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Vasudeva Rao Vs. C.K. Rangai Gounder, Managing Trustee of Sri Koniyamman Devasthanam and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies;Property
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberAppeal No. 92 of 1946
Judge
Reported inAIR1952Mad650; (1951)IMLJ588
ActsHindu Law; Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1863
AppellantVasudeva Rao
RespondentC.K. Rangai Gounder, Managing Trustee of Sri Koniyamman Devasthanam and ors.
Appellant AdvocateS. Ramachandra Iyer, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateK.S. Desikan and ;M.R. Narayanaswami, Advs.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Cases ReferredRamappa Naidu v. Lakshmanan Chettiar
Excerpt:
property - possession - hindu law and hindu religious endowments act, 1863 - appeal against order that respondent entitled to property claimed by him with all rights of management of property - property given out and out for performance of religious purpose - testator does not retain proprietary rights in property in favour of any of his heirs at law - entire income to be utilised for various utilised for various religious ceremonies - dedication of property and constitution of temple committee to manage as 'dharmakartha' cannot be questioned - in case committee could function as trustee it was body that was in existence when plaint filed - none of its power could have been exercised by trustee after getting sanction of hindu religious endowments board - suit filed by unauthorised person.....govinda menon, j.1. the suit out of which this appeal arises was for a declaration of the plaintiff's title and right of management as well as for recovery of possession, of the suit house together with past and future rent or damages by way of use and occupation. the subordinate judge of coimbatore has held that the plaintiff is entitled to the property claimed by him with all the rights of management of the said property; but the relief for possession was disallowed. there is a further direction that the plaintiff is entitled to collect the rents from such of the defendants as are occupying portions of the suit house and utilise the funds for the ceremonies stipulated in the will of ranoji rao. there were directions regarding deposit of rent by the second to the fourth defendant along.....
Judgment:

Govinda Menon, J.

1. The suit out of which this appeal arises was for a declaration of the plaintiff's title and right of management as well as for recovery of possession, of the suit house together with past and future rent or damages by way of use and occupation. The Subordinate Judge of Coimbatore has held that the plaintiff is entitled to the property claimed by him with all the rights of management of the said property; but the relief for possession was disallowed. There is a further direction that the plaintiff is entitled to collect the rents from such of the defendants as are occupying portions of the suit house and utilise the funds for the ceremonies stipulated in the will of Ranoji Rao. There were directions regarding deposit of rent by the second to the fourth defendant along with the order to pay future rent at the same rate. Other minor reliefs were awarded to the plaintiff which it is not necessary to mention in detail. The first defendant has appealed against that decision of the learned Subordinate Judge and the second defendant has filed a memorandum of cross-objections against that portion of the decree which went against his contentions.

2. The basis of the plaintiff's title is that he has been appointed as the managing trustee of Sri Koniamman Devasthanam by the Hindu Religious Endowments Board and as such he is entitled to ask for the relief claimed by him in the plaint. The first defendant is said to he the nearest heir of Ranoji Rao who was originally the owner of the property. On the 25th October 1918, Ranoji Rao executed a will by which he made certain bequests and the question for consideration is whether that will created a trust so far as the bequests are concerned. It is common ground that Ranoji Rao's wife Parvathi Bai who was a legatee of some of the items died only in July 1943. The plaintiff states that the widow Parvathi Bai was in possession and enjoyment of the suit house according to the provisions of the will and died inJuly 1943. Before her death she had leased out portions of the house to defendants 2 to 4 separately. The first defendant is the son of Parvathi Bai's sister and as stated in the plainthe got into possession of the properties after the death of Parvathi Bai and is managing the same. Though the plaintiff, as the managing trustee of Sri Koniamman Temple to which the property has been dedicated in the will, demanded from the first 'defendant such possession as he was entitled to have, he sent a reply repudiating the will and containing false allegations. Therefore the plaintiff prayed that as the trustee of Sri Koniamman Devasthanam he is obliged to file a suit for declaration of title & recovery of possession of the suit house. The Hindu Religious Endowments Board has granted him sanction to file the suit by its order dated 21st October 1943.

