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Sultan Ahamed Vs. Abdul Gani and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Decided On
Reported in45Ind.Cas.581
AppellantSultan Ahamed
RespondentAbdul Gani and ors.
Cases ReferredSayad Abdula Edvar v. Sayad Zain
muhammadan law - marzul-maut, doctrine of, applicabitity of--waqf--tauliatnama appointing successor to mutwalli, validity of--muhammadan endowments committee at chittagong, whether statutory body--mutwalli, appointment of. - part of the properly of the mosque. tofel ali appears to have been succeeded by his grandson abdul sobhan in the year 1850. abdul sobhan held the office for many years. on the 30th june 1902 six or seven months before his death he executed a document described as a tauluiatnama, by which he designated the present plaintiff, sultan ahmad, ashis successor.2. the case for the plaintiff is that during abdul sobhan's incumbency two persons were appointed to act as naib mntwallis to whom the management of the endowment was entrusted. it is alleged that by their contrivance the taluk was allowed to fall into arrears of revenue. at the sale which followed in 1881 it was purchased by the naib mutwallis themselves in the name of a third person as benamdar, from whom they subsequently.....

1. This is an appeal from the judgment and decree of the District Judge of Chittagong, dated the 29th May 1915. The appellant is the plaintiff and the suit has a somewhat chequered history. It was brought to recover possession of certain lands which the plaintiff claims as part of the Wakf properties appertaining to a mosque in the district of Chittagong of which he is rhe Mutwalli. The trial Court made a decree in favour of the plaintiff. That decree was upheld by the lower Appellate Court; but on remand by this Court the suit has been dismissed. All the material issues which arise in this case have been decided in the plaintiff's favour except the issue whether he is the de jure Mntwalli of the mosque. On this question the learned District Judge has come to a conclusion adverse to the plaintiff. That conclusion, however, is based on a misapplication of Muhammadan Law to the facts of this case. The endow-ment is one of very old standing. It was apparently in existence when the District of Chittagong was taken over by the East India Company. There was a measurement of the district in the year 1764, when a person named Lutfulla was the Mutwalli. It appears that certain lands belonging to the mosque were then resumed by the Revenue Authorities and in their place a monthly grant of Rs. 52-14-C was made to the Mutwalli which is still at the present day being paid. In the year 1837, another measurement of the District was carried out. On that occasion other lands were resumed, which were re-granted in whole or in part as a Taluk at a nominal rent to the then Mntwalli Tofel Ali. This Taluk which comprises the land in dispute was afterwards held and treated as part of the properly of the mosque. Tofel Ali appears to have been succeeded by his grandson Abdul Sobhan in the year 1850. Abdul Sobhan held the office for many years. On the 30th June 1902 six or seven months before his death he executed a document described as a tauluiatnama, by which he designated the present plaintiff, Sultan Ahmad, ashis successor.

2. The case for the plaintiff is that during Abdul Sobhan's incumbency two persons were appointed to act as Naib Mntwallis to whom the management of the endowment was entrusted. It is alleged that by their contrivance the Taluk was allowed to fall into arrears of revenue. At the sale which followed in 1881 it was purchased by the Naib Mutwallis themselves in the name of a third person as benamdar, from whom they subsequently obtained a deed of release. The defendants Nos. 1 to 5 in the suit are the present representatives of the two Naib Mutwallis. The defendant No. 6 holds a lease of the land in suit from the defendant No. 1.

3. As I have said, all material questions of fact, pure and simple, have been decided in favour of the plaintiff, but while no one disputes that he is the defatco Mutwalli, it has been held that he has failed to establish a de jure title.

