AdvocateKhoj
Login : Advocate | Client
Home Post Your Case My Account Law College Law Library
    

Supreme Court Judgments


Latest Supreme Court of India Judgments 2019

Subscribe

RSS Feed img




Government of Tamil Nadu Vs. Ahobila Matam [1986] INSC 237 (17 November 1986)

REDDY, O. CHINNAPPA (J) REDDY, O. CHINNAPPA (J) OZA, G.L. (J)

CITATION: 1987 AIR 245 1987 SCR (1) 232 1987 SCC (1) 38 JT 1986 858 1986 SCALE (2)841

ACT:

Madras Inams (Assessment) Act, 1956: s. 3(1), proviso--Exemption to inam lands held on 'service tenure'--Whether available to lands held by religious institutions.

Expression 'service tenure' in relation to religious institution-Whether includes lands granted for performance of worship.

Constitution of India, Article 26: Imposition of assessment on land held by religious denominational institutions--Whether violates fundamental right.

HEADNOTE:

The proviso to s. 3(1) of the Madras Inams (Assessment) Act, 1956 provides that no assessment shall be leviable in the case of an inam granted on service tenure which is proved to consist of an assignment of land revenue only.

Certain lands were granted to the respondent Matam by one of the Tanjore Princess. The purpose of the grant was not known but it was presumed to have been made for the benefit of the Matam. The original grantee was the then Jeer of the Matam. The Inam Title Deed granted in 1881 by the Inam Commissioner acknowledged the title of the Matam to 'a religious endowment or a Matam Inam consisting of the right to the Government Revenue on the said land held for the support of the Matam' and confirmed the Inam to the Manager and his successor tax free.

Consequent on the enactment of the Madras Inams (Assessment) Act, 1956 the Revenue Divisional Officer made an order in 1963 levying full assessment on the lands. The writ petition filed by the Matam against that order was allOWed by the High Court on the ground that the proviso to s. 3(1) of the Act prevented the levy of full assessment on lands held on service tenure. It took the view that the expression 'service tenure' was not to be restricted to a service Inam and that it would include any grant for the support of a religious or charitable institution.

233 In appeal to this Court under Art. 133(1)(c) of the Constitution, it was contended for the respondent Matam that the imposition of full assessment on lands held by a religions institution would be hit by Art. 26 of the Constitution.

Allowing the appeal by the State, the Court,

HELD: The proviso to s. 3(1) of the Madras Inams (Assessment) Act, 1956 is not applicable to lands held by religious institutions The inam lands in question are, therefore, liable to full assessment. [237A] Three possible views have been taken of the grants made in connection with religions institutions: first, that the land was granted to the institution; secondly, that it was intended to be attached to a particular office; and thirdly, that it was granted to a named individual, burdened with service, the person so named happening to be the office holder at the time of the grant. This distinction between grants to institutions as such and grants made for the performance of service either by attaching the service to a particular office or by naming the individual grantee and burdening the grant with service, the named individual being the holder of an office, for the time being, places the former in a category different from service inams. [236-D] In the instant case, the lands were granted for the benefit of the Matam. They fall in the first category. These cannot, therefore, be considered as lands subject to service tenure. [234H, 236G] Subramania v. Kailasanatha, AIR 1934 Madras 258 and Hindu Religious Endowments Board, Madras v. Thadikonda Koteswara Rao, AIR 1937 Madras 852, applied.

The High Court was not right in interpreting the expression 'service tenure' by referring to s. 44B of the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1927 (Act 2 of 1927) where that expression is in fact not used at all. The classification of grants for the benefit of a religious institution along with other service inams by Paragraph 54 of the Standing Orders of the Board of Revenue also does not throw any light on the interpretation of the expression 'service tenure' in Madras Inams (Assessment) Act. The expression has to be construed with reference to the object of the Act to impose full assessment on inam lands hitherto wholly or partly exempt from levy of land revenue. [236H, 235H-236-B] The mere imposition of assessment on lands held by a religious 234 denominational institution cannot attract the right guaranteed by Art. 26. The burden imposed is a burden to be shared in the same manner by all the owners of the lands in the State and not a special burden imposed on the denominational institution. Burdens of that nature are outside the right guaranteed by Art. 26. [237C]

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal No: 446 of 1973 From the Judgment and Order dated 18.11.1970 of the Madras High Court in Writ Appeal No. 389 of 1967.

