M.M. Ismail, CJ.
1. One of these cases has been referred to a Bench by Ratnavel Pandian, J.
2. All these Civil Revision Petitions filed under Section 83 of the Tamil Nadu Act LVIII of 1961 read with Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure raise a. common question namely, whether the public trusts involved in these Civil Revision Petitions running the Vedapatasalas would come within the scope of Section 2 of the Tamil Nadu Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling on Land) Act, 1961. Tamil Nadu Act LVIII of 1961 hereinafter referred to as the Act. Before we refer to the relevant statutory provisions, we shall refer to the findings of the Authorised Officer (Land Reforms) and the Land Tribunal on appeal. In C. R. P. No. 101(sic) of 1976 the Tribunal has found as a fact that the trust in question was conducting Vedapatasala and the trust itself was known as Vedapatasala trust Sooramangalam. We shall refer to the findings in C. R. P. No. 1453 of 1976 after referring to the facts in the other three cases. In C. R. P. No. 146 of 1979 admittedly the trust is functioning under a scheme and the trust is conducting a Vedapatasala to impart Vedas, Agamas and allied subjects among others. In C. R. P. No. 532 of 1979, again the trust in governed by a scheme decree passed by the Sub Court, Kumbakonam in O. S. No. 90 of 1916 and under the scheme decree, a Yajurveda Patasala was being maintained. In C. R. P. No. 804 of 1979. The trust itself was called as Doraisami Iyer Meenakshi Ammal Vedapatasala Dharmam and it provides for the Establishment and maintenance of Vedapatasalai. There is no dispute in these four Civil Revision Petitions of the fact that a Vedapatasalai is being run by the respective trusts in question. We shall now take up the facts in C. R. P. No. 1453 of 1976. The trust in this case is called as Perugavazlindan (Sri Annapoorni Amman and Anna Chatram) in Mannaigudi taluk and the trust was said to consist of the performance of poojas to the idols of Annapoorni Amman, Ummamaheswarar, Maha Ganapathi, Maha Vishnu and Salagramam in the Chatram besides the running of the Vedapatasala and the feeding of four Desanthries daily. The Authorised Officer refers to the evidence of P. Ws. 1 to 3 who spoke to the performance of these functions in the Chatram and observes:
This trust is stated to have been founded in the year 1846 but the original trust deed has not been produced as it is said to be not available. Exhibits P-8 and P-9 are only partition deeds relating to the family. In these documents there is no mention about the performance of charities as elicited from P. Ws. 1 to 3. Even granting that daily poojas etc., are conducted in the chatram as stated by P. Ws. 1 to 3, it is only for the benefit of the family of the founder of the trust. P. W. 1 has admitted that the public generally do not visit the chatram. So the poojas said to be conducted cannot constitute as one of public religious nature. Similarly running of a Vede patasala is not a religious nature as recently held by the Madras High Court; poor feedings said to be done in the chatram is only a public charity. On a perusal of the available materials placed before me I find that the trust Perugavalndhan Anna Chatram is only a public trust of charitable nature as defined in Clause 36(AAA) under Section 3 of the amended Act XXXVII of 1972.
When the matter was taken up in appeal before the Land Tribunal it also referred to the evidence of P. Ws. 1 to 3 and held that the trust was not a religious trust of a public nature and, therefore, it was not exempted from the purview of the Act LVIII of 1961 as amended by Act XXXVII of 1961 as amended by Act XXXVII of 1972. It refers to the evidence of P. Ws, 1 to 3 with regard to the Vedapatasala and was of the opinion that:
When even a Vedapatasalai situated in a temple cannot be considered as a religious institution the Vedapatasalai said to have been in existence in the chatram cannot be considered as a religious institution so as to exempt the trust in question from the purview of Act LVIII of 1961.
We are giving these extracts from the orders of the Authorised Officer as well as the Land Tribunal only for the purpose of showing that they have not recorded a definite finding that the trust was not running a Vedapatasala.
