Idol of Thakurji Shri Govind Deoji
Maharaj Vs. Board of Revenue, Rajasthan, Ajmer & Ors  INSC 183 (24
24/08/1964 AYYANGAR, N. RAJAGOPALA AYYANGAR,
N. RAJAGOPALA GAJENDRA GADKAR, P.B. (CJ) SHAH, J.C.
CITATION: 1965 AIR 906 1965 SCR (1) 96
The Jaipur Matmi Rules, 1945, rr. 4 and
5-"State grant" in favour of idol-Liability for "Matmi
dues"-Practice-Writ Petition-Maintainability by affected party.
The appellant, an Idol, is the grantee of
They are "State grants" under r. 4
of the Jaipur Matmi Rules, 1945, having been made or recognised by the Ruler of
the State. All State grants are subject to Matmi dues under the Rules, that is,
to the amount payable to the State by the successor of a deceased grantee, on
his recognition as such. There had been changes in the person of the Shebait of
the idol twice, the previous incumbent dying and his son being recognised as
the successor. The respondent therefore passed an order demanding Matmi dues
from the present Shebait. The appellant by a Writ Petition disputed the
validity of the order, but the petition was dismissed. On appeal,
HELD:(i) The grants in question being grants
made in favour of the idol and not in favour of the Shebaits, no question of
the death of the grantee or his successor could arise and consequently, the
respondent could not claim any Matmi dues from the appellant. [100F-H].
(ii)Though the order for payment of Matmi
dues had been nominally passed against the Shebait, as they were intended to be
enforced against the properties belonging to the appellant, the appellant's
Writ Petition was maintainable.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 326 of 1962.
Appeal from the judgment and order dated
September 10, 1959 of the Rajasthan High Court in D. B. Civil Writ Petition No.
10 of 1957.
B. K. Bhattacharya and S. N. Mukherjee, for
G. C. Kasliwal, Advocate-General for the
State of Rajasthan, K. K. Jain and R. N. Sachthey, for the respondents.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Gajendragadkar C. J. The short point of law which arises in this appeal is
whether under rule 5 of the Jaipur Matmi Rules, 1945, the appellant, the Idol
of Thakurji Shri Govind Deoji Maharaj, is liable to pay the Matmi amount in
question. It appears that respondent No. 1, the Board of Revenue, had passed an
order on November 6, 1956, directing that the Matalaba Matmi amounting to Rs.
15,404/14/6 be recovered from the Shebait of the appellant temple. The
appellant disputed the 97 validity of this order and filed a Writ Petition (No.
10 of 1957) in the High Court of Rajasthan contending that the said amount was
not recoverable from the appellant. The High Court has dismissed this writ
petition and the appellant has come to this court with a certificate granted by
the High Court.
In its petition, the case for the appellant
was that several lands had been granted to the appellant from time to time and
that these grants were made in the name of the Idol, and that the Seva Pooja of
the Idol and the management of its properties was entrusted to the Goswami ever
since the Idol of Thakurji Shri Govind Deoji Maharaj was taken to Jaipur from
Brindaban. On the death of the ninth Shebait, Goswami Shri Krishna Chandra
succeeded to the Shebaitship in 1888 and continued to be in management as such
Shebait until 1935. On his death, his eldest son Goswami Bhola Nath succeeded
and Seva Pooja was looked after by him during his lifetime. On the death of
Goswami Bhola Nath in 1945, his eldest son Goswami Pradumna Kumar succeeded to
the Shebaitship and has been carrying on the management of the properties of
the temple and looking after the Seva Pooja of the Idol. It was during the
management of Pradumna Kumar that the impugned order has been passed by
respondent No. 1.
