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Sri Venkataramanaswamy Deity at Kothur Village by Its Trustee K. R. Sanjivi Chetty Vs. Vadugammal - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1974)1MLJ431
AppellantSri Venkataramanaswamy Deity at Kothur Village by Its Trustee K. R. Sanjivi Chetty
RespondentVadugammal
Cases ReferredThiruvengada Varadachariar v. Srinivasa
Excerpt:
- p. s. kailasam, j.1. the plaintiff sri venkataramanaswami deity at kothur by trustee k.r. sanjeevi chetty is the appellant in this letters patent appeal. the plaintiff filed a suit for a declaration of the plaintiff's title to the suit properties, for possession and for past and future mesne profits. according to the plaint, the suit properties originally belonged to one nanjachari who dedicated them to the deity and after nanjachari's death, the villagers were managing the properties. subsequently, n.r. sanjeevi chetty was appointed trustee by the hindu religious and charitable endowments board. as the original deed of dedication was destroyed, the heirs of the grantor confirmed the factum of dedication by a registered deed in february, 1958. it was stated that the defendant got.....
Judgment:

P. S. Kailasam, J.

1. The plaintiff Sri Venkataramanaswami Deity at Kothur by Trustee K.R. Sanjeevi Chetty is the appellant in this Letters Patent Appeal. The plaintiff filed a suit for a declaration of the plaintiff's title to the suit properties, for possession and for past and future mesne profits. According to the plaint, the suit properties originally belonged to one Nanjachari who dedicated them to the Deity and after Nanjachari's death, the villagers were managing the properties. Subsequently, N.R. Sanjeevi Chetty was appointed trustee by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board. As the original deed of dedication was destroyed, the heirs of the grantor confirmed the factum of dedication by a registered deed in February, 1958. It was stated that the defendant got possession of the properties with the permission of the villagers on promise to pay rent, but she failed to may rent and started asserting her own title to the suit properties. The suit was opposed by the defendant on the ground that the suit properties which belonged to Nanjachari and his sons, fell to the share of Krishnamachari son of Nanjachari at a family partition, and Krishnamachari's son Ramalingachari sold the properties to the defendant in the year 1949. It was also contended by the defendant that she was in possession of the suit properties in her own right and has perfected title by adverse possession. The dedication to the temple and the documents relied on by the plaintiff were disputed. The defendant also raised the ground that the civil Court is barred from trying the suit by virtue of the provisions contained in the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1951 (Tamil Nadu Act XIX of 1951) (hereinafter referred to as the Act). The Courts below and the learned Judge who heard the Second Appeal took the view that the suit is barred because of the provisions of Sections 57 and 93 of the Act and dismissed the suit.

2. The question that arises for consideration in this appeal is whether the suit which is for a declaration of the plaintiff's title to the suit properties, for possession and for past and future mesne profits is barred because of the provisions contained in the Act. The relevant provisions in the Act may be referred to Section 57 of the Act runs as follows:

Section 57.--Subject to the rights of suit or appeal hereinafter provided, the Deputy Commissioner shall have power to inquire into and decide the following disputes and matters:

(a) whether an institution is a religious endowment;

(b) whether a trustee holds or held office as a hereditary trustee;

(c) whether any property or money is a religious endowment;

(d) whether any property or money is a specific endowment;

(e) whether any person is entitled, by custom or otherwise, to any honour, emolument or perquisites in any religious institution and what the established usage of a religious institution is in regard to any other matter;

(f) whether any institution or endowment is wholly or partly of a religious or secular character; and whether any property or money has been given wholly or partly for religious or secular uses; and

(g) whether any property or money has been given for the support of an institution which is partly of a religious and partly of a secular character, or for the performance of any service or charity connected with such an institution or the performance of a charity which is partly of a religious and partly of a secular character or where any property or money given is appropriated partly to religious and partly to secular uses, as to what portion of such property or money shall be allocated to religious uses.

Section 61 provides that any party aggrieved by any order passed by the Deputy Commissioner under any of the provisions of Chapter V of the Act may appeal to the Commissioner. Section 62 provides that a party aggrieved by the order passed relating to any of the matters specified in Section 57 may institute a suit in the Court against such an order. Section 62 (2) provides that any party aggrieved by a decree of the Court under Sub-section (1) may appeal to the High Court: Section 93 runs as follows:

Section 93. -- No suit or other legal proceeding in respect of the administration or management of a religious institution or any other matter or dispute for determining or deciding which provision is made in this Act, shall be instituted in any Court of law, except under, and in conformity with, the provisions of this Act.

Thus, the filing of a suit in a civil Court in respect of the administration or management of a religious institution or any other matter or dispute for determining or deciding which provision is made in the Act is barred, except under and in conformity with the provisions of the Act. Though the jurisdiction of the civil Court to decide matters that arise Under Section 57 of the_ Act is not totally prohibited, the section requires that the procedure that is prescribed under the Act should be followed. Thus, the procedure laid down in sections 57, 61 and 62 should be followed before resort is had to the civil Court. It is beyond dispute that matters which strictly fell within the scope of Section 57 will have to be taken to the Deputy Commissioner and the procedure prescribed in the Act followed. So far as matters do not relate to the subjects enumerated in Section 57, a civil suit will lie. But in a case in which certain reliefs asked for cannot be granted Under Section 57, but certain other reliefs could be secured, the question arises as to whether all the reliefs could be obtained by going to a civil Court. There is ample authority for the proposition that the civil Court can decide the suit particularly when the substantial relief is one that cannot be granted by the Deputy Commissioner even though questions that arise incidentally may be within the jurisdiction of the Deputy Commissioner Under Section 57 of the Act.

3. The general rule is that the Courts shall have jurisdiction to try all suits of a civil nature excepting suits of which their cognizance is either expressly or impliedly barred. The Explanation to Section 9 Code of Civil Procedure says that a suit in which the right to property or to an office is contested is a suit of a civil nature, notwithstanding that such right may depend entirely on the decision of questions as to religious rites or ceremonies. Section 93 of the Act does not prohibit the jurisdiction of the civil Court in respect of all matters that are within the cognizance of the Deputy Commissioner or the Commissioner. What is said is that a suit coming within the scope of Section 93 can be instituted only in accordance with the provisions of the Act. The matters that fall within the scope of Section 93 are (1) suits in respect of the administration or management of a religious institution and (2) any other matter or dispute for determining or deciding which provision is made in the Act. The clause for 'determining or deciding which provision is made in this Act' qualifies the words 'other matter or dispute.' The words 'administration or management' cannot be construed too widely.

Section 92 (2) Code of Civil Procedure runs as follows:

Save as provided by the Religious Endowments Act, 1863, or by any corresponding law in force in the territories which, immediately before the 1st November, 1956, were comprised in Part B States, no suit claiming any of the reliefs specified in sub-Section (1) shall be instituted in respect of any such trust as is therein referred to except in conformity with the provisions of that sub-section.

Construing the said sub-section, a Full Bench of this Court in Appanna v. Nara singa 41 M.L.J. 608 : I.L.R. (1922) Mad. 113 : A.I.R. 1922 Mad. 17, held that a suit by a trustee of a public religious trust against a co-trustee, for accounts did not fall within the section though the relief claimed was the one specified in sub-Section (1), clause (d). The reason given was that the relief was sought not in the larger interest of the public but merely for the purpose of vindicating the private rights of one of the trustees and of enabling him to discharge the duties and liabilities which were imposed upon him by the trust. Another Full Bench of this Court in Tirumalai Tirupati Devasthanam Committee v. Krishnayya Shanbhaga : AIR1943Mad466 , held that the said section did not apply where the general trustees of a public temple sued the trustees of certain offerings given to the deity for accounts, on the ground that in that suit the right of the public was not sought to be enforced but only the personal rights of the trustees qua the trustees.

4. The expression 'except under, and in conformity with, the provisions of this Act' has been construed by the Supreme Court in V.L. N. S. Temple v. 1. Pattabhirami : [1967]1SCR280 as meaning that Section 93 will apply only to matters for which provision has been made in the Act. It does not bar suits under the general law which did not fall within the scope of any of the sections of the Act. In corning to the conclusion stated above, the Supreme Court cited with approval the decisions of this Court in Manjeshwar Srimad Anantheswar Temple v. Vaikunta Bhakta : AIR1943Mad228 and Vaithilinga Pandarasannadhi v. Temple Committee, Tirunelvelly : AIR1931Mad801 . In the latter decision, the suit was filed to establish the right of a hereditary trusteeship of a certain temple. The Court held that the words 'except as provided by this Act' in Section 73 of Madras Act II of 1927 as amended by Act I of 1928 mean 'contrary to the provisions of this Act.' The Court held that the Act provided for the institution of suits, or for reference to a Court in a number of circumstances, for instance, sections 55 (4), 57, 63, 65, 67 and 73 of the Act. The Court held that the first part of Section 73 (1) is modelled very closely upon Section 92 of the Code of Civil Procedure, some of the reliefs which may be sued for under the terms of Section 92 being reproduced verbatim, while others are provided for elsewhere in the Act. The Court concluded that it is not possible to contend successfully that a class of suit to which Section 92 would not relate can be brought within the scope of the first part of Section 73. Referring to the suit by a trustee to establish his hereditary right to his office, the Court held that it was doubtful whether the suit was in respect of the administration or management of the religious endowment to which the trusteeship appertains. It is a suit relating to a personal right, and, though upon its decision may depend the question whether or not the plaintiff continues in office as trustee, that question is not one arising out of the administration of the trust, as for instance where a trustee is removed for breach of trust or mismanagement. Horwill, J. in Nanjeshwar Srimad Anantheswar Temple v. Vaikunta Bhakta : AIR1943Mad228 after referring to the decision in Vythilinga Pandarasannadhi v. Temple Committee, Tirunelvelly : AIR1931Mad801 , and other cases summed up the position which is extracted by the Supreme Court in V. L. N. S. Temple v. 7. Pattabhirami : [1967]1SCR280 , thus:

It will be seen therefore that from Vythilinga Pandarasannadhi v. Temple Committee, Tirunelvelly : AIR1931Mad801 , onwards there was a considerable body of opinion that the general scope of Section 73, Hindu Religious Endowments Act, is the same as Section 92, Civil Procedure Code that the last paragraph of Section 73 of the Act is meant to refer only to the classes of cases referred to in Section 73 (1) and other sections of the Act, and that suits which do not fall within the scope of these sections can be tried under the general law. I have not come across any case in which these opinions were dissented from or contrary opinion expressed.

The Supreme Court also approved of the decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Sri Sarveshwaraswami Vari Temple v. Veerabhadrayya (1961) 1 A.W.R. 250, wherein the trustees sued for the recovery of the temple properties from the hereditary archakas. The Andhra Pradesh High Court held that the suit was not one in respect of the administration or management of the temple and therefore it did not attract the embarge Under Section 73.

5. In Avisomma v. Kunhali : AIR1957Mad674 , a Bench of this Court held that a civil Court had jurisdiction to decide whether a particular institution is a public temple or not when such a question arises incidental to other disputes before the Court. The Bench approved of the views of Rajamannar, C.J. in Choolat Puthiapurayil Kunhali and 4 others v. Thayoth Puthapurayil Ayisooma and 3 others S.A. No. 1396 of 1943.

