Subba Rao, J. -
(1.)Sri Vaidyanathaswami Temple at Vaitheeswarankoil, Sirkali Taluk, Thanjavur District, Madras State, is an ancient and famous Siva temple. It owns a large extent of immovable property and it is said that its annual income is more than Rs. 2 lakhs. In 1342 the British Government, which was then administering the temple handed over its management to the Pandarasanpadhi of Dharmapuram Adhinam. Since then the said Pandarasannadhi has been managing the same through one of his selected disciples a Kattalai Thambiran. In the year 1919 the High Court of Madras framed a scheme for the administration of the said temple in A. S. No. 181 of 1917. The said scheme provided, among others, that the administration of the temple should be in the hands of the Kattalai Thambiran appointed by the Pandarasannadhi, and that he should be assisted by a treasurer, a shroff and an auctioneer who was to be appointed once in 3 years by the Court. The Madras Legislature passed Act II of 1927 providing for the good administration of temples and their endowments. The Religious Endowments Board functioning under the said not, presumably because the administration of the temple in question was satisfactory, did not take any steps to have the scheme framed by the High Court in 1919 modified under the said Act. That Act was substituted by The Madras Hindu Religious and charitable Endowments Act, 1951 (Act No. XIX of 1951), hereinafter called the Act. On June 16, 1951, the Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, Madras, filed a petition in the Court of the Subordinate Judge, Mayuram, under S. 62 (3a) of the Act for modifying the scheme framed by the High Court. In the petition the Commissioner, after alleging various acts of commission and omission by the Trustee and his subordinates in the management of the temple, and pointing out the defects in the earlier scheme, averred that the full income of the Devasthanam had not been secured and safeguarded and that, that was attributable mainly to the defective machinery set up under the scheme for the administration of the temple. The most important of the modifications suggested to the scheme was that an Executive Officer should be appointed in the place of the Kattalai Thambiran and the Treasurer, conferring large powers on him for the day-to-day administration of the temple. The Pandarasannadhi filed a counter-affidavit denying all the allegations made against the management of the temple and asserting that he had functioned in terms of the scheme and had piloted the temple through difficult times successfully. The learned subordinate Judge, after considering the entire material placed before him, came to the conclusion that the petitioner had not substantiated any of the allegations made against the Trustee and that no case had been made out for amending the scheme and for the appointment of an Executive Officer. In the result he dismissed the petition. The State of Madras, represented by the Commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, Madras, preferred an appeal against the said order to the High Court of Madras. The said appeal came up before a Division Bench of the High Court. In the High Court the learned Government pleader appearing for the State did not question the correctness of the finding given by the learned subordinate Judge that there was no proof of mismanagement of any kind by Pandarasannadhi or the Kattalai Thambiran. The learned counsel for the Pandarasannadhi had no objection for making formal amendments to the scheme, which became necessary due to lapse of time and due to the passing of the Act. After hearing the parties, the High Court modified the scheme introducing the controversial provision. viz., the appointment of an Executive Officer. In the result, the order of the Subordinate Judge was set aside and the scheme made by the High Court in 1919 was modified. This appeal has been filed, on a certificate issued by the High Court, against the said decree of the, High Court.
(2.)Mr. A. V. Viswanatha Sastry, learned counsel for the appellant, contends that the High Court, having agreed with the Subordinate Judge that the Commissioner had failed to establish any of the charges levelled by him against the Trustee, erred in modifying the scheme framed by the High Court in the year 1919 introducing drastic changes therein, such as putting the management of the temple under an Executive Officer who could be appointed and removed only by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board and also making a provision for the appointment of additional Trustees in future. He has no objection to that part of the scheme introducing formal changes in the earlier scheme so as to bring it in conformity with the provisions of the Act.
(3.)The arguments of Mr. A. Ranganadham Chetty, learned counsel for the State, may be stated thus:Under the Act a scheme for administration of a temple may be framed or an earlier scheme may be amended not only when there is mismanagement by the Trustee but also for providing for a better administration of the temple. In the present case, though there is no mismanagement by the Trustee, the extensive immovable properties the temple owns, the existence of large arrears of rents, settlement of disputes that may arise between the tenants and the Trustee under the new tenancy laws and such others call for the appointment of a trained Executive Officer by the Commissioner in the best interests of the Temple. That apart, as under the Act the Commissioner is empowered to frame a scheme if he has reason to believe that in the interests of the proper administration of a religious institution a scheme should be settled for the same, his opinion must be given almost a decisive weight by a Court in the matter of amending a scheme.