4. The learned District Judge has considered that question with reference solely to the tauliatnama of the 30th Jane 1902. Even as to that document he finds that it was duly executed and that Abdul Sobhan was not at the time insane as the defendants contended, but was in possession of his mental faculties. The learned Judge has reached his conclusion by appling to the case the doctrine of marzulmaut. His view is that the tauliatnama is void and of no effect because it was not executed by Abdul Sobhan on his deathbed or while he was suffering from what is termed a death-bed illness or mortal sickness. But in the case of a gift or other voluntary disposition of property, the doctrine of marzul maut only applies when the gift is made during such illness. The learned District Judge apparently had in mind a rule that a Mutwalli cannot ordinarily transfer his office during his lifetime Wahid Ali v. Ashruff Hossain 8 C. 732 : 10 C.L.R. 529 : 4 Ind. Dec. (N.S.) 473; Salimulla Bahadur v. Abdul Khayer Mohammad Mustafa Ind. Cas, 419 : 37 C. 263 : 11 C.L.J. 304 : 14 C.W.N. 497, but may do so on his-death-bed (Ameer Ali, 3rd Edition, page 346). Let it be assumed that such a rule correctly represents the Muhammadan Law. It still remains that the tauliatnama is capable of being, and should be, construed as a document of a testamentary character, speaking as from the moment of deaths If that be its true significance, it is clearly unnecessary to consider what precisely is the meaning of the term marzul-maitt under the Hanifi law by which the parties are said to be governed. An office to which is attached the right of appointing a successor is well known to the law. If Abdul Sobhan had such a right or power either under the Muhammadan Law or under any general law applicable to this topic and if he freely executed the tauliatnama as a testamentary document, while he was of sound disposing mind, its validity cannot be questioned [Sayd Muhammad v. Fatteh Muhamad 22 I.A. 4 : 22 C. 324 : 6 Sar. P.C. J, 515 : 11 Ind. Dec. (N.S.) 218 Sayad Abdula Edvar v. Sayad Zain 13 B. 555 : 7 Ind. Dec. (N.S.) 368].

5. There is evidence on the record that Abdul Sobhan was himself appointed Mutwali by a tauliatnama executed by his predecessor. In the course of the argument reference has been made to a robakari dated the 2nd January 1851 under the signature of the Commissioner of the Division, which purports to confirm Abdul Sobhan's appointment as Mutwalli under a tauliatnama, dated the 15th September 1850. This robakari was issued under the authority of Regulation XIX of 1810, to which it refers and under which religious endowments were controlled by the executive authorities.

6. But it is not necessary to determine on this occasion whether the Mutwalli of this endowment has the right of appointing his successor or to insist on the efficacy of the tauliatnama in the plaintiff's favour.

7. Nor would it be proper for this Court in second appeal to lay down the rule by whish succession to this office is governed. The deed, if any, by which the endowment was created is not forthcoming and the rule depends on evidence relating to the practice or usage which has prevailed in the past. The plaintiff is apparently the lineal descendant of Lutfulla, the earliest Mutwalli of whom any mention is made, and his pedigree lends some colour to the suggestion that suggassion to ths office is regulated by the rule of lineal primogeniture, or at any rate that regard is had to that rule. But the question must be left open for future discussion should it again arise.

8. I turn to a part of this case which the learned District Judge has entirely neglected. It is not disputed that the plaintiff is in receipt of the Government stipend to which I have referred. That in itself is something, but it further appears that before sanctioning the payment of this allowance to the plaintiff the Collector referred the matter to the Mnhammidan Endowments Committee of the District of Chittagong. The letter which the Committee addressed to the Collector, dated the 17th June 1903, is on the record, It contains a clear recognition of the plaintiff's title to the office. Now, the fact that the endowment is one of the description mentioned in Section 3 of the Religious Endowment Act of 1863 (Act XX of 1863) is shown by the reference in the robakari of 1851 to Regulation XIX of 1810. The endowment ia clearly a mosque or religious institution to which the Regulation applied before it was repealed by the Act. By Section 7 of the Act the control of such endowments was transferred to the Committees to be appointed under that section, 'which were to take the place and to exercise the powers of the Board of Revenue and the local agents under the Regulation.' The Muhammadan Endowements Committee at Chittagong is, therefore, a statutory body and its recognition of the plaintiff as the true and rightful Mutwalli, if such recognition be necessary, is authoritative.

9. It is not suggested that there has ever been any dispute as to the right of succession to this office, such as would require the intervention of the civil Court under Section 5 of the Act. In fact there is no other claimant to the office in the field and the whole discussion has an air of unreality. Whatever test be applied the plaintiff satisfies it. If he required appointment by his predecessor he was so appointed. If the office is hereditary and the tauliatnama was a gratuitous or superfluous act on the part of Abdul Sobhan, it indicates at least that in the latter's opinion the plaintiff was entitled to suecead. The plaintiff has been recognised as Mutwalli by the Endowments Committee: he is in receipt of the Grovernmant stipend and is in fact in possession of the office.

10. The conclusion of the District Judge rests entirely on a mistaken view of the law. There is no evidence by which it can be supported. The evidence is all the other way and the only conclusion of which it admits is a conclusion in favour of the plaintiff. In my opinion the judgment and decree of the District Judge must be discharged and the decree of the Munsif restored and affirmed.

11. As the defendant No. 6 stated through his learned Pleader that he would not contest this appeal, the plaintiff's costs of the appeal must be paid by the defendants Nos. 1 to 5.

12. As to the costs below, the plaintiff is entitled to his costs in those Courts as against all the defendants.

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