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Kamala Ganapathi Subramaniam Vs. Authorised Officer, Land Reforms, Coimbatore - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. Petn. No. 499 of 1982
Judge
Reported inAIR1985Mad163
ActsTamil Nadu Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling on Land) Act, 1961 - Sections 2
AppellantKamala Ganapathi Subramaniam
RespondentAuthorised Officer, Land Reforms, Coimbatore
Appellant AdvocateK. Srinivasan, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateGovt. Pleader
Cases ReferredRatilal v. State of Bombay
Excerpt:
.....refusal of exemption to trust on basis of nature of trust - subordinate judge held trust to be of public nature - whether public trust is of religious nature or charitable nature - will which creates trust had to be fully read - intention of author of trust to be ascertained and considered before applying provisions of law - income from trust utilised for purpose of trust only - held, public trust for imparting instructions in 'vedas' and 'agamas' can only be of religious nature - petition allowed. - - vedas and sanskrit as well as for the maintenance of the brahmin students studying vedas and sanskrit in the national high school, tiruchirapalli and for the free boarding and as such, the entire land of about 50 acres mentioned above should be exempted from the purview of any of the..........and declare the surplus and so far as arudra rathotsavam is concerned, he held that it is a public trust of a charitable nature, concurring with the conclusion of the authorised officer. under the head arudra rathotsavam charity, the land tribunal also held that since the land in this case is dry, the authorised officer has to allow one ordinary acre besides the permissible limit of five standard acres in calculating the surplus land held by this trust. since the actual extent is ac 10-55 he has to exclude one acre and convert the remaining ac. 9-55 into standard acres and declare the surplus in excess of five standard acres. so far as the findings in respect of ayyarval choultry, palani and arudra rathotsavarn charities are concerned, the conclusion arrived at by the land.....
Judgment:
ORDER

1. This is a civil revision petition filed by the landlady, Kamala Ganapathy Subramaniam, under S. 83 of the Tamil Nadu, Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling on Land) Act (LVIII of 1961) as amended by the Act 37 of 1972, hereinafter referred to as the Act, against the judgment D/- 25-2-1980 in L.T.A. No. 149 of 1979 on the file of the I-and Tribunal (Principal Subordinate Judge), Coimbatore The Land Tribunal while entertaining the appeal against the order of the Authorised Officer, Land Reforms. Coimbatore in file No. 6K/MRII/L D/- 23-12-1978, held on the point whether the order of the Authorised Officer declaring surplus land in respect of the three charities is correct, that so far as Ayyarval Choutry, Palani is concerned, the Authorised Officer has committed an error in converting the actual extent into standard acres, that he has to arrive at the standard acres under S. 3(40) of the Act taking the basic assessment as the rate at which the land is assessed to land revenue and declare the surplus and so far as Arudra Rathotsavam is concerned, he held that it is a public trust of a charitable nature, concurring with the conclusion of the Authorised Officer. Under the head Arudra Rathotsavam Charity, the Land Tribunal also held that since the land in this case is dry, the Authorised Officer has to allow one ordinary acre besides the permissible limit of five standard acres in calculating the surplus land held by this trust. Since the actual extent is Ac 10-55 he has to exclude one acre and convert the remaining Ac. 9-55 into standard acres and declare the surplus in excess of five standard acres. So far as the findings in respect of Ayyarval Choultry, Palani and Arudra Rathotsavarn Charities are concerned, the conclusion arrived at by the Land Tribunal is not now questioned by the revision petitioner herein. On the other hand, the nature of the charity for teaching of Sanskrit and Vedas in the National High School, Tiruchirapalli and for the free boarding of Brahmin students studying Vedas and Sanskrit in the National High School, Tiruchirapalli alone is the only question before us in this civil revision petition.

2. Mr. K. Srinivasan, learned counsel for the revision petitioner contends that the conclusion arrived at by the Appellate Authority that the trust cannot be construed as a hostel entitled to an exemption limit of 25 standard acres is not correct, because, the trust squarely comes within the definition of S. 2 of the Tamil. Nadu Land Reforms Act, 1961. This section was substituted by the Act 37 of 1972. The said S. 2 reads as follows: -

'Act not to apply to lands held by existing religious institution or religious trust of public nature: -

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (2) and (3) of Section 6, nothing contained in this Act shall apply to lands held: -

(i) by any religious institution, or

(ii) by any religious trust of a public nature, which is in existence on the date of the commencement of this Act.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), no such religious institution of religious trust of a public nature as is referred to in sub-section (1) shall acquire by any means whatsoever any land after the date of the commencement of this Act.