According to this order, Matmi has been
sanctioned "in favour of Goswami Bhola Nath on the death of Krishna
Chandra Deo and in favour of Pradumna Kumar Deo on the death of Bhola
Nath" and the total amount directed in that behalf is Rs. 15,404/14/6. The
appellant's petition specifically averred that the property in question bad
been granted to the Idol itself and that the Shebaits have been performing the
Seva Pooja of the Idol and managing the properties of the temple as such
Shebaits. On these allegations, the appellant prayed that an appropriate writ,
order or direction should be issued prohibiting respondent No. 1 and the
Collector, Sawai Madhopur, respondent No. 2, and their nominees or agents from
recovering or from taking any step for the recovery of any Matalaba Matmi under
the impugned order of respondent No. 1 from the petitioner's estate. The
appellant also claimed that an appropriate order or direction or writ should be
issued quashing the said impugned order as well as the prior order dated April
20, 1954 on which the latter order was based.
Respondents 1, 2 and the State of Rajasthan
which was joined as respondent No. 3 disputed the appellant's claim and made
several pleas. In regard to the allegation of the appellant that the properties
in question had been granted to the Idol, the 98 respondents' reply merely,
stated that allegation was not admitted as the documents regarding the original
grants were not traceable. The respondents urged that the Matalaba Matmi had
been properly levied by respondent No. 1 against the Shebaits and that the
appellants grievance that its properties were not liable to pay the said amount
was not well-founded.
The High Court has proceeded to deal with
this dispute on the basis that the appellant, the Idol of Thakurji Shri Govind
Deoji Maharaj was the owner of the properties. It, however, took the view that
since the Shebaits were managing the properties and performing the Seva Pooja
of the appellant Idol, Shebaitship itself being property the relevant Rules applied,
because the beneficial interest which the Shebaits held could be said to amount
to a 'State grant' within the meaning of r.4(1). On this view, the High Court
came to the conclusion that what,is contemplated in the Matmi Rules is the
succession to a Shebait. In that connection, the High Court referred to the
fact that the predecessors of the present Shebait had applied for Matmi and the
present Shebait himself had similarly filed an application in that behalf.
According to the High Court, the plain meaning of the definition of 'Matmi' is
that it is payable at the time of the recognition of the succeeding Shebait. In
this connection the High Court has also observed that the writ petition had
been filed by the Idol and though the Shebait appeared as the agent of the
Idol, it was not a petition filed by the Shebait as such, and since the
impugned order had been passed against the Shebait, the grievance made by the
Idol was technically not justified.
Even so, since the High Court was inclined to
take the view that by virtue of the beneficial interest which the Shebaits have
in the property of the temple the impugned order had been properly passed, the
High Court considered the merits of the writ petition filed by the appellant
and dismissed it with costs. The main judgment has been delivered by Bhandari
J. Modi. J. has agreed with the conclusions of Bhandari J. and in a brief order
he has indicated the principal grounds on which his conclusions rested. Modi J.
also held that it was not possible for the
Court to help the appellant in view of the Rules as they stand. He thought that
the only relief which the appellant can secure is by moving respondent No. 3 to
exercise its discretion under clause (xvii) of r.20 and get exemption from the
payment of the amount in question. It is against this decision that the
appellant has come to this Court.
The Jaipur Matmi Rules came into force in
1945 and some of the relevant provisions of these Rules must now be considered
99 Rule 4 contains definitions. Rule, 4(1) defines a 'State grant' as meaning a
grant of an interest in land made or recognised by the Ruler of the Jaipur
State and includes a jagir, muamla, suba, istimrar, chakoti, badh, bhom, inam,
tankha, udak, milak, aloofa, khangi, bhog or other charitable or religious
grant, a site granted free of premium for a residence or a garden, or other
grant of a similar nature. Rule 4(2) defines a person holding a State grant as
a 'State Grantee'. Rule 4(3) refers to 'Matmi' and defines it in these terms:
"Matmi" means mutation of the name
of the successor to a State grant on the death of the last holder. The person
in whose name matmi is sanctioned is called the "matmidar" and the
sum payable by him on his recognition as such by the State is called
Rule 4 (4) defines 'Nazarana' thus:
"Nazrana" is the sum payable, in
addition to matalba matmi, by an adopted son or by a successor other than a
direct male lineal descendant of the last holder".
