ADMINISTRATOR OF THE SHRINGERI MATH JAGATGURU SHRINGERI SHANKARACHARYA SHRI ABHINAV VIDYATIRTH SWAMIGAL Vs. CHARITY COMMISSIONER BOMBAY
LAWS(BOM)-1962-12-3
HIGH COURT OF BOMBAY
Decided on December 13,1962

ADMINISTRATOR OF THE SHRINGERI MATH, JAGATGURU SHRINGERI SHANKARACHARYA SHRI ABHINAV VIDYATIRTH SWAMIGAL Appellant
VERSUS
CHARITY COMMISSIONER, BOMBAY Respondents


Referred Judgements :-

STATE OF BIHAR VS. CHARUSILA DASI [REFERRED TO]
PATEL CHHOTABHAI VS. JNAN CHANDRA BASAK [REFERRED TO]





JUDGEMENT

- (1.)THIS is an appeal under S. 72 of the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950, by the Administrator of the Shringeri Math of His Holiness Jagatguru Shringeri Shankaracharya against an order for registration of the Math at Nasik. There are three properties in Nasik city bearing city survey numbers 5241, 5242 and 5244-B. They are partly buildings and partly open spaces. The two predecessors of the Shankaracharya had attained 'nirvana' at Panchavati, Nasik, and the then rulers i. e. , the Peshwas, offered some open space of land to His Holiness of Shringeri for erecting 'samadhis' of the deceased. Accordingly the 'samadhis' were constructed in this land. Attached to the 'samadhis' there is a Mandap and the image of Adya Shankaracharya is installed therein. Surrounding these buildings some other constructions have also been made. The expenses for the upkeep of these 'samadhis' are met from the income of the structures, loans and from the fund of the 'math' at Shringeri. There are some grants also.
(2.)IT appears that the then Shankaracharya requested the Mysore government in 1952 to take charge of the 'math' at Shringeri and all its properties because of his ill-health. In pursuance to that request, Mysore Government took over all the properties of the 'math' by a notification of 12th January 1953 under its management under S. 25 (iii) of the Mysore Religious and Charitable Regulation of 1927, and at the same time appointed one N. Shesu Iyer to be the Manager of the institution. After the Bombay Public Trusts Acts, 1950, came into force for two years no application was made for registration of the Nasik institution as in previous inquiry under the Bombay Public Trusts Registration Act of 1935 these properties were held to be the private properties of Shri Shankaracharya. Some members of the public at Nasik made a grievance about the same and therefore an enquiry was started by the Charity Commissioner, Poona Region, and it was numbered as Application No. 99 of 1954. At this enquiry though a public notice was issued, no one appeared and offered evidence. . Only the officer in management of the Shringeri Math gave evidence. The Assistant Charity Commissioner declared the Nasik properties to be public trust and ordered accordingly. It seems that simultaneously an enquiry was commenced by the Charity Commissioner, Belgaum, in respect of some properties which fell within his jurisdiction. There were also held to be public trust properties and an order was made accordingly. being aggrieved by both these orders, the officer made an appeal to the Charity Commissioner, which was heard by the Deputy Charity Commissioner, Ahmedabad, with Appellate Powers, sitting at Bombay. He confirmed the findings made by the Assistant Charity Commissioners. An application was the made under S. 72 of the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950, to the District Judge at Nasik for setting aside the orders made by the Deputy Charity Commissioner and the Assistant Charity Commissioners. He also failed in the District Court and that is why he comes here in appeal.
(3.)MR. Amin has raised three contentions before us. He argues that the properties at Nasik, which are loosely called a 'math', is not a public trust and therefore is not within the Act; Secondly, in view of the decisions of the authorities under the Bombay Public Trusts Registration Act No. 25 of 1935, the question is barred by the doctrine of res judicata and therefore the decision under appeal is erroneous; and thirdly in any case, it being property appurtenant to the main Math at Shringeri, the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950 will not apply and the Charity Commissioners in Bombay will have no jurisdiction to deal with the affairs of this institution. An attempt was made to contend relying on the decision in Chhotabhai v. Jnan Chandra Basak, 62 Ind App 146; (AIR 1935 PC 97), that the Shringeri Math itself is a private institution and the properties appurtenant to the Shringeri Math must also be regarded as private properties. This point was never taken at any stage in this enquiry and the only evidence that was offered was in respect of Nasik properties. It would therefore be hardly fair to us to give any decision on the question as to whether Shringeri Math itself is a public trust. In view of our decision on the third point it really is not necessary for us to determine whether or not Shringeri Math is the private property of Shri Shankaracharya. For the purposes of this enquiry it may be assumed that it is a public trust even without deciding it. We will consider the second and the third contentions of Mr. Amin first.


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