3. The first defendant's plea as set forth in the written statement is that the plaintiff has no cause of action and that there was no dedication or creation of a trust by Ranoji Rao and consequently on his death and on the death of his widow Parvathi Bai, the property must, in law, be held to have passed to the heirs of Ranoji Rao. Therefore, neither the Koniamman Devasthanam nor the Hindu Religious Endowments Committee nor any trustee, has any manner of right to the suit property and as such the plaintiff's claim for possession was unsustainable. The alternative case set up by the first defendant was that even on the footing that the properties have been allotted for religious and charitable trusts, Parvathj Bai was the sole person entitled to the management thereof and in the absence of any provision for the management of the charities made by the founder, after Parvathi Bai's lifetime, the right of management passes on to the heirs of the founder, especially as before the death of Parvathi Bai, the Taluk Devasthanam Committee named in the will has ceased to exist. Therefore in any event there has been an intestacy in respect of the suit property and the major portion of the income. In any view of the case it was contended that as there has been an intestacy in respect of the suit property and the major portion of the income barring the sums directed to be spent for specified purposes, the property should, in law, be deemed to have passed to the heirs of Ranoji Rao subject to a charge for the performance of specific charities. Defendants 2 to 4 who were tenants of the suit property were willing to pay the rent into Court and they further said that during the lifetime of Parvati Bai they had paid all the rent to her.

4. On these pleadings the Subordinate Judge framed five issues of which the most important one for consideration was whether the dedication is true and valid and whether the suit by the plaintiff is maintainable. Though in the trial court the question of the genuineness of the will was raised by the contesting defendants and the Judge gave a finding that it was the last will and testament of late Ranoji Rao, that contention has not been seriously raised in this Court. What we have therefore to decide is whether there was a valid dedication of the property in favour of the trust, and secondly even if there is a valid dedication, whether the plaintiff is entitled to bring this suit. The revelant portions of the will are as follows;.

'My wife Parvathi Bai Ammal shall,after my lifetime, enjoy the undermentioned property till her lifetime without effecting any alienation whatsoever. If she were to effect any such alienation, it shall not be valid. She shall, after deducting the amount utilised for the expenses of her maintenance from out of the income thereof, spend according to her pleasure a sum of not less than Rs. 70 (Rs. seventy) every year 'from out of the balance left over and conduct Skanda Shashti and Soorasamhara festival for Sri Subramania-swami at Coimbatore Fort. My gold and silver jewels as well as other movable properties shall belong only to my wife. After her lifetime, the Hindu Religious Endowments Committee, Coimbatore taluq, and the Dhar-makartlias (trustees) of the above Pevastha-narn shall take possession of the undermentioned property and shall from out of the balance left over after deducting from the income thereof the expenses of repairs and municipal tax in respect of the building, erect a mantapam 'in front of my house and conduct mandapa kattalai every year for the Amman for ten days during the time of Ra-dhotsavam (car festival) in the month of Masj (February-March) in Sri Koniamman temple, offer neivethya Prasadam and deeparadhana at a cost of not less than Rs. 30 (Rs. thirty) on the tenth day darshan and distribute the prasadam to the people. Further, on the day of Vinayaka Chaturthi in the month of Ava-ni of every year Sri Vinayakar deity in Sri Subramaniaswami temple at Fort shall be taken round in procession from the temple by spending a sum of not less than Rs. 15 (Rs. fifteen). Abhishekam and archana shall be conducted in my name and in the name of my wife for Sri Sangameswaraswami during the time of festival at a cost of Rs. 15 (Rs. fifteen). Further repairs etc. shall be effected to the aforesaid temple. And during the time of festival in the month of Panguni (March-April) & the festival on the day of Arudra Darshanam in Sri Nataraja Devasthanam at Perur, abhi-shekam and archana shall be conducted every year in my name and in the name of my wife Parvathi Baj Ammal at a cost of not Jess than Rs. 40 (Rs. forty) for each festival. The Hindu Religious Endowments Committee and the Dharmakarthas shall, in co-operation duly perform all the above acts without fail, maintain proper account and submit every year without fail the abstract of the balance sheet in respect of the account of each year to the District Court or the Subordinate Court of Coimbatore.'