6. In Agasthiappa Mudaliar v. Manicka Gounder and 3 others S.A. No. 117 of 1959, a Bench of this Court was dealing with a suit laid in a representative capacity for recovery of possession of the suit lands. According to the plaint, Sri Ekambaranathaswamy temple at Sethupattu village was a village temple constructed by the villagers out of collections made by them and they had allowed the second defendant, who was one among the villagers, to supervise the construction on their behalf and maintain accounts and while so, the second defendant arrogating to himself the position of a hereditary trustee, executed a settlement deed in favour of the first defendant transferring his right to be a trustee of the temple. The Subordinate Judge upheld the claim of the plaintiffs that the temple belonged to the villagers and that the villagers were in the position of the trustees for the same. The Subordinate Judge also negatived the claim of the second defendant that he had a hereditary right to trusteeship. A decree was granted declaring that the transfer of trusteeship in favour of the first defendant was invalid as the former had no title to the office, and directing delivery of possession of the temple and its properties. In the Second Appeal Ramachandra Iyer, C.J. observed that there can be no doubt that if the only matter in dispute is whether a particular party is a hereditary trustee or a property a religious endowment or not, such a dispute can be decided only in accordance with the Act by the Deputy Commissioner in the first instance. Answering the question posed on itself whether it can be said that in the instant case the sole point for decision is whether the second defendant was a hereditary trustee or not, the Court observed that the dispute was about the title to the temple and its properties, that the suit was one for possession and the substantial issue was whether the contesting defendant's possession was lawful. The Court further observed that for a consideration of that issue, it mattered little whether the second defendant was a hereditary trustee or only an ordinary trustee and the suit being one in ejectment, the plaintiffs, could succeed only if they proved that they had a superior title to the property, viz., that they are the trustees of the temple and that they are entitled to possession of the temple and its properties. Therefore it was found that the question for determination is not whether the defendant has got a hereditary right or not, but whether the plaintiffs had a superior right, and it may be that while considering the matter, the further question about the second defendant being a hereditary trustee might incidentally arise. But a question which arises incidentally cannot oust the jurisdiction of the civil Court to decide the suit, particularly when the substantive relief of declaration of title and possession can be only granted by that Court, It may be seen that this decision was one on the basis that the substantive relief or declaration of title and possession can be granted only by the civil Court and if any question as to whether the defendant was a hereditary trustee or not arose, it was only incidental and the civil Court is not barred from going into it. It may be noted that the Bench did not refer to the decision in Vythilinga Pandarasannadhi v. Temple Committee, Tirunelvelly : AIR1931Mad801 which was approved by the Supreme Court in V. L. N. S. Temple v. I. Pattabhirami : [1967]1SCR280 , wherein it was held on a consideration of the decisions rendere Under Section 92 o the Code of Civil Procedure that a suit by a trustee to establish his hereditary right to the office was not one in respect of the administration or management of a religious institution to which trusteeship appertains and that it is a suit relating to a personal right.

7. In Pachamuthu Nadar v. T. P. Temple Charity : AIR1971Mad253 , the question arose as to whether a suit for recovery of possession of the properties belonging to the religious institution represented by an interim trustee appointed by the Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board for the purpose of taking action for the recovery of the plaint charity, is a dispute which cannot be taken cognizance of by the civil Court. The Bench held that the suit as framed was not exclusively for a declaration that the plaint schedule properties were vested in trust. The main relief was recovery of possession of the properties of the trust from the alienee who was a stranger to the trust, and the investigation of the trust character of the properties was only incidental to the main relief of recovery of possession. The decision of the Supreme Court in V. L. N.S. Temple v. I. Pattabhirami : [1967]1SCR280 was relied on.

8. In Thirumalaiswami v. Villagers of Kadambur : AIR1969Mad108 , Natesan, J. dealing with the scope of Section 93 of the Act held that Section 93 bars only those suits for which provision has been made in the Act and it does not prohibit the institution of suits under the general law which do not fall under the scope of any of the sections of the Act. In Viswanath v. Radha Balabhi : [1967]2SCR618 , the Supreme Court held that a suit filed by an idol for a declaration of its title and possession of property from a person who is in possession thereof under a void alienation being only in the nature of enforcement of a private right by the idol and not being one of the reliefs found in Section 92 of the Code of Civil Procedure, falls outside its purview and is not barred.

9. On a consideration of the cases cited, it is clear that the prohibition Under Section 93 of the Act is strictly confined to the cases that fall under the section, namely, suits in respect of the administration or management of a religious institution, or any other matter or dispute for determining or deciding which provision is made in the Act.

10. The Supreme Court in V. L. N. S. Temple v. I Pattabhirami : [1967]1SCR280 , has held that Section 73 (4) of Tamil Nadu Act II of 1927 like Section 92 of the Code of Civil Procedure does not take away the right of a trustee to file a suit for asserting a private right of the trustee. Section 93 of the Act differs from Section 73 (4) of Tamil Nadu Act II of 1927 in that it also prohibits filing of suits regarding any other matter or dispute for determining or deciding which provision is made in the Act. Such provision is applicable only to matters in dispute for determining which the Act makes provision.

