1. The petitioner is aggrieved, by a notification published in the Fort St. George Gazette under Section 3(3) of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act 1959. The notification is dated 3-11-1970. The circumstances under which the notification was issued are as follows: On receipt of complaints that a charitable endowment known as the Periyanagiammal Annadana Chatram, Karungalakudi village, Melur Taluk, Madurai District, was being mismanaged, an enquiry was undertaken by the Commissioner at the behest of the Government who issued specific orders to the Commissioner to enquiry or cause an enquiry to be made into the affairs of the said charitable endowment. The Government has such a power to probe into the management of a charitable endowment if it has reason to believe that the public charitable endowment is being mismanaged. On a requisition so made and a directive so issued by the Government under Section 3(1) it is common ground that, the Assistant Commissioner of Religious and Charitable Endowments, for and on behalf of the Commissioner initiated proceedings and called upon the petitioner who was in charge of the said endowment, according to the department to explain the delinquencies alleged against him. This enquiry began in July 1968, but for some reason, was postponed from time to time and ultimately, it was adjourned, to 22-1-1970 for hearing. On that date, as disclosed in the files produced before me, the petitioner filed his objections to the proposal to extend the provisions of the Act to the charitable endowment, and claimed that he had to sole proprietary interest in the lands which are considered by the department as lands belonging to a charitable endowment and set up a claim adverse to the endowment, and claimed that he had had the sole proprietary interest in the lands which are considered by the department as lands belonging to a charitable endowment. He also added that he need not be troubled thereafter with any such enquiry as, according to him he is not obliged to participate in such enquiries and answer any queries arising thereunder. In this state of affairs, the enquiry officer, who enquired into the subject-matter under Section 3(2) of the Act, drew up a report and submitted the same to the appropriate authority. Under Section 3(3) of the Act, if the Government is satisfied after considering the report of the enquiry officer under Section 3(2) that in the interests of the administration of such charitable endowments within the net of operation of the provisions of the Act. But, under the proviso to Section 3(3) of the Act, it is imperative that the Government should issue a show cause notice to the person concerned for him to explain against the issue of the notification and it is equally obligatory on the part of the Government to consider any objections made by the addressee in the above behalf. The common case is that such a show cause notice was given on 21-3-1970 and the petitioner showed cause against the issue of the notification under Section 3(3) of the Act. The Government considered the objections of the petitioner and thereafter issued the challenged notice on 3-11-1970.
2. The contentions of learned counsel for the petitioner, to remove the notice by issuing a rule in the nature of certiorari, are two-fold. Firstly, it is said that there was no enquiry or, in any event, no proper enquiry under Section 3(2) by the appropriate authority officer who undertook such an investigation as required under law and secondly, it is said that, the Government ought not to publish a notification under Section 3(3) by barely issuing a show cause notice to the affected party without receiving the objections from him and after considering such objections; on the other hand, it is said that before the issuance of such a notification affecting any public charitable endowment and the trustee or the person in management thereof, an effective opportunity by way of a second personal hearing should be given to such trustee or administrator and, in the absence of such a personal hearing, the entire proceeding are vitiated. The learned Government Pleader, on the other hand, would state that as regards the first objection, it was the petitioner who did not want to subject himself to an enquiry which was withdrawn by the officer under S. 3(2) and petitioner definitely made it clear that he was not inclined to participate in any such enquiry as, according to him, the subject-matter of the enquiry is beyond the purview of the Act itself. In his answer to the second contention, the learned Government Pleader would state that the obligation of the Government as set in the content of Section 3(3) of the Act is limited and there is no further obligation on the part of the Government to hear the affected person for a second time as if a full-fledged enquiry is contemplated at that stage too.
