Decided on April 29,1992

GOVERNMENT OF A.P. Respondents

Cited Judgements :-



- (1.)The petitioner prays for directions to respondents 1 and 2, the Government of A.P. and the Commissioner of Endowments respectively, to appoint him, or, in the alternative, to appoint the 4th respondent, as full-fledged Mahant, under Sec.52 of A.P. Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1987, with power to discharge religious and secular functions of Sri Swamy Hathi Ramji Mutt, Tirupati, till the rights of the 5th respondent as Matadhipathi are finally decided by competent courts.
(2.)The petitioner claims to be the Third Disciple of the 5th respondent - Sri H.H. Devendra Dassji Varu, Mahant of Sri Swamy Hathi Ramji Mutt ('the Mutt' for short). The 5th respondent was declared as mahant of the Mutt by the Supreme Court of India. Apart from the petitioner, the other disciples of the 5th respondent are, Sarjidass, Mohandass, Uttamdass, Satgurudass and the 4th respondent. The 4th respondent was appointed as interim mahant to look after the religious activities of the Mutt by the proceedings dated 7-9-90 of the first respondent. The petitioner claims that he was appointed as junior mahant by the 5th respondent by the proceedings dated 5-11-78 while the petitioner was going on pilgrimage. Dispute arose between respondent 1 to 3 on one hand and the 5th respondent on the other. Respondents 1 to 3 took the stand that the 5th respondent is no longer the mahant of the Mutt since he resigned as mahant of the mutt. The 5th respondent disputed the stand taken by respondents 1 to 3 and asserted his right to continue as mahant and the matter is pending decision in A.S.No.172/88 on the file of the District Court, Chittoor. In the meanwhile, treating the office of the Mahant as vacant, the 4th respondent was appointed as interim Mahant, while the third respondent was appointed as custodian of the mutt. The petitioner alleges that the third respondent-custodian indulged in several illegal acts and alienated the mutt properties without any necessity and caused loss and damage to the mutt and its properties. The 2nd respondent has no authority to appoint a custodian and the custodian has no right to deal with the properties of the mutt. The scheme of the Act does not authorise the appointment of a departmental official while there is a Mahant. It is also averred that there is no power to bifurcate the spiritual and secular functions of the mutt. The power of the interim mahant is only limited to look after the religious functions. The interim Mahant cannot be deprived of the right to exercise both spiritual and secular aspects of the mutt. The petitioner therefore prays that either he should be appointed as Mahant or the 4th respondent be permitted to exercise both secular and spiritual powers of the Mahant.
(3.)The third respondent-Custodian filed an elaborate counter-affidavit covering the entire history of the mutt and the legal as well as the factual aspects arising in the case. This counter is adopted by respondents 1 and 2.

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