M.M. Abdul Khader and A.V. Rangam for the Appellant.

K. Ram Kumar and Mrs. J. Ramachandran for the Respondent.

The Judgment of the Court was delivered by CHINNAPPA REDDY, J. This appeal is by a certificate granted by the Madras High Court under Art. 133(1)(c) of the Constitution. The appellant is the State of Tamil Nadu. The respondent is the Ahobila Matam, a well known religious institution. The question relates to the applicability of the Tamil Nadu Inams (Assessment) Act, 1956 in regard to some lands situated in Narasimhapuram, Papanasam Taluk, Thanjavur District belonging to the institution. The lands are covered by Inam Title Deed No.2214 dated July 29, 1881 granted by the Inam Commissioner to the Manager for the time being of Sri Ahobila Matam. By the title deed, the Inam Commissioner, by order of the Governor-in-Council of Madras acting on behalf of the Secretary of State for India in Council, acknowledged the title of the Ahobila Matam to "a religious endowment or a Matam Inam consisting of the right to the Government Revenue on land claimed to be acres 28.11 cents of dry, 58.38 acres of wet and 6.83 acres of garden and situated in the whole village of Narasimhapuram besides Poramboke in the taluk of Kumbakonam District of Tanjore and held for the support of the Ahobila Matam" and confirmed the Inam to the Manager for the time being of the Ahobila Matam and his successor "tax free to be held without interference so long as the conditions are duly fulfilled." The extract of the Inam Fair Register mentioned in Column 8 that the grant was made by one of the Tanjore Princes, but that the purpose of the grant was not known. It was presumed that the inam was conferred for the benefit of the Matam. Column 13 mentioned the original grantee as the Ahobilam Servatantra Sri 235 Srinivasa Swami, apparently, the then Jeer of the Matam. The recommendation of the Inam Commissioner in Column 22 was that the title deed should be issued in the name of the priest for the time being of the Ahobila Matam. It was in pursuance of this recommendation that Inam Title Deed No. 22 14 was issued. Consequent on the enactment of the Madras Inams(Assessment) Act, 1956, the Revenue Divisional Officer, Kumbakonam made an order on February. 28th 1963 levying full assessment on the lands. The levy of the assessment was questioned by the Ahobila Matam by a Writ Petition in the Madras High Court. First, a learned Single Judge and then, a Division Bench of Madras High Court quashed the assessment on the ground that the proviso to s.3 (1) of the Act prevented the levy of full assessment of lands held on service tenure. The proviso to s. 3(1) of the Act is in the following terms:-"Provided that in the case of an Inam granted on service tenure which is proved to consist of an assignment of land revenue only, no assessment under this sub-section shall be leviable, and the inamdar shall be liable to pay only the quit-rent, Jodi, Kattubadi or other amount of a like nature, if any, which he has been paying before the commencement of this Act." The question for consideration, therefore, is whether the Inam was granted on 'service tenure'. The High Court took the view that the expression 'service tenure' was not to be restricted to a service inam and that it would include any grant for the support of a religious or charitable institution. For that purpose reliance was placed on the classification of inams in the Standing Orders of the Board of Revenue. The Standing Orders divided inams into unenfranchised service inams and unenfranchised personal inams.

