Kamaraju Venkata Krishna Rao Vs. The
Sub-Collector, Ongole & ANR  INSC 184 (8 August 1968)
08/08/1968 HEGDE, K.S.
CITATION: 1969 AIR 563 1969 SCR (1) 624
Andhra Inams (Abolition & Conversion into
Ryotwari) Act 36 of 1956, s. 2(E)-if a tank fell within the definition of a
The appellant claimed that certain property
comprised in an Inam which was abolished by virtue of the Andhra Inams
(Abolition & Conversion into Ryotwari) Act 36 of 1956 should be registered
in his name. His contention was that prior to its abolition he was the Inamdar
of that Inam though he had the liability to repair a tank in his village from
out of the income of Inam was granted for a charitable purpose, the object of
assuming the Inam was granted for a charitable purpose, the. object of the
charity being a tank, the same could not be considered a charitable
HELD: (i) It was clear from the evidence that
the -Inam was granted in favour of the tank and was not a grant in favour of
the appellant's family subject to the liability to 'repair the tank; and
furthermore that the ancestors of the appellant and subsequently the appellant
were looking after the management of the tank.
(ii) Under Hindu law a tank can be an object
of charity and when a dedication is made in favour of a tank, it is considered
as a charitable institution. Once it was held that the Inam in the present case
was in favour of the tank, the tank in question must be considered a charitable
institution within the meaning of s. 2(E) of the Act.
Consequently, after the abolition'of the
Inam, the Inam property is converted into Ryotwari property of the tank, to be
managed by its manager. Admittedly the appellant was the present manager and
hence the property in question must be registered in the name of the tank but
would' continue to be managed by the appellant so long as he continued to be
its manager. [628 H-629 C] Minister of National Revenue V. Trusts and Guarantee
Co. Ltd.,  A.C. 138; Masjid Shahid Ganj and Ors. V.
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee,
Amritsar and Anr, A.I.R. 1940 P.C. 116; Jamnabai V. Khimji Vallubdass &
Ors., I.L.R. (1890) 14, Bom, 1 at p. 9; and V. Mariyappa and Ors.
v.B.K. Puttaramayya and Ors. I.L.R. 
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 1103 of 1955.
Appeal from the order dated August 9, 1963 of
the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Writ Petition No. 431 of 1961.
D. Natsaralu, A. Subba Rao and K. Javaram,
for the appellant.
B. Parthasarathy, for respondent No. 1.
625 T. Satyanarayana, for respondent No. 2.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Hegde, J. A short, none the less interesting question of law arises for
decision in this appeal by certificate, and that question is whether a tank can
be considered as a charitable institution within the meaning of those words in
s. 2(E) of the Andhra Inams (Abolition & Conversion into Ryotwari Act) 1956
(Act No. 36 of 1956) (to be hereinafter referred to as the Act).
The Inam with which we are concerned in this
case stands abolished under the Act. The appellant wants the property comprised
in that Inam to be registered in his name. His contention is that prior to its
abolition he was the/namdar of that Inam though he had the liability to repair
the tank in his village from out of the income of that/nam. The Authorities
under the Act have rejected 'Iris claim that he was the Inamdar of the Inam in
question. They have come to the conclusion that the Inam was in favour of the
tank and that he was in possession of the Inam property only as the Manager of
the tank which according to them was a charitable institution. This conclusion
has been upheld by the High Court.
It is not known as to who granted the Inam in
question. The grant is lost in antiquity. The only evidence we have relating to
this/nam are the entries in the Inam register.
A copy of that register has been produced in
Therein the Inam is shown to have been
granted to the tank "uracheruvu". Under column 8 it is mentioned that
it was given for repairs of the pond called uracheruvu situated close to the
village. Under column 10 it is mentioned that it is to be in force so long as
the repairs of the tank are performed. The ancestor of the appellant was shown
to be the Manager of the charitable institution viz., the tank.
Under the remarks column it is mentioned
"The pond is of great use for the cattle and people of the village. The
Inam can be confirmed permanently so long as the repairs are performed. The
pond for which the Inam was originally granted was situated north to the
village and is now out of use. At the request of the villagers the late
Collector Mr. Fraser issued an order in 1819 that the proceeds of this Inam can
be applied to the present existing Kunta which is south to the village and so
of use." From these entries it is clear that the Inam was granted in
favour of the tank known as "uracheruvu". It has been so considered
at least ever since 1819. Therefore we are unable to uphold the contention of
the appellant that it was a grant in favour of his family subject to the
liability to. repair the tank. It appears that the ancestors of the appellant
and at present the appellant is looking after the management of the tank.
626 Mr. Narsaraju, learned Counsel for the
appellant contended that even if we come to the conclusion that the Inam was
granted for a charitable purpose, the object of the charity being a tank, the
same cannot be considered as a charitable institution. According to him a tank
cannot be considered as an institution. In support of that contention of his he
relied on the dictionary meaning of the term 'institution'.
According to the dictionary meaning the term
'institution' means "a body or organization of an association brought into
being for the purpose of achieving some object". Oxford Dictionary defines
an 'institution' as "an establishment organisation or association,
instituted for the promotion of some object especially one of public or general
utility, religions, charitable, educational, etc." Other Dictionaries
define the same word as 'organised society established either by law or the
authority of individuals, for promoting any object, public or social'. In
Minister of National Revenue V. Trusts a.nd Guarantee Co. Ltd. (1) the Privy
"It is by no means easy to give a
definition of the _ word "institution" that will cover every use of
it. Its meaning must always depend upon the context in which it is found."
