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K.R.M.T.T.A.L. Alagappa Chettiar Vs. K.R.M.T.T.A.R. Arunachallam Chetty and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1927Mad338; 97Ind.Cas.480
AppellantK.R.M.T.T.A.L. Alagappa Chettiar
RespondentK.R.M.T.T.A.R. Arunachallam Chetty and ors.
Cases ReferredVenkatasubbamma v. Venkatarangam Chetty
Excerpt:
- - this principle has been recognized very clearly in several cases: 368 of 1919. the lower court has clearly recognized and acted on this principle, and it seems to me that, in doing so, it has acted correctly. it has been clearly stated here by plaintiff, and seems to me also the real case put forward in his plaint, that the scheme for which he asks is the formal adoption by order of court of the original trust scheme under which the original five sharers will come again into their own proper positions as a body of cotrustees, each with equal rights of management and equal responsibilities. as to sub-clause (c) it obviously has no application to a suit like the present......the hands of those nominated by the donors, and that the trust was, therefore, in the nature of a public trust in that it was an endowment for performing public services in a public religious institution. this part of the finding is not seriously challenged at present here; but the respondent does not give up his right to contest the finding later on in appeal if necessary. so, i assume, then that the trust is public trust.4. the next point is whether that being so sanction under section 92. civil p. c., is necessary. now, the real test whether section 92 applies or not is, i take it, whether the suit is fundamentally on behalf of the public for the vindication of a public right, or on behalf of a private individual for the vindication of his private rights. in the latter case,.....
Judgment:

Wallace, J.

1. This civil revision petition is a petition asking this Court to revise the finding of the lower Court on a preliminary issue in O. S. No. 27 of 1925 on its file. The point at issue is whether the suit is maintainable without the sanction of the Advocate-General under Section 92 of the Civil P. C. or without the order of the Board of Religious Endowments under Section 69 of Act I of 1925.

2. The suit was primarily to remove the first defendant from his position as manager or managing trustee of the four plaint kattalais in the Sikkal temple, to direct the first defendant to render accounts of his management and to settle a scheme for the management of these kattalais. Only one plaintiff sued and he claims to be a co-trustee with the first defendant under the original conditions of the trust, and says that he was prevented by the first defendant from taking his proper share in the management, the first defendant setting up an exclusive right of management, as if the trust were his own private property. The plaintiff's claim, as set out in the plaint, is that, as per the terms of the trust, the kattalais form a private trust and are in the joint management of five sharers who are the plaintiff, Defendant Nos. 1, 2 and 3 and the family of Defendants No. 4 to 8. The first defendant's case is that the trust is a public one, and that this allegation of joint management is wholly false, and that he. as trustee of the Sikkal temple, is also the sole trustee for these kattalais. Defendants Nos. 2 and 3 supported the plaintiff. Defendants Nos. 4 to 8 supported the first defendant.

3. The preliminary issue was whether the trust is a public or a private one, and if the former, whether sanction under Section 92, Civil P. C., or the consent of the Board under Section 69 of Act I of 1925, is necessary. As to the first point of this issue, the lower Court, accepting, as was right, the statement in the plaint, concluded that the claim was not that the trust is private in the sense that the ownership of the property was retained by the donor as his own private property, but private in the sense that while the ownership passed to the trust, the management was retained in the hands of those nominated by the donors, and that the trust was, therefore, in the nature of a public trust in that it was an endowment for performing public services in a public religious institution. This part of the finding is not seriously challenged at present here; but the respondent does not give up his right to contest the finding later on in appeal if necessary. So, I assume, then that the trust is public trust.

4. The next point is whether that being so sanction under Section 92. Civil P. C., is necessary. Now, the real test whether Section 92 applies or not is, I take it, whether the suit is fundamentally on behalf of the public for the vindication of a public right, or on behalf of a private individual for the vindication of his private rights. In the latter case, obviously, the Advocate-General as representing the public has no concern, and his sanction would not be necessary. This principle has been recognized very clearly in several cases: see Appanna Poricha v. Narasinga Poricha A. I. R. 1922 Mad. 17 Budree Das Mukim v. Chooni Lal Johurry [1908] 33 Cal. 789 Balakrishna Odayar v. Jagannada Chariar A. I. R. 1925 Mad. 820 and an unreported case of this Court A. S. No. 368 of 1919. The lower Court has clearly recognized and acted on this principle, and it seems to me that, in doing so, it has acted correctly. The case relied on by the petitioner in Muthuswami Naidu v. Rayulu Naidu A. I. R. 1925 Mad. 689 was a case in which the plaintiffs sought to alter the original scheme of management, i.e., to convert the original trust into a trust of a different nature, which they could not do until they had removed altogether the sole trustee appointed under the trust, and it was, therefore, a case under Section 92. Another case relied on by the petitioner in Subramania Pillai v. Krishnaswami Somayajiar [1919] 42 Mad. 668 does not seem to me to be in point. There, the prayer was to remove entirely from his office a trustee who had been prima facie lawfully appointed, and therefore, Section 92 applied. A similar case is the one reported as Venkatasubbamma v. Venkatarangam Chetty : (1916)31MLJ280 .

