says:

The vakil further pleaded that the above lands are enjoyed by the families of the Mahajanams from time immemorial or from the date of the formation of the grant. He again relinquished the right of the temple for the lands recorded here as Dharmasanam portion of the village. The Mahajanams argue that the Karaimal accounts or lists of the Vritties of Virodhi year or A.D. 1768, Akshya or A.D. 1745 or Kilaka or A.D. 1788 which are in their present possession show that formerly or originally the entire village was Dharmasanam and that 80 Vritties out of 84 comprising the village were sold gradually to the Devasthanam.

Then after referring to the karaimal accounts produced by the Dharmasanamdars it is stated:

They bear the signatures of the karnams of those days. I find no reason to suspect their genuineness though there is no evidence to prove them to be genuine documents....These receipts are on plain cadjan leaves. They bear the signatures of taluk officials in some cases, Devasthanam officials in several cases. These documents do not show the extent of the Dharmasanam portion but they display that a portion of this village is Dharmasanam from time immemorial. It is proved satisfactorily from the statement of the vakil of the trustee of the Devasthanam and from the accounts, etc., produced by the Mahajanams that a portion of this is enjoyed always as Dharmasanam....From the above circumstances it is evident that the entry in the account of fasli 1211 and 1815 regarding the village is wrong and that by some mistake or other the entire village was entered in the standard account just alluded as Devasthanam. Hence I recommend to confirm the Devasthanam portion upon that institution and the Dharmasanam portion upon the Mahajanams in Col. 16. The karaimal accounts, etc., further show that these Mahajanams are descendants of the original grantee. It is usual to occur mistakes of this nature in the standard accounts as it was found to be in Vizaga-patam and other districts.

Lower down we find:

The Dharmasanam and Devadayam lands are distinct from each other. There are recognised boundaries between these lands....The results of my enquiry show that the boundaries are given by the vakil of the trustee and the Mahajanams. The Dharmasanam portion itself should be considered to consist of four equal Vritties and that they are enjoyed as shown in the margin of the first sheet.

10. To sum up the foregoing, the Inam Register makes two things perfectly clear : One is that although the entire village was entered in the name of the Devasthanam in the accounts of fasli 1211 or A.D. 1815, the entry was wrong, and the other is that from time immemorial and always so far as the evidence before the Inam Commissioner went, the Dharmasanam portion which consisted of four Vritties and which was distinct from the Devasthanam portion of 80 Vritties was being enjoyed by the Dharmasanamdars, while the Devasthanam portion of 80 Vritties alone was being enjoyed by the Devasthanam.

11. The proof of the pudding is after all in the eating. On the materials available the Inam Commissioners issued two separate title deeds, one in favour of the Devasthanam for 80 vritties and the other in favour of the Dharmasanamdars for four Vritties.

12. On these facts can it be said that there is proof in this case that the original grant to the Devasthanam consisted of the entire village There is no proof whatever that the original grant consisted of the entire village in favour of the Devasthanam and that the Dharmasanam portion came out of it by a subsequent grant and there is nothing to show that the entire village was granted in favour of the Dharmasanamdars and that the 80 Vritties in favour of the temple came out of this subsequently by sale and purchase. The possible conclusion that can be drawn is that there were two grants one consisting of 80 out of 84 Vritties and the other consisting of 4 out of 84 Vritties, the former in favour of the Devasthanam and the latter in favour of the Dharmasanamdars.

13. In such circumstances, neither the Devasthanam portion of the village nor the Dharmasanam portion of the village can be held to be an estate. The point is concluded by authority. In The District Board of Tanjore v. Noor Mohammed : AIR1953SC446 the Supreme Court laid down that in order to come within the scope of the definition of an estate, the grant must fulfil the following conditions; (a) the words of the grant should expressly and not by implication make it a grant of a particular village as such by name and not a grant of a defined specific area only; and (b) that the area, if any, excluded, had already been granted for service or other tenure or it had been reserved for communal purposes. It was also pointed out that where in a village two blocks of land are held under two separate grants by two different persons and they were recognised under two separate title deeds by the British Government, neither of the blocks could be held to be an estate within the meaning of the Estates Land Act. I may also refer here to another important observation in the above decision, viz.:

Any inam village in Section 3(a)(d) means whole village granted in inam and not anything less than a village however big a part it may be of that village.

14. The burden of proof that a certain land constituted an estate is clearly upon the party who sets up the contention and the following observations in Andiappa Pillai v. State of Madras : (1953)1MLJ112 have been rightly referred to by the learned District Judge as apposite in this context:

The only document filed in the case is the Inam Fair Register. The Inam Fair Register shows the history of the grant. The village was situate in the zamindari of Ramanathapuram. Half of the village was granted for the support of Sri Adi Jagannathaswami in Tiruppullanai and the remaining half as Dharmasanam. The former grant was a permanent one and the latter was a hereditary grant. Column 11 of the Inam Fair Register indicates that the name of the grantor in regard to one-half is not known whereas the name of the other grantor is given as Reghunatha Sethupathi. Column 8 shows that one-half was granted to Dharmasanam and the other half for the support of Adi Jagannathaswami. From the recitals of the document it is manifest that the grantors, the grantees and the purpose of the grant were all different. The Inam Commissioners confirmed the grant to two different persons and issued separate title deeds. On these facts, it is not possible to hold that the Dharmasanam grant with which I am now concerned is grant of a whole inam village at the time it was made.

15. The learned District Judge has rightly repelled the two contentions put forward by the defendants. It was first urged on the foot of the evidence of the karnam who has been in office for ten years that the Devasthanam lands and the Dharmasanam lands are now found intermixed. But we have the clear record of the Inam Commissioner that the Dharmasanam and Devadayam lands are distinct from each other and there are recognised boundaries between those lands. Therefore, at the time of the Inam Commission, which is the state of affairs to be taken into consideration for determining this question, the lands were not found mixed up. If they got subsequently mixed up, it may be due to subsequent purchases and sales and concerning which we have no information. Secondly, once again on the evidence of that Karnam it was urged that the Dharmasanam have paid poruppu to the Devasthanam and that the Devasthanam was collecting fishery rent from the Dharmasanamdars. But as pointed out by the learned District Judge, the evidence of the Karnam is very limited and what is more, contradictory. In one place he has stated that the Devasthanam pays the entire poruppu to the Samasthanam and in another place he stated that the Dharmasanamdars did not pay any portion of the poruppu. Then in regard to the fishery rent, he stated in one place that the Devasthanam collects the fishery rent from the ryots and that such rent would be shown in their patta, that the Dharmasanamdars also pay the fishery rent and that they would be given patta separately for the fishery rent. But in another place he stated that to the Dharmasanamdars the Devasthanam does not issue patta. In these circumstances it is impossible to state that the title of the Dharmasanamdars must be held to be derivative from the Devasthanam. In any event, the fact that some fishery rent or poruppu was paid by some of the Dharmasanamdars to the Devasthanam will be wholly inconclusive for there is no evidence to show what the circumstances were under which those payments came to be made.

16. The net result of this analysis is that the decree and judgment of the learned District Judge are unassailable and they are confirmed, and these second appeals have got to be dismissed and are hereby dismissed with costs of the Devasthanam in S.A. No. 134 of 1955. There will be be no order as to costs in S.A. No. 59 of 1955.

17. No leave.


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