In the translation furnished it is conceded that there is some slight mistake & that is that the will does not make any distinction between the Hindu Religious Endowments Committee and the dharmakartha of the Devasthanam. What the will contemplates is that the Hindu Religious Endowments Committee shall be the Dharmakartha so far as the performance of the various charities is concerned. The exact Tamil expression is as follows;

(Original in Tamil omitted--Ed.)

The correct interpretation of this sentence is that the testator does not make any distinction between the Hindu Religious Endowments Committee and the Dharmakartha. What the testator contemplates is 1he conferment of the right of Dharmakartha or trustee of thesecharities on the Hindu Religious Endowments Committee. Therefore his intention was that after the death of his wife, the Hindu Religious Endowments Committee of Coimbatore taluk shall function as the Dharmakartha of the Devasthanam for the performance of the charities, viz, the erection of the mantapam in front of the house and conducting the mantapam katalai every year for the Amman for ten days during the Radhotsavam in the month of Masi in the Sri Koniamman temple and offering ncivethya prasadam and deeparadhana at a cost of not less than Rs. 30. The dharmakartha was to take in procession the Sri Vinayakar deity in Sri Subramaniaswami temple at Fort in the month of Avani on the Vinayaka Chaturthi day, The trustee has to conduct the abhishekams & archanas in the names of the testator & his wife at a cost of Rs. 15 in the Sri Sangameswaraswami temple and lastly; during the festival in the month of Panguni and on the Andra Darsanam day in the Sri Nataraja Devasthanam in Perur, the trustee has to conduct the abhishekams and arehamas in his name and in his wife's name. It is conceded that the Koniamman temple trustee, the Subramaniaswami temple trustee, the Sangameswarswamt temple trustee and the Nataraja Devasthanam trustee at Perur are all different individuals. Therefore what we have to find is whether for the purpose of these religious ceremonies in each of these temples, the Hindu Religious Devasthanam Committee of Coimbatore is made the trustee. It cannot for a moment be contended that Parvathi Bai had any absolute right in the property. The question whether the Devasthanam Committee becomes the dharmakartha for the performance of these religious ceremonies will arise only after Parvathi Bai's death. On a careful reading of the above provisions in the will, we have no doubt whatever that what the testator contemplated was the creation of a trust in favour of the various temples as specified in the will and the utilisation of the income for those expenses. Whatever might be said with regard to the spending of the amount during the lifetime of Parvathi Bai after her lifetime the person mentioned in the will has to take up the management and administer the trust.

5. The chief contention of the learned counsel for the appellant is that the will docs not transfer ownership to any of the religious institutions in respect of which directions have been given by the testator providing for the performance of the specified kattalais or ceremonies. What we have to see is whether there has been any transfer of ownership in favour of the trustee. We do not read the aforesaid provisions of the will as amounting to a dedication of the income for certain purposes and the right in the corpus remaining with the testator's widow and after her lifetime vesting on the heirs at law. The appellant's contention is that it is only intended as a charge for the performance of 'the various ubayams. For this purpose our attention was invited to a passage in page 922 of Mayne's Hindu law, 10th Edn. as well as to decisions in 'Ishwaree Bhuba-neshwari Thakurani v. Brojo-nath DE', I .L. R. (1937) Cal 447; 'Ramappa naidu v. Lakshmanan Chet-tiar', 54 M.L.J. 272; Thiruvengada-Mudayanaiya v. Narasimhaswamiya : AIR1941Mad591 and 'Jainambukan-Niammal v. Ruthrapathi pillai : AIR1946Mad416 . On the other hand, the learned counsel for the respondents relied upon the earlier passage in page 922 of Mayne's Hindu Jaw and contended that the appropriation of the income for the specific purpose was tantamount to dedication of the property to the trust. What is mentioned in the document, reading it as a whole, is that a legal agency, viz, the Hindu Religious Endowments Committee, was constituted to take charge of the property and perform the ceremonies mentioned in the various temples and such agency as takes possession should be the trustee and as such the Hindu Religious Endowments Committee shall be the trustee & the dharmakartha. It is further contended that a vested right is created in favour of the committee. At page 922 in paragraph 791 of Mayne's Hindu law it is stated that in order to create a valid dedication, a trust is not required and that an appropriation of property for a specific religious or charitable purpose is all that is necessary for a valid dedication. In our opinion that is what has been done in the present case. There is a direction that the income of the property should be appropriated for specific religious and charitable purposes and as such there has been a valid dedication. The learned author cites a number of cases, viz., 'Ramdhan v. Prayag Nara-in, 43 All 503; 'Nagappa Chettiar v. O R. M. O. M. S. P. Firm', I. L. R. (1939) Mad 121, which was confirmed by the Privy Council in 'O. R. M. O. M. S. P. Firm v Nagappa Chettiar, I.L.R. (1941) Mad 175 and other cases. It is unnecessary for us to discuss any of these cases because in our opinion what has been done is not the earmarking of the income for a specific purpose but there has been a complete direction to appropriate the property for specific religious purposes. The argument of Mr, S. Ramachandra Aiyar for the appellant that we should read this document as a partial dedication, where a charge is created on the property, or there is a trust to receive, and apply a portion of the income for religious purposes is in our opinion, unsound. What is decided here is that the property is given out and out for the performance of the religious purposes and the testator does not retain any proprietary rights in the property in favour of any of his heirs at law. The observations of their Lordships of the Judicial Committee in 'Ishwaree Bhubaneswaree Thakurani v. Bro-jonath DE', I.L.R. (1937) 2 Cal 447 (P. C.) , do not in any way help the appellant's contention. Their Lordships there observe:

'The effect of a valid deed of dedication is to place the property comprised in the endowment 'extra commercium' and beyond the reach ojf creditors. The dedication is not invalidated by reason of the fact that members of the settlor's family are nominated as she-bait and given reasonable remuneration out of the endowment and also rights of residence in the dedicated property'.

Their Lordships further draw the distinction between absolute and partial dedication and on the facts of that case they agreed with the lower Court that the deed in question effectively dedicated the properties to the service of the idol. We do not think that the learned advocate for the appellant can give any support for his contention from the observations of their Lordships. The facts of the case in 'Ramappa Naidu v. Lakshmanan Chettiar,' 54 Mad L J 272are absolutely different. It was found there that the charities which were detailed in the will would not consume any considerable portion of the income even if they were conducted on a lavish scale and that a very large amount of the income was left intact for the enjoyment of the family; nor was it satisfactorily shown that all other properties .were given to the son of the testator by the will at all. On these facts, the learned Judges, Madhavan Nair and Curgenven JJ. were of opinion that the properties covered by the will were not absolutely dedicated to the trust but were only charged with carrying out the trust as the dominating purpose and the intention of the testator, in executing the will, was to provide for the members of his family, and the maitnenance and conduct of the charity was only of subsidiary importance. The facts of the present case are absolutely different from what the learned Judges had to consider therein. Similarly, if we look at the facts of the case in 'THIRUVENGA-DAMUDAYANIAH v. NARASIMtfASWAMI-YA : AIR1941Mad591 , it will be seen that the surplus income from the property, after expending a portion of the same for certain charitable purposes, was far greater than what was required to comply with the directions of the testatrix with regard to the religious and charitable purposes and under those circumstances the proper inference was that the property was merely charged to charitable uses and that the residuary legatee took the property subject to the charge. It is difficult to see how the decision in 'JAINAMBUKANNTAM-MAL v. RUTHRAPATHI PILLAI : AIR1946Mad416 , can be of any assistance to the appellant. What the learned Judges held was that on reading the settlement deed as a whole, there was no gift of the surplus income to the sons or the members of the family in general and that the charity itself is the true beneficiary and that the testator's son-in-law should be considered to be a trustee of the charity and the only obligation of the trustee, for the time being, was to utilise the surplus income, if any, for the maintenance of the three specified relatives after whose death or efTacement otherwise, there will be no obligation on the trustee to utilise any part of the income from the property for any object other than the charitable object mentioned in the document. There are observations in the judgment which tend to show that the proper construction was that there was a dedication of the property to charity a.s observed by Rajamannar J. as he then was, in that case after quoting the decision of the Judicial Committee in 'HAR NARAYAN v. SURJA KUNWARI,' 43 All 291, in such cases the only rule which appears to be established is that there cannot be any fixed and absolute rule to construe the effect of any particular document.

