Skip to content


Sir Veerabhadraswami, Through Its Managers and Representatives, Subramania Aiyar and anr. Vs. Maya Kone and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1940Mad681; (1939)2MLJ920
AppellantSir Veerabhadraswami, Through Its Managers and Representatives, Subramania Aiyar and anr.
RespondentMaya Kone and ors.
Cases ReferredAbdur Rahim v. Mahomed Barkat Ali
Excerpt:
.....take into consideration the motives by which the plaintiffs are actuated in bringing the suit. the suit temple is clearly one of those numerous small village temples where the pujaries or archakas are also the managers of the temple and its properties with the tacit consent of the villagers, and unless the defendants 2 to 10 are removed from the management and fresh managers are appointed in appropriate proceedings in court or otherwise, there would be no means of recovering possession'of the properties from the second defendant who is now in possession and is himself a pujari. in my view, the word 'plaintiff in the third column of article 134-a must, in the case of a representative suit like the present, brought on behalf of the general body of worshippers in a village, be understood to..........this appeal arises on behalf of all the villagers of samayanallore for a declaration that the suit property is devadayam inam land belonging to the temple of veerabhadra swami in that village, that certain othis thereof by the pujaries, defendants 3 to 10, in favour of the second defendant, another poojari, and a sub-mortgage by the latter in favour of the first defendant are void and not binding on the institution, for a permanent injunction restraining the first defendant from executing the decree obtained by him on foot of the sub-mortgage and bringing the suit property to sale and for other incidental reliefs. the suit was decreed by the trial court, but on appeal, though the learned subordinate judge found that the suit property belonged to the temple in question and that.....
Judgment:

Patanjali Sastri, J.

1. The appellants brought the suit out of which this appeal arises on behalf of all the villagers of Samayanallore for a declaration that the suit property is Devadayam Inam land belonging to the temple of Veerabhadra Swami in that village, that certain othis thereof by the pujaries, defendants 3 to 10, in favour of the second defendant, another poojari, and a sub-mortgage by the latter in favour of the first defendant are void and not binding on the institution, for a permanent injunction restraining the first defendant from executing the decree obtained by him on foot of the sub-mortgage and bringing the suit property to sale and for other incidental reliefs. The suit was decreed by the trial Court, but on appeal, though the learned Subordinate Judge found that the suit property belonged to the temple in question and that therefore the pujaries, defendants 3 to 10, had no right to alienate the property as if it was their-own private property, he held that the suit as framed was not maintainable and dismissed it. Hence the second appeal.

2. The learned Counsel for the appellants contends that this view of the learned Subordinate Judge is erroneous. It is unnecessary to refer to the several cases cited by him in support of his contention, as the decision of the Full Bench in Venkataramana Aiyangar v. Kasluri Ranga Aiyangar : (1916)31MLJ777 clearly shows that a suit like the present can be maintained against an alienee of temple property from the trustees or managers thereof apart from the provisions of Section 92, Civil Procedure Code. Cf. also Abdur Rahim v. Mahomed Barkat Ali (1927) 54 M.L.J. 609 : L.R. 55 IndAp 96 : I.L.R. 55 Cal. 519 . These decisions were apparently not brought to the notice of the learned Subordinate Judge and it is by no means clear on what legal grounds he held that the suit is not maintainable. In more than one place in his judgment he seems to think that the present suit is but an indirect attempt by the alienating pujaries themselves to get round their own alienation. But even if this suspicion - for, it is no more - is well founded, it is not open to the Court to take into consideration the motives by which the plaintiffs are actuated in bringing the suit. In another place the learned Subordinate Judge seems to suggest that a suit for the removal of the pujaries under Section 92, Civil Procedure Code, would be a more effective remedy if the plaintiffs were really anxious to protect and safeguard the interests of the temple. This, again, is entirely beside the point as the existence of a more effective remedy can obviously be no answer to this suit and cannot therefore justify its dismissal. The learned Judge also appears to have thought that a prayer for possession was necessary, It is however difficult to see how the appellants could have asked for possession of the properties in this suit in the circumstances of the case. The suit temple is clearly one of those numerous small village temples where the pujaries or archakas are also the managers of the temple and its properties with the tacit consent of the villagers, and unless the defendants 2 to 10 are removed from the management and fresh managers are appointed in appropriate proceedings in Court or otherwise, there would be no means of recovering possession'of the properties from the second defendant who is now in possession and is himself a pujari. On the other hand, the immediate injury to the temple which this suit is brought to avert is the impending Court sale of the temple properties in execution of the mortgage decree obtained by the first defendant and there is no reason why relief by way of injunction with the appropriate declarations should not be awarded if the circumstances otherwise warrant such award.

3. The learned Counsel for the respondents attempted to support the decree of the Court below on another ground also, namely, that the suit is barred by limitation. An issue was raised in this point, being Issue No. 3 in the case, but the learned Subordinate Judge did not deal with it as being unnecessary. The trial Court disposed of it merely with the remark that it was not shown by the contesting defendant how the suit was barred by limitation. The learned Counsel for the respondent now relies upon Article 134-A of the Limitation Act which provides for a period of 12 years for a suit to set aside an alienation of property comprised in a Hindu charitable endowment. The allegations in favour of the second defendant by defendants 3 to 10 were of years 1911 and 1914 and the alienations by the second defendant was in 1915, and the suit having been brought only in 1933 the learned Counsel for the respondents contends that it is out 'of time. According to this article, the starting point of limitation is 'when the transfer becomes known to the plaintiff.' The respondents' counsel points to a sentence in paragraph 12 of the learned Subordinate Judge's judgment where he says:

There can therefore be no doubt that the pujaries have been creating othies all along to the knowledge of the mahajanams,

and contends that, according to this finding, the villagers who must be regarded as the plaintiffs in this case have had knowledge of these alienations all along and that therefore the period of 12 years must be taken to have expired before the suit was brought. Though the passage referred to above in the learned Subordinate judge's judgment is quite general, it cannot be supposed that he intended to find that every individual 'mahajan' in the village actually knew of these allegations, and it is conceded by the respondents' Counsel that there is no evidence on record to show that the two plaintiffs who brought the suit on behalf of all the villagers had knowledge of these alienations for more than 12 years before the suit. In my view, the word 'plaintiff in the third column of Article 134-A must, in the case of a representative suit like the present, brought on behalf of the general body of worshippers in a village, be understood to refer only to the plaintiffs eo nomine on record. Otherwise, the article would become unworkable; for, if 'plaintiff' be taken to mean every individual member of the community which is the only alternative view possible, it would be practically impossible to prove knowledge on the part of such a large number of persons. Nor would that view assist the respondents in this case; for, it is admitted, as already stated, that at least two of the mahajans, that is, the appellant herein, are not proved to have had knowledge of these alienations before 12 years prior to the suit. I am therefore of opinion that thre is no bar of limitation under that article.

4. The respondents' learned Counsel has not challenged the finding of the Court below that the lands in suit are Devadayam Inam lands and that the alienations are invalid' and not binding on the temple. A contention to the contrary would clearly be unsustainable.

5. The appeal therefore succeeds and the decree of the learned Subordinate Judge is set aside and that of the District Munsif restored. The appellants will have their own costs here and in the Court below.

6. Leave refused.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //