HINDU RELIGIOUS ENDOWMENTS BOARD, BY ITS SECRETARY Vs. P.N. NALLATHAMBI AYYASWAMI MUDALIAR AND ANR.
HIGH COURT OF MADRAS
Hindu Religious Endowments Board, By Its Secretary
P.N. Nallathambi Ayyaswami Mudaliar
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Mack, J. -
(1.) THIS appeal by the Commissioner of the Hindu Religious Endowments raises an interesting point for determination. The appeal is against an order passed by the learned District Judge of Chingleput on a petition filed under Section 84 (2), Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act by one Nallathambi Ayyaswami Mudaliar, the younger son of Suryaprakasa Mudaliar, who died on 16 -3 -1942 to set aside an order passed by the Board declaring his elder brother P. N. Swaminatha Mudaliar to be the hereditary trustee on the latter's application. The learned District Judge amended the order of the Board with a direction that the elder brother Swaminatha Mudaliar would be allowed to continue as hereditary trustee managing the affairs of the temple, till a pending question of partition as between the brothers was decided and the right of the younger brother to be the hereditary trustee in rotation was determined by the Board. The Commissioner now questions the jurisdiction of the learned District Judge to amend the order of the Board in this manner.
(2.) THE relevant and undisputed facts are briefly these: The elder brother P. N. Swaminatha Mudaliar was adjudicated an insolvent in I. P. No. 109 of 1922 and his adjudication was annulled tinder Section 41, Presidency Towns Insolvency Act on 9 -3 -1949 for failure to apply for his discharge. He appears to have come to Madras where he did business and got involved in financial difficulties. The younger brother stayed on in Poonamallee and appears to have been looking after the temple of Sri Vaideeswarar, after his father's death. The adjudication of the elder brother as an insolvent was brought to the notice of both the Religious Endowments Board and the learned District Judge. But both passed it over very lightly on the ground that the High Court had "annulled" the insolvency. Under Section 54 (1), Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act a non -hereditary trustee shall cease to hold his office, 'inter alia', if he applies to be adjudicated or is adjudicated an insolvent. Under Section 54 (3) of the said Act if a hereditary trustee 'inter alia', becomes subject to this disqualification, the Board may supersede him and appoint a fit person to administer the temple until the disability of the trustee ceases to exist. Normally the disability of a bankrupt or an insolvent would cease to exist on his obtaining an honourable discharge in the event of the annulment of his adjudication on composition with his creditor or under Section 21, Presidency Towns Insolvency Act corresponding to Section 35, Provincial Insolvency Act, if he satisfies the Court that he ought not to have been adjudged an insolvent or where it has been proved that he has paid all his debts in full. Most unfortunately, the Insolvency Act uses the same word "annulment" to include cancellation of the adjudication on both honourable grounds and also on very dishonourable grounds, namely, the failure of the insolvent to appear before the insolvency Court at all and stand an examination or even to apply for his discharge. In the latter case, the adjudication is annulled under Section 41, Presidency Towns insolvency Act primarily by way of a penalty and punishment to the insolvent who is for breach of this duty imposed upon him under the Act, exposed to ordinary process in execution at the hands of his decree -holders.
It is therefore not possible to hold that an annulment of an adjudication under Section 41 is tantamount to removal of a disability and does not continue to be a disqualification contemplated by Section 54(1) (b) Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act. I consider it very irregular, to say the least of It, in this view of annulment under Section 41, Presidency Towns Insolvency Act, for the Board ever to appoint as a hereditary trustee a person who has been adjudicated an insolvent and whose adjudication has been annulled because he has not performed his elementary obligation under the Act of even applying for his discharge within the time prescribed. He is really in a worse position than an undischarged insolvent. The younger brother on whose behalf Mr. Sundaralingam appears has not filed any appeal. The learned District Judge made an observation about the reasonable attitude adopted by both parties before him which, it would appear enabled him to pass the order he did. I am not clear whom exactly he meant "by both parties". Assuming that the two brothers have reconciled their differences, I am afraid it will not be possible, in any event, for the Board to recognise the elder brother as a hereditary trustee in view of the disability he has brought upon himself by his adjudication as an insolvent annulled for failing to apply for his discharge.
(3.) THE order of the learned District Judge is set aside and the matter is remitted to the Commissioner for suitable orders in the light of these observations. No appearance has been made in this appeal for the elder brother Swaminatha Mudaliar. I direct the parties to bear their own costs. The Board's costs will be paid out of the trust funds advocate's fee Rs. 50.;
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