(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, for purposes of this section -

(a) where a public trust in existence on the date of the commencement of this Act, has been created both for a public purpose of a religious nature and for any other public purpose; or

(b) Where the income from a public trust in existence on the date of the commencement of this Act is appropriated both for a public purpose of a religious nature and for any other public purpose, such public trust shall be deemed to be a religious trust of a public nature'

It is not in dispute that the trust is in existence on the date of the commencement of this Act. By virtue of the provision of S. 2 of the Act, Mr. K. Srinivasan, learned counsel for the revision petitioner contends that the trust had been created for a religious purpose and the income for the public trust thus created and in existence today on the date of the commencement of this Act is appropriated for a public purpose of a religious nature and as such, the trust in question should be deemed to be a religious trust of a public nature as per the provision under S. 2 (3)(b). In support of his contention the following passage in the Will dt. 12-5-1984 executed by Kaniyur Krishna Iyer is relied on.

(Passage in the Will being in Tamil, not reproduced. Ed.)

The above lands mentioned for this trust relates to an extent of Ac. 50-62 in West Komaralingam village and Kaniy village in Udumalpet taluk. The relevant portion of the Will dt. 12-5-1894 bequeathing 50 acres of land shows that the above land has been given in entirety for the benefit of Brahmin students studying Vedas and Sanskrit viz., towards their education and maintenance.

(Passage in the Will being in Tamil not reproduced Ed.)

Referring to the above passage in the Will Mr. K. Srinivasan learned counsel for the petitioner contends that the above said lands of about 50 acres were set apart for teaching.

Vedas and Sanskrit as well as for the maintenance of the Brahmin students studying Vedas and Sanskrit in the National High School, Tiruchirapalli and for the free boarding and as such, the entire land of about 50 acres mentioned above should be exempted from the purview of any of the provisions of the Act because S. 2 of the Act squarely provides that nothing contained in this Act shall apply to lands belonging to a religious trust of a public nature.

3. According to the learned counsel for the revision petitioner, neither on the ground of only Rs. 1200/- being utilised for free boarding every year nor on the ground that the institution viz., the National High School, Tiruchirapalli was not either founded or run by the author of the trust or his descendants, it can be held that the trust does not come under the definition of a religious trust of a public nature. These grounds were taken as the basis for their decision both by the Authorised Officer and the Appellate Authority in rejecting the contention of the revision petitioner herein that the fifty acres of land in question comes within the purview of the definition contemplated under S. 2 of the Act, in that the land belonged to the religious trust of a public nature.

4. In this regard, Mr. K. Srinivasan, learned counsel for the revision petitioner referes to the decision in Vedapatasala Trust v. State of Tamil Nadu (1981) Mad W. 137 for the following proposition:

'There is a definition of a 'religious institution' in S-3 (36-B) of the Act and, therefore, for the purpose of S. 2 (1)(i) it is that definition that will apply. As far as S. 2 (i) (ii) is concerned, the Act itself has not defined what is a religious trust of a public nature. Consequently, we have to construe the provision according to its ordinary meaning and its natural tenor. The imparting of instructions in Vedas and Agamas is certainly of religious nature. Therefore, whenever a Trust which is of a, public nature provides for the imparting of instructions in Vedas and Agamas, certainly that will be a religious trust of a public nature, and the imparting of instructions in Vedas and Agamas cannot be anything other than of religious nature'. With regard to some of these cases the trusts in addition to running of Veda Patasalas, also conduct, other charities, like feeding four Desanthirees every day, teaching Sanskrit and feeding Brahmin boys, or maintaining a thinner pandal, S. 2(3) clearly points out that where a public trust has been created both for a public purpose of a religious nature and for any other public purpose or the income from the public trust in existence on the date of the commencement of the Act is appropriated both for a public purpose of a religious nature and for any other public purpose, such public trust shall be deemed to be a religious trust of a public nature. Consequently, with regard to all these trusts on the basis of S. 2(l) (ii) read with S. 2 (3) of the Act, the provisions contained in the Act will not apply'.