5. Now, the plaintiff, as I understand his plaint and as it was contended both here and in the lower Court, is not suing for the vindication of any public right. His suit is confined to a vindication of his own private right to be a co-trustee and co-manager with the first defendant and others. He is not suing for the removal of the first defendant as trustee and the appointment of any outsider whom the Court may select as trustee, but for the relegation of the first defendant as soidisant exclusive managing trustee to his proper position as one of the body of managing trustees and for his own (plaintiff's) recognition as one of that body, and for that end, and for that end only, the plaint prays that the first defendant be directed to submit his accounts, the accounts of his management, and for the framing of a scheme for future management on the lines of the original trust, which will relegate all the co-sharers to their proper position as regards future management. It has been clearly stated here by plaintiff, and seems to me also the real case put forward in his plaint, that the scheme for which he asks is the formal adoption by order of Court of the original trust scheme under which the original five sharers will come again into their own proper positions as a body of cotrustees, each with equal rights of management and equal responsibilities. There is here, in my opinion, not any sort of relief for which the public would be the natural suitors. I am not prepared to hold that the finding of the lower Court upon this point was wrong.

6. As to the application of Section 69 of Act 1 of 1925, the position is somewhat difficult owing to the obscureness in the wording of that Act. Section 69 (1) lays down that any person having an interest (in any math or temple) and having obtained the consent of the Board may sue to obtain a decree

(1) appointing or removing the trustee of a math or excepted temple;

(b) vesting any property in a trustee;

(c) declaring what proportion of the endowed property or of the interest therein shall be allocated to any particular object of the endowment; or

(d) granting such further or other relief as the nature of the case may require.

7. Sub-Section (2) states that Section 92, Civil P. C., shall have no application to any suit claiming any relief in respect of the administration or management of a religious endowment, and 'no suit in respect of such administration or management shall be instituted except as provided by this Act.' There can be no doubt that the plaint kattalais are a religious endowment within the definition given in Section 5 (1) of the Act, and that those who have the duty of administering such, are trustees within the meaning of Section 5 (13) of the Act. It cannot be doubted, therefore, that the present suit is a suit claiming relief in respect of the administration or management of a religious endowment. Therefore, if the Act sets out the provisions under which such a suit shall be instituted, the present suit will not lie unless such provisions are complied with. But I do not find that the Act does lay down provisions for a suit of this kind.

8. Section 69 (1) (a) applies only to trustees of maths or excepted temples. Neither the word 'math' nor the word 'temple' is defined in the Act as including a minor religious endowment within a math or temple, and the Act throughout keeps these terms distinct. This clause then does not apply to persons who are not trustees of a math or excepted temple, but are only trustees of a lesser religious endowment, such as kattalais. As to Sub-clause (b) the word 'trustee' must be confined to the sort of trustee defined in the Act. It obviously cannot apply to trustees generally. If it is applied to 'trustee' as defined in the Act, then the clause applies to suits claiming to vest property in a person in whom the administration of a religious endowment is already vested. This is certainly not the scope of the present suit. As to Sub-clause (c) it obviously has no application to a suit like the present. As to the general Sub-clause (d), I am not prepared to hold that it will cover the case of removing a trustee of a minor religious endowment which is neither a math nor an excepted temple, when Clause (a) by implication excludes such a trustee from the operation of the section. No other section of the Act touches on the provisions governing suits under the Act. Section 53 does not apply since the Board has not yet taken any action. Section 58 and Chap. 6 generally apply only to trustees of maths and temples and not to persons who are only trustees of minor religious endowments.

9. I can lot, therefore, find that the present suit is prohibited by Act 1 of 1925. I am not prepared, as at present advised, to differ on this point from the lower Court, although I am not ready at present to endorse its opinion that Section 69 (a) applies only to suits of a representative character.

10. I am not, therefore, prepared to interfere with the lower Court's decision on this preliminary issue and dismiss the petition with costs to plaintiff-respondent.


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