Decided on December 15,1944

Manicka Sundara Bhattar And Ors. Appellant
R.S. Nayudu, Executive Officer And Trustee Of Sri Minakshi Sundareswarar Devastanam And Ors. Respondents


Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, C.J. - (1.) THE main question in this appeal is whether the Provincial Legislature had power to pass the Madras Temple Entry Authorization and Indemnity Act, 1939, the object of which was to throw open the Hindu temples of the Province for the purpose of worship to all Hindus who by custom or usage had previously been excluded from entry therein. The Courts below have held that the Act is intra vires the Provincial Legislature. For reasons which we shall in due course state we consider that this decision is right.
(2.) THE suit which has given rise to the appeal was filed on the 13th July, 1939, some two months before the Act came into force. At the time of the institution of the suit there were six plaintiffs and ten defendants.. The first defendant was the executive officer of the Sri Minakshi Sundareswarar Devasthanam at Madura, one of the famous temples of South India. Defendants 2 to 7 were described as members of " the prohibited or scheduled classes," by which was meant that they were persons who were not entitled to enter the temple or its precincts. It was alleged that on the 8th July, 1939, defendants 2 to 7 were received by the first defendant at the entrance to the temple and were marched into the temple by the eighth and ninth defendants. The tenth defendant, who was a temple Bhattar, was present and he was directed to perform puja for the party, which he did at the shrines of Sri Vinayakar, Sri Subramanya and Sri Minakshi. The plaintiffs regarded this as a desecration of the temple and asked inter alia for the following reliefs: (1) That the first defendant as the trustee of the temple be directed to cause purification ceremonies to be carried out; (2) that the first, eighth and ninth defendants be restrained by permanent injunction from taking into the temple defendants 2 to 7 or any other member of the prohibited or scheduled classes; (3) that defendants 2 to 7 be restrained by permanent injunction from entering the temple; and (4) that the defendants be directed to deposit into Court Rs. 3,100 for the cost of the performance of the purification ceremonies. That non -caste Hindus had been debarred from entering the temple is common ground and the invasion of the temple by defendants 2 to 7 on the 8th July, 1939, is not disputed.
(3.) THE Madras Temple Entry Authorisation and Indemnity Act, 1939, received the assent of the Governor -General on the 4th September, 1939, and was published in the Fort St. George Gazette on the nth September, 1939. Section 2 provides a complete indemnity for all who had anything to do with the demonstration at the Sri Minakshi Sundareswarar Temple, Madura, on the 8th July, 1939. Section 3 states that if in the opinion of the trustee or other authority, in charge of a Hindu temple in the Province of Madras the worshippers of which are generally not opposed to the removal of the disability imposed by custom or usage on certain classes of Hindus in regard to entry into or offer of worship in the temple, the trustee or other authority may, with the approval of the Provincial Government and notwithstanding anything contained in the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1926, or, any other law, throw open the temple to these classes and thereafter persons belonging to these classes shall have the right to enter into and offer worship in the temple. Then follows a proviso' which reads as follows: Provided that in the case of the temples specified in the schedule to this Act and other Hindu temples in the Province which have been thrown open to the classes aforesaid before the commencement of this Act, such approval shall not be required and the said temples shall be deemed to have been thrown open to the classes aforesaid under the provisions of this section. The schedule contains the names of seven temples of which the Sri Minakshi Sundareswarar Temple, Madura, is one.;

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