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Public Charity: Rock inscription can create a specific endowment for benefit of public; SC.

Supreme Court of India

Justice N V Ramana, Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar and Justice Ajay Rastogi

The SC {M. J. THULASIRAMAN AND ANOTHER v. THE COMMISSIONER, HINDU RELIGIOUS & CHARITABLE ENDOWMENT  ADMINISTRATION AND ANOTHER} holds that “endowment”, have actually not been defined under the Act, from their usage in the Act and judgments on the subject, it is clear            that they relate to the idea of giving, bequeathing or dedicating something, whether property or otherwise, for some purpose.

In   the   present   case, it was held by the SC that   the  rock   inscription   clearly provides for the utilization of money from the “Bakers Choultry” for the   purposes   of   performing   the   charitable   activity   of   feeding Brahmins during the specified religious festivals. As  such, it is clear that the rock inscription creates a “specific endowment” as specified under Section 6(19) of the Act, which falls within the ambit of the Act.

It was held by the SC that in the facts of the present appeal, the contents of the rock inscription are sufficient for it to hold that there has been a valid divestment   and   to   reject   the   contention   of   the  counsