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Vaiyapuri Paradesi Annadhana Chatram and Dharmasthapanam by Fit Person T.V. Lakshminarayana Reddiar Vs. the Authorised Officer, Land Reforms - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1979)1MLJ376
AppellantVaiyapuri Paradesi Annadhana Chatram and Dharmasthapanam by Fit Person T.V. Lakshminarayana Reddiar
RespondentThe Authorised Officer, Land Reforms
Cases ReferredSection Krishna Reddiar v. Venkatakrishna Reddiar and Ors. W.P. No.
Excerpt:
- .....district. on the ground that the said institution is only of a charitable nature and not of a public religious character, its ceiling area has been fixed at five standard acres under section 5(1)(b) of the tamil nadu land reforms act lviii of 1961.2. the petitioner-institution has an extent of 55-61 acres equivalent to 27.35 standard acres. having regard to the fact that the ceiling area for a trust of a public charitable nature is five standard acres, an extent of 22.35 standard acres had been treated as surplus, and the institution has been asked to surrender the said extent as surplus lands.3. the claim put forward by the institution was two-fold. firstly it contended that it is a public trust of a religious nature and therefore it is entitled to be exempted from the provisions.....
Judgment:
ORDER

G. Ramanujam, J.

1. The petitioner herein is an institution called Vaiyapuri Paraded Annadana Chatram and Dharmasthapanam situate in Nellikuppam, South Arcot District. On the ground that the said institution is only of a charitable nature and not of a public religious character, its ceiling area has been fixed at five standard acres under Section 5(1)(b) of the Tamil Nadu Land Reforms Act LVIII of 1961.

2. The petitioner-institution has an extent of 55-61 acres equivalent to 27.35 standard acres. Having regard to the fact that the ceiling area for a trust of a public charitable nature is five standard acres, an extent of 22.35 standard acres had been treated as surplus, and the institution has been asked to surrender the said extent as surplus lands.

3. The claim put forward by the institution was two-fold. Firstly it contended that it is a public trust of a religious nature and therefore it is entitled to be exempted from the provisions of Section 2 of Tamil Nadu Act LVIII of 1961. Secondly, even assuming that the trust, as originally created by the founder, was only a charitable trust, as a result of the Government notifying the same under Section 3 of the Tamil Nadu Act XXII of 1959, it should be taken to be a religious institution. These contentions having been rejected and the petitioner having been held to be entitled to hold only five standard acres as a public charitable institution, it filed an appeal before the Land Tribunal questioning the decision of the Authorised Officer. The Tribunal also agreed with the view of the Authorised Officer and held that the institution is only of a charitable nature and not a public trust of a religious nature so as to get the benefit of exemption from the provisions of the Act.

4. Before me Mr. P.S. Ramachandran, learned Counsel for the petitioner, contends that though the documents under which the petitioner-trust has been created proceeds on the basis that it is purely of a charitable nature, still, having regard to the fact that the charity to be performed under the document is more or less in the precincts of the temple, it should be taken to be a religious trust. I have perused the document dated, 8th April, 1897, Exhibit A-1, under which the trust has been created. That document says that certain properties have been purchased from public subscription and they have been endowed for the purpose of performing annadana dharmam that is feeding of the poor, in a place which is situate just opposite to Sri Prasanna Venkatachalapathi temple. The document also provides for the method of selection of trustees and for the due administration of the said trust. But the document does not say that the poor feeding, which is the sole object of the trust, should be conducted in connection with any festival in the temple or that it is confined only to the worshippers in the temple. The poor feeding contemplated under the document does not have any connection with the temple or the festivals conducted therein. Therefore, the charity referred to in the document is unconnected with the temple and its affairs. Therefore, it is clear that the trust as created under the original document Exhibit A-1, dated 8th April, 1897. is purely of a charitable nature. I am not inclined to agree with the learned Counsel for the petitioner that merely because the poor feeding is done in a place just in front of the temple it will make a purely charitable trust into religious and charitable trust. To make a charitable trust a religious trust as well, it must be shown that the object of the trust had some nexus or connection with the temple or its affairs of the worship or the conduct of the festivals therein. As already stated, the document of trust does no restrict the poor feeding either to the worshippers or to the persons who resort to the temple for worship. Nor is it restricted to any festival or religious function offered in the temple. The authorities below have, therefore, come to the right conclusion that the trust in this case, as originally created, was only of a charitable nature and not a religious trust of public nature.