11. Vytkilinga Pandarasannadhi v. Temple Committee, Tirunelvely : AIR1931Mad801 , related to a suit by the hereditary trustee for a declaration of his right as a hereditary trustee. The question as to whether a person holds or held office as a hereditary trustee can be decided by the Deputy Commissioner Under Section 57 (b) of the Act. Yet, the Bench held that such a suit is not prohibited on the ground that it is in respect of the administration or management of the religious institution to which the trusteeship appertains. If the Court had stopped with that, it might be argued that Section 93 of the Act is wider in its scope than Section 73 (4) of Act II of 1927. But the Bench also rested its conclusion on the ground that it is a suit relating to the personal right and though upon its decision may depend the question whethere or not the plaintiff continues in office as trustee, that question is not one arising out of the administration of the trust. The Court further observed that the section cannot be construed in a manner that would create an absolute bar to any suit for the establishment of personal rights.

12. The Supreme Court in V. L. N. S. Temple v. I. Pattabhirami : [1967]1SCR280 , was dealing with the effect of Sections 57 and 93 of the Act. After referring to the decision in Vythilinga Pandarasannadhi v. Temple Committee, Tirunelveli : AIR1931Mad801 , the Supreme Court observed that Section 93 of the Act enlarges the scope of Section 73 (4) of Act II of 1927, and it bars not only suits or legal proceedings in respect of the administration or management of a religious institution, but also in respect of any other matter or dispute for determining or deciding which provision is made in the Act. The Court observed that by repeating the phrase 'except under and in conformity with the provisions of the Act' which had received authoritative judicial interpretation when it remained in Section 73 (4) of the earlier Act, the Legislature must be held to have accepted the interpretation put upon the phrase by the Courts. The conclusion the Supreme Court arrived at was that Section 93 will apply only to matters for which provision has been made in the Act and it does not bar suits under the general law which do not fall within the scope of any of the sections of the Act.

13. Section 57 of the Act relates to the powers of the Deputy Commissioner to enquire into and decide the disputes and matters referred to in the section and Section 58 empowers the Deputy Commissioner to frame a scheme in the interest of the proper administration of the religious institution. In respect of matters that specifically fall under any of the two sections (Sections 57 and 58) and any other matter arising in any of the sections in the Act which empowers the Deputy Commissioner to exercise certain powers, the procedure, should be followed before resort is had to the civil Court. The decision of the Supreme Court in V. L. N. S. Temple v. I. Pattabhirami : [1967]1SCR280 , is an authority for the proposition that Section 93 of the Act will apply only to matters for which provision is made in the Act and it does not bar suits under the general law which do not fall within the scope of any sections of the Act. If a relief is asked for which cannot be granted by the Deputy Commissioner, it can only be sought for before the civil Court. The civil Court in deciding the issue which is not within the domain of the Deputy Commissioner can decide incidental issues that may arise even though those issues may fall within the provisions of sections 57 and 58 of the Act. This is the view taken by a Bench of this Court in Avisomma v. Kunhali : AIR1957Mad674 . That was a suit filed for redemption of certain properties which originally belonged to a Devaswom. The properties had been demised to a tarwad who had sub-mortgaged the same to one Ayyamad in or about 1923. Ayyamad in 1930 executed a consolidated kanom deed. The Devaswom conveyed the properties in the year 1943 to the plaintiff who instituted the suit. The relief asked for was redemption of the sub-mortgage of the year 1923. The defence was that the plaintiff had no title to redeem, the contention being that the Devaswom was a 'temple' within the meaning of the Act and that the sale of the properties of the temple to the plaintiff by the trustees without the sanction of the Endowments Board was void. In deciding the suit for redemption, the question whether the plaintiff was entitled to redeem was one of the points that had to be decided. The question whether a temple was a public temple or not was incidental in a suit for redemption of the mortgage. Though the question whether the temple was a public temple or not had to be decided by the Deputy Commissioner as the relief, sought was for the redemption of a mortgage, a relief which the Deputy Commissioner could not grant, the issue whether the temple was a public temple or not was considered as incidental to the relief claimed.

14. In Second Appeal No. 117 of 1959 the relief prayed for in the suit was a declaration of the temple's title to the properties and for delivery of possession of the properties. The Court observed that the dispute was one about the title to the temple and its properties and for possession and the substantial issue was whether the contesting defendant's possession was lawful. Though the question as to whether the second defendant was a hereditary trustee or not arose in the suit, it was only incidental, and the jurisdiction of the civil Court to decide that issue, though it was within the competence of the Deputy Commissioner, was affirmed. The point that was decided by the Bench was that when the relief asked for is for a declaration of title and for possession which reliefs are not within the competence of the Deputy Commissioner, other issues that may be decided by the Deputy Commissioner even though they may arise before the civil Court, can be considered as incidental issues and the jurisdiction of the civil Court to decide such issues is not barred.

15. In Pachamuthu Nadar v. T. P. Temple Charity : AIR1971Mad253 , the suit was for recovery of possession of the properties belonging to a religious institution represented by an interim trustee appointed by the Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board. The Court held that the suit was not exclusively for a declaration that the plaint scheduled properties are vested in the trust. The main relief was for recovery of possession to the properties of the trust from the alienee who was a stranger to the trust. The investigation of the trust character of the properties was only incidental to the main relief of recovery of possession. It was contended before the Bench that the question whether the suit properties are invested with a trust character is one which falls Under Section 57 (d) of the Act, and Under Section 93 of the Act, the civil Court will have no jurisdiction to entertain a suit of that kind, and that relief for that purpose should be obtained from the several provisions contained in the statute itself. The Court answered that the suit was not exclusively for a declaration that the plaint schedule properties were vested in trust, that the main relief was recovery of possession of the properties of the trust and that the investigation of the trust character of the properties was only incidental to the main relief of recovery of possession from the alienee who was a stranger to the trust.

16. In support of the contention that the civil Court had no jurisdiction, strong reliance was placed on the decision of the Supreme Court in State of Madras v. Kunnakudi Melamatam (1966) 2 M.L.J. 13. The suit was filed by the head of the institution claiming two different reliefs, namely, (1) an injunction restraining the levy of contribution and audit fees under Act II of 1927 and (2) an injunction restraining the levy of contributions and audit fees under Act XIX of 1951. The Court held that as to one of the disputes in the suit whether the institution is a religious institution within the meaning of Act XIX of 1951, specific provision is made in sections 57, 61 and 62 for determination by the specified authorities and eventually by a suit Under Section 62. As the suit was not brought under or in conformity with Section 62, and consequently, in so far as the suit claimed the relief of injunction restraining the levy of contribution and audit fees under Act XIX of 1951, it was barred by Section 93 of the Act. Regarding the other relief, the Court held that the decision of the Board in 1932 under the Act of 1927 was final for the purpose of that Act, but it was not final for purposes of the Act XIX of 1951. The Supreme Court was not considering the question as to how far the civil Court may decide matters which arise incidentally before it though falling within the jurisdiction of the Deputy Commissioner. In this view and in view of the subsequent decision of the Supreme Court in V.L.N.S. Temple v. I. Pattabhirami : [1967]1SCR280 this decision cannot help the respondent;

