SREE SREE BHABAPRITANANDA OJHA Vs. PRESIDENT OF THE BIHAR STATE BOARD
HIGH COURT OF PATNA
SREE SREE BHABAPRITANANDA OJHA
PRESIDENT OF THE BIHAR STATE BOARD
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Ramaswami, J -
(1.) IN this case the petitioner Sree Bhabaprita-nanda Ojha has moved this Court for a writ in the nature of certiorari against respondents 1 and 2 for calling up and quashing the proceedings started against the petitioner under the Bihar Hindu Religious Trusts Act (Bihar Act I of 1951).
(2.) THE petitioner is the High Priest of a temple which is well-known as Baidyanath Dham and which is situated" in the town of Deoghar in the district of Santal Parganas. THE history of the temple is lost in the mist of antiquity. According to Hindu tradition, the temple was built in "Treta Yuga" the age of the events narrated in the Ramayana. THE popular belief is that the temple was established by Ravana, the King of Demons. It appears that in the year 1791 the ancestor of the petitioners Sree Ramdutta Jha executed an engagement with the then Collector Mr. C. Keating on behalf of the British Government. This engagement is dated 19-9-1791 and since that date the family of the petitioner is managing the affairs of the temple including the puja and other temple ceremonies. THE properties of the temple are lying mostly in the State of Bihar but there are some properties located in the districts of 'Burdwan', Murshidabad and Bir-bhum in the State of West Bengal. In the year 1897 the temple became the subject-matter of litigation. In that year a suit was filed under Section 539 (corresponding to the present Section 92), Civil P. C., in the Court of the District Judge of Burdwan. THE suit was decided on 4-7-1901 and it was held by the Additional District Judge that the temple properties belonged to a public trust and the High Priest who held the office at that time should be removed on account of mismanagement. By the same judgment the Additional District Judge prepared a scheme for the better management of the trust properties and appointed a committee of three persons to supervise the management of the temple and of its properties and to give general directions for its proper administration. THE Judge further held that according to the usage and custom of the temple, the petitioner being the eldest grandson of the then High Priest, was entitled to be appointed as High Priest of the temple; but on account of the petitioner's minority-another person of the family was duly appointed as High Priest. THE judgment of the Additional District Judge was affirmed on appeal by the Calcutta High Court. THE judgment of the Calcutta High Court is reported in -- ' Shilejananda Dut Jha v. Umesha Nunda Dut Jha', 2 Cal LJ 460 (A). THEreafter difference arose between (he High Priest and the committee. THE matter was heard and decided by the District Judge of Burdwan and on appeal, by the Calcutta High Court. On 8-7-1910 a Bench of the Calcutta High Court modified the scheme and inserted two additional Clauses (1) "Liberty to any person interested to apply to the District Court with reference to the carrying out of the directions of the scheme", and (2) "Liberty to any person interested from time to time to apply to the High Court for any modification of the scheme that may appear to be necessary or convenient". In a later judgment dated 5-9-1912 the Calcutta High Court gave further directions to the committee (1) that the committee must prepare an annual budget of income and expenditure, and (2) that the committee should not be allowed to unduly interfere in the internal management by the High Priest. This judgment is reported in -- 'Umeshnanda Dut Jha v. Ravaneshwar Prasad', 17 Calcutta Weekly Notes 841 (AD. THE matter again came up before the Calcutta High Court on 9-2-1917 & it was held by Woodroffe and Beachcroft JJ. that an application for carrying out the directions of the scheme must be made not to the Deputy Commissioner of Nya Dhumka but to the District Judge of Burdwan.
The petitioner alleges that in August 1952 the President of the Bihar State Board of Religious Trusts acting under Section 59 of the Act required the petitioner to furnish a statement in respect of the properties under his charge. The petitioner made protest saying that the temple was already subject-matter of a scheme framed by the Calcutta High Court and that if the petitioner carried out the order of the President there might be conflict with the direction of the Calcutta High Court. The objection was overruled by the President who demanded from the petitioner a sum of Rs. 1,684 and odd as fee. The petitioner submits that it is impossible for him to comply with the demand of the President as this item of expenditure is not included in the scheme which had been framed by the District Judge of Burdwan and approved by the Calcutta High Court. The contention of the petitioner is that the Bihar Religious Trusts Act cannot apply to Baidyanath temple and that it could not have been the intention of the Bihar Legislature that the Act should apply to the case of a temple which was managed under the directions of a High Court situated outside the territorial limits of Bihar.
(3.) THE question therefore which arises in this case is whether the Bihar Act I of 1951, properly construed, applies to Baidyanath temple which is administered under a scheme prepared by the District Judge of Burdwan and approved by the Calcutta High Court on appeal.;
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