Iyer Vs. State Wakf Board  INSC 103 (25 February 1993)
Jagdish Saran (J) Verma, Jagdish Saran (J) Kasliwal, N.M. (J)
1994 SCC Supl. (2) 109
appeal by special leave is by the defendants against the judgment of the Madras
High Court by which the second appeal was allowed resulting in the suit filed
by the respondent for recovery of possession of the suit property, being
decreed. The impugned judgment is a common judgment rendered in several second
appeals but this civil appeal relates only to the second appeal arising out of
Original Suit No. 790 of 1967 filed in the court of the District Munsif of Pattukkottai.
suit property consists of 1.89 acres of land which was alienated in favour of
the original defendant, now represented by the LRs, by Sheik Dawood on May 22, 1946 for a sum of Rs 300 only. The suit
land was a part of the Wakf property, the Wakf being created by the ancestors
of the husband of Ibrahim Bivi Ammal through whom Sheik Dawood, her son,
claimed under a will.
Dawood died sometime in 1953. The suit giving rise to the civil appeal was
filed by the Wakf Board on August 14, 1967
for recovery of possession of the suit land alienated by Sheik Dawood in favour
of the original defendant.
trial court upheld the defendants' plea of limitation and dismissed the suit as
time barred. On appeal the learned District Judge of West Thanjavur affirmed
the trial court's decree and dismissed the appeals. That gave rise to the
second appeal filed by the plaintiff, Wakf Board, in the High Court which was
allowed by the impugned judgment. The High Court has held that the suit is
governed by Article 96 of the Limitation Act, 1963 and being filed within 12
years of the constitution of the Wakf Board, was within time. An attempt made
in the High Court on behalf of the defendant to support dismissal of the suit
by the trial court as well as the first appellate court on the ground that the
suit property was not a wakf, was rejected on merits by the High Court. This
has given rise to the present appeal.
counsel for the appellants strenuously urged that the suit is time barred. It
is not disputed that Article 96 of the Limitation Act, 1963 is applicable to
such a suit which was filed in 1967. The contention of learned counsel for the
appellants primarily is, that the time for suit began to run from the date of
death of Sheik Dawood in 1953 on account of which the suit filed on August 14, 1967 is time barred. In the Limitation
Act of 1908 it was Article 134-B which governed such suit while in the
Limitation Act, 1963 the corresponding provision is Article
The present suit being filed in 1967 would be governed by Article 96 of the
Limitation Act, 1963. The starting point of limitation under Article 134-B of
Limitation Act, 1908 and that under Article 96 of the Limitation Act, 1963, for
facility of comparison, are quoted as under :
: "Time from which period begins to run.- The death, resignation or
removal of the transferor." 1963 Act: "Time from which period begins
to run.- The date of death, resignation or removal of the transferor or the
date of appointment of the plaintiff as manager of the endowment, whichever is
later." 6.A comparison of the two provisions would indicate that time
begins to run under Article 96 of the new Act from the date of death,
resignation or removal of the transferor or the date of appointment of the
plaintiff as the manager of the endowment whichever is later; and earlier under
Article 134-B of Limitation Act, 1908, the starting point of limitation was not
prescribed, in addition, with reference to 'the date of appointment of the
plaintiff as manager of the endowment'; with the further provision under the
new Act that the later of the prescribed dates is to apply. It is on the basis
of this additional provision in Article 96 of the new Act that the High Court
has taken the view that the plaintiff Wakf Board being constituted in 1958, the
starting point of limitation for the present suit is 1958 and not the date of
death of Sheik Dawood in 1953.
Admittedly, the period of limitation of 12 years prescribed under the old Act
in Article 134-B reckoned from the date of death of Sheik Dawood in 1953 had
not expired when the new Limitation Act came into force and, therefore, the
present suit was clearly governed by Article 96 of the new Limitation Act.
only other question which arises for consideration in this context is whether
the plaintiff Wakf Board can be treated as 'manager of the endowment' within
the meaning of that expression used in Article 96 of the Limitation Act, 1963?
The High Court has considered this aspect also at length and stated its
conclusion with reference to the provisions of the Wakf Act, thus :
word, 'Manager' in relation to a religious or charitable endowment is not a
term of art. The said word notes the person who is in charge of the
administration of the endowment or manages the property or supervises the
performance of the charity and the word is one of very wide and general import.
combined effect of Sections 15(1) and 15(2) of the Wakfs Act will certainly be
sufficient to designate the Wakf Board as a manager for the purpose of recovery
of possession of Wakf property and consequently it can certainly be termed as
'Manager' contemplated by the third column to Article 96 of the new Limitation
Act and if so construed, the constitution of the Wakf Board under the statute
can certainly be construed to be the appointment of the Wakf Board as Manager
of the Wakf in question, because even the word 'appointment' just like the word
'Manager' is not a term of art and therefore has to receive its ordinary,
natural and normal meaning."
our opinion, the High Court rightly came to the above conclusion that the
plaintiff Wakf Board has to be treated as the manager of the Wakf in question
for the purpose of Article 96 of the Limitation Act, 1963. It is, therefore,
clear that the view taken by the High Court that the suit was within time under
Article 96 of the new Limitation Act does not suffer from any infirmity and the
contention of the learned counsel for the appellants has to be rejected.
next submission of the learned counsel for the appellants was, in fact, an
attempt to contend that the suit property is not a Wakf property. We are unable
to accept this contention as we agree with the High Court even on this point.
While repelling a similar contention, the High Court has referred to a document
Ex. A-2, on which the defendant relies to claim title through Sheik Dawood. The
contents of that document, a part of which has been extracted in the High
Court's judgment, clearly indicate that Ibrahim Bivi Ammal had herself
mentioned in that document that the properties had been set apart as a grant to
the Mosque from the time of her husband's ancestors which clearly means that
the properties had been endowed as Wakf properties by the forefathers of the
husband of Ibrahim Bivi Ammal. The defendant claiming through Sheik Dawood
cannot assert any better title in himself. This contention was rightly rejected
by the High Court.
submission made by the learned counsel for the appellants was that the right,
if any, conferred on the plaintiff was confined to the income of Rs 27 per
annum from the property and did not extend to the property itself. For the
reasons already given, the entire property being endowed as Wakf property 112
by the forefathers of the husband of Ibrahim Bivi Ammal, this contention has to
Consequently, the appeal fails and is dismissed. No costs.