17. The other decision that was relied on is by a Bench of this Court in Thiruvengada Varadachariar v. Srinivasa Iyengar : (1973)1MLJ266 . The plaintiffs and defendants 3 and 4 were the descendants of one Chinna Ramanuja Ayyangar. The suit was laid for recovery of possession of the plaint mentioned temple called Sri Venugopalaswami temple, Katteri, Mannargudi, and the immovable properties described in the plaint. According to the plaintiffs, the lands belonged to the suit temple and they and defendants 3 and 4 were the sole hereditary trustees thereof. It was further alleged that the members of the family appointed one Ranganatha Iyengar, father of the second defendant and paternal uncle of the first defendant, to manage the temple on behalf of the members of the family till the hereditary trustees came to an amicable arrangement amongst themselves about the management. The plaintiff's case was that Ranganatha Iyengar took possession of the temple and its properties in pursuance of the request on behalf of the family and was functioning as an agent from the date of the deed of agency, namely, 28th October, 1926. After the death of Ranganatha Iyengar, the second defendant was requested to look after the temple properties. As the second defendant was unable to continue, the first defendant was requested to look after the temple and the properties on behalf of the hereditary trustees. The plaintiffs issued a notice on 10th February, 1962, terminating the agency and calling upon him to deliver possession of the temple and the properties. The case of the defendants was that neither the plaintiffs nor defendants 3 and 4 were hereditary trustees of the temple, that the properties mentioned in the plaint were kattalai properties constituting a specific endowment for the purpose of performing certain services connected with the temple of Sri Venugopalaswami and that the lands were endowed by the mirasdars as a specific endowment by a document of the year 1861. Several other allegations were also made by the first defendant denying title of the plaintiffs to institute the suit. The relief claimed in the suit was for recovery of possession of the temple and its properties from defendants 1 and 2 and for a decree directing the first defendant to render a true and proper account of the income, and other reliefs. One of the defences that was taken by the defendants was that the suit was barred Under Section 63 of the-Act. According to the defendants, the remedy of the plaintiffs was to invoke the jurisdiction of the Deputy Commissioner for a declaration that the plaintiffs were hereditary trustees and that the suit properties were not kattalai properties, but belonged to the temple. The Bench came to the conclusion that the office of hereditary trustee had devolved only in the plaintiffs' family and it was only on the basis of such assertion of title that the relief of possession was asked for from defendants 1 and 2 though the relief as to declaration of the right to hereditary trusteeship was not stated in so many words in the plaint. The Bench proceeded to observe that the fact that the Deputy Commissioner cannot grant the relief of possession is not a ground to hold that the suit is maintainable, and on a reading of the plaint as a whole, it irresistibly followed that only if the plaintiffs established that they and defendants 3 and 4 were hereditary trustees, they can succeed in getting the reliefs asked for, and one of the main issues that arose for consideration was whether the plaintiffs and defendants 3 and 4 were hereditary trustees and for deciding that issue, express provision is made in Section 63 of Act XXII of 1959 and in such circumstances, the suit was barred by Section 108 of that Act. The reasoning and the conclusion arrived at by the Bench is not in conformity with the decision of the Supreme Court in V. L. N. S. Temple v. I. Pattabhirami : [1967]1SCR280 and of this Court in Agasthiappa Mudaliar v. Manikca Gounder and 3 others S.A. No. 117 of 1959 Pachamuthu Nadar v. T. P. Temple Charity : AIR1971Mad253 . In fact, the attention of the Bench was not drawn to the decision of the Supreme Court in V.L.N.S. Temple v. I. Pattabhirami : [1967]1SCR280 and that of this Court in Pachamuthu Nadar v. T.P. Temple Charity : AIR1971Mad253 , The law laid down by the Supreme Court in the decision referred to above is that Section 93 of the Act will apply only to matters for which provision has been made in the Act. It does not bar suits under the general law which do not fall within the scope of any of the sections of the Act. Strictly construed this would mean that when any relief is asked for which could not be granted under the Act, a civil suit is not barred. This Court has further laid down the position in the above two decisions that the jurisdiction of the civil Court to try a suit and issues arising incidentally though such issues would fall within the jurisdiction of the Deputy Commissioner, is not barred. The observation of the Bench in Thiruvengada Varadachariar v. Srinivasa lyengar : (1973)1MLJ266 , that one of the main issues that arises for consideration is whether the plaintiffs and defendants 3 and 4 are hereditary trustees and for deciding that issue, express provision is made in Section 63 of Act XXII of 1959 and hence the suit is barred by-Section 108 of that Act is difficult to reconcile with the view expressed by the Supreme Court and 'this Court in the decisions referred to above.

18. It may be noted that the scheme of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Act regarding the jurisdiction of the civil Court is different from enactments like the Tamil Nadu Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act (XXVI of 1948). Section 93 of the Act would provide that no suit in respect of the administration or management of a religious institution or any other matter or dispute for determining or deciding which provision is made in the Act shall be instituted in any Court except under and in conformity with the provisions of the Act. What the Act contemplates is that if provision is made for determining or deciding certain matters or disputes that should be followed before a civil Court is approached. Sections 57 and 58 provide for enquiry and decision on certain disputes and matters and for providing administration and management to a religious institution. Against the decision of the Deputy Commissioner, an appeal is provided to the Commissioner and against the Commissioner's order, suits in the civil Court are provided. In fact, in respect of several matters, a suit in the civil Court is provided for in the Act itself. For example, Under Section 31 (4) the trustee is empowered to institute a suit in a civil Court against the order of the Commissioner regarding the utilisation of the surplus funds of the endowments. An order passed validating past appropriation of surplus funds is liable to be questioned in a civil Court Under Section 31-A of the Act. A suit in a civil Court can be filed Under Section 52 praying for a decree to remove the trustee of a math or specific endowment attached thereto, for anyone of the reasons stated in the section. Under Section 39 (4), where the Commissioner appoints a non-hereditary trustee or trustees, the hereditary trustee or trustees may file an application to the Court to set aside or modify such an order. Any scheme for the administration of a religious institution settled or modified by the Court in a suit may be modified or cancelled by the Court on an application made to it by the Commissioner, the trustee or any person having interest, Under Section 62 (3) (a) of the Act. Under Section 74 (5), an application can be made to a civil Court against an order of surcharge against a trustee; Section 87 of the Act provides that against the order of a Presidency Magistrate or a Magistrate of the first-class directing delivery to the person appointed of possession of a religious institution, records, accounts and properties thereof, a suit by the person aggrieved for establishing his title to the said properties is not barred. The proviso to Section 87 clearly reserves the right of the person aggrieved by an order Under Section 87 to establish his title to the said property. Relief as to title cannot be had before the Deputy Commissioner and at any stage, a suit for declaration of title is maintainable in a civil Court. The proviso to Section 87 cannot be construed as meaning that a civil Court gets jurisdiction to decide dispute as to title only after an adverse order is passed Under Section 87 of the Act.

19. In effect, the aim of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1951 is not to exclude the jurisdiction of the civil Court, but to facilitate proper administration of religious institutions by following the procedure prescribed to pursue the remedy before the Deputy Commissioner and the Commissioner before filing a suit. Under the Tamil Nadu Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1948 (XXVI of 1948), in proceedings relating to the grant of patta Under Sections 12, to 14, Section 15 provides that the decision of the tribunal regarding claims Under Sections 12, 13 and 14 by the landholder is final and not liable to be questioned in any Court of law. The provision excluding the jurisdiction of the civil Court is more specific. Though Section 64 (c) of the Tamil Nadu Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1948, provides that any order passed by the Government or any of the authorities under the Act shall, subject only to any appeal or revision provided by or under Act, be final, it has been held that the finality is only in respect of the matters to be determined for the purpose of this Act and that there is no machinery in the Act to determine whether a land in the estate is a ryoti land or a communal land and a decision as to the question of title by the statutory authorities is only an incidental matter which would not preclude a civil Court independently enquiring into title in a properly constituted suit. Thus in the special enactments, the jurisdiction of the special Tribunals under the Act is confined only to the purposes of the Acts. As already pointed out, the procedure prescribed under the Act regarding the matters specified in Section 57 should be followed before the Deputy Commissioner and in the appeal or revision before the Commissioner, before a suit is filed. A relief which cannot be granted by the Deputy Commissioner can be asked for in a civil Court. If, in deciding whether the plaintiff is entitled to the relief asked for, the civil Court also has to decide certain issues which may fall within Section 57 of the Act, the civil Court's jurisdiction is not barred. There is no provision for reference by the civil Court of a particular issue which is within the scope of Section 57 to the Deputy Commissioner for determination. Equally, the plaintiff who seeks relief from a civil Court cannot be asked to get adjudication of an incidental question from the Deputy Commissioner before he filed a suit. Therefore, the preponderance of authority of our Court is that a civil suit is not barred in respect of a relief which cannot be granted by the Deputy Commissioner and that in such a suit, the civil Court has jurisdiction to decide incidental issues which are within the jurisdiction of the Deputy Commissioner.

20. In the suit before us, the relief that was claimed was a declaration of title so far as the plaintiff is concerned. The other issue that incidentally fell to be decided was whether there was a valid dedication. In our view, this question can be gone into by the civil Court. We are therefore unable to agree with the conclusion of Srinivasan, J., in Second Appeal No. 935 of 1963. We hold that in the instant case, Section 93 is not a bar to the institution of the suit.

21. In the result, wt allow the Letters Patent Appeal and remand the matter to the trial Court for disposal of the suit an accordance with law. The trial Court will dispose of the suit as expeditiously as possible. There will be no order as to costs in this appeal.


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