P.S. Kailasam, J.
1. These writ petitions are filed by two persons employed in Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar etc., Devasthanams, Madurai. The charge against the petitioners was that they acted in an indisciplined manner by signing a memorandum given to a political leader, without obtaining permission, regarding the administration of the temple, and by attacking' the administration and the chairman of the board of trustees without any basis in the memorandum. In Writ Petition No. 803 of 1966 the petitioner was also charged for having written a letter to the editor and getting the memorandum published in an issue of Kannagi on 17th October, 1965. An enquiry was conducted by the Executive Officer. The petitioners in both the writ petitions were found guilty of the charges and they were dismissed from service by the Executive Officer. In these writ petitions the learned Counsel for the petitioners submitted that the Executive Officer is not the authority empowered to punish the petitioners and as such the entire proceedings are void. Section 56 of the Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959 provides that all officeholders and servants attached to a religious institution or in receipt of any emolument or perquisite therefrom shall, whether the office or service is hereditary or not be controlled by the trustee, and the trustee may, after following the prescribed, procedure, if any, fine, suspend, remove or dismiss any of them for breach of trust, incapacity, disobedience of orders, neglect of duty, misconduct or other sufficient, cause. 'Religious institution' means a math, temple or specific endowment. 'Temple' is defined as a place, by whatever designation known, used as a place of public religious worship and dedicated to, or for the benefit of, or used as of right by, the Hindu community or any section thereof, as a place of public religious worship. It is not denied that Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar, etc. Devasthanams is a temple. The petitioners, therefore, will be servants coming under Section 56 of the Act and punishable only by the trustee in the manner prescribed under the Act.
2. On behalf of the respondents it was submitted that under Order--10, dated 8th January, 1953, issued by the Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, in exercise of the powers vested in him under Section 67(2) of the Act XIX of 1951, the Executive Officer is authority competent to take disciplinary proceeding against the servants of the temple and that the above order continues, in force by virtue of Section 118 of the Act XXII of 1959. Section 67(i) of Act XIX of 1951 provides that the Executive Officer shall hold office for such period as may be fixed by the Commissioner and he shall exercise such powers and perform such duties as may be assigned to him by the Commissioner. The proviso to the section says that the Commissioner shall assign to the Executive Officer only such powers and duties as appertain to the administration of the endowments of the religious institution. The proviso rules out conferment of any power of taking disciplinary action against the temple servants as the power that can be assigned to the Executive 'Officer is only with regard to the administration of the endowments of the religious institution. Section 49 of Act XIX of 1951 which corresponds to Section 56 of Act XXII of 1959 empowers the trustees of religious institutions to take disciplinary action against temple servants. Section 118 of Act XXII of 1959 which saves rules made, notifications or certificates issued, orders passed, decisions made, proceedings or action taken, schemes settled under the old Act cannot be availed by the respondent, as the Commissioner cannot validly empower the Executive Officer to take disciplinary action against temple servants under Section 67 of Act XIX of 1951 or under Section 45 of Act XXII of 1959. The only authority, therefore, is the trustee, who can take action both under the old Act as well as under the new Act. The order of the Executive Officer is therefore without jurisdiction and will have to be quashed.
3. It was sought to be contended that a writ may not issue against the Executive Officer, as he is not a person in public authority. This contention cannot be accepted, because no temple servant can be removed except under the provisions of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act.
4. In the result, these writ petitions are allowed and the order of dismissal is set aside. The trustee is at liberty to take any action, which he may deem fit in accordance with the provisions of law. No order as to costs.