It will thus be noticed that under r. 4 (1) a
State grant means, inter alia, a grant of an interest in land made by the Ruler
of the Jaipur State and it includes a charitable or religious grant. The High
Court has dealt with the present writ petition on the basis that the grant has
been made in favour of the Idol. In fact, the two grants to which our attention
was invited fully support this view.
The copy of the Patta dated 21st Ramzan St.
1123 (Amnexure Exbt. 4) shows that the villages Dehra and Salampukh Balahadi in
Pargana Hindaun Baseshu Prasad were allotted for "Punya Bhog" of
Thakurji Sriji. Similarly, the copy of the Patta dated Katik Badi 8 of Smt.
1808 (Annexure Exbt. 5) shows that the village Govindpur Bas Hathyod Tehsil
Oasaba, Sawai Jaipur was allotted for the Bhog (food offerings) of Thakurji
Sriji. Therefore, we feel no difficulty in dealing with the. present appeal on
the same basis which the High Court has adopted in its judgment. The grants in
question were grants made in favour of the Idol and not in favour of the
Shebaits. It is well-known that a religious grant can be made either in favour
of the Idol as such or may be made to a person burdening the grantee with the
obligation to render requisite services to the temple. It is with, the first
category of grants that we are concerned in this appeal. The grant is one to
the Idol and if the Shebait manages the properties granted to the Idol, it is
by virtue 100 of his Shebaitship and not because he is in any manner a grantee
from the State as such.
Rule 5 provides that all State grants shall
be subject to Matmi with certain exceptions. With these exceptions we are not
concerned. Rule 6 provides for the submission of death reports by persons
claiming succession to a grant. Rule 7 prescribes the penalty for the
successor's failure to make the report. Rule 8 provides for attachment of State
grants pending Matmi. Rule 9 provides for the Bhograj expenses during.
attachment of a bhog grant. Under Rule 12, a claim for succession to a State
grant, if not made within a year of the last holder's death, shall be rejected as
time-barred and the grant resumed. Rule 13 deals ,with the question of the
persons entitled to succeed. Rule 14 deals with the same problem in the absence
of a direct male lineal descendant. The proviso to rule 14 lays down, inter
alia, that in the case of a grant for the maintenance of a temple, other than a
lain temple, it shall be within the discretion of the Government to select as
successor any one of the male lineal descendants of the original grantee, with
due regard to his suitability for the performance of worship. With the rest of
the Rules we are not concerned in the present appeal.
The question which arises is, can the grant
made to the appellant be said to attract the operation of rule 5 ? Rule 5
prescribes for the levy of Matmi in respect of State grants and if the said
rule applies, the appellant would have no case. In deciding the question as to
whether the appellant's estate is liable to pay Matmi under r. 5 it is
necessary to examine the nature of this Matmi, and find out whether a claim in
respect of it can be made against the appellant. We have already noticed that
Matmi means mutation of the name of the successor to a State grant on the death
of the last holder. It is obvious that in the case of a grant to the Idol or
temple as such there would be no question about the death of the grantee and,
therefore, no question about its successor. An Idol which is a juridical person
is not subject to death, because the Hindu concept is that the Idol lives for
ever, and so, it is plainly impossible to predicate about the Idol which is the
grantee in the present case that it has died at a certain time and the claims
of a successor fall to be determined.
That being so, it seems difficult to hold
that any claim for Matmi can be made against the appellant, and that must
clearly lead to the inference that no amount can be recovered from the
properties belonging to the Idol on the ground that Matmi is claimable 101
against a person who claims to be the successor of the Shebait of the
The learned Advocate-General was unable to
dispute this position. He, however, attempted to argue that all grants
pertaining to the properties of the appellant were not before the Court, and
so, it may not be proper to proceed on the basis that all the properties of the
appellant have been granted to the appellant in its own name. We are not
impressed by this argument. We have already noticed that a specific averment
was made by the appellant in paragraph 3 of its writ petition that all the
State grants made to the appellant from time to time were in the name of the
Idol, and though the, respondents did not specifically admit this averment,
they pleaded that since the documents regarding the original grants were not
traceable, they required the appellant to prove its case in that behalf. The
appellant produced two grants and it appears from the judgment of the High
Court that the matter was proceeded with on the basis that the ldol is the
grantee of all the properties. That being so, we do not think it is open to the
Advocate-General now to contend that some of the properties may have been
granted to the Shebaits no doubt burdened with the obligation to perform the
services of the Idol.