6. We do not think that any of these cases cited by the appellant's Counsel is against the interpretation which we are inclined to put upon the will. We have no doubt whatever that on the death of Parvathi Bai the testator intended that the Hindu Religious Endowments Committee of Coimbatore taluk, as the dharmakartha of these charities, should take over possession of the house and utilise portions of the income for the specific objects mentioned in the wilt. The reason why it was found necessary to appoint the Hindu Religious Endow-ments Committee as the dharmakartha was that the religious ceremonies were to be conducted in, or with respect to, institutions of which the trustees were, different individuals and not one and the same. It is also important to note that the entire income has to be utilised for the various religious ceremonies. The document does not show that any surplus is to be had after meeting the expenses and as such, even according to the decisions cited by the appellant's learned Counsel to which we have referred, when there is no surplus income to be enjoyed by the legatees or the heirs of the testator, the only inference that is possible is that the entire property is dedicated as a trust.

7. It is next contended by the appellant that even if the intention of the testator was that after the death of his widow Parvathi Bai the Hindu Religious Endowments Committee of Coimbatore shall be the dharmakartha and perform these religious kattajais in the various institutions mentioned therein, the taluk endowments committee, as constituted, was not a body competent to hold any property on behalf of the trust and such being the case the trustee designated under the will was incapable of holding property and therefore the trust failed on the death of Parvathi Bai. For this contention, our attention was invited to various provisions of Act XX of 1863, Viz., an Act to enable the Government to divest itself of the management of religious endowments. We were invited to consider the scope and effect of Section 3, 4, 7, 11, 12 and 13. Section 3 contemplates that the local Government should make provision respecting temples and mosques with regard to their management because Regulation VII of 1817, so far as Madras Province was concerned, related to the appointment of managers, trustees & superintendents. Section 5 provided the procedure in case of disputes as to right of succession to vacate trusteeship & to apply to the civil Court to appoint a manager of such mosque, temple or religious institution and the manager so appointed shall exercise all the powers under the Act which the trustee, manager, or superintendent under regulation VII of 1817 had. We may, in this connection, refer to Section IV of the Act which contemplates transfer of property to independent trustees etc. belonging to their trusts etc., remaining in charge of Revenue Board or others. It contemplates transfer to a trustee if there is one and if not to the committee. Section XI prohibits any member of a committee from acting as the trustee or manager or superintendent of a mosque or temple; and Section XII lays down that on the appointment of a committee, the Board and local agents shall transfer properties to the committee. Section XIII provides for keeping of accounts of receipts and disbursements. According to Regulation VII of 1817 which was repealed by Act XX (20) of 1863;: the Board of Revenue was the supervisory body but when Act XX (20) came into existence and a committee was constituted, the supervisory power was given to the committee. The learned counsel for the appellant contends that according to clause VII, Regulation VII of 1817, which enacted that to enable the Board of Revenue to better carry into select the duties entrusted to them by this regulation, local agents shall be appointed in each zillah, subject to the authority, control, and orders of that Board,it might have been possible for a local agent to hold property but not to the Board & when this regulation was repealed by Act XX (20) of 1863, the Committee that was constituted could not take up itself the trusteeship of any religious endowment. We do not think that there is any absolute prohibition so far as the functioning as trustee by the committee is concerned. Sections V to VII of Act XX (20) of 1863 by implication allow the committee to hold the property. Section XII speaks of the management of the affairs. We may also refer to the preamble in Regulation VII of 1817, viz., the collection of rents and profits and clause XV of the Regulation which provided that the Board had the right to appropriate the income', which meant that it had the power of management as mentioned in clause XII. On a careful consideration of the various provisions of Regulation VII of 1817, and Act XX (20) of 1863, we are not satisfied that the contention of the learned counsel that the Hindu Religious Endowments Committee cannot hold the property as trustee, is sound. No doubt Section XI of Act XX (20) of 1863 states that no member of a committee shall act as trustee, manager, etc., of a temple, mosque or religious establishment for the management of which such committee shall have been appointed. The literal meaning of this section is that any person who happens to be a member of a committee which was a collective body cannot function as a trustee of an institution over which the committee as such has got superintendence. But in 'PANDURANGA v. NAGAPPA' 12 Mad 366 , Muttuswami Aiyar and Parker JJ. have held that the plaintiffs there, who were members of a temple committee appointed under Act XX (20) of 1863, were not entitled to claim possession of the temple and its properties from the hereditary trustee even if it were found to be subject to their jurisdiction because the learned Judges say that it is provided by Section 11 of Act XX (20) of 1863 that no member of a committee shall be capable of being, or shall act, as the trustee of a temple for the management of which such, committee shall have been appointed. The learned Judges have interpreted the prohibition to possession of the temple and its properties as trustee, to the collective body of the temple committee & not only to the individuals. In 'RAMANATHA CHETTIAR v. SWAMINA-THA AIYAR', 23 Mad L J 278, the learned Judges, Benson and Sadasiva Aiyar JJ. have considered the powers of a committee appointed under the Hindu Religious Endowments Act and at page 281 they refer to 'PANDURANGA v. NAGAPPA', 12 Mad 366. In the opinion Of the learned Judges if the committee members usurp the powers of a temple trustee, such usurpation cannot prevent the trustee, from claiming and taking back the powers at any time; the usurping committee members are trustees 'de son tort' end as such are liable for the trust monies to the 'cestui que trust'. One thing is deducible from this decision and it is-that if the members of a committee begin to function as trustee, they are liable to be proceeded against as trustees. In the well-known Srirangam case, 'SITHARAM CHETTY v.. SUB-RAMANIA AIYAR', 39. Mad 700, the powers of a temple committee are discussed and considered by Wallis C. J. and Seshagiri Aiyar J. Seshagiri Aiyar J. at page 717 considered thisaspect of the case and held that the intention of the Legislature was not to give larger powers to the committee than were possessed by the Revenue Board under Regulation VII of 1817. Here also reference has been made to a number of cases. In none of these cases has the question been considered or decided as to whether the committee as such can accept and hold property on behalf of the trust. As we have already remarkedSection V and VII of Act XX (20) of 1863 read with the preamble to regulation VII and clause XV of the Regulation contemplate that the Committee can receive and hold property. We are, therefore of opinion that the dedication of the property and the constitution of the temple committee to manage as dharmakartha cannot be questioned.

