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first object of the three charities mentioned in the Will, is of private Trust and the rest are of public Trust and therefore, the respondent no.1 and 2 therein, have power under Section 64 of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Act, 1959, to frame a scheme, in so far as, the public Trust is concerned.=Supply of food on Chitra Pournami day every year has to be done when God Kallalagar is taken in procession through the Vaigai river on way to Vandiur, is the second charity mentioned in the Will. It is necessary to refer at this stage to some of the relevant provisions of the Act. “Religious institution” has been defined in Section 6(18) as meaning a math, temple or specific endowment. “Specific endowment” in Section 6(19) reads thus: “any property or money endowed for the performance of any specific service or charity in a math or temple or for the performance of any other religious charity but does not include an inam of the nature described in Explanation (1) to Clause (17)”. “Religious charity” is defined in Section 6(16) as meaning a public charity associated with a Hindu festival or observance of a religious character, whether it be connected with a math or temple or not. “Religious endowment” or “endowment” has been defined in Section 6(17) to mean all property belonging to or given or endowed for the support of maths or temples, or given or endowed for the performance of any service or charity of a public nature connected therewith or of any other religious charity, and includes the institution concerned and also the premises thereof but does not include gifts or property made as personal gifts to the Archaka, Service holder or other employee of a religious institution.=The charities of offering Neivedyam to Swami during Punguni Uthiaram festival and the feeding by way of Pundhi Bojanam on the occasion of God Kallalagar passing through Vaigai river to Vandiyur on Chitra Pournami day are religious charities and constitute a service to the Deity in the temple and in our view, the High Court is right in concluding that the framing of a scheme in respect of these matters is within the ambit of powers vested under Section 64 of the Act.


                                 REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2401 OF 2003


K.S. Soundararajan and Ors.       ..         Appellants

                                   versus

Commissioner of H.R. & C.E.
and Ors.                                ..         Respondents




                               J U D G M E N T



C. NAGAPPAN, J.



1.    This appeal  is  preferred  against  the  judgment  and  decree  dated
13.12.2000 passed by the High Court  of  Judicature  at  Madras  in  Letters
Patent Appeal No.183 of 1994, wherein  the  Division  Bench  held  that  the
first object of the three charities mentioned in the  Will,  is  of  private
Trust and the rest are of public Trust and therefore,  the  respondent  no.1
and 2 therein,  have  power  under  Section  64  of  the  Tamil  Nadu  Hindu
Religious and Charitable Endowment Act, 1959, to frame a scheme, in  so  far
as, the public Trust is concerned.





2.    Briefly the facts are summarized as follows :  One  Sundararaja  Naidu
had no male issues, except two daughters and his brother’s son is  Kondasamy
Naidu  and  he  executed  a  registered  Will  dated  7.12.1949  bequeathing
properties mentioned in Item nos.1, 2 and 3 absolutely  in  favour  of  them
and directed Kondasamy Naidu to be in possession of Item  no.4  and  perform
the charities mentioned in the Will from out  of  the  income  of  the  said
properties and prohibited the alienation of the said item  of  land.   Later
Kondasamy Naidu alienated a portion of land in Item no.4  in  the  Will  and
claimed to have purchased  some  other  properties  from  out  of  the  sale
proceeds.





3.    Five persons claiming to belong  to  the  community  of  the  testator
filed application before the Deputy Commissioner  for  Hindu  Religious  and
Charitable Endowments under Section 64 of H.R. &  C.E.  Act  for  setting  a
scheme in respect of the charities mentioned  in  the  Will  of  Sundararaja
Naidu.  The Deputy Commissioner held that the Trust is a private  Trust  and
no scheme could be framed.  On  appeal  his  order  was  set  aside  by  the
Commissioner, who held that the  Trust  is  a  public  Trust  and  charities
required to be performed are religious charities and the  beneficiaries  are
the members of the public and a scheme could be framed and in fact  required
to be framed.  Meanwhile Kondasamy Naidu died and his legal  representatives
instituted a statutory suit for setting aside the order of the  Commissioner
referred to supra.  The trial court dismissed  the  suit  and  judgment  was
affirmed by a single Judge of the High  Court  and  in  the  Letters  Patent
Appeal preferred, the Division Bench modified the order of the  Commissioner
to the extent that the  scheme  to  be  framed  shall  be  confined  to  the
specific endowments attached to the temple,  namely,  performance  of  Pooja
and Neivedyam to Subramania Swami on the occasion of Panguni Uthiram and  by
feeding by way of Pundhi Bojanam on the occasion of God  Kallalagar  passing
through Vaigai river on the Chitra Pournami day  to  Vandiyur.   Challenging
the same the plaintiffs have preferred the present Civil Appeal.



4.    Mr.  R.  Venkataramani,  learned  senior  counsel  appearing  for  the
appellants contended that the pious acts to be  performed  under  the  Will,
have no relationship whatsoever to the Deities mentioned  and  there  is  no
charitable  activity  of  public   character  and  the  pious  acts  do  not
constitute public Trust and the High Court  misconstrued  Section  64(1)  of
the Act by misreading the Will and  by  holding  that  the  term  ‘attached’
occurring in the explanation  under  Section  64(1)  has  to  be  understood
broadly. Per contra  the  learned  counsel  appearing  for  the  respondents
contended that  the  High  Court  has  rightly  held  that  the  pious  acts
mentioned  in the Will are religious charities and the framing of scheme  in
respect of it, is within the ambit of power conferred under  Section  64  of
the Act.