Mr. K. Srinivasan, learned counsel for the revision petitioner further relies on the decision - Vavallevval Marichir Dharman v. State of Tamil Nadu : (1979)2MLJ121 in support of his contention. In that decision it is observed as follows: -

'In the instant case according to the trust deed, the object of the trust (which was a Muslim Trust) was to run a madrasa where Muslim girls and boys were given lessons in Koran and also given lectures in Islamic religion. The question was whether the trust was of a religious nature entitled to claim exemption under S. 2 of the Tamil Nadu Act (LVIII of 1961), the Authorised Officer held against the trust and an appeal to the Tribunal also failed. On revision to the High Court by the trustee claiming that the trust was of, a religious nature.

Held, the madrasa was intended to give only religious instructions to Muslim boys and girls and not general education. If it was merely a general education that, was imparted, then, it will be charitable. But the entire object of the trust being to give religious instructions to Muslim boys and girls, that is, to spread religious tenets, the trust was only of a religious nature'.

5. On the other hand, Mr. Chinnaswamy, learned government Pleader, contends that the relevant portion of the Will reads that it is only for the maintenance of the Brahmin students studying Vedas and Sanskrit that the author of the Will had created the trust and as such, the religious aspect contemplated by S. 2 of the Act is not available in the object incorporated in the relevant portion of the Will. He further points out that the Appellate Authority had also observed that the enquiry revealed that no income was used for running the National High School which was in existence even before the trust was created. He also points out that the number of students admitted in the boarding has not exceeded 10 at any time and that on an average only a sum of Rs. 1,200/- per year appeared to have been utilised for free boarding. There is no hostel run by the trust and only a meagre amount appears to have been utilised for some inmates studying Vedas and Sanskrit. Therefore, it is submitted on behalf of the respondent, the Authorised Officer, by the learned Government Pleader that the trust cannot be construed as a religious trust of a public nature and totally exempt from the provisions of the Act

6. The point for consideration in this civil revision petition is whether the fifty acres given by the testator for the maintenance and benefit of the Brahmin students studying Vedas and Sanskrit in the National High School, Tiruchirapalli belong to a religious trust of a public nature.

7. That the trust in question viz., -the testator setting apart a portion of his lands about 50 acres in extent for the benefit and maintenance of the Brahim students studying Vedas and Sanskrit, is a trust of a public nature is not questioned. The contention raised by Mr. Chinnaswamy, learned Government Pleader is that the trust in question is not a religious trust of a public nature because under S. 3(36-A) Explanation - the trust cannot be treated as a public trust. In this regard, the learned Government Pleader refers to the decision rendered by Mohan, J., in C.R.P. No. 2643 of 1981 (R. Lakshmana Pillai v. Authorised Officer on 12-11-1982.) In that decision, the trustee was called upon to produce the account maintained by him and he was also permitted to let in evidence if he so desired. The trustee filed documents relating to the creation of trust and examined some witnesses including the clerk of the trust. The objection raised on behalf of the trust in the case was that the trust was a religious trust of public nature and hence the Act 37 of 1972 would not apply. It was held by the Authorised Officer in that case that the trust was not a religious trust 6f public nature. On the other hand, he held that the trust was a charitable trust of public nature and was entitled to held only five standard acres. The Tribunal held that the liability to exemption is conditioned upon the application of S. 6 of the Act and therefore, he was of the view that the Authorised Officer could have granted total exemption for the land proportionate to the expenditure incurred for religious and charitable purposes, and ought to have separated the remaining proportionate extent and declared the same as not property of the trust. In this view, he set aside the order of the Authorised Officer and remitted the matter. The learned Advocate-General conceded that S. 6 of the Act will not apply to that case. However, it was urged by him that the trust cannot be called a public trust, within the definition of S. 3(36-AAA), of a charitable nature. On the contrary, it falls squarely under the Explanation to Cl. (36-A) because the factual finding of both the authorities is to the effect that a very small portion of the total average income alone has been spent for the purposes ordained in the Will. In C.R.P. No. 2643 of 1981, the correctness of the order of the Tribunal, which has held that S. 6 would apply, was not gone into, as it was agreed that S. 6 does not apply to the case. In order to decide the question that arose in that case viz., whether the trust could be called a public trust as defined under S. 3(36-AAA) of the Act or a private trust as defined under S. 3(36A) of the Act, on actual investigation it had to be answered whether the revision petitioner therein belonged to any one of the categories mentioned therein. Therefore, the revision petition was allowed and remitted for a limited purpose mentioned above.

