Heard Sri Raja Reddy Koneti, learned counsel for the petitioner, Sri P.C. Reddy, learned Assistant Government Pleader for Endowments for respondents 1 to 4, Sri V.T.M. Prasad, learned standing counsel for Endowments for the 5th respondent and Sri V. Venugopal Rao, learned counsel for the 6th respondent.
The petitioner claims to be a hereditary Archaka of Sri Eswara and Veerabhadra Swamy temple, Nallagatla village, Allagadda Mandal, Kurnool District since 1992 along with his brother and the petitioner and his brother are claimed to be in possession of Ac.20.18 cents as per the order of the Joint Commissioner, Endowments, Department, dated 02-05-1974. The temple possessed another extent of Ac.29.41 cents fetching an annual income of Rs.1,59,000/- as per the review meeting conducted by the Additional Commissioner-I, Endowments, Hyderabad dated 21-04-2011. The petitioner claims it to be unnecessary to appoint an Executive Officer for Section 6 (c) temple and as per the various Government orders and policy decisions ending with 08-09-2010, institutions getting an income of below Rs.2,00,000/- were decided to be handed over to Archakas and fresh proposals for publication of institutions were directed not to be sent. The petitioner claims to have made a representation on 26-11-2011 to take action accordingly and to have filed W.P.No.17725 of 2011 in which this Court directed on 14-10-2011 to consider his representation. Orders were passed only after filing the contempt case in C.C.No.891 of 2012 by the 2nd respondent on 02-07-2012 referring to the temple getting an income of more than Rs.2,00,000/-, contrary to the counter of the 5th respondent in the Contempt Case itself about the income being Rs.1,58,000/-. The income of the land in possession of Archakas was also calculated at Rs.1,70,000/- for this purpose and the 4th respondent was stated to have reported the income of the temple to be Rs.2,23,600/- per year on the basis of the annual Maktha. The representation being rejected on such grounds is unsustainable, the calculation being opposed to the prescriptions of Section 65 and the calculation of income without reference to the date of application of the petitioner is incorrect. The petitioner, therefore, desired the proceedings of the 2nd respondent dated 02-07-2012 to be quashed and respondents 2 to 4 to be directed to hand over the management of the temple to him appointing him as a Single Trustee. He also desired the auction of the leasehold rights of the lands of the temple to be stayed in the meanwhile.
The counter affidavit of the Executive Officer of the 5th respondent is to the effect that Goddess Ankalamma is also part and parcel of this temple as per the scheme in O.A.No.241 of 1945 and the property register under Section 43 of A.P. Act 30 of 1987. The income from the land enjoyed by the Archakas has to be included in the overall income of the temple for the purpose of calculation under the A.P. Act 30 of 1987 and the auction of the leasehold rights for a single year 2012-2013 in four bits fetched Rs.2,29,000/- in total which was deposited by the highest bidders to the credit of the temple. Therefore, the 5th respondent desired the writ petition to fail.
The 6th respondent impleaded on his own application claimed in his counter affidavit that the petitioner is working as Principal of Sivaranga Educational College (B.Ed. College), Koilkuntla Village and Mandal, Kurnool District 30 Kms. away from the temples and since more than 20 years, he was appointed as a Lecturer and Principal at various places away from the subject temples. The 6th respondent is the own brother of the petitioner and he succeeded to Archakatvam from his father, taken up by him as a full time profession. The family was allowed to cultivate Ac.20.18 cents out of Ac.60.20 cents of the temple and the income derived from the lands has to be taken as a whole, which will be more than Rs.3,00,000/-. The petitioner could not have claimed the relief sought for when he admitted that he and his brother, the 6th respondent, are performing Archakatvam service without adding the 6th respondent as a party and hence, the 6th respondent also desired the writ petition to fail.
The petitioner in his reply affidavit contended that Goddess Ankalamma is a village deity whose temple is not part and parcel of this temple. He claimed that the auction amounts were inflated with the help of local people to deprive the petitioner's rights and while the 6th respondent is the brother of the petitioner, his rights are no way denied in the writ petition. The petitioner denied working as Lecturer or Principal and desired the writ petition to succeed.
The pleadings and the material papers on record disclose that the minutes of the review meeting conducted by the Additional Commissioner-I, Endowments, Hyderabad on 21-04-2011 at Kurnool for implementation of the circular of the Commissioner, Endowments, disclosed that the Archaka is enjoying of Ac.20.18 cents of the temple land in lieu of rendering Archakatvam, while Ac.29.41 cents of the temple land is fetching a total Maktha of Rs.1,59,800/- in respect of which the Executive Officer was instructed to conduct a public auction. The Circular of the Commissioner, Endowments, dated 16-12-2008 authorized the Archakas working in the temples as shown in its Annexure to look after the affairs of the institutions with reference to the provisions of Sections 6 (c), 29 and 15 (2) of the A.P. Act 30 of 1987. A review meeting held by the Minister for Endowments on 08-09-2010 resulted in the minutes recording a direction to all the officers not to send proposals for fresh publication of institutions and also to handover the institutions getting income below Rs.2.00 lakhs to Archakas as per the norms fixed. The petitioner also relied on the earlier directions of this Court in W.P.No.17725 of 2011 dated 14-10-2011 in which a learned Judge of this Court directed passing of appropriate orders in accordance with law on the representation of the petitioner for appointment as a Single Trustee on the ground of the income of the temple being less than Rs.2,00,000/- per annum. The counter affidavit of the Executive Officer of the 5th respondent in C.C.No.891 of 2012 clearly shows that the amount fetched for 2011-2012 in respect of Ac.36.16 cents in the possession of the temple is Rs.1,58,000/- only and it was in conjunction with the supposed and presumed income of the land in the possession of Archaka in an extent of Ac.20.18 cents fetching an amount of Rs.1,78,000/-, which is a more fertile bit of land, the income was estimated at Rs.3,28,000/-. The impugned proceedings dated 02-07-2012 have to be appreciated with reference to the above said factual background.
