1. The plaintiff seeks to have revised an order of the District Judge of Ganjam refusing to allow him to amend his plaint. He is the Mahant of two mutts in that District, and he sued to set aside a scheme framed for them by the Hindu Religious Endowments Board. The ground taken in the plaint is that there has been no such mismanagement as would justify the Board, Under Section 63, Hindu Religious Endowments Act, in framing a scheme. He now, by the amendment, seeks to add another reason why the Board is precluded from interfering with his institutions. The endowments of the mutts, he says, are appropriated to uses partly of a religious and partly of a secular character, and Section 77 of the Act has the effect that until the Board has determined what portion shall be allocated to religious uses, no part of the endowment is a 'religious endowment' amenable to the provisions of the Act. 'Without making such an allocation therefore the Board had no jurisdiction to frame a scheme.
2. The learned District Judge's ground for disallowing the amendment are not very easily gathered from the terms of his order. It has not been found that the amendment would introduce a fresh cause of action, nor has that contention been urged here. It cannot be said that it would alter the character of the suit. In the lower Court the Board opposed it on the ground that it would take away a legal right which had accrued to it by lapses of time. The learned District Judge has accepted this objection, for he says that:
the defendant has acquired the right that this question, namely, that the endowments of the mutt are for both religious and charitable purposes should not be agitated against him now.
3. How the Board has acquired that right has not, I think, been made very clear. If all that is meant is that the Board is entitled to hold the plaintiff to the terms of his plaint, such a right would be in question in all applications to amend. A good reason for refusing to allow an amendment would be that a plea or ground of attack, in time when the suit was filed, had become time barred by the time the amendment was applied for. Now if the Board had passed an order Under Section 77, either allocating part of the endowment to religious purposes, or finding that no part was devoted to secular purposes, it is true that the plaintiff had only a certain time within which to attack that order by suit. But in fact the Board has admittedly passed no such order. It appears that the plaintiff applied to the Board for an allocation of the endowment, that notice was issued to him, and that he failed to appear, with the result that no decision was passed upon his application. The line taken on behalf of the Board here is, not that the plaintiff has lost the right to raise this question in the suit, but that he never possessed it. The plaintiff contends that, until the allocation is made, the mutt is not a religious endowment to which the provisions of the Act apply. That being so, it is urged that he is precluded by Section 81 from putting the question into issue in a suit until he has obtained a decision upon it by the Board. Whether or not Section 81 will apply to a dispute of this character is not an easy matter to decide. As it stood before its amendment in 1930 it ran:
If any dispute arise as to whether a mutt or temple is one to which this Act applies....,
but by an amendment which came into force on 25th March 1930 this was altered into:
if any dispute arises as to whether an institution is a mutt or temple as defined by the Act....
4. Which of these versions was current when the plaint was filed we do not know, as we have not got the date of the plaint. Even therefore if I thought it necessary to pronounce upon the applicability of this section, there are no materials at present before me for doing so. But I do not think it necessary to settle a point which, if the amendment is allowed, can well be decided in the suit. It may be that the Board has a; good defence to the issue which would be raised by the subject-matter of the amendment, but it seems to me no ground whatever for disallowing the amendment that this may be so.
5. In a case of this nature the Religious Endowments Board does not, in my view, occupy quite the position of an ordinary private litigant, and whereas a private litigant may justifiably enough plead technicalities of procedure and stand rigidly upon his rights, the Board, I conceive, desires no more than that the provisions of the Act should be correctly applied to the institutions with which it has to deal, and would disavow any wish to extend its operation beyond their proper sphere. If that be so, and since it does not appear that to allow the amendment would enable the plaintiff to escape from any bar of limitation, I am clearly of opinion that it ought to have been allowed. It may be that there is no foundation of fact to the plea, and it may also be, as I have said, that the plaintiff is precluded from advancing it in his suit. But this may not be so, and it may be that the plea is both well founded in fact and sustainable in the suit. The proper occasion to decide these points is at the trial itself, and all that I have to look to here is whether, either by a change in the nature of the suit, or by the effect of the amendment in depriving the defendant of a plea of limitation, or for some other reason, the defence of the action would be unfairly affected. The defendant has not succeeded in showing this.
6. Having regard to certain decisions of this Court, it is now too late to adopt the attitude that in no circumstances can a refusal to amend a plaint be set right in revision. The Code (Order 6, Rule 17) directs that all such amendments shall be made as may be necessary for the purpose of determining the real questions in controversy between the parties. Especially in suits of this character where the Court has to deal with the statutory jurisdiction of a public body like the Religious Endowments Board, it is undesirable that it should without good reason close the door upon what may turn out to be valid objections to the exercise of that jurisdiction. I allow the petition and the application to amend, petitioner to pay respondent's costs in the District Court and to get his costs here.