Decided on December 10,1952

Thirugnanasambandham Pillai, Managing Trustee Of Nangur Sri Narayanaswami Sannidhi Dwadasi Kattalai Appellant
Ramachandram Pillai And Ors. Respondents


Subba Rao, J. - (1.) THIS second appeal arises out of O. S. No. 297 of 1946, a suit instituted by the appellant for rendition of accounts for the period from 13 -4 -1945 to 13 -4 -1946 by the first defendant of the plaint Kattalai and to direct the first defendant to hand over to the plaintiff the amount due to the Kattalai and also the moveables, documents, vessels and accounts belonging to the Kattalai and possession of the Kattalai building and for costs of suit.
(2.) THE Vellalars of Nangur have been conducting a Dwadasi Kattalai for a number of years. On 19 -5 -1922, an arrangement was arrived at for the due management of the Kattalai and it was embodied in an agreement, Ex. P. 1. Under that agreement five persons, Ayyaru Pillai, Swami -natha Pillai, Kanakasabai Pillai, Selvanaya -gam Pillai and Thyagaraja Pillai, were constituted as Vicharanakartas of the said Kattalai. One of the material terms of the agreement was that "all transactions relating to the said charity, receipts and expenditure shall be conducted and done by Ayyaru Pillai and Ramachandra Pillai on behalf of Kanakasabai with our consent and, as between the two, as per the lot cast today, Ayyaru Pillai shall first manage and then Rama -chandra Pillai, each managing for one year by turns. "It was also provided that the Managing trustee of the charity should, on the New Year day of every year, in the Sannadhi of Narayana -swami and at the assembly of all the members of their community, render account of the receipts and expenditure to all the members of the community and hand over all the articles, accounts and records to the Managing trustee of the next year. If any one of the aforesaid five members died, the agreement provided that the eldest member of the family of the deceased should accept it at the end of the year and manage and he should conduct himself according to the terms of the aforesaid agreement. Subsequent to the agreement, Ayyaru died. After the death of Ayyaru, the management of the Kattalai was carried on in turns of one year each by the eldest member in the family of the said Ayyaru and Ramachandra Pillai. It is not disputed that after Ayyaru's death, the eldest member of the family, Rajagopala Pillai, managed during his lifetime, and after his death, the then eldest member of the family, Ganapathia Pillai, managed during his lifetime, and thereafter Gna -nasambandam Pillai, the plaintiff, became the trustee. All the aforesaid three persons managed the Kattalai during the turn allotted to then -ancestor, Ayyaru Pillai. The last turn of the plaintiff expired on 13 -4 -1945. The next year, the Kattalai was in the management of the first defendant. The next turn, according to the arrangement, was the turn of Ayyaru. If the previous practice was followed, the plaintiff should be in the management during that year. But the other trustees issued a notice to him on 5 -6 -1946 informing him that he had no right to manage. The suit was, therefore, filed for directing the first defendant to render a true account for one year of his turn and for delivery of possession of the building. Both the courts held that the plaintiffs failed to establish that he was the managing trustee for the year in question. They also held that, even on the assumption that he was the managing trustee, the suit was not maintainable, as the sanction of the Advocate General was not obtained under Section 92, C. P. C. They also expressed the view that, even if the plaintiff's case was true, as the year had run out, he would not be entitled to take possession of the building. In the result, the suit was dismissed. The plaintiff preferred the above appeal.
(3.) THE first question therefore is, whether, under Ex. P. 1, the plaintiff would be entitled to manage the Kattalai during 1946 -47. Under the agreement, the five persons mentioned therein were constituted Vicharanakartas. Iyyaru & Rama -chandra were constituted managing trustees by turns. If any one of the five trustees died, the eldest member of the family would succeed to his office. He should conduct himself according to the terms of the aforesaid agreement. There is no express recital in the document indicating who should take over the turn of Ayyaru Pillai or Ramachan -dran Pillai, if any of them happened to die. But, in my view, a reasonable interpretation should be put on the document consistent with the express words used so as to avoid any lacuna. If the interpretation of the learned Judge be accepted, there would be an obvious lacuna. If Ayyaru or Ramachandra Pillai died, there would not be any provision for taking over the turn of the deceased manager. On the other hand, a fair reading of the entire document shows that the intention of the parties was to provide for the eldest member of the family of the deceased getting into the shoes of the deceased. He was directed to conduct himself according to the terms of the aforesaid agreement. One of the terms was that Ayyaru and Ramachandra Pillai should manage by turns. The member succeeding Ayyaru or Ramachandra would therefore be entitled to manage the Kattalai in accordance with the turns provided under the agreement. That this must have been the intention of the parties to Ex. p. 1 is obvious from the conduct of the parties after the death of Ayyaru. For about 25 years, the parties interpreted the document to mean that the persons succeeding Ayyaru should also succeed to his rights to manage the charity during his turn. I would therefore differing from the courts below, hold that the plaintiff was entitled to his turn of management under Ex. P. 1. It is not disputed that, if the terms of Ex. p. 1 were followed, as interpreted by me the plaintiff would be entitled to manage from 13 -4 -1946 to 13 -4 -1947. But the courts below were right in not decreeing to him possession of the house, as the year of his turn had run out.;

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