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Peesapati Sitaramanujachari and anr. Vs. Kanduri Vellamma - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported inAIR1916Mad462; 30Ind.Cas.822
AppellantPeesapati Sitaramanujachari and anr.
RespondentKanduri Vellamma
Excerpt:
hindu temple - dedication, to public--character of temple, inference as to, from particular acts and circumstance. - - the evidence above set out clearly establishes that the suit temple was dedicated for public worship......witness 3 says that all the three castes have a right to make worship and give offerings at the suit temple. as defendant is trustee she has the right to allow or refuse admittance to the temple without assigning reasons. she never to my knowledge refused admittance.' her fourth witness says in his examination-in-chief that the temple is under the dharmakartaship of the defendant. it belongs to god venkateswaraswami,' and in cross-examination the defendant cannot appropriate the lands to her use, nor alienate them. all people can worship and offer bhoyams at the suit temple only through archakas. defendant has never hitherto refused permission to worship.' it is also clear from the evidence, especially paragraphs 13 and 14 of exhibit iv, that the general public have been making.....
Judgment:

Srinivasa Aiyangar, J.

1. The question for decision in this appeal is whether the suit temple is a private temple or a public temple. The temple was built in 1830 by one Singarachary, the paternal uncle of the defendant's husband, in the village of Bhyripuram. The temple was dedicated to Sri Venkateswaraswami. The defendant and her predecessors are styled dharmakartas of the temple (Exhibits I, III and IV).

2. A fixed stone idol was installed in the temple and also copper idol to be taken out in processions. Archakas or priests were appointed to make the puja or worship as also reciters of Veda, and Tamil probandhams and other servants usually employed in public temples. In fact the puja and other services in the temple in no way differ from those in a public temple. It is admitted that the general public, ever since the construction of the temple and the consecration of the idols, have been worshipping in the temple. It is said that they do so with the permission of the dharmakarta for the time being. There is, however, he evidence that any such permission was ever asked for. The witnesses for the plaintiffs say that all caste Hindus have a right to worship in the temple, and the evidence for the defendant materially corroborates this. Defence witness No. 1 says in his cross examination that 'Vaishnavas have a right to worship god in the temple. Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Komatis have a right to get worship done through the Archakas. People of all castes may make offerings to god. Such offerings were never refused. Even defendant's enemies worship at the temple.' Defence witness 3 says that all the three castes have a right to make worship and give offerings at the suit temple. As defendant is trustee she has the right to allow or refuse admittance to the temple without assigning reasons. She never to my knowledge refused admittance.' Her fourth witness says in his examination-in-chief that the temple is under the dharmakartaship of the defendant. It belongs to god Venkateswaraswami,' and in cross-examination the defendant cannot appropriate the lands to her use, nor alienate them. All people can worship and offer bhoyams at the suit temple only through archakas. Defendant has never hitherto refused permission to worship.' It is also clear from the evidence, especially paragraphs 13 and 14 of Exhibit IV, that the general public have been making offerings, and fulfilling vows in the temple. Another important circumstance is that the lands belonging to the temple were enfranchised and inam puttahs issued in the name of the idol. Exhibit C shows that a person who was a stranger to the defendant's family gave some lands to the temple. Further, the Will, Exhibit IV, shows that with respect to the temple and its endowments the defendant's husband was merely a dharmakarta or trustee. The evidence above set out clearly establishes that the suit temple was dedicated for public worship.

3. The defendant, however, relies on the following facts to prove that the temple is her private temple viz., that the food cooked in the temple and offered to the idol is used by the defendant; that the temple servants also render service to her; that the Will, Exhibit IV, contains elaborate provisions for the management of the temple which ordinarily a trustee of a public temple would have no power to make; and that no accounts were kept by the defendant or her predecessors of the management of the temple properties. It appears that the bulk of the property of the temple was given by the defendant's husband and his uncle, they were also the hereditary trustees; and it is, therefore, not unlikely that they, sometimes, arrogated to themselves powers which they did not possess. They are quite insufficient to prove that the temple is a private temple. It is very unusual for a Hindu in Southern India to construct a temple outside his dwelling house for private worship. I am, therefore, unable to agree with the learned District Judge on this point.

4. The District Judge finds that no misconduct or negligence has been proved against the defendant in the management of the temple or its properties, and I agree with him. As I find that the temple is a public temple, the defendant is bound to maintain accounts of her management of the temple and its endowments.

5. The respondent contends that the sanction of the Collector, Exhibit A, is vague and also that the plaintiffs, who are only two out of the lage number of persons to whom sanction was given, are not entitled to sue under Section 92 of the Civil Procedure Code. But as the two plaintiffs have obtained the sanction of the District Court under the Religious Endowments Act, it is unnecessary to decide this point. I would reverse the decree of the District Judge and declare that the suit temple is a public temple and direct the defendant to maintain accounts of her management of the temple and its endowments.

6. As regards the costs, in the circumstances of this case I would direct each party to bear his own costs throughout.

Wallis, C.J.

7. I agree. Having regard to the ideas prevailing among Hindus in this part of India, I think there is sufficient evidence of an intention to dedicate these properties for public charitable purposes, that is to say, for the purposes of a temple for the use of Hindu worshippers.


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