In Masjid Shahid Ganj and Ors. V. Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee,
Amritsar and Anr.(2) the Privy Council considered a Madrasah as institution
though it doubted whether the same can be considered as a "juristic
personality". This is what the Privy Council observed:
"A gift can be made to a madrasah in
like manner as to a masjid. The right of suit by the mutwali or other manager
or by any person entitled to a benefit (whether individually or as a member of
the public or merely in common with certain other persons ) seems hitherto to have
been found sufficient for the purpose of maintaining Mohomedan endowments. At
best the institution is but a caput mortuum, and some human agency is always
required to take delivery of property and to apply it to the intended purposes.
Their Lordships, with all respect to the High Court of Lahore, must not be
'taken as deciding that a "juristic personality" may be extended for
any purpose to Muslim institutions generally or to mosques in particular. On
this general question they reserve their opinion." We may at this stage
state that the Act has not defined either the expression "charitable
institution" or even "institution". Therefore we have to find
out the meaning of that term with reference to the context in which it is
found. We must remember that the (1)  A.C. 138. (2) A.I.R. 1940 P.C.,
627 expression "charitable
institution" is used in a statute which abolishes Inams. The Inam in
question must undoubtedly have been granted by a Hindu. Most of the Inams
abolished by the Act were those granted by Hindu Kings in the past. According
to Hindu conceptions a tank has always been considered as an object of charity.
In the Tagore Law Lectures delivered in 1892 by late Parelit Prannath Saraswati
on "The Hindu Law of Endowments", "From very ancient times the
sacred writings of the Hindus divided works productive of religions merit into
two divisions named ishta and purta a classification which has come down to our
times. So much so that the entire objects of Hindu endowments will be found
included within the enumeration of ishta and purta works.
In the Rig Veda ishtapurttam (sacrifices and
charities ) are described as the means of going to heaven. In commenting on the
same passage Sayana explains ishtapurtta to denote "the gifts bestowed in
srauta and smarka rites." In the Taittiriya Aranyaka, ishtapurtta occur in
much the same sense and Sayana in commenting on the same explains ishta to
denote "Vedic rites like Darsa, Purnamasa etc. and purta "to denote
Smarkta works like tanks, wells etc.".
At page 26 he again quotes Vyasa in these
"Tanks, wells with flights of steps,
temples, the bestowing of food, and groves-these are called purttam." At
page 27, the learned lecturer enumerates the purtta works. Amongst them is
included the construction of works for the storage of water, as wells, baolis,
tanks etc. The learned lecturer devotes his tenth lecture to
"purtta". In the course of that lecture he again states that the
construction of reservoirs of water is. classed by Hindu sages amongst the
"purtta" and charitable works. In this connection he quotes from
various treatises such as:
(i) Ashwalayana Grihya Parishishta;
(ii) Vishnu Dharmottara;
(iii) Skanda Purana;
(iv) Nandi Purana;
(v) Aditya Purana;
(vii) Mahabharata etc. etc.
In Jamnabai v. Khimji Vullubdass and Ors.(1)
Sir Charles Sargent Kt., C.J. while interpreting a will observed thus:
(1) I.L.R.  14, Bom., 1 at p. 9. 13
Sup. C1/68-9 628 "We come to the latter part of clause 6, which directs
the building of a well and "avada", (cistern for animals to drink
water from), out of the surplus of his fund after providing for the outley of
the two sadavarats and repairing his property. Mr. Justice Jardine considered
he could not presume a charitable object in a well and "avada". Such
an object is so frequently the result of charitable intention in Oriental
countries, and i.s so entirely in accordance with the notions of the people of
this country that we think that, in the absence of anything to show that the
testator intended the well and "avada" to be built for the benefit of
the property-and there is nothing in the present will to show such intention
they should be presumed to have intended by the testator for the use of the
public." In V. Mariyappa and Ors. v. B.K. Puttaramayya and Ors(x) a
Division Bench of the Mysore High Court observed thus:
"The maintenance of Sadavartas, tanks,
seats of learning and homes for the disabled or the destitute and similar
institutions is recognised by and well known to Hindu law, and when maintained
as public institutions they must be taken to have a legal personality as a
Matha or the diety in a temple has, and the persons in charge of the Management
would occupy a position of trust." That decision proceeds on the basis
that a tank can be a charitable institution under Hindu law. That decision was
quoted with approval by late Bijan Kumar Mukherjea who later became the Chief
Justice of this Court, in his Tagore Law Lectures delivered in August 1951.
Therein he observed:
"It has been held that though Mutts and
temples are the most common forms of Hindu religious institutions, dedication
for religious or charitable purposes need not necessarily take one of these
forms and that the maintenance of sadabartas, tanks, seats of learning and
homes for the disabled or the destitute and similar institutions are recognised
by and well known to Hindu law and when maintained as public institutions, they
must be taken to have a legal personality as a Matha or the deity in a temple
has, and the persons in charge of the management would occupy a position of
trust." From the above discussion it is seen' that under Hindu law a tank
can be an object of charity and when a dedication is made in (1) I.L.R. 
629 favour of a tank, the same is considered
as a charitable institution. It is not necessary for our present purpose to
decide whether that institution can also be considered as a juristic person.
Once we come to the conclusion that the Inam with which we are concerned in
this case was an Inam in favour of the "uracheruvu" (tank) that tank
must be considered as a charitable institution under the Act.
Consequently after the abolition of the Inam,
the Inam property gets itself converted into Royatwari property, of the
"uracheruvu", to be managed by its Manager. Admittedly the appellant
is its present Manager. Hence the property in question has to be registered in
the name of the tank but it will" continue to be managed by the appellant
so long as he continues to be its Manager.
In the result subject to our observations as
regards the management of the property, the appeal is dismissed. No costs.
R.K.P.S. Appeal dismissed.