1. The subject-matter of this petition is a promissory note executed by one T. D. Palaniappa Mudaliar in favour of the respondent for Rs. 200 on 22nd March, 1933. Palaniappa Mudaliar describes himself in the body of the note as manager of a certain temple in Chettikulam, and states further that he has borrowed the money 'for the preliminary expenses of the Panguni Uttiram festival in the said temple', but he has executed the note in his own name, and there is a personal covenant to repay without any reference to the temple funds, such as is found in the note with which I have dealt in Ekambara and Dandayudhapani Swami Temples v. Arunachala Goundar : (1941)2MLJ587 . The Respondent sued in due course upon this note and has obtained a decree against both Palaniappa Mudaliar personally and the properties of the temple. This is a petition on behalf of the temple in which its liability under the note is contested.
2. The contention of the petitioner is supported by direct authority which if it has not been overruled and cannot be distinguished is binding upon me. That authority is the decision of a Bench of this Court--Swaminatha Aiyar v. Srinivasa Aiyar (1916)32 M.L.J. 259. The headnote runs as follows:
Where a trustee borrows money for purposes of the trust by executing a promissory note, the creditor is not entitled to a decree charging the amount due under the promissory note against the trust property.
3. And in the body of the judgment it is categorically stated that all that the creditor obtained was a promise on the part of the executant of the note to pay the debt. That statement, in my opinion, certainly applies to the facts of the present case, and unless respondent can show that Swaminatha Aiyar v. Srinivasa Aiyar (1916)32 M.L.J. 259, is no longer good law, the petitioner here is entitled to succeed. Respondent's learned. advocate has cited a number of rulings, but has not been able to convince me that I can refuse to follow Swaminatha Aiyar v. Srinivasa Aiyar (1916)32 M.L.J. 259.
4. The first rulings cited were Krishna Chettiar v. Nagamani Ammal I.L.R. (1915)Mad. 915 and Satyanarayana v. Mallayya (1934) 68 M.L.J. 540 : I. L.R. 58 Mad. 735. These cases deal with promissory notes executed by mothers as guardians of their infant sons, and lay it down that the provisions of the Negotiable Instruments Act do not stand in the way of decrees being granted upon such notes against the estates of the sons. I do not think there is any reasoning in these judgments, which can be applied to the case of a trustee and a temple.
5. The next case, Sundaresan Chettiar v. Viswanada Pandara Sannadhi : (1922)43MLJ147 , is directly concerned with a trustee who executed a bond. In that bond, however, it was expressly stipulated that the creditor should be repaid from the temple properties. The learned Judges who decided it not unnaturally refused to follow Swaminatha Aiyar v. Srinivasa Aiyar (1916) 32 M.L.J. 259, because of this vital point of distinction, but they do not in the slightest degree indicate any opinion that it had been wrongly decided. Subramaniam Pattar v. Velu Nair : (1925)49MLJ717 , is a case of a promissory note in which a definite recital is found that the executants promised to pay 'in their capacity as uralars of the devasvom' and that the amount was 'due from the devasvom'. This is precisely the same ground of distinction as in Sundaresan Chettiar v. Viswanada Pandara Sannadhi : (1922)43MLJ147 , and neither of these two cases can be of any assistance to the respondent in the present argument.
6. No other case has been cited which is concerned with a promissory note or bond, and the only other reference to Swaminatha Aiyar v. Srinivasa Aiyar (1916) 32 M.L.J. 259, which has been pointed out to me occurs in Venkatabalagurumurthi Chettiar v. Balakrishna Odayar (1930) 60 M.L.J. 90. In that case trustees had purchased goods for temple purposes and it was held that the creditor could recover their value from the temple funds. There is only a passing reference to Swaminatha Aiyar v. Srinivasa Aiyar (1916) 32 M.L.J. 259, as a case which had been distinguished by Sundaresan Chettiar v. Viswanada Pandara Sannadhi : (1922)43MLJ147 , however, it is found very explicitly that the trustees had contracted with the creditor that the goods should be paid for out of temple funds. All these three cases therefore are cases of contract in which the creditor stipulated that he should look to the temple properties for his money. In Sundaresan Chettiar v. Viswanada Pandara Sannadhi : (1922)43MLJ147 and Subramaniam Pattar v. Velu Nair : (1925)49MLJ717 , the contracts were contained in the documents themselves; in Venkatabalagurmurthi Chettiar v. Balakrishna Odayar (1930) 60 M.L.J. 90, there was no document to prevent the reception of evidence of such a contract. Here, whatever the respondent may say as to previous statements made to him by the temple trustees, the suit must in essence be deemed to be based upon the promissory note, and upon the promissory note alone, since it is clear that there was no antecedent debt in existence. By the promissory note the liability is restricted to the personal promise of Palaniappa Mudaliar to pay, and, having taken a promissory note in these terms, respondent must now abide by them.
7. Following Swaminatha Aiyar v. Srinivasa Aiyar (1916) 32 M.L.J. 259, therefore, I am of opinion that the decree granted against the temple properties cannot stand, and that respondent's suit as against the temple must be dismissed.
8. In the view, which I have thus taken it is unnecessary to discuss other objections taken by the petitioner to the validity of the promissory note as against the temple.
9. I find no trace of the particular point of law upon which this petition has succeeded having been raised before the District Munsif and direct therefore that the petitioner do pay his own costs.