1. Poonamallee Sri Thirukachi Nambi Vari Vutchava Vysya Thadhiyaradhana Charities had been created in the year 1917 and registered under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860. The objects of the Charities are :-- (1) Thadhiyaradhana (feeding) to the Arya Vysya public at the time of the annual festival in Sri Thirukachi Nambi Temple at Poonamallee and (2) for the purpose of other charitable kaingaryams as approved by the Committee Members.
The other kaingaryams, as approved by the Committee Members, it is said, are relatable to the performance of the charities like meeting out educational expenses, marriage expenses, medical relief and other reliefs and help during the time of calamities to the members of the Arya Vysya community, a religious denomination.
2. While so, respondent 2, it is said, issued a notice to the petitioner -- Charities to produce certain records for inspection, as if the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959 (Act XXII of 1959) for short 'the Act') are attractable to the charities, to which the petitioner -- charities took an exception. Respondent 2 was, however, by his letter dated 7-6-1984 was stated to have concluded that the charities would be amenable to the provisions of the Act and therefore, he was stated to have forwarded a demand notice for contribution and audit fees under Section 92 of the Act issued by respondent 1 demanding payment of a total sum of Rs. 5,235/- for faslis 1390 to 1393. The petitioner -- charities, treating such a demand as a naked interference in the management and administration of the said charities, came forward with the present action under Article 226 of the Constitution praying for issue of a Writ of Mandamus to forbear the respondents from is in any way interfering with the petitioner's management and administration of the said charities.
3. Learned Counsel appearing for the petitioner would submit that the said charities, if viewed, in the light of the objects for which it was created could, by no stretch of imagination, be construed to be a religious institution, attracting the liability for payment of contribution and audit fees under Section 92 of the Act and therefore, such sort of inteference with their management and administration of the said charities on the part of the respondents should be prohibited.
4. Learned Additional Government Pleader representing the respondents would however repel such a submission.
5. For appreciating the contentions, as projected by learned Counsel for the petitioner, a survey of certain and relevant provisions of the Act is necessary.
6. 'Religious institution' is defined under Section 6(18) of the Act, which reads as under:--
""religious institution" means a math, temple or specific endowment."
7. 'Specific endowment' is defined under Section 6(19) of the Act and it is as follows:
" 'specific endowment' means any property of money endowed for the performencc of any specific service or charity in a math of temple, or for the performance of any other religious charity, but does not include an inam of the nature described in Explanation (1) to clause (17);
Explantion (1) -- Two or more endowments of the nature specified in this clause, the administration of which is vested in a common trustee, or which are managed under a common scheme settled or deemed to have been settled under this Act shall be construed as a single specific endowment for the purposes of this Act;
Explanation (2) :-- Where a specific endowment attached to a math or temple is situated partly within the State and partly outside the Stale, control shall be exercised in accordance with the provisions of this Act over the part of the specific endowment situated within the State."
8. Section 6(20) defines 'temple', which is couched in the following terms:
" 'temple' means a place by whatever designation known, used as a place of public religious worship, and dedicated to, or for the benefit of, or used as of right by, the Hindu community or any section thereof, as a place of public religious worship:
Explanation:-- Where a temple situated outside the State has properties situated within the State control shall be exercised over the temple in accordance with the provisions of this Act, in so far as the properties of the temple situated within the State are concerned."
9. Section 6 (16) defining 'religious charity' reads as follows:
"'religious charity' means a public charity associated with a Hindu festival or observance of a religious character, whether it be connected with a math or temple or not".
10. Section 6(17) defining 'religious endowment' or 'endowment' is to the following effect:--
"'religious endowment' or 'endowment' means all property belonging to or given or endowed for the support of maths or temples, or given or endowed for the performance of any service or charity of a public nature connected therewith or of any other religious charity, and includes the institution concerned and also the premises thereof, but does not include gifts of property made as personal gifts to the archaka, service-holder or other employee of a religious institution;
Explantion (1).-- Any inam granted to an archaka, service-holder or other employee of
a religious institution for the performance of any service or charity in or connected with a religious institution shall not be deemed to be personal gift to the archaka, service-holder or employee but shall be deemed to be a religious endowment.
Explanation (2).-- All property which belonged to, or was given or endowed for the support of a religious institution, or which was given or endowed for the performance of any service or charity of a public nature connected therewith or of any other religious charity shall be deemed to be a 'religious endowment' or 'endowment' within the meaning of this definition, notwithstanding that, before or "after the date of the commencement of this Act, the religious institution has ceased to exist or ceased to be used as a place of religious worship or instruction or the service or charity has ceased to be performed;
Provided that this Explanation shall not be deemed to apply in respect of any property which vested in any person before the 30th September, 1951 by the operation of the law of limitation."
11. Section 1 (3) dealing with the applicability of the Act is to the following effect:
"It applies to all Hindu public religious institutions and endowments including the Incorporated Devaswoms and Unincorporated Devaswoms."
12. From the survey of various provisions, it is thus clear that the Act is applicable to all religious institutions and endowments of public nature belonging to Hindu. There is no denial of the fact that the charities in question had been created by Arya Vysya community, a section of the Hindu population, so as to say, a religious denomination. It is also not in dispute that from the object of the charities, which may be religious or otherwise, such charities are to be performed only for the benefit of the Arya Vysya community, a section of the Hindu population. The various charities such as incurring of expenses towards education, marriage celebration, offering medical relief, giving succour and relief during the times of calamities to the members of the Arya Vysya community may, of course, be termed, without fear of contradiction as 'secular'. But the question is whether Thadhiyaradhana to the Arya Vysya public at the time of the annual festival in Arulmighu Thirukachi Nambi temple at Poonamallee is to be construed as religious charity or otherwise. If such charity is to be construed as a religious charity, it goes without saying that such an endowment will attract the provisions of the Act.
13. It is not as if Thadhiyaradhana to the Arya Vysya public is done in utter dissociation or without any connection with any festival in any temple. But the sordid and admitted fact is, as already stated, such a feeding is connected with the annual festival in Arulmighu Thirukachi Nambi temple at Poonamallee. In such a situation, on the face of the combined effect of the various provisions, as referred to above, the Thadhiyaradhana charity shall have to be construed, for all practical purposes, as a religious endowment benefiting a section of the Hindu public, namely, Arya Vysya community. One such a conclusion is reached, the provisions of the Act are attractable to the said charities and in that view of the matter, the demand for contribution and audit fees by the respondent cannot at all be stated to be an act done in interfering with the management and administration of the charities in question.
14. Learned Counsel for the petitioner would rather in an emphatic bid to point out that to the charities in question, the provisions of the Act are not at all attracted, sought to invoke to his aid the decisions in G. Viswalingam Pillai v. The Secretary, Commercial Taxes and Religious Endowments, Madras, 1977 TLNJ 250; Rajeevalochana-char Manant of Uthirathi Srivaishnavite Mutt, Sriperumbudur v. D, Ramachar, and Mangammal Chathyram, Vadalur v. The Land Tribunal (District Revenue Officer), Thanjavur, (1988) 1 Law Weekly 642. The question that fell for consideration in those decisions was altogether different and therefore what was expressed therein is not helpful to the petitioner.
15. As such, the Writ Petition deserved to be dismissed and is accordingly dismissed. Rule Nisi is discharged. No costs.
16. Petition dismissed.