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 favour of a tank, the same is considered as a charitable institution.
(1969) AIR(SC) 563 : (1969) 1 AnWR 83 : (1969) 1 MLJ 83 : (1969) 2 SCA 255 : (1969) 1 SCJ 687 : (1969) 1 SCR 624 : (1969) 1 SCWR 999
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
( Before : S. M. Sikri, J; R. S. Bachawat, J; K. S. Hegde, J )
KAMARAJU VENKATA KRISHNA RAO — Appellant
SUB-COLLECTOR, ONGOLE AND ANOTHER — Respondent
Decided on : 08-08-1968
Andhra Pradesh (Andhra Area) Inams (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1956 – Section 2(E)
Charitable endowment – Dedication in favour of Tank – Permissibility From very ancient times the sacred writings of the Hindus divided works productive of religious merit into two divisions named ishta and purta a classification which has come down to our times.
V. Mariyappa and Others Vs. B.K. Puttaramayya and Others, AIR 1958 Kar 93 : AIR 1957 Kar 93 : (1957) 35 MysLJ 385
K.S. Hegde, J.—A short, nonetheless 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 Section 2(E) of the Andhra Inams (Abolition & Conversion into Ryotwari Act) 1956 (Act No. 36 of 1956) (to be herein- after referred to as the Act.)
2. 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 Inamdar of that Inam though he had the liability to repair the tank in his village from out of the income of that Inam. The Authorities under the Act have rejected his 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.
3. 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 Inam are the entries in the Inam register. A copy of that register has been produced in this case. 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 or 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.”
4. 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.
5. Mr. Narasaraju, 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, religious, 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 and Guarantee Co. Ltd., 1940 AC 138, the Privy Council observed:
“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.”
6. In AIR 1940 116 (Privy Council) the Privy Council considered a “Madrasah” as an 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 Mahomedan 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 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 Pandit Prannath Saraswati on “The Hindu Law of Endowments”, he stated:
“From very ancient times the sacred writings of the Hindus divided works productive of religious 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 explained 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 words:
“Tanks, wells with flights of steps, temples, the bestowing of foods, 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.
7. In Jamnabai v. Khimji Vullubdass, ILR (1890) 14 Bom 1 , Sir Charles Sargent Kt, C. J., while interpreting a will observed thus:
“We come to the latter part of el. 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 outlay of the two sadavartas 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 is 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.”
8. In V. Mariyappa and Others Vs. B.K. Puttaramayya and Others, , 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 deity 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 destitutes 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.
9. 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 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.
10. In the result subject to our observations as regards the management of the property, the appeal is dismissed. No costs.
Final Result : Dismissed