3. It is against the background of these facts, we shall now refer to the statutory provisions in this behalf. The Act itself was one to provide for the fixation of ceiling on agricultural land holdings and for certain other matters connected therewith in the State of Tamil Nadu. Section 3 is the definition Section. The definitions that are relevant for the purpose of the present case are those that are contained in Clause 36-A, Clause 36-AAA and Clause 36-B as including a trust under which the beneficiaries are persons who are ascertained or capable of being ascertained' Clause 36-AAA defines public trust as meaning a trust for a public purpose of a religious, charitable or an educational nature. Clause 36-B defines religious institution as meaning any '(1) Temple (ii) Math; (iii) Mosque; or (iv) Church; which is dedicated to, or for the benefit of, or used as of right by, the public as a place of religious worship'. Section 2 of the Act is as follows:
2. Act not apply to lands held by existing religious institution or religious trust of public nature:
(1) Subject to the provisions of Sub-sections (2) and (3) and 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) Nowithstanding anything contained in Sub-section (1) no such religious institution or religious trust of 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 purpose 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.
Admittedly none of these trusts will constitute a religious institution so as to come within the scope of Section 2(1) (i) of the Act read with Section 3(36-B) of the Act. Consequently the only other question that is required to be considered is whether these trusts will fall within the scope of Section 2(1) (ii) of the Act. As we pointed out already there is no dispute about the fact that these trusts are of a public nature. The only other question is whether they can be considered to be religious trusts of a public nature or not. A trust created for the running of a Vedapatasala is certainly a religious trust and there can be no controversy about it. As a matter fact that was not controverted even by the learned Advocate General. However what the Tribunal has done in these cases is to rely upon an unreported judgment of a Bench of this Court in Kuthuchami and Ors. v. RM. M. V. Muthiah Chettiar and Ors. S. T. A. No. 2 of 1973, dated 16th September, 1975. We are clearly of the opinion that that judgment has no relevancy whatever to the present controversy and therefore the Land Tribunal erred in relying upon the judgment for the purpose of holding that the trusts in the present cases will not fall within the scope of Section 2(1) (ii) of the Act. That judgment arose out of certain proceeding for the grant of a ryotwari patta under Tamil Nadu Act XXVI of 1963 namely the Tamil Nadu Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1963. Section 9 of that Act deals with the grant of a ryotwari patta to landholders. One of the requirements provided for in proviso to Section 9(1) (a) was that the private land should be proved to have been cultivated by the landholder himself by his own servants or by hired labour, with his own or hired stock in the ordinary course of husbandry for a continuous period of three years within a period of twelve years immediately before the 1st day of April, 1960 Such a proviso with an explanation finds a place in Sub-section (2) also. However this requirement as to personal cultivation was modified by Tamil Nadu Act XXVII of 1966. This Act substituted for the words 'is proved to have been cultivated by the landholder himself' the words 'is in the case of a landholder other than a religious institution was exempted from the requirement of personal cultivation'. An explanation was added which stated that the expression religious institution shall mean a religious institution as defined in Clause (18) of Section 6 of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act 1959(Tamil Nadu Act XXII of 1959). Section 6(18) of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959, defines the expression 'religious institution' as meaning 'a math, temple or specified endowment'. Section 6(19) of this Act defines the expression 'Specific endowment' as meaning 'any property or money endowed for the performance of any specific service or charity in a math or temple, or for the performance of any other religious charity, but does not include an inam of the nature described in Explanation (1) to Clause (17) 'It is these provisions of the Tamil Nadu Inam Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1963 as amended by Tamil Nadu Act XXVII of 1966 that came to be considered by the Bench in the unreported decision referred to above. The Bench observed:
The Tribunal was of the view that the Yajur Veda Patasalai was a religious institution which would imply that for purposes of Madras Act XXVI of 1963 the trustees would not be called upon to prove personal cultivation in order to entitle them to treat the land as private and therefore apply for ryotwari patta. It is rather surprising that the Tribunal should have made short work of this question as to the character of the Yajur Veda Patasalai. It merely referred to the definition of specific endowment, religious charity and a mutt under the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act and the immediately concluded that because the Patasalai was teaching Yajur Veda in the Perumal and Siva Temples at Tirumayyam, it automatically followed that it was a religious institution. We are unable to agree with this view. A religious institution is one in which worship is done to an idol or some religious service is done to an idol or in connection with a festival in a temple. Likewise a kattalai or a specific endowment is considered to be a religious charity because the character of the service is religious. Teaching Yajur Veda by itself will not be of a religious character and convert the institution into a religious institution. The location of the Patasalai in the temple premises will make no difference any more than if an ordinary school imparting secular instruction were situate therein. It would not be called a religious institution for that reason. What decides the character of the institution as religious is that the institution by itself must be of a religious character. In other words, either worship should be conducted there, or in connection with the Idol or a festival in the temple some service of a religious character should be conducted. This is not of that type. There is no comparison between a mutt and Yajur Veda Patasalai. The Mutt itself is a religious institution because it is engaged in the propagation of religion and a particular form of worship. We are of the view therefore that the Yujur Veda Patasalai run in Perumal and Siva Temples at Tirumayyam cannot be regarded as a religious institution and therefore if the institution claims a land to be pannai, it is necessary for it to prove also personal cultivation as required by the provisions of Madras Act XXXVI of 1963.
Thus it will be seen that the Bench was dealing with a religious institution for the purpose of Tamil Nadu Act XXVI of 1963 which as we pointed out already was based upon the definition of religious institution' contained in Section 18 of the Tamil Nadu Act XXII of 1959.
4. However as far as the present cases are concerned there is a definition of religions institution 'in Section 3(36-B) of the Act and therefore for the purpose of section (1) (i) it is that definition that will apply as far as Section 2(1) (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 religious trust of a public nature and the imparting of instructions in Vedas and Agamas cannot be anything other than of religious nature.
It is relevant in this context to refer to the observations of Venkatasubba Rao., J. in M. Ar. Rm. M. Annamalai Chettiar and Ors. v. Al. A. C. T. Solaiyappa Chettiar and Anr. : (1935)69MLJ274 . In the case also the learned Judge was considering the nature of the trust fund. The learned Judge observed:
Although it is not a religious endowment under the Act, the object is nevertheless not temporal or secular in character as the plaintiffs contend, but is of a religious nature under Section 92, Civil Procedure Code. The object of maintaining a Veda Patasala is not to promote knowledge in general but spiritual knowledge; in other words, its purpose is the advancement of religion. Under the English decisions, gifts for the maintenance of institutions such as the society for the propagation of the Gospel, or the promotion of Christian knowledge are gifts for religious purposes and hence are charitable; for all religious trusts are in a sense charitable, although the converse of this proposition does not hold good. A Veda patasala is akin to the Institutions mentioned above as its purpose is the promoting of the knowledge of the Vedas.
Under these circumstances, we are clearly of the opinion that the trusts in all these cases will constitute religious trusts of a public nature, because the trusts are running Veda Patasalas for imparting instructions in Vedas and Agamas.
5. In some of these cases, the trusts in addition to running of Vedapatasalas, conduct certain other charities also. In C. R. P. No. 1453 of 1976, we have already referred to the claim of the performance of poojas to certain idols in the Chatram as well as the feeding of four Desanthries every day. Similarly in C. R. P. No. 532 of 1979 in addition to the imparting of instructions in Yajur Veda there is provision for teaching Sanskrit and feeding Brahmin boys. In C. R. P. No. 804 of 1979 in addition to the running of Vedapatasala with a hostel attached there is provision for maintaining a Thanneerpandal. Sub-section (3) of Section 2 which was already extracted 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 a public trust in existence on the date of the commencement of the Act is appropriated both for a public purpose of 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 Section 2(1) (ii) read with Section 2(3) of the Act the provisions contained in the Act will not apply.
