Decided on April 02,1953



Govinda Menon, J. - (1.) There were proceedings before the Hindu Religious Endowments Board for the determination of the question as to whether the endowments standing in the name of Sri Gunaseelam Prasanna Venkataehalapathi Perumal Purattasi Radhothsavam Samaradhanai, is a religious endowment as defined in the Act and whether it is a "specific endowment" attached to the said temple. The Board came to the conclusion that the entire endowment is religious in character and as such it is a religious endowment within the meaning of Section 9 (11-A) of the Act, namely, that it is a specific endowment by which property or money is endowed for the performance of any specific service or charity in the temple. Against the decision of the Hindu Religious Endowments Board, the managers of the Kattalai applied to the District Court of Tiruchirapalli under Section 84 (2) of the Act for setting aside the order of the Board and the learned District Judge held that the endowment did not come within the definition of Section 9 (11-A) of the Act. The result was that the order of the Board was set aside.
(2.) The well known Perumal temple at Gunaseelam on the banks of the Cauvery attracts worshippers from various parts of the district and during the annual car festival, provision had to be made for the feeding and lodging of large concourse of devotees who flock to this famous institution. Some years ago lands were purchased in the names of the managers of the kattalai to the extent of about 7 acres of wet lands from out of the surplus funds collected for the purpose of giving food and shelter to the Brahmins who congregate during the festival time. Since then, the entire income from the lands is utilised for the feeding and in fact, as stated by the learned District Judge, subscriptions are still levied since this income from the lands is insufficient to meet the expenditure. If any amount is left over after the feeding during the festival, a vanabhojanam is conducted every year in the month of Karthigai in the village of Kariamanickam.
(3.) The Board in the present appeal contests the decision of the District Judge that the Kattalai js not a specific endowment and as such the Act would not apply. In the Tamil Lexicon published under the authority of the University of Madras, Vol. II, part I, at page 047, among the meanings given to the word "kattalai" in the various contexts, so far as the word appertains to functions in the temple, the meaning given is as follows: "Endowment for some special services in a temple, distinct from one for the general upkeep and maintenance of the institution." Another meaning given is: "Provision for the free feeding of a certain number of pilgrims in a temple or mutt." Both these meanings emphasise the fact that the special services, or the free feeding should be in a temple or a mutt. That is, if there is poor feeding in connection with a religious ceremony in a temple but the same is conducted outside the precincts of a temple either in a private building or in any public building, it would not come, according to the above meanings, within the meaning of the term "kattalai". Muttuswami Ayyar J. in. explaining the meaning of the word "kattalai" in -- 'Vythilinga Pandarasannadhi v. Somasundara Mudaliar', 17 Mad 199 at p. 200 (A), says as follows: "In ordinary parlance the term 'kattalai' as applied to temple endowments, signifies a special endowment for certain specific services or 'religious charity in the temple'. Ardajama Katalai, or endowment for midnight service is an instance of the former and Annadana kattalai or an endowment for distributing gratis food to the poor is an example of the latter." The meaning of the word "kattalai" was discussed in --'Vythilinga Pandara Sannadhi v. Ranganadha Mudaliar', AIR 1934 Mad 126 (B) and Ramesam J. observes that the word kattalai has got two distinct senses, a stricter and a looser sense, and that in the stricter sense it is religious endowment the object of which was the perfomance of some kind of religious duty in the temple for the benefit of some other individual or institution outside the temple & in the looser sense the temple itself is the beneficiary & the kattalais are only a number of separate trusts. This meaning given to the expression "kattalai" was followed in -' President, H. R. E. Board, Madras v. Nagarathina Mudaliar', A I R 1935 Mad 417 (C). In a later case in -- 'the Board of Commrs. for H. R. E. v. Marutha Naicker', AIR 1945 Mad 368 (D), Mockett and Kuppuswami Ayyar JJ. held that an endowment for the purpose of giving water and gruel to those who drag the car on the day of the Car festival in a temple is a pious and charitable service connected with the temple and as such a kattalai for that purpose is a specific endowment within the meaning of Section 9 (11) of the Act. The learned Judges were of opinion that though the distribution of water and gruel was not within the temple premises, still the endowment for that purpose was a religious endowment. In discussing the nature of the charity, which was the subject of consideration there, the learned Judges did not advert to the cases which we have referred to above or to the etymological meaning of the term kattalai.;

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