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GOVERNMENT AGENT, NORTHERN PROVINCE,v. PARARAJASINGHAM.
D. C., Jaffna, 2,467.
Hindu temple—Acquisition of glebe land for public purpose—Price broughtinto Court by Government Agent in land acquisition case—Claims totrusteeship of temple—Duty of Court to see that price is not expendedfor mere temporary purposes.
Where money was brought into Court as the value of a land whichbelonged to a Hindu temple and had been acquired by the Governmentunder the Land Acquisition Ordinance, and several parties claimed theproceeds, each alleging himself to be a trustee of the temple,—
Held, that the question of trusteeship of the temple should be . settledin the very case in which the money was brought into Court, and that ifpaid out, the Court should take care that the money, representing thevalue of glebe land, was not expended for mere temporary purposes, butin some way that will permanently benefit the charity.
N this case the issue was, which of the defendants were entitledto draw the money brought into Court by the plaintiff as the
value of the land acquired by the Government under the LandAcquisition Ordinance.
The District Judge ordered that the money should remainin Court till the dispute between the defendants regarding thetrusteeship of the temple, which each of them professed tohold, and by virtue of which each claimed the money, should besettled in a separate case. He made, this order relying upon ajudgment of the 'Supreme Court delivered in case No. 2,096 of theDistrict Court of Jafina.
The_ defendants in that case, who were defendants in this casealso, having disputed among themselves as to who were entitled tothe management of this very temple, the District Judge found thatthe first defendant was the de facto manager, and ordered themoney'brought into Court by the Government Agent as the valueof the land acquired in that case to be paid to him. But Bonser,C.J., reversed that order as follows: “ In my opinion the fund inCourt should not be so paid out. It should be paid out to a personin the position of a trustee of the temple who can safely be trustedto expend it, not for 'mere temporary purposes, but in some waythat will permanently benefit the charity. The order will be thatthe money remain in Court until application be made by someperson legally entitled to receive it.” And Lawrie, J., concurringwith the Chief Justice, said: “We have not entered into thequestion whether the first defendant is manager of the temple, butassuming he is, he is not entitled to draw the money and to spendit as he chooses. The money is the price of glebe land- The Court
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below must keep it in Its hand until some one interested satisfiesthe Court how the money can best be. spent, either by buying a bitof land, or by repairing the edifice, or by erecting a new building.”
The District Judge, finding that no trustee had been appointed,and that the money brought into Court in that ease still remainedthere, held os follows in the present case:
” In the face of this judgment of the Supreme Court, it wouldbe mere waste of time to hear evidence as regards the managementof the temple. I can only repeat the order made by the SupremeCourt in case No.' 2,096. ”•
The first defendant appealed against this order.
Sampayo, appearing for appellant, cited Changarapillai v.ClieUiah (5 N. L. H. 270), and argued that the first defendant wasentitled to lead evidence in the present case to prove his allegationthat he was trustee and manager, and as such entitled to draw themoney in deposit.
Rdmandthan, S.-G., for the respondents.—As Bonser, C.J., hadordered in case No. 2,096 that " the money should remain in Courtuntil application be made by some person legally entitled to it,’’ itwas the duty of the first defendant to have proceeded summarilyunder, sections 595 and 582 of the Civil Procedure Code, by” applying ” to the District Court to be appointed a trustee, andthat in the face of such an order of the Supreme Court in thatcase, no other order could be made in the present case.
15th July, 1902. Moncbeiff, A.C.J.—
A portion of land was acquired by the Government Agent ofJaffna for the purposes of the Jaffna Railway. A number ofclaimants came forward, and the Government Agent assessed thevalue of the land to be taken at Rs. 41.25. The claimants agreedthat that was an offer of compensation which might be accepted.However, it appearing that the claimants put forward claimsadverse to each other, the Government Agent referred the matterto the District Court. The first claimant, Tambaia Pararajasing-ham, averred that he was the sole manager and trustee of thetemple Chandirasekara Vairava-natha Sivankovil, to which the landbelonged, and as such he claimed that the money should be paidinto his hands. He asserted that he had become manager andtrustee by inheritance in 1899, and that in that capacity he managedthe temple and all the property belonging to it. He also assertedthat His father, the late manager, had left another son namedMailvakanam, and that he himself and that son were the onlyheirs of his father. Mailvakanam was at that time a minor, and
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lWZ'*he firalt claimant assumed orusurped the management of the
July if.temple and its" property. Theother claimants, as I understand,
—:—claim also as heirs.