6. In this connection, we may refer to a Judgment of Ramanujam, J. in 4. K. Vavalleevvai Maricair Dharmam, Nagore v. The State of Tamil Nadu represented by the Collector of Thanjavur : (1979)2MLJ121 in which a question of this nature directly arose. In that case also, the Authorised Officer after considering the recitals in the trust deed and the oral evidence held that the trust in question was not entitled to be declared as a religious trust of a public nature and the trust created under the deed was only of a charitable nature and therefore the trust was not entitled to claim exemption in relation to the lands held by it under Section 2 of the Act. There was an appeal to the Tribunal by the Managing trustee. The appeal having failed, the trustees came before this Court by way of Civil Revision Petition. The learned Judge referred to the actual provisions contained in the trust deed which were as follows:
After extracting the above portion, the learned Judge observed:
This indicates that religious instructions and lessons on Islamic religion are given in the Madarasa for the benefit of Muslim girls and boys. The question is whether the running of such Madarasa will be taken to be religious object or it is merely a charitable object.
The learned Judge further observed:
The trust deed does not merely direct the giving of general education to the Muslim boys and girls but it specifically refers to religious instruction to be given and also the teaching of Koran to the boys and girls. That means, the Madarasa is intended to give only religious instructions to Muslim boys and girls and not the general education. If it is merely a general education that is imparted in the Madarasa then it will be charitable but as the main object of the Madarasa is to a give religious instructions to Muslim boys and girls, it can only, be treated as pertaining to religion.
Before the learned Judge also reliance was placed on the unreported Bench judgment of this Court to which we have drawn attention. The learned Judge distinguished that judgment by pointing out:
The Division Bench took the view that teaching of Yajur Veda by itself will not be a religious object so as to convert the endowment into a religious institution as it is one in which worship is done to an idol or some service is done to an idol or in connection with a festival in a temple and that the location of the Veda Patasala in the temple premises will make no difference any more than if an ordinary school imparting secular instruction were situate therein. I do not see how the principle laid down in that case will apply to the facts of the case be foreus. In the above case, the patasala was started only for teaching Yajur Veda and the Court held that teaching of Yajur Veda by itself cannot be said to be a religious object since the teaching of Yajur Veda is not connected with any religious object. In this case however, the object of running a Madarasa for which the trust was created is to impart instruction in Islamic religion and to teach Koran to the Muslim boys and girls. Therefore the entire object of the trust was to give religious instructions to Muslim boys and girls that is to spread religious tenets, and therefore the trust is only of religious nature.
Though we agree with the conclusion of the learned Judge that the trust in that case was a religious trust of a public nature and therefore entitled to exemption under Section 2(1) (ii) of the Act and that the decision in the unreported Bench judgment does not apply to such a case we rest our conclusion for distinguishing the unreported Bench judgment on the reasons we have already given, having regard to the statutory provisions contained in Tamil Nadu Act XXVI of 1963 as amended by Act XXVII of 1966 importing the definition of religious institution contained in Section 6(18) of the Tamil Nadu Act XXII of 1959.
7. Hence we allow C. R. P. Nos. 1012 of 1976 and 146, 532 and 804 of 1979 and set aside the orders of the Authorised Officer as well as the Land Tribunal and hold that the trusts in question fall within the scope of Section 2(l)(ii) read with Section 2(3) of the Act.
8. As far as C. R. P. No. 1453 of 1976 is concerned, as we pointed out already there is no definite finding either by the Authorised Officer or by the Land Tribunal holding that there was no Vedapatasala being run. In view of this we allow this C. R. P. also and set aside the order of the Land Tribunal and remit the matter to the Land Tribunal to render a specific finding on the question and decide the matter in the light of this judgment.
9. There will be no order as to costs in any of these Civil Revision Petitions.