3. I agree with the learned Government Pleader as set out above.
4. A person whose interests are affected, ought not to take up a recalcitrant attitude by refusing to participate in an enquiry and thus voluntarily deny himself the opportunity of placing all his objections before the enquiry officer and getting redress. If, by such recalcitrance, he refuses to participate in the enquiry and if, perforce, the enquiry officer is compelled to close the enquiry without any further assistance given by the aggrieved person then it cannot be said that the said enquiry so initiated processed and concluded by the enquiry officer suffers from any violation of the well known norms of natural justice. The petitioner was given an opportunity. He refused to avail himself of the opportunity and therefore, he cannot complain that he was not given an opportunity. The first contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner therefore fails. The second contention is that even at the stage of the show cause notice given by the Government Pleader pursuant to the proviso to subsection (3) of Section 3, a full-fledged enquiry is contemplated. What is said is that the Government before issuing a notification under Section 3(3) of the Act, is expected to hear fully the aggrieved person, viz., the trustee or the manager of the charitable endowment, and after such a full hearing, render their decision as to their satisfaction that the charitable endowment, is being mismanaged etc. Neither the content nor the text of Section 3(3) and the proviso thereto lends support to this contention. As a matter of fact, on a fair reading of the various requisites which have to be satisfied before the Government can be subjectively satisfied about the mismanagement of a public trust, it is clear that two particular stages are contemplated. The first stage envisages a full, fair and adequate opportunity to the trustee or manager wherein he is given an opportunity to lay threadbare his case by producing documents, accounts and other relevant acceptable evidence and also sustain his case by examining witnesses on his side. Such a comprehensive enquiry which is envisaged in the first stage was not availed of by the petitioner because he did not want it. In so far as the second stage in the process is concerned, it is only an internal decision to be arrived at by the Government who, after considering the report of the Commissioner, should subjectively be satisfied that all is not well with the charitable endowment. At this stage a second opportunity is given to the delinquent to show cause against the issue of the notification. But, that does not mean that even at the second stage, a second full-fledged, detailed, open enquiry should be undertaken. It is, after all, the Stage Government considers the report of its officer who records the same after hearing adequately the parties concerned. It would be idle therefore, to contend that even at the second show cause stage, there must be a personal hearing of the delinquent trustee or manager and in the absence of such a hearing, the entire process is vitiated.
5. Kailasam, J., in Shanmugham Pillai v. State of Madras, W.P. No. 4518 of 1965 (Mad) under similar circumstances, observed as follows-
'While Section 3(2) contemplates a full-fledged enquiry, Section 3(3) is limited in its scope....... At the stage a personal hearing is not contemplated.'
Ramakrishnan. J., in Venkatarama Iyer v. Govt. of Madras : (1967)2MLJ543 took a similar view and said-
'The language of Section 3 of the Act makes it clear that after the report of the Inspector reaches the Government, the trustee will have an opportunity of showing cause, but that opportunity will not be the same as an opportunity under Section 3(2) of facing a full and detailed enquiry.'
While I agree with the law as interpreted by this court earlier, I reiterate that the purposes served by the action contemplated in Section 3(3) and Section 3(2) are different and distinct. Whereas, under Section 3(2) an enquiry has to be compulsorily held and the delinquent trustee given an adequate opportunity. Under Section 3(3) the Government is obliged to base its decision on the report of the enquiry officer rendered under Section 3(2) and the explanation of the Trustee and if it is subjectively satisfied about the commission or omission of any act in relation to any charitable endowment, it has the jurisdiction to issue the notification under Section 3(3). That is what has been done in the instant case when the challenged notice has been given.
6. The petitioner's case throughout was that the so-called Annadana Chatram is private property and that he is the sole proprietor of all the lands which are said to belong to the Chatram and that he was alienating the properties belonging to it ever since he came into possession of such properties and, above all, he set up and claimed, adversely to the charity itself, and projected a claim in himself, when he submitted his objections in the enquiry under Section 3(2). It is open to the petitioner to vindicate his rights, if any, in a regularly instituted civil suit, but as matters stand, he cannot be said to be aggrieved by the challenged notification which was issued by the first respondent in its jurisdiction and after weighing the material before it. There is, therefore, no error to law of nay other apparent error in the order challenged. The writ petition fails and is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs. If the petitioner as he claims, is in possession of any of the properties of the Annadhana Chatram, he shall continue to remain in possession thereof until a period of three months within which time he has to take action if he is so inclined and file a suit for the due vindication of his rights. Thereafter the notification shall operate on its own force subject to any orders of the civil court.
7. Petition dismissed.