1. Sri Sudhir Ranjan Bhaduri, an eminent scholar of Varanasi District, died in 1955. He left behind some minor heirs for whom the District Magistrate, Varanasi was appointed guardian by the District Judge, Varanasi. It is submitted that Sri Bhaduri had a very rich library which consisted of handwritten manuscript and printed books. The District Magistrate acting as guardian of the minors' person and property is said to have handed over the books to the Sanskrit College, which was later on converted into Sanskrit University, for being kept in safe custody.
2. The minors after having attained majority made an application to the District Judge for return of their property including the books. An order was accordingly made. The heirs are said to have received only five books from the lot of books, which were deposited with the Sanskrit College for safe custody. The rest of the books, inventory whereof was made at the time of their deposit with the Sanskrit College, were not returned to the legal heirs. Sri Brahm Gopal Bhaduri, who is the son of the deceased Bhaduri, is said to have moved an application for return of the books. On this application being filed the State Government and the Sanskrit University raised objection that the books had been purchased by the State Government, therefore, the applicant was not entitled to get the books back, A sum of Rs. 12,000/- was said to have been sanctioned by the State Government for the books and it was said that this amount was deposited in the account of the minors. According to the appellants this amount was spent on the maintenance of the minors whereas the minors, who have now attained majority, have stated that the amount has not been withdrawn by them and even if it is deposited in their account, it can be withdrawn by the appellants or the State Government, as the case may be, along with the interest but they are not interested in selling the books or take the amount allegedly deposited by the State Government as price of the books.
3. The Court below has made a direction in favour of the respondent-applicants (heirs of Mr. Bhaduri) for return of the books. This direction was made by the court below after considering the reply and after framing the issues on the basis of the written submissions by the parties before the court below. The following points, accordingly to the court below, required determination:
1. Whether the alleged books were delivered to the University (Sampurnanand Sanskrit VishwaVidyalaya) for being kept in their custody only or the University had purchased them?
2. If the books were delivered to the University for being kept in their custody What exactly is the provision of law under which they can be ordered to be returned to the petitioner?
3. What are the specific books which can be ordered to be returned to the petitioner, in case the answer to the points Nos. 1 and 2 are decided in their favour?
4. What is the effect of the order dated 24-2-1968 and 4-4-1968? To whom these orders were directed and whether the University is bound by it? Whether these orders suffer from vagueness?
5. Whether the books were purchased by the State Government in the manner, as alleged in para 4 of the affidavit 32/C and were then transferred to the library of the said University, as alleged in para 6 of the said affidavit? Does not alleged transfer had made the said University a mere custodian for and on behalf of the petitioner or they became the owners of the books?
6. Whether the Collector, Varanasi acting as guardian of the petitioner, we competent to transfer the ownership of the books and whether he made such transfer, as alleged?
4. Only documentary evidence was led by the parties before the court below.
5. The direction issued by the court below are assailed by the appellants in this appeal.
6. It is a common ground that on 24-2-1968 a direction was issued by the Court below to the guardian to hand over the movable and immovable property of Sudhir Ranjan Bhaduri to his heirs along with complete account for the period he remained as guardian of their property. The court below had also directed that the Chancellor of the Sanskrit University was bound by his orders and for non-compliance of his orders he seems to have expressed a serious view.
7. Mr. Misra, appearing for the appellant, has submitted that the books were purchased by the Government for the University and Rs. 12,000/- were paid by depositing the same in the account of the heirs of deceased Bhaduri. It was also submitted that the District Magistrate was the Collector also, therefore, he had the authority to hand over the books to the Sanskrit College, which is now Sanskrit University. It is contended that the books and moveable property and its sale is complete with the payment of the price. The delivery of the books has already been made, therefore, under the Sales of Goods Act the books are transferred to the appellant, who has become the owner of the same.
8. The learned counsel for the respondent-heirs has raised a preliminary objection with regard to the maintainability of the appeal. It is stated by him that the order passed by the District Judge is not appealable. It is submitted that the direction to the guardian to return the property of the heirs, which was taken possession by the guardian is an ancillary order, therefore, the appeal is not provided under the Act. The application for the return of the books could be filed by the heirs and the Court acting under the Guardians and Wards Act could pass such an order. I would, however, not pronounced any opinion on this submission but would like to proceed to decide the case on merits.
9. The Collector was appointed as guardian by the court exercising the powers under the Guardians and Wards Act. The guardian had deposited the books with a educational institution for safe custody of the books. The Collector has acted as guardian and taken steps to safeguard the property of the appellant of late Bhaduri. The guardian was trustee of the property in terms of the orders of the court and he was responsible to discharge the trust. His authority would and by the Wards ceasing to be minors. The guardian is, therefore, bound by the orders of the Court and is obliged to return the property of the heirs for whom he had acted as guardian during their minority.
10. The guardian had never obtained permission of the Court to sell the books to the Government or to any educational institution. If the State Government had of their own deposited any amount in the account of the heirs during their minority or thereafter that will not permit the appellant to claim the books as their own. In the first place, no permission was granted by the Court exercising the powers under the guardian and Wards Act. Till the guardian was removed for the minors, the minors are deemed to be under the protection and custody of the Court. The guardian is responsible to the Court and is obliged to act in the best interest of the minors. He cannot part with the property of the minors without the permis- sion of the Court and he cannot sell the property of the minors to the detriment of the minors. The State Government's order for purchase of book and deposit of Rs. 12,000/-in the account of the minors in consequence of its order cannot bind the minors or the Court, exercising the jurisdiction under the Guardians and Wards Act. Therefore, the learned Counsel's submission that the books were sold and price was paid is misplaced. There is no sale of books because nobody had intended to sell the books. If any amount is deposited by the Government, the said amount is refundable to it. The interest which must have accrued on the said amount is also payable to the Government.
11. The Collector as guardian is bound by the direction issued by the Court for return of the books to the heirs of Mr. Bhaduri. The obligation is cast also on the appellant to return the said books to the heirs of Mr. Bhaduri as they are only custodian of the said books The custody of books was created by the Collector for the preservation of the books.
12. The Collector, Varanasi had no independent authority to dispose of the books belonging to the minor heirs of Mr. Bhaduri. He was appointed guardian of the minors, therefore, he was bound to act under the orders of the court below. The orders of the court below with regard to the return of the property are binding on the appellants also. The appellants have not become owners of the books. After ceasing of the minority of the heirs of Mr. Bhaduri the appellants are bound to return the said books to the said heirs. The finding recorded by the court below on the &sues is absolutely correct and does not suffer from any infirmity.
13. Mr. Tripathi, appearing for the respondent-heirs of Mr. Bhaduri, submitted before me that any amount, which was deposited by the State Government in the account of the appellants, can be refunded to the State Government along with the interest, which has accrued the said amount. It is also submitted that the heirs of Mr. Bhaduri has not withdrawn the said amount as they never intended to make sale of valuable books to the appellants. They are interested to preserve the said books, which is their property, and the appellants are only custodian through the Collector. The appellants are bound to return the books to the heirs. Even the Chancellor is bound by the orders of the Court of Guardians and Wards Act and this was made clear by the court below by its order dated 4-4-1978, which order unfortunately has not been implemented by the appellants and the Collector.
14. For the reasons stated above, there is no force in this appeal. The appeal is hereby dismissed with costs.
15. Appeal dismissed.