8. The further point arising from this conclusion is whether, assuming that the committee can accept the trusteeship as an obligation and function as such on the death of Parvathi Bai in 1943, the rights and obligations did not devolve upon the Hindu Religious Endowments Board and 'as such the plaintiff could not have been invested with any powers to file the suit by the Hindu Religious Endowments Board. The earliest of the Hindu Religious Endowments Act was Act I (1) of 1925 which was repealed & re-enacted as a consolidated Act by the Madras Act II (2) of 1927. Section 4 of Act I (1) of 1925 which corresponds to Section 8 of the Act XX (20) of 1927 repealed the Hindu Religious Endowments Act of 1863 and Madras Endowment and Escheat Regulations of 1817, Regulation VII of 1817, in so far as they apply to Hindu Religious Endowments in the Province of Madras. Section 6 of Madras Act II (2) of 1927 repealed Madras Act I (1) of 1925. Section.79 of the Madras Act I (1) of 1925 which corresponds to Section 83 of Madras Act II (2) of 1927, laid down that every committee established under the Religious Endowments Act, 1863, which was in existence at the commencement of Act I (1) of 1925, shall be deemed to have been duly constituted under the provisions of that Act. Such being the case the Devasthanam Committees which were in existence when Madras Act I (1) of 1925 came into force should be deemed to have been constituted under the provisions of the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act. The result is it cannot be construed that those committees were continued in existence but that such committees were newly constituted after the notional dissolution of the existing committees, especially since the words of the section are 'shall be deemed to have been duly constituted under the provisions of this Act'. There can therefore be no devolution or perpetuation of the old committee under Section 79 of Act I (1) of 1925 but only the creation and the continuation of new committees under this Act. Section 5, Sub-Section (2) of Madras Act I (1) of 1925vcorresponding to Section 9, Sub-section (2) of Act II (2) of 1927, states that the 'committee' means 'a committee as constituted under Section 16 of Act I (1) of 1925 corresponding to Section 20 of Act II (2) of 1927'. Section 16 of Madras Act I (1) of 1925 which is 'ad idem' with Section 20 of Act II (2) of 1927 empowers the Ideal Government by' notification, to direct the constitution of a committee for any temple or temples or for any class of temples, and varying the strength or the jurisdiction of any such committee. There are pro-yisos to that section which we need not referat present. Under Section 32 of Madras Act II (2) of 1927, every committee shall, by such name as the local Goyerment may determine, be a body corporate and shall have perpetual succession and a common seal and shall, by the said name, sue and be sued, so that temple committees are corporation as constituted under the Act. The Hindu Religious Endowments-Act II (2) of 1927 was further amended by Madras Act V (5) of 1944, which by Section 34 omitted Section 83 of Madras Act II (2) of 1927, which, as we have said, corresponded to Section 79 of Madras Act I (1) of 1925. The result of this-is that all the committees constituted either under Madras Act I (1) of 1925, or under Act II (2) of 1927, have got dissolved and did not have any legal existence after the coming into operation of Madras Act V (5) of 1944, which received the assent of the Governor on the 7th March 1944 and was published in Fort St. George Gazette on the same day. Therefore, on and after the 7th March 1944, in the Province of Madras, there could have been no temple committee constituted or created by any Hindu Religious Endowments Act.

