INDURU PATTABHIRAMI REDDI Vs. SRI VEDAGIRI LAKSHMI NARASIMHA SWAMI TEMPLE AND OTHERS
HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
Induru Pattabhirami Reddi
Sri Vedagiri Lakshmi Narasimha Swami Temple And Others
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JAGANMOHAN REDDY,J. -
(1.) The 1st defendant is the appellant. The first defendant along with defendants Nos. 2 and 3 were the trustees of Sri Vedagiri Lakshmi Narasimhaswami Temple from, at any rate, 1946 to 1951, he being the managing trustee. In the year 1951 three persons were appointed trustees in place of defendants Nos. 1 to 3 and several proceedings were taken to get possession of the properties. Ultimately possession was taken and the new trustees took over the management of the temple. These new trustees were Putta Reddy, the second plaintiff and the 4th defendant and on Putta Reddy "?s resignation the 1st, plaintiff was appointed so that the suit was by the first plaintiff, the second plaintiff and since the 4th defendant did not join with the plaintiffs he was made a proforma defendant. Subsequently the fourth defendant died and in his place, the third plaintiff was appointed and since he was prepared to join with the other plaintiffs, he was made the third plaintiff. Subsequently the third defendant died and defendants Nos. 5 and 6 were added as parties. The suit against the defendants was for recovery of damages, for malfeasance, misfeasance and non-defeasance and for delivery of certain movable and immovable properties of the temple,on the ground that the first defendant did not surrender the property after he ceased to be a trustee and as such the provisions under section 87 of Act XIX of 1951 had to be resorted to take possession. The first defendant filed a suit O. S. No. 26 of 1952 on the file of the Subordinate Judge "?s Court, Nellore, for a declaration that the order of the District Magistrate was illegal and stay of execution of the said order till the disposal of the suit. The interlocutory petition for interim orders filed by him was dismissed. Ultimately the 1st defendant withdrew the suit on 21-7-52 and the new trustees obtained possession of the temple and some of its articles on 21-7-52 under orders passed in M. P. 1 of 1952 and the first defendant ceased to be a trustee from 21-1-51. Accordingly the plaintiff "?s were asking for an account from the first defendant and the other defendants from 1946 to 21-1-1951 and from 21-1-51. to 21-7-52 i.e., the date of giving possession. The allegations against the - defendants were that they did not lease out the lands, did not recover possession of the properties, that there was gross negligence in collecting rents and that they did not file suits for recovery of rents and did not take proper security. The defendants denied all the allegations in the plaint and pleaded that the suit was not maintainable and that it was barred by limitation. The trial court decreed the suit of the plaintiffs and gave a preliminary decree directing defendants Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 6 to render a true and proper account of their management of the temple and its properties, for the period commencing from the" beginning of 1946 till the plaintiffs took possession of the temple in July, 1952, and pay such amount as would be found due by them on taking accounts and to deliver to the plaintiffs section 33 register and such other registers, jewels and movable properties of the temple which have not been delivered. There was also a direction that defendants Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 6 should pay costs. In appeal, the learned Additional District Judge, confirmed this decree and dismissed the appeal.
(2.) The learned advocate for the appellant Mr. Kuppuswami contends (1) that the suit is not maintainable under Section 93 of the Act (Act XIX of 1951), (2) that in the absence of allegation of malversation and dishonesty he cannot be liable to back accounting. The learned advocate for the respondent on the other hand, contends that there is ample authority to the proposition that when there is gross negligence on the part of the trustees, in not looking after the management of the temple, they can be made liable for damages due to their negligence and that under Section 74 (7) even after the order of surcharge has been made the suit is not barred against the trustee which gives an indication that a suit against an ex-trustee will lie. Sub-section (7) to section 74 and section 93 are as follows:-
(3.) It is contended by Mr. Kuppuswami that there is a total prohibition in the first limb of Section 93 which corresponds to Section 73 (4) of the repealed Act, According to him there is a total prohibition to the filing of a suit relating to the administration or management of a religious institution and since there are provisions under the Act under which the management of a trust can be controlled the legislature thought it fit to prohibit suits being filed against trustees in respect of management or administration. The sections to which he has referred are section 27, 28, 70 and 74. He further contends that it is only when there are allegations of malversation and dishonesty that suits can be filed and in this case it is his contention that the Court below did find that there was any dishonesty or malversation on the part of the managing trustees, on the other hand, evidence has been let in to show that the board did lake any steps to surcharge the first defendant in respect of accounts submitted Or in respect of any acts of management. In these circumstances he contends that no back accounting can be taken even if the suit is maintainable.;
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