Under the heading of un-enfranchised service inams, religious and charitable inams were dealt with in Paragraph 54. Paragraph 54 enjoined a duty on the Collector to see that the inams confirmed by the Inam Commissioner for the benefit of or for service to be rendered to any religious or charitable institution or for the maintenance of irrigation works or other works of public utility; were not enjoyed without the terms of the grant being fulfilled. Religious and charitable inams were further classified and in the first category we get inams granted for the support or maintenance of Hindu religious institutions, inams granted for the performance of a charity or service connected with Hindu religious institutions and inams granted for any other Hindu charitable trust. In the second category came the other inams. We do not think that the classification of grants 236 for the benefit of a religious institution along with other service inams by Paragraph 54 of the Board's Standing Orders throws light on the interpretation of the expression 'service tenure' in Madras Inams Assessment Act. The expression 'service' in connection with religious institutions has acquired a special and significant meaning and we do not think that we will be justified in ignoring the well understood meaning given to the expressions 'service inams' and 'service tenure' over decades of years. We must not also forget that the object of Madras Inams Assessment Act was to impose full assessment on Inam lands hitherto wholly or partly exempt from levy of land revenue. As far back as 1934, the Madras High Court in Subramania v. Kailasanatha AIR 1934 Madras 258 (Venkata Subba Rao, J.), pointed out that there were three possible views that might be taken of grants made in connection with religious institutions:

"First, that the land was granted to the institution, secondly, that it was intended to be attached to a particular office, and thirdly, that it was granted to a named individual, burdened with service, the person so named, happening to be the office-holder, at the time of the grant. This distinction between grants to institutions as such and grants made for the performance of service either by attaching the service to a particular office or by naming the individual grantee and burdening the grant with service, the named individual being the holder of an office, for the time being. In Hindu Religious Endowments Board, Madras v. Thadikonda Koteswara Rao, AIR 1937 Madras 852, a Division Bench of the Madras High Court considered a number of grants bearing these distinctions in mind. Where the grant was "for the worship of the idol in the pagoda" or "for the nithya naivedya deeparathana" or "for the offering of daily naivaidyam and deeparathana", the grants were construed as grants in favour of the institution and not as grants in favour of the office-holder or individual burdened with service. In other words, such grants were not treated as service inams but as grants in favour of institutions. The decision in Hindu Religious Endowments Board v. Koteswara Rao, (supra), is the leading case on the subject and has been followed consistently all these years by the Madras High Court. Lands granted to religious institutions (not either to the office-holder or to an individual burdened with service) for the performance of worship in a temple or math has never been considered as lands subject to 'service tenure'. The High Court referred to s. 44(B) of Madras Act 2 of 1927. We find ourselves unable to derive any assistance from that provision. Section 44B provided for resumption and regrant of inams granted for the support or maintenance of a math or for the performance of charity or service connected with a math or temple. We do not think that it would be proper for us to interpret the expression 'service tenure' by refer237 ring S. 44B of the Madras Act 2 of 1927 where that expression is in fact not used at all. We are, therefore, of the view that the proviso to s. 3(1) is inapplicable to lands held by religious institutions and, therefore, the lands are liable to full assessment.

Shri Ram Kumar, learned counsel for the respondent argued that the imposition of full assessment on lands held by the religious institution in the present case would be hit by Art. 26 of the Constitution which gives to every religious.denomination the right to own and acquire movable and immovable property and to administer such property inaccordance with law. We are unable to understand how the mere imposition of assessment on lands held by a religious denominational institution can possibly attract the right guaranteed by the Art of the Constitution. The burden imposed is a burden to be shared in the same manner by all the owners of the lands in the State and not a special burden imposed on the denominational institution. Burden of that nature are outside the right guaranteed by Art of the Constitution. The appeal is, therefore, allowed and the orders of the learned single Judge and the Division Bench of the Madras High Court are set aside. The writ petition filed in the High Court is dismissed.

P.S.S. Appeal allowed.

 Back


 



Client Area | Advocate Area | Blogs | About Us | User Agreement | Privacy Policy | Advertise | Media Coverage | Contact Us | Site Map
powered by nubia  |  driven by neosys