■-2ST* In dealing with the case the District Judge heard no evidence,but ordered that the moneyshould remain in Court until a
duly appointed trustee of thetemple applied for it, the parties
tobear their own costs.He-made thisorder onthe authority
ofa decision of the SupremeCourt dated 6th December, 1900,
inD. C., Jaffna, 2,096.Inthat casethe firstclaimant was
respondent, and the other parties were the other parties in thisoase. The judgment wasona similarmatter,and the first
claimant claimed as manager of the temple to draw out a certainsum of money. His claim was resisted by the other claimants.The District Judge in that case held that the first claimant wasthe manager of the temple and apparently gave him leave todraw out the money, but on appeal the decision was not approved.In this Court Mr. Justice Lawrie was at pains to explain thatthe Court did not adjudicate upon the question whether thefirst claimant was the manager of the temple, and whetherhe was recognized as the legal custodian of its property. Heassumed that he was so, but held that he was not entitled todraw the money, I presume, for the reasons given by ChiefJustice Bonser. The Chief Justice says: “In my opinion .thefund in Court should not be so paid out. It. should be paid out toa person in the position of a trustee of the temple who can safelybe trusted to expend it, not for mere temporary purposes, butin some way which will permanently benefit the charity," Fromthese words I gather that the Chief Justice, whatever he mayhave .thought about the managership of the temple, did not thinkthat the first claimant had made out a case such as would entitlehim to represent himself as trustee, or as a person acting astrustee, of the temple. Our attention was drawn to another decision(Changarapillai v.. Chelliah, 5 N. L. R. 270), in which ChiefJustice Bonser and my brother Wendt dealt with the manager-ship of a Hindu temple, and I refer to it for the purpose- ofshowing that the Chief Justice did not mean by the judgment inthe case above cited that the trustee he spoke of must necessarilybe a person regularly appointed by deed or in terms of the CivilProcedure Code. The question was whether the manager of atemple could maintain a possessory suit on behalf of a Hindutemple. Towards .the end of his judgment the Chief Justicespeaks of the manager of the temple as having the control of thefabric of. the temple and the property belonging to it, and ashaving such possession as would entitle him to maintain an
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action, even though making no pretence oi claiming the beneficialinterest of the temple and its property, bat as only a trusteefor the congregation who worshipped there.
I think that the District Judge has been hasty, and has con-cluded too readily that the order in D. C., Jaffna, 2,096, coveredthe present case. The Chief Justice in the judgment in questionsays that application for payment must be made by a person “ inthe position of a trustee ” of a temple. I am therefore unable tosee how die District Judge could in this case come to a properdecision without having before him some facts establishing' or notestablishing the pretensions of the claimants. The first claimantavers that he is the sole manager and trustee, and the Judge beforedeciding the case should, I think, have heard evidence andconsidered whether the first claimant or any of the other claimantscould make out the rights to which they pretend, and, after havingheard the evidence, given his decision as to which of them hadmade out their rights. If none of them made out a right, heshould have made some such order as he has made.
I think the case should go back to the District Court inorder that this may be done. The costs will abide the result.
I am of the same opinion. There is no magic in the term“ trustee.” I believe the word “ manager ’’ is used in connectionwith the administration of the temporal affairs of Hindu templesas describing an officer who, in the eye of the law, would be atrustee for the temple. I do not think the decision in the caseD. C., Jaffna, 2,096, which has been cited to us, was intendedto decide that a manager was not a trustee of the descriptionmentioned by the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Lawrie in thatcase. The parties there appear to have fought out the questionof who was manager, and to have devoted very little attentionto the question of what therightsofamanager were, and this
Court was ofopinion thatwhatwasdisclosed in the record
did not prove a manager to be such a trustee as would be entitledto receive the price of the temple land, and to administer it onbehalf of the temple. The amount involved in the presentlitigation is small; but I understand that the other property ofthe temple isextensive andvaluable.Iknow that the office of
manager of atemple is onewhichismuch desired and held in
honour by the members of the community to which the templebelongs. I think, therefore, we ought to accede to what appearsto be the desire of the parties in this litigation, to have the right tothe managership or trusteeship finally settled by a decree of Court-
GOVERNMENT AGENT, NORTHERN PROVINCE v. PARARAJASINGHAM