9. Granting therefore that on the death of Parvathi Baj in 1943, the Coimbatore Ta]uk Devasthanam committee began to function as the trustee of the various endowments charged with the duties of conducting the religious ceremonies in the temples, this committee became dissolved and was 'functus office' by the enactment of Section 34 of Madras Act V (5) of 1944, There are provisions in Madras Act V (5) of 1944 by which the Hindu Religious Endowments Board itself could, in certain cases, assign the duties of the committee to various officers. But it has to be borne in mind here that the committee ceased to exist on the 7th March 1944, whereas in the present case the suit was filed by the plaintiff on 15th January-1944, when the committee was in existence. In 'LAKSHMANA AIYAR v. R.S. NAYUDU'f 1931 Mad W N 193, this Court held that under Section 79(1) of Madras Act I (1) of 1925, any committee established under the Act of 1863 in existence at the commencement of the Act of 1925 is to be regarded by law as if it were one constituted under Section 16 of the latter Act and the local Government has, by virtue of Section 16, power to vary or abolish such a committee. It was further held that even if the local Government has no power to vary or abolish the committee under the Act of 1925 still, under Act II '(2) of 1927 under Section 20(1) such powers have-become vested in the Government. This decision was cited in support of the contention that the committee could have filed a suit so far as the trust in question is concerned. In our opinion there is nothing that can be gathered from this judgment which can be of any help for the decision of the present case. As we have remarked, if the committee could function as a trustee, it was a body that was in existence on the 15th January 1944 when the plaint was filed and therefore none of its powers could have been exercised by the trustee of the Koni-amman temple after getting the sanction of the Hindu Religious Endowments Board. Such being the case, the plaintiff in this case, when he filed the suit, had no 'locus standi' and had no authority to come to Court for the purpose of reliefs asked for in the plaint. In this view it seems to us that the suit was filed by anunauthorised person who had no power to do so when he initiated the proceedings.

10. The appellant further contended, relyingon paragraph 811 at page 945 of the 10th Edn.of Mayne's Hindu Jaw and 'BHABA TARINIDEVI v. ASHALATA DEEP, I.L.R. (1943) Cal337, that trusteeship is property and that thefirst defendant here, the appellant, should beconsidered to be a trustee. We do not think itnecessary in the view which we take of thedisability attaching to the plaintiff for the filingof the suit, to consider the merits of this Question. As we have held that the plaintiff hasno right to maintain the suit the appeal hasto be allowed and the suit dismissed with coststhroughout. The plaintiff will pay one set ofcosts in this appeal to the first defendant-appellant and another set to the' contesting defendants-tenants. The memorandum of crossobjections does not arise as we are dismissingthe suit and is therefore dismissed but inthe circumstances without costs. The appellantwill pay the court-fee to the Government.


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