8. Mr. K. Srinivasan, learned counsel for the revision petitioner herein would contend that the above decision is not applicable to the facts of the instant case before us, He submits that the entire matter relating to the case had been, placed before the Authorised Officer as well as the appellate authority and both of them have found concurrently that trust is a public trust. According to Mr. K. Srinivasan, this Court is only called upon to decide whether the said public trust is of a religious nature or of a charitable nature. In this regard, he also points out that both the forums below have observed that on an average only a sum of Rs. 1,200/- per year appears to be utilised for free boarding. It is not mentioned by both of them as to what remained after spending a sum of Rs. 1,200/- per year towards the purpose of the trust. This would only mean that the income from the fifty acres is only meagre and that the maximum portion of the same had been utilised for the benefit and maintenance of the Brahmin students studying Vedas and Sanskrit in the National High School, Tiruchirapalli. Accordingly, in C.R.P. No. 2624 of 1981 there was no finding of fact even relating to the persons who were actually managing the trust. Whether they were the heirs of the founder or whether they belonged to the family of the founder. In the instant case there is no dispute relating to the management of the trust. It is common ground that the heirs of the original founder viz., the testator of the Will, Kaniyur Krishna lyer, are managing the trust. So far as the income from those fifty acres of land is concerned, Mr. K. Srinivasan submits that it is not the contention of the Authorised Officer that any portion of the income from those fifty acres of land was appropriated by the persons managing the trust. It is also relevant in this connection to note that in the counter-statement filed on behalf of the Authorised Officer, Land Reforms in L.T.A. No. 149 of 1979 it is stated that the number of students admitted in the institution has never exceeded 10 at any time and that on An average sum of Rs. 1,000/- to Rs. 1,200/appem to have been utilised for free boarding. Hence the land under trust has been considered of a public trust of charitable nature and in that capacity entitled to retain only five standard acres, the rest being treated as surplus. When such an admission is available in the counter-statement filed on behalf of the Authorised Officer before the Land Tribunal, it is contended by Mr. K. Srinivasan that no.' further investigation is necessary for deciding whether the trust is a private trust as contemplated by S. 3 (36-A) or a public trust as contemplated by S. 3 (36-AAA). According to the learned counsel for the revision petitioner inasmuch as the Authorised Officer has in fact found that the trust is a public trust of charitable nature, the question that remains to be considered in this Court in this revision is only whether it is a public trust of a religious nature or one of only a charitable nature as contemplated by S. 2 of the Act. It is also relevant to note that the Authorised Officer has not taken on revision the order of the Land Tribunal wherein it is specifically held by the land tribunal that the trust is a public trust. Therefore, the circumstances that existed in C.R.P. No. 2643 of 1981 are not similar to the circumstances that are in existence in this revision. In the instant, case, it is not the case of the Authorised Officer or the land Tribunal that the income from the lands are utilised for some other purposes. The only complaint is that t9e students studying Vedas and Sanskrit in the institution are only about 10 and that the average money spent on them is about Rs. 1,200/- per year. Under the circumstances, the question arises for determination now, whether a remand is necessary to investigate the nature of the trust - whether it is public or private trust. This question has necessarily to be answered that such a remand is not necessary because the fact are very clear that all the accounts were placed before the Authorised Officer, who has only come to the conclusion that about a sum of Rs. 1,200/- per year was being spent on ten students. Even in the counter-statement filed on behalf of the Authorised Officer in L.T.A. No. 149 of 1979 before the Land Tribunal it was pointed out on behalf of the Authorised Officer that the trust has been considered as a public trust of charitable nature. The question that confronts this Court at this stage is only to-decide whether the public trust regarding the utilisation of the income from the fifty acres of land for the students studying Vedas -and Sanskrit in the National High School, Tiruchirapalli is a religious trust of a public nature or not.

9. Mr. Chinnasri, learned Government Pleader contends that a reading of the relevant passage extracted above would clearly show that it was for the maintenance of the students studying Vedas and Sanskrit belonging to the Brahmin community who have to be given free boarding and maintenance and as such in construing that passage, the religious nature of the trust is not very much predominant, but, on the other hand, it is only the maintenance of the Brahmin students that is very much stressed therein. I am unable to uphold this contention raised on behalf of the Authorised Officer by the learned Government Pleader. Mr. Chinnaswami also contends that the National High School, Tiruchirapalli is not conducted by the charities but it was in existence even prior to the coming into existence of the charity by virtue of the provisions in the Will. In order to create a religious trust in a particular institution it is not necessary that the said institution should be run by the author of the trust. It is only the intention of the author of the trust that has to be taken into consideration in order to decide whether a particular trust is a religious trust of a public nature or a public trust of a charitable nature.

