S. RANGAYYA GOUNDAR (DIED) AND ORS. Vs. KARUPPA NAICKER AND ORS.
HIGH COURT OF MADRAS
S. Rangayya Goundar (Died)
Karuppa Naicker And Ors.
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G. Ramanujam, J. -
(1.) THE above revision has been filed against the order of the lower Court dated 20th December, 1969 in O.S. No. 1022 of 1966 finding preliminary Issues 5 and 6 against the defendants and holding that the suit as framed is maintainable in the civil Court.
(2.) THE facts giving rise to this revision may be briefly set out. The plaintiffs as the descendants and great grandsons of Karuppa Naicker and Mari Naicker filed the above suit in a representative capacity for a declaration that they are alone entitled to celebrate the annual festival in the suit temple which was to commence on 22nd December, 1966, and for an injunction restraining the defendants representing the Nattu Goundars of the village in which the temple is situate and other neighbouring villages from interfering with the plaintiffs' celebrating the festival. The said relief was claimed by the plaintiffs on the basis that the suit temple is an ancient temple, that originally their ancestors, Karuppa Naicker and Mari Naicker, were the hereditary poojaris and trustees, that after their death the trusteeship and poojariship vested always with the family of the said Karuppa Naicker and Mari Naicker, that the temple has got inam lands which are being enjoyed by the plaintiffs as the descendants of Karuppa Naicker and Mari Naicker, that the patta for those inam lands always stood in the name of the members of the plaintiffs' family, and that the title deeds for the inam lands have been issued and confirmed by the Inam Commissioner in the name of their ancestors. They also alleged that the annual festival for the above said temple was by mamool and custom celebrated in the month of Margali and would last for three months till the end of Masi, that the temple itself is, therefore, called "Moonumasathu Mariamman temple", that when the plaintiffs were arranging to conduct the festival for the year 1966 the defendants as representatives of Nattu Goundars of the area, with their wealth and influence and with the good backing of the other villagers in the locality were denying the plaintiffs' right to conduct the festival and asserting that right in themselves. The plaintiffs had apprehended that the defendants with their status and their influence aimed to usurp their right to conduct the festival in the suit temple. The plaintiffs' claim was resisted by the defendants on the ground that Karuppa Naicker and Mari Naicker, the ancestors of the plaintiffs were neither trustees nor poojaris of the suit temple, that they used to be appointed as poojaris by the Kaniyachikarars of the suit temple who were in management, that neither Karuppa Naicker nor Mari Naicker nor their descendants had any hereditary right for the poojariship or the trusteeship in the temple, that there were other poojaris for the suit temple, that the trusteeship and poojariship did not vest in the family of the said two persons, and that the inam has been confirmed in favour of the deity by the Inam Commissioner and not in favour of the said two persons as alleged. They also claimed that the deity is of the Nattu Vellala Goundars residing in certain villages nearby, that the administration of the temple and its properties had always vested from time immemorial in the Nattu Vellala Goundars of the above said villages that defendants 1 to 4 and four other persons were actually in management of the temple and its properties as representatives of the Nattu Vellala Goundars residing in those villages, that the family of the said 8 persons had been managing the suit temple and its properties as hereditary kaniyachikarars from the inception of the temple and that, no outsider had ever managed the temple and its properties. They also alleged that the plaintiffs were not in possession of the temple lands, and that they have actually been in possession of the temple lands all these years by paying the kist for the same from time immemorial and collecting lease amounts from their lessees. The defendants also denied that the patta stood in the name of the descendants of the said Karuppa Naicker and Mari Naicker, and in their turn claimed that they were in management of the temple and its properties hereditarily from the inception of the temple and that they were alone entitled to conduct the festival and not the plaintiffs who have been appointed by them as poojaris in the temple under their control and supervision. It was also the defendants' case that in any event some of the plaintiffs' ancestors had by various registered documents parted with their rights in the temple in favour of the defendants. The defendants also contended that the suit as framed is barred both under Section 70 and Section 108 of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959.
(3.) ON these rival contentions of parties as many as 9 issues were framed in the suit and Issues 5 and 6 related to the jurisdiction of the Court to entertain the suit. Issues 5 and 6 were:
Issue 5 : Whether the suit is barred under Section 70 of the Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act of 1959 in view of the order in O.A. No. 78 of 1964 and O.A. No. 79 of 1964 on the file of the Deputy Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, Madras.
Issue 6 : Whether the suit is barred by Section 108 of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act of 1959.
The said two issues were taken up as preliminary issues. It appears that some of the descendants of Karuppa Naicker filed an application under Section 63 (b) of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act) before the Deputy Commissioner in O.A. No. 79 of 1964 for recognition of their alleged poojariship right, but the said petition had been dismissed for default on 29th January, 1966. Another set of persons had filed another application O.A. No. 78 of 1964 before the Deputy Commissioner under Section 63 (a) of the Act for recognition of their right to do pooja and conduct the festival by mamool and custom. That petition also was dismissed on 4th January, 1967, as not maintainable. The defendants contend that the orders passed in those proceedings which had become final will bar the entertainment of a suit, under Section 70 of the said Act. It was alleged by the defendants that they had also filed an application before the Deputy Commissioner in O.A. No. 41 of 1966 for recognising their hereditary rights of trusteeship and that the same is pending disposal. Defendants also contended that the relief claimed in the suit is one coming under Section 63 of the Act and as such the suit was clearly barred by virtue of the provisions of Section 108 of the said Act. The Court below has held that the suit is not barred by the provisions of sections 70 and 108 of the Act. The correctness of the said decision has been canvassed before me.;
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