1. The suit out of which this second appeal arises was one by certain Archakas who had been dismissed from service by the appellant, who was then the interim trustee appointed by the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Board. The District Munsiff of Tanuku held that there was nothing illegal in the manner in which the enquiry had been conducted and the order passed and he further held that the suit was barred by Section 43 of the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act. He therefore dismissed the suit. In appeal to the District Judge of West Godavari, it was held that the appointment of the appellant as an interim trustee, ignoring inter alia the rights of the hereditary trustee, was ultra vires, and that therefore the suit lay. He held that Section 43 of the Act did not apply; because the competence of the appellant to act under that section had been rightly challenged. He accordingly allowed the appeal and decreed the suit with costs.
2. A preliminary objection has been taken that the appeal cannot be heard unless the trustees appointed by an order of the 30th September, 1947, are brought on record in the place of the present appellant who was by that order removed. The appellant appealed to the Hindu Religious Endowments Board against the order of the 30th September; but the appeal has not yet been disposed of.
3. Two decisions of this Court, i.e., Sivakasi Viswanathasami Devastanam v. Koodalinga Nadan (1933) 66 M.L.J. 380, which was followed by another Bench of this Court in Ittunan Panik-kar v. Narayana Bharatikal (1946) F.L.J. 110 : (1947) 1 M.L.J. I27 (F.C), were roughly to the effect that if a suit was properly instituted by a particular plaintiff, the suit could continue even though in the meanwhile he had lost the status under which he had filed the suit. It is however unnecessary to consider this question at any length; because the appellant was not impleaded as a trustee of the institution, but personally; and the decree of the lower Court ordered costs to be paid by him.
4. It appears that the scheme embodied in Ex. P-3, drawn up on 16th June, 1928 was not working satisfactorily, apparently because the hereditary trustee was not co-operating with the associate trustees; and so the Hindu Religious Endowments Board came to the conclusion that some modification of the original scheme was necessary. They therefore appointed the appellant as the interim trustee on 21st April, 1940, by Ex. P-2, pending the final modification of the scheme, which was not effected until 30th September, 1947. There seems to have been an unwarranted and unnecessary delay in modifying the original scheme; but for purposes of this appeal the delay is not material. On the 2nd March, 1941, the appellant dismissed the respondents.
5. It is obviously necessary where a scheme is found to be unworkable and some modification is necessary, that power should be possessed by the Board to make some interim arrangements pending the drawing up of a more satisfactory scheme. In 1930, the Explanation to Section 18 of the Act was added. That Explanation is this:
The general powers of superintendence of the Board shall include the power to pass such interim orders as it deems necessary in the interests of the proper maintenance of a math or temple or the administration of a religious endowment.
The general powers of superintendence referred to in this Explanation are pre-sumably those referred to in the first sub-section which confers on the Board the general superintendence of all religious endowments within the territorial jurisdiction of the Board. It is however argued by the learned Advocate for the respondents that this general superintendence is declared to be, by the section, subject to the provisions of this Act, and of any scheme settled or deemed to be a scheme settled under this Act. If the contingency contemplated by the Explanation of this section is one that occurs in the working out of the scheme, then the Board is not empowered to pass any orders not in accordance with the scheme. But in the present case the scheme was found to be unworkable; and by the order appointing the appellant as interim trustee that scheme must be deemed to have been temporarily abrogated; and so the Board could not act in accordance with the terms of the scheme, which it found was unworkable and needed modification. All that was therefore required of the Board in passing this interim order was to see that it should be subject to the provisions of the Act. I have no doubt that the Board acted in accordance with the provisions of the Act, and that this Expla-nation was added in order to empower the Board to deal with cases of this kind.
6. There is no reason to think that the Board intended to circumvent the provisions of the Act by ignoring the hereditary trustee permanently, as the order of 30th September, 1947, would show, for the Board in its modified scheme provided for the exercise of the hereditary trustee's rights. It was however apparently impracti-cable for them to make any provision in the interim order; because it was on his account that the whole scheme had become unworkable. In this connection the learned advocate for the respondents has relied on the decision in Hindu Religious Endowments Board v. Palani Andi (1927) M.W.N. 743, in which the learned Judges held that the Board had no right to exclude a hereditary trustee even for a short time. In that case the learned Judges were however dealing with an instance fairly common at about the time when the judgment was delivered, of the ignoring the spirit of the Act by the Hindu Religious Endowments Board, retaining the hereditary trustee as a trustee, while at the same time depriving him of most of his powers. The learned Judges were not there considering a bona fide interim order passed by the Board in an attempt to secure the proper working of the institution until a suitable permanent arrangement could be made.
7. The learned advocate for the respondents further argues that even though the Board were empowered to confer upon a single trustee the full powers of a trustee they did not in fact do so by their order, Ex. P-2. it is argued that all that they did was to make arrangements for conducting a certain suit which was then pending. The order ran:
Whereas the Board is satisfied that the scheme of administration framed by the Board in B.O. No. 305 dated 16th June, 1928, should be modified, and that where is some interim arrange ment should be made for conducting the suit, the Board hereby appoints Sri Chivatam Lakshmi-narayana as the interim trustee of Sri Ekambaraswaraswami temple at Chivatam village, Tanuku taluk, West Godavari district, pending the modification of the scheme.
The interim trustee shall enter upon his duties forthwith and conduct the pending suit under Section 78 of the Act. He should report the progress from time to time.
Before taking action against the respondents the appellant asked the Board for permission to take disciplinary action against the respondents; but it was pointed out in the reply of the Board, Ex. D-15, dated 23rd January, 1941, that the previous permission of the Board was not necessary. Even if we ignore the Board's own interpretation of its previous order, Ex. P-2, I am satisfied that Ex. P-2 itself em-powers the interim trustee to exercise all the powers of a trustee. The prominence given in this short order to pending proceedings merely indicates the urgency felt by the Board at the time this order was passed.
8. It follows from what has been said above that if the appellant was properly appointed and had all the powers of a trustee, he had authority to take disciplinary action against the respondents. Sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section 43 of the Act therefore bar any action in a Civil Court. These two sub-sections provide for an appeal to the Assistant Commissioner and a further appeal to the Board. Both the sub-sections state that the orders shall be final and shall not be liable to be modified or cancelled in a Court of Law.
9. The appeal is allowed with costs in this' Court and in the Court below and the order of the District Munsiff restored.