The proviso to Section 6 (c) of A.P. Act 30 of 1987 enables the Commissioner of Endowments to alter the classification assigned to an institution or endowment in the list and enter the same in the appropriate list in case the annual income of such institution or endowment calculated as per the provision exceeds or falls below the limits specified in Clauses (a), (b) or (c) for three consecutive years. The impugned proceedings dated 02-07-2012 refer to the income from the lands of the temple for the year 2010-2011 at Rs.2,23,600/-, while assessing the probable income from the lands under the possession of the Archakas to be included to make it Rs.3,40,000/-. Similar was the counter affidavit in C.C.No.891 of 2012 by the Executive Officer of the temple in assessing the income for 2011-2012 at Rs.3,28,000/- including the income from the lands in the possession of Archakas. Section-6 directs the annual income of a Charitable Institution or Endowment to be calculated as calculated for the purpose of levy of contribution under Section 65 and Section 65 in sub-section (1) directs the liability to pay contribution to be from the income derived by the institution or Endowment, which, ex facie, cannot include the income derived by the Archakas of the temple from the lands of the temple kept in their possession, no part of which is credited by the Archakas to the temple funds. Apart from stating that the contribution shall be with reference to the income derived by the Institution or Endowment, the annual income was defined by sub- section (5) of Section-65 and the learned standing counsel for Endowments seeks to bring within the scope of the word "any other income" used in Section-65 (5) (b) the income derived by the Archakas from the lands in their possession. The reference to any other income should be read together with Dharmadayam in Section 65 (5) (a) and it is seen from the item-iii of Section 65 (5) (b) that deduction of amounts was specified with reference to the expenditure incurred connected with the direct cultivation of lands held by the institution or endowment indicating that items-(i) and (ii) also relate to such direct cultivation of lands held by the institution or endowment for which revenue or taxes or licence fees have to be paid and any other income does not, therefore, appear to be capable of being construed to be in respect of the income derived from the lands kept in the possession of Archakas. The various items covered by Section 65 (5) and Explanations 2 to 4 clearly indicate that as stated in sub-sections (1) and (2), it is the income derived by the institution or endowment itself that is relevant for Section 65 and no other income derived by any other person even from the properties of the institution or endowment.
Be that as it may, the material on record, in any view, discloses the claim of the 5th respondent to be about the income of the temple including the income derived from the lands in the possession of Archakas to be exceeding Rs.2,00,000/- in respect of two years and it is not known whether in the earlier year prior to the said two years, the income so notionally calculated was exceeding Rs.2,00,000/-. At any rate, even if it were to be assumed as sought for by the learned standing counsel for Endowments that the income from the total lands could never have fetched less than Rs.2,00,000/- in the relevant three years, the Commissioner, Endowments was not claimed to have altered the classification of the temple in question under the proviso to Section-6 at any time before or after the impugned proceedings dated 02-07-2012. If it were so and if the classification of the temple in question continued to be under Section 6 (c), the request of the petitioner ought to have been considered with reference to the various Government orders and policy decisions and directions of the Government and the Commissioner, Endowments, referred to above. While no expression of opinion is being made on the entitlement of the petitioner to be so appointed under the existing Government orders or policy decisions, his request could not have been rejected as has been done by the impugned proceedings with reference to the supposed and presumed income from the lands of the temple at a level higher than Rs.2,00,000/- under the circumstances, more so, in the absence of any change of classification of the temple by the Commissioner, Endowments, in exercise of his statutory power.
The impugned proceedings have to be, therefore, nullified, while the inter se claims between the petitioner and the 6th respondent will have to be duly taken into account by the competent authority, while determining the request of the petitioner afresh by observing the principles of natural justice in giving an opportunity to both the petitioner and the 6th respondent to lay their respective versions before the authority. The writ petition has to be, therefore, ordered setting aside the impugned proceedings and directing fresh consideration of the representation of the petitioner dated 17-03-2012 in accordance with law with an opportunity to the respondents 5 and 6 to place their versions in this regard before the competent authority.
Therefore, the proceedings of the 2nd respondent in RC.No.B5/10043/2012-1, dated 02-07-2012 are set aside and the 2nd respondent shall duly consider and pass appropriate orders in accordance with law on the representation of the petitioner dated 17-03-2012 after notice to and giving every reasonable opportunity of making a representation and having a hearing to the petitioner and respondents 5 and 6 and any other persons claiming to be interested or affected, as expeditiously as possible, at any rate within 60 days from the communication of this order to the 2nd respondent and communicate the decision taken or orders passed to the petitioner and respondents 5 and 6 in order to enable them to pursue their remedies as per law, in the event of any of them being aggrieved by any such decision or order. The writ petition is allowed accordingly without costs.