The High Court appears to have taken the view
that because a Shebait has some kind of a beneficial interest in the property
of the temple, that beneficial interest itself could be treated as a State
grant and it is on this basis that the High Court held that the impugned order
passed by respondent No. 1 was valid. In the present case we are not concerned
to enquire whether for recognising a succeeding Shebait any Matmi can be
recovered by the respondents; but since the High Court has laid emphasis on the
fact that the Shebait has a beneficial interest in the properties granted to
the appellant, it is necessary to point out that though the Shebait by virtue
of the special position attaching to Shebait under the Hindu law can claim some
beneficial interest, that interest is derived not by virtue of the grant made
by the State, but by virtue of the provisions of Hindu law, or custom, or usage
of the temple or locality where the temple is situated. In Tilkayat Shri
Govindalalji Maharaj etc. v. State of Rajasthan & Ors., (1) the
"position of the Shebaits was incidentally considered, and the observations
made by Mr. Justice Ameer Ali in Vidva Varuthi Thirtha Swamigal v. Balusami
Ayyar (2) were cited with approval. "In almost every case", said Mr.
Justice Ameer Ali, "the Mahant is given the right to a part of the
usufruct, the mode of (1)  1 S.C.R. 561.
(2) 48 I.A. 392, 311.
102 enjoyment and the amount of the usufruct
depending again on usage and custom. In no case was the property conveyed to or
vested in him, nor is he a trustee in the English sense of the term, though in
view of the obligations and duties resting on him, he is answerable as a
trustee in the general sense for mal-administration." Therefore, it seems
to us that the High Court was in error in holding that the beneficial interest
of the Shebaits in the properties granted to the appellant amounted to a State
grant, and so, the impugned order was perfectly valid. The incidental effect of
the conclusions reached by the High Court may perhaps be taken to be that the
order passed by respondent No. I being valid, the amount in question can be
recovered from the properties of the appellant. That is why we thought it
necessary to clarify the position in law on this point.
In fact, by Civil Misc. Petition No. 1081 of
1964 it has been brought to our notice by the appellant that it had made a
compensation claim because lands granted to the appellant had been resumed by
the State of Rajasthan by notification No. F.(388)/ REV/1.A/53 dated Jan. 1,
1959 and that an annual sum by way of annuity to the Deity had been sanctioned
by the State of Rajasthan under its order dated April 24, 1962. This order has,
however, directed that the amount of Rs. 15,404/14/6 which has been ordered by
respondent No. 1 to be recovered by way of Matmi should be deducted and that,
it is urged before us by the appellant, cannot be done. This fact clearly shows
that the appellant is justified in apprehending that though the order of Matmi
dues has been nominally passed against the present Shebait, it may be enforced
against the properties belonging to the appellant. Since we have held that the
properties granted to the appellant constitute State grants under r. 4(1), but
do not become liable to pay Matmi dues under r. 4(3), we must hold that the
appellant's writ petition was justified inasmuch as it asked for an appropriate
direction restraining the respondents and their nominees or agents from
recovering the said amount from the appellant's estate.
Therefore, prayer made by the appellant in
paragraph 16(1) of its writ petition must be allowed. Since we are not concerned
with the validity of the order passed by respondent No. 1 against the present
Shebait, we propose to express no opinion in regard to the merits of the prayer
contained in paragraph 16(2) of the writ petition.
The result is, the appeal is allowed, the order
passed by the High Court is set aside and the appellant's writ petition is
allowed with costs.