5.    Provision  is made in  the  Will  for  the  performance  of  following
charities:

“1)   During Panguni festival at Thirupparankundram  every  year   according
to income supplying of food to the people of our own  caste  and  performing
poojas and neivadhiyam to Swami without fail.



2)    Also every year on  Chitra  Pournami  when  Kallalagar  entering  into
Vaigai River and going to Vandiur, supplying of food called Arasa.”





6.          The Presiding Deity  of  the  temple  at  Thirupparankundram  is
Subramaniaswami and the performance of  Neivedyam  and  Pooja  to  the  said
Swami during festival mentioned as first charity is clearly a service to  be
rendered to the Deity in the Temple.  Supply of  food  on   Chitra  Pournami
day every year has to be done when God Kallalagar  is  taken  in  procession
through the Vaigai river on way to Vandiur, is the second charity  mentioned
in the Will.  It is necessary  to  refer  at  this  stage  to  some  of  the
relevant provisions of the Act.  “Religious institution”  has  been  defined
in Section 6(18) as meaning a math, temple or specific endowment.  “Specific
endowment” in Section 6(19) reads thus: “any property or money  endowed  for
the performance of any specific service or charity in a math  or  temple  or
for the performance of any other religious charity but does not  include  an
inam  of  the  nature  described  in  Explanation  (1)  to   Clause   (17)”.
“Religious charity” is defined in Section 6(16) as meaning a public  charity
associated with a Hindu festival or observance of  a   religious  character,
whether it  be  connected  with  a  math  or  temple  or  not.    “Religious
endowment” or “endowment” has been defined in  Section  6(17)  to  mean  all
property belonging to or given or  endowed  for  the  support  of  maths  or
temples, or given or endowed for the performance of any service  or  charity
of a public nature connected therewith or of any  other  religious  charity,
and includes the institution concerned and also  the  premises  thereof  but
does not include gifts or property made as personal gifts  to  the  Archaka,
Service holder  or other employee of a religious institution.





7.    The Constitution Bench of this Court in the  decision  in  Mahant  Ram
Saroop Dasji Vs. S.P. Sahi and Ors. [1959 Supp.(2) SCR 583]  has  succinctly
stated the distinction in Hindu Law between religious endowments  which  are
public and those which are private, as under:



“To put it briefly, the essential distinction is that in a public trust  the
beneficial interest is vested  in  an  uncertain  and  fluctuating  body  of
persons, either the public at large  or  some  considerable  portion  of  it
answering a particular description; in a  private  trust  the  beneficiaries
are definite and ascertained individuals or who within  a definite time  can
be definitely ascertained.  The fact  that  the  uncertain  and  fluctuating
body of persons is a section of the public following a particular  religious
faith or is only a sect of persons of a certain religious persuasion   would
not make any difference in the  matter  and  would  not  make  the  trust  a
private trust.”





8.          This  Court  in  the  decision  in  Commissioner,  Madras  Hindu
Religious and Charitable Endowments  Vs. Narayana Ayyangar  and  Ors.  [1965
(3) SCR 168],  while  considering  the  charity  to  feed  Brahmins  on  the
occasion of Rathotsavam  festival  of  Sri  Prasanna  Venkatachalapathiswami
Temple in Gunaseelam, when feeding is not done in the  Temple  premises  but
at a separate place, held that it is a public charity by observing thus :



“On the facts found, it is clear that on the  occasion  of  the  Rathotsavam
festival of Sri Prasanna Venkatachalapathiswami shrine, pilgrims  from  many
places attend the festival  and  the  object  of  the  charity  is  to  feed
Brahmins attending the shrine on the occasion of this festival.  It  is  not
disputed that setting up a Fund for feeding Brahmins is  a  public  charity.
The primary purpose of the charity is to  feed  Brahmin  pilgrims  attending
the Rathotsavam.  This public charity has therefore a real  connection  with
the Rathotsavam which is a Hindu festival  of  a  religious  character,  and
therefore, it is a religious charity within the meaning of Section 6(13)  of
Madras Act 19 of 1951.”



The object of the second charity herein is to feed on the occasion  of   God
Kallalagar being taken  out  in   procession   on  Chitra  Pournami  day  by
entering into Vaigai river and going to Vandiyur, and  therefore,  it  is  a
religious charity and such a service should be regarded  as  one  meant  for
the Deity.    Specific endowment is  a  religious  institution  as  per  the
definition stated supra.  For the purpose of Section 64 of the Act,  as  per
explanation  provided,  the  institution  means  a  temple  or  a   specific
endowment  attached  to  a  temple.   The  expression  ‘attached’   in   the
explanation to Section 64(1) has  to  be  construed  having  regard  to  the
history of the legislation and the scheme and objects  of  the  Act  and  as
rightly held by the High Court it is required to be  understood  broadly  in
that sense  of providing for the performance of any service  or  charity  in
or connected with temple.



9.    The charities of offering Neivedyam to Swami during  Punguni  Uthiaram
festival and the feeding by way of Pundhi Bojanam on  the  occasion  of  God
Kallalagar passing through Vaigai river to Vandiyur on Chitra  Pournami  day
are religious charities and constitute a service to the Deity in the  temple
and in our view, the  High  Court     is  right  in    concluding  that  the
framing of a  scheme in respect of these matters  is  within  the  ambit  of
powers vested under Section 64 of the Act.





10.   There are no merits in the appeal  and  the  same  is  dismissed.   No
costs.


                                                                  ………………….J.
                                                                (M.Y. Eqbal)


                                                                  .…………………J.
                                                               (C. Nagappan)


New  Delhi;
November  24, 2015.

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