COMMISSIONER HINDU RELIGIOUS AND CHARITABLE ENDOWMENTS ADMN DEPARTMENT ANDHRA PRADESH Vs. VELUVALI SAKTIPRASADA RAO
HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
COMMISSIONER, HINDU RELIGIOUS AND CHARITABLE ENDOWMENTS, (ADMN.) DEPARTMENT, ANDHRA PRADESH
VELUVALI SAKTIPRASADA RAO
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(1.) The defendants are the appellants. The suit was brought by
the first respondent-plaintiff (since deceased) under section 62 of the Madras Hindu
Religious and Charitable Endowments Act (XIX of 1951), for setting aside the
order dated 25th January, 1957, made by the first defendant Commissioner in Appeal
No. 16 of 1955 and for declaring that the first respondent is the hereditary trustee
of the 2nd defendant temple, which is situate at Palakol. It will be convenient,
to hereinafter refer to Act XIX of 1951, as the H.R.C.E. Act. The plaintiff's case
is that, ever since about 1682, when his ancestor Veluvali Sambhudu was the trustee,
the trusteeship of the 2nd defendant temple has been in the family of the plaintiff,
that no outsider has ever taken part in the management of the temple, that his
grandfather's elder brother Ramayya shifted to Bapatla for practising as a vakil
and therefore nominated his grandfather Achanna as trustee, that the trusteeship
has thereafter devolved by usage upon his father and upon himself and that he is a
hereditary trustee within the meaning of section 6, clause (q) of the H.R.C.E. Act.
He applied to the Deputy Commissioner under section 57, clause (b) in O.A. No.
217 of 1953 to declare him as the hereditary trustee of the temple. But the Deputy
Commissioner dismissed the application on 4th July, 1955, on the ground that the
petition was not maintainable in view of the earlier order dated 29th October,
1935 (Exhibit B-29,) of the erstwhile Hindu Religious Endowments Board in O.A.
No. 167 of 1935 declaring the and defendant to be a non-excepted temple. The
plaintiff than appealed to the Commissioner under section 61, sub-section (1) of
of the H.R.C.E. Act in Appeal No. 16 of 1955 and the appeal was dismissed on
25th January, 1957. Consequently, he instituted the suit on 16th April, 1957, under
section 62 of the Act.
(2.) The defendants traversed the allegations of fact in the plaint that the plaintiff's
ancestor Veluvali Sambhudu was a trustee of the temple in 1682 and the trusteeship
continued in the family ever since. Their main defence was that, the suit was not
maintainable, because the plaintiff's application in O.A.No. 167 of 1935 under
section 84 (1) of Act II of 1927 for declaring the temple as an excepted temple
was dismissed by the Hindu Religious Endowments Board on 29th October, 1935
on the ground that he was not the hereditary trustee (Exhibit B-29) ; and he filed
O.P. No. 84 of 1936 in the District Court, Eluru, under section 84 (2) of Act II of
1927, which was also dismissed for default on 24th July, 1941 (Exhibit B-3). They
further pleaded that the Government had notified the temple under Chapter VI-A
of Act II of 1927 in G.O. Mis. No. 4750 dated 29th October, 1936, that the Executive
Officer appointed in pursuance of the notification obtained delivery of the
properties of the temple on 19th July, 1940, under the District Court's order in
O.P.No. 28 of 1937, that trustees were also being appointed under that Act from time
to time and that the plaintiff's right was barred by limitation as his cause of action
had arisen even in 1935.
(3.) The learned Subordinate Judge found, on a consideration of the evidence, that
the plaintiff's family had been trustees and managing the temple affairs for four
generations and this was sufficient in the circumstances to show that they were,
hereditary trustees. He also found that neither the decision of the Board in O.A.
No. 167 of 1935 (Exhibit B-29) nor the dismissal by the District Court of O.P.
No. 84 of 1936 (Exhibit B-3) operated as res judicata. His reason was that, under
section 84 (1) of Act II of 1927, the Board had power to decide only the status of the
temple and not the status of the trustee; and that as to the application made by the
plaintiff under section 84 (2) of that Act, it was dismissed only for default and not on
the merits. He further found that even after Exhibit B-3 the plaintiff continued to
enjoy rights as hereditary trustee, that new trustees were sought to be appointed
only in 1952 giving rise to a fresh cause of action for the plaintiff and that the present
suit is not barred as the plaintiff could apply at any time under section 57 (b) of the
H.R.C.E. Act. As a result of these findings, he decreed the suit and the defendants
have therefore come up in appeal.;
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