5. This leads to the next contention of the learned Counsel which is based on a notification issued by the State Government under Section 3 of the Tamil Nadu Act XIX of 1961. By a notification issued under the said section, the provisions of the said Act had been made applicable to the institution. Subsequent to the notification, the Area Committee appointed certain trustees for the said institution, exercising its power under Section 12(2) of that Act. The said order appointing the trustees of the Area Committee was challenged before this Court in Section Krishna Reddiar v. Venkatakrishna Reddiar and Ors. W.P. No. 1956 and Rajagopalan, J., while quashing the said order appointing the trustees observed that on the notification of the Government, under Section 3, the institution has become a religious institution, and that the Area Committee had no jurisdiction to appoint trustees to such religious institutions and, therefore, the order appointing trustees by the Area Committee cannot be sustained in law. The said observation has been relied on by the learned Counsel for the petitioner in support of his stand that though the trust as originally created was only of a charitable nature, it became a religious institution as a result of the notification issued by the Government, under Section 3 of the Tamil Nadu Act XIX of 1961. The question, is how far this contention of the learned Counsel could be accepted.

6. The effect of the notification issued under Section 3 of the said Act is not to change or alter the character of the trust, but to treat it as a specific endowment for the purpose of the application of the provisions of the Act. This is clear from Sub-section (3) of Section 3 which says that on a notification issued by the Government under that sub-section extending all or any of the provisions of the Act to the charitable endowments, the provisions so extended shall apply to such charitable endowments 'As if it were' as specific endowment. The expression 'as if it were' is of considerable significance. The use of this expression indicates that a charitable endowment is not treated as a specific endowment for all purposes but it has to be treated as a specific endowment only for the purposes of the application of the provisions of the Act under which the notification has been issued. Therefore, it is not possible to say that as a result of the notification the petitioner-institution, which was only a charitable endowment, had automatically become a specific endowment or a religious institution. If it were a specific endowment it will of course, come under the definition of religious institution as defined in the said Act. But having regard to the fact that a charitable endowment has to be treated as a specific endowment only for the purposes of the application of that Act but not for all purposes, I am of the view that the character of the institution can-not be said to have been changed by the issue of the notification under Section 3. No doubt the observation of Rajagopalan, J., in the case referred to above is to the effect that on a notification the institution will come under the definition of a specific endowment and as such, under the definition of a religious institution. But the learned Judge was considering the applicability of the provisions of the Act to the institution with reference to the powers of the Area Committee to appoint trustees for the institution. There cannot be any dispute that for the purposes of the application of the provisions of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, the institution should be deemed to be a specific endowment. It is for that reason the learned Judge has proceeded to treat the petitioner-institution as a religious institution. Here we are not considering the applicability of the provisions of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act to the institution. We are concerned with he applicability of the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Act LVIII of 1961 to the petitioner-institution and the mere fact that the institution has been treated as a religious institution for the purpose of another Act, on the basis of a notification issued under that Act, it cannot be said that the institution has become a religious institution as contended for by the learned Counsel for the petitioner.

7. The learned Counsel for the petitioner then contends that while a private trust, as a person, is entitled to hold 15 standard acres, a charitable institution which is a public trust, has been deprived of such a benefit by restricting the ceiling area to 5 standard acres and that this virtually works considerable hardship on institutions like the petitioner-institution which have been founded purely for charitable purposes. According to the learned Counsel, there is no basis for showing this hostile treatment as against public charitable trusts while the Legislature has chosen to give 15 standard acres for private trusts, not coming within the scope of Section 5(3-A.) There is considerable force in the said submission of the learned Counsel. In fact, there appears to be no basis for making the distinction between the ceiling extents which are to be held by a private trust and public trust and to deprive the public trust of the properties which have been endowed for charities by fixing a lower ceiling area. However, this is not a matter, for the Court. It being a legislative policy, it is for the Legislature to consider that question.

8. In this view the Civil Revision Petition fails and is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.


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