10. It was observed in Ratilal v. State of Bombay : [1954]1SCR1055 as follows:

'It is well-established, however, that where the donor's intention can be given effect to the Court has no authority to sanction any deviation from the intentions expressed by the settlor, on the grounds of expediency and the Court cannot exercise the power of applying the trust property or its income to other purpose simply because it considers them to be more expedient or more beneficial than what the settlor had directed To divert the trust property or funds for purposes which the charity Commissioner or the Court considers expedient or roper, although the original objects of the founder can still be carried out, is an unwarranted encroachment on the freedom of religious institutions in regard to the management of their religious affairs'.

Bearing in mind the above observation this Court is of the opinion that the Will which creates the trust has to be fully read and the intention of the author of the Will should be ascertained before actually applying the provisions of law to the nature of the trust created by that Will - whether it is of a public nature or a public trust of charitable nature and in this view when the above portion of the Will is read, it is clear that it is for the purpose of encouraging the students of the Brahmin community to read Vedas and Sanskrit that the author of the Will had created the trust.

11. The four Vedas have four Mahavakyas. The Vedas have been reported with a faithfulness which is unparalleled in the history of the literatures of the world.

Prajnanambrahms The intelligence is Divine, ayamatma brahma The soul is Divine. aham brahmasmi I am Divine, tatvamasi That art Thou.

12. These four statements, taken from four different Vedas, emphasize the one fundamental truth. And that truth is that man has the capacity to rise beyond the present position, to surpass himself, to fulfill himself. This fulfilment is not merely a vain dream. But it is something which, by effort, will be possible for us to realise.

13. Veda is apta vachana. That is the essence of the puranas. Who are the aptas? They are those who realize God. Are they confined to our country alone? The answer is: This quality of God-realization is one possessed by the sages of this country. We wish to regard the teaching of the wise, whether they are of India or elsewhere, as equivalent of Vedas. Such people of God-realization are to be found all over the world, wherever religion in seriously practiced, intensely believed in. The great Vedas affirm the dignity of the human soul. the Vedas may have been written in 3,000 B.C., but were composed much earlier.

14. Sanskrit is a great language. Some Sanskrit scriptures are reported to have been found on the great wall of China. Sanskrit texts are found also on the scrolls and scarves exchanged between the emperors of China and the dignitaries of other parts of Central Asia in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. In the different spheres of Sanskrit language and literature, philosophy and religion, music and metaphysics, mathematics and astronomy, medicine and surgery, work is being done. Of the fourteen languages we have in our Schedule, ten are Sanskrit and four are Dravidian, but there is interaction between them. That has happened because there has been this correlation of our cultures, integration of different sides of our life.

15. Vedas are only connected with Hindu religion. Sanskrit, though a language of international character and is the main language that has given birth to many other civilised languages in the world cannot claim itself to belong to a particular religion or community. It is a language which Bharat has given birth for the benefit of the entire human race. As a civilised language which came into existence very early during the time of the human existence, it contained Vedas and Shastras as well as Agamas. The imparting of instruction in the Vedas and Agamas is certainly of a religious nature. Therefore, whenever a trust which is of public nature, provides for the imparting of instructions in Vedas and Agamas, certainly that will be a religious trust of a public nature and the imparting of the instructions in Vedas and Agamas cannot be anything other than of a religious nature. Therefore, I hold that the public trust with fifty acres of land created as per the Will executed by Kaniyur Krishna Iyer for the imparting of instruction in Vedas and study of Sanskrit in the National High School, Tiruchirapalli is a religious trust of a public nature and hold accordingly.

16. In the result, the civil revision petition is allowed. The lands, which are about 50.62 ordinary acres are excluded from the purview of the Act as amended. In other words, the Tamil Nadu Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling on Land) Act LVIII of 1961 as amended by the Act 37 of 1972 is not applicable to the lands held by the religious trust of a public nature created under the Will executed by Kaniyur Krishna Iyer. Under the circumstances, t ere is no order as to costs.

17. Petition allowed.


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