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A. Venkataswami Naidu Vs. the State of Tamil Nadu Through the State Representative (Land Reforms) the Authorised Officer, Land Reforms - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1973)1MLJ410
AppellantA. Venkataswami Naidu
RespondentThe State of Tamil Nadu Through the State Representative (Land Reforms) the Authorised Officer, Land
Cases ReferredMadras v. Narayana
Excerpt:
- .....a religious or charitable, or of an educational, nature. the learned counsel also stated that the trust deed clearly creates a 'public' trust and submitted that any mention in the nature of private benefit found in the deed can be ignored in view of the specific mention of the public nature of the trust in the deed itself.4. thiru kumaragurubaran, appearing on behalf of the assistant. government pleader, submitted that the tart is this case is a 'private' trust and that there is absolutely nothing in the deed directing a 'public' purpose. he also submitted that the trust itself was created for the benefit of the family members and as such it will not be exempted under section 73 of the act.5. the act, in its defining section.... section 3 (49)--contemplates only a trust which is.....
Judgment:
ORDER

P.R. Gokulakrishnan, J.

1. The State of Tamil Nadu, through the State Representative (Land Reforms), the Authorised Officer, Land Reforms Madurai-2 (the respondent herein), issued a notice, dated 4th April, 1970 under Section 9 (2) (b) of the Tamil Nadu Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling on Land Act, (LVIII of 1961) hereinafter referred to as the Act), directing the petitioner herein to show cause why he should not hand over 4.25 standard acres from out of his private trust lands. According to the respondent, the petitioner is having a private trust, that the private trust is entitled to hold only 30 standard acres and that since he is owning 34.25 Standard acres, he has to declare an extent of 4.25 standard acres as surplus holding. The petitioner alleged before the respondent that the trust is exempted from the operation of the Act and that he would produce necessary documents and sought extension of time to file his objections to the notice under Section 9 (2) (b). In spite of several opportunities given to the petitioner to file his objections, no objection was filed by him before the respondent. Finally, the respondent rejected the further request for grant of extension of time by a month to file objection, and directed the petitioner to furnish the particulars of surplus land to the extent of 4.25 standad acres within seven days from the date of the receipt of his order, dated 22nd June, 1970.

2. Aggrieved by the said decision of the Authorised Officer, the petitioner preferred an appeal to the Land Tribunal (Subordinate Judge), Ramanathapuram at Madurai. Before the Land Tribunal, the petitioner contended that under Section 73 (ii) (b) of the Act, all trusts are exempted from the operation of the Act, that no portion of the properties can be declared as surplus land, that Section 6 of the Act, which deals with the basis of calculation of the extent of land held by the founder of a trust, has no application to his case, that if Section 6 is excluded, there is no basis for resorting to Section 5 for declaring any portion of the lands as surplus and that the respondent was wrong in proceeding on the basis that the trust in question is a 'private' trust. The Land Tribunal, after observing that the settlement deed cannot be construed as creating a 'public' trust, and also distinguishing the decision in The com-missioner, Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, Madras v. Narnyana : [1965]3SCR168 , dismissed the appeal. Aggrieved by the decision of the Tribunal, the petitioner has preferred this C.R.P. under Section 83 of the Act and Section 115, Civil Procedure Code.

3. Thiru S.V. Jayaraman, the learned Counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that, any 'trust is exempted from the operation of the Act, as per Section 73 (ii) (b) thereof. The learned Counsel also brought to my notice the provision under Section 3 (49) defining 'trust' and stated that a 'trust' means trust for a public purpose of a religious or charitable, or of an educational, nature. The learned Counsel also stated that the trust deed clearly creates a 'public' trust and submitted that any mention in the nature of private benefit found in the deed can be ignored in view of the specific mention of the public nature of the trust in the deed itself.

4. Thiru Kumaragurubaran, appearing on behalf of the Assistant. Government Pleader, submitted that the tart is this case is a 'private' trust and that there is absolutely nothing in the deed directing a 'public' purpose. He also submitted that the trust itself was created for the benefit of the family members and as such it will not be exempted under Section 73 of the Act.

5. The Act, in its defining section.... Section 3 (49)--contemplates only a trust which is intended for public purpose of a religious or charitable, or of an educational, nature. Hence it is necessary to construe as to whether the present trust is a trust for a public purpose of religious or charitable nature. The question as to whether it is a 'public' trust or a 'private' trust is not very material for the present case since the decision has to be rendered on the question whether the trust is for 'a public purpose of a religious or charitable nature'.

6. The Tribunal has completely ignored this aspect of the case and has erred in holding that since it is not a 'public' trust, the exemption is not attracted.

7. According, to the trust deed, dated 13th September, 1956, the petitioner has clearly endowed the properties for the purpose of performance of certain charities. The predominant intention and purpose of creating the trust is only to perform the charities which the petitioner's ancestors were doing prior thereto. Incidental honours which the trustee gets by reason of such performance of charities cannot be construed as the purpose for which the trust was created. The main intention of the founder of the trust is to do certain mandagapadis to the deities and on days of those mandagapadis to feed the bakthas who collect there. Both in the A schedule dharmam and the B Schedule dharmam, mentioned in the deed of trust, the main object is to perform necessary mandagapadis to the deities mentioned there and also to the charity with the residual funds.

8. Thus it is clear that the main purpose of the trust is only a public purpose of a religious and charitable nature. If it is a public purpose of a religious and charitable nature, the exemption granted under Section 73 will squarely apply.

9. Thiru S.V. Jayaraman, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, cited the decision in The Commissioner, Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, Madras v. Narayana : [1965]3SCR168 , the one cited before the Tribunal itself, and submitted that the ratio decidendi of that case will apply squarely to the case on hand. In that case, the main question was -whether on the facts found by the Court of first instance and confirmed by the High Court, the 'Samaradhanai Fund' in that case was a 'religious charity' within the meaning of Section 6 (13) of Madras Act XIX of 1951. That section defines 'religious charity' as meaning 'a public charity associated with a Hindu festival or observance of religious character, whether it be connected with a math or temple or not'. The two conditions thus prescribed by the definition were; there must be a public charity and that charity must be associated with a Hindu festival or observance of a religious character. If these be fulfilled, a public charity will be a religious charity, even if it is not connected with a math or temple. The High Court, in that case, found that feeding Brahmin pilgrims during the Rathotsavam festival of Sri Venkatachalapathiswami shrine at Gunaseelam did not constitute an association between the Fund and the Rathotsavam festival. This view was not accepted by the Supreme Court. On the facts, the Supreme Court held that on the occasion of the Rathotsavam festival pilgrims from many places attend the festival and the object of the charity is to feed Brahmins attending the festival, that it was not disputed that setting up a Fund for feeding Brahmins is a public charity, that the primary purpose of the charity is to feed Brahmin pilgrims attending the Rathotsavam and that this public charity has therefore a real connection with the Rathotsavam which is a Hindu festival of a religious character, and therefore a religious charity within the meaning of Section 6 (13) of Madras Act IX of 1951. Finally, the Supreme Court confirmed the finding of the trial Court

10. As far as the present case is concerned, there is a clear recital in the deed for the performance of charities and also to feed bakthas who collect during the festivals for the deities. Even the mandagapadis are done in a public place in a mantap and bakthas are allowed to worship the deities. The properties are definitely dedicated for the performance of the charities mentioned in the A and B Schedules.

11. For construction of a trust deed as a deed for public purpose of a relgious or charitable nature, it is not necessary to take into account certain immaterial recitals in the deed which confer benefits to the trustee or members of his family. For this position, Thiru S.V. Jayaraman the learned Counsel for the petitioner, cited the decision in Nirmala Bala v. Balai Chand : [1965]3SCR550 , wherein the Supreme Court has held that provision for maintenance and residence of the she baits is an ordinary incident of such a dedication and could not therefore be interpreted as restrictive of the estate of the deity and that the deed consequently created an endowment for the benefit of the deity absolutely but subject to certain charges in favour of the she baits and the descendants of the settlor.

12. Thiru S.V. Jayaraman, also cited the decision in S.S. Filial v. K.S. Pillai : [1973]1SCR570 , for the position and as to how a complete dedication of property to religious or charitable purpose must be construed. There, the Supreme Court held:

The dedication of a property to religious or charitable purposes may be either complete or partial. If the dedication is complete a trust in favour of a charity is created. If the dedication is partial, a trust in favour of a charity is not created but a charge in favour of a charity is attached to, and follows, the property which retains its original private and secular character. Whether or not a dedication is complete is a question of fact to be determined in each case on the terms of the relevant document if the dedication was made under a document. In such a case it is always a matter of ascertaining the true intention of the parties. Such an intention must be gathered on a fair and reasonable construction of the document considered as a whole. If the income of the property is substantially intended to be used for the purpose of a charity and only an insignificant and minor portion of it is allowed to be used for the maintenance of the worshipper or the manager, it may be possible to take the view that the dedication is complete. If, on the other hand, for the maintenance of charity a minor portion of the income is expected or required to be used and a substantial surplus is left in the hands of the manager or worshipper for his own private purposes, it would be difficult to accept the theory of complete dedication.

Applying this decision to the case on hand, it is clear that there is a 'complete dedication' of the properties for a public purpose of a religious and charitable nature.

13. In Radhakrishna Chettiar v. Commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments : (1960)1MLJ494 , a Bench of this Court has held, on the facts of that case, that feeding Arya Vysya Pilgrims who happen to visit religious festivals upon stated occasions and the endowment created for that purpose, would be 'religious charity'. In the Commissioner of Madras, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment, Madras v. Narayana : [1965]3SCR168 , also, the feeding of Brahmins on Rathotsavam festival has been held to be a religious charity. Thus, even a trust created for a certain section of people has been held to be a religious trust. As far as the present case is concerned, the purpose of the trust is for doing mandagapadis for the deities wherein the public have access to, irrespective of caste 6r creed and all bakthas who collect there have to be fed. Hence, there is no difficulty as far as the present case is concern-ed, for coming to the conclusion that the trust is for a public purpose of a religious and charitable nature.

14. The description that it is a 'private' trust and that the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board has no voice in the trust and like recitals in a trust deed cannot give it the character of a 'private' or 'public' trust to the trust created. It is the duty of the Court to read the recitals in the deed of trust and spell out the intention of the founder of the trust for the purpose for which it is created.

15. In view of the above said finding, it is needless to say that the properties mentioned in the trust deed in question are exempt from the operation of the Act.

16. In these circumstances, the Civil Revision Petition is allowed, with the findings that the lands involved in the trust deed in question are exempt from the provisions of the Act.

17. It is regrettable that the Assistant Government Pleader is absent when this judgment is pronounced. Hence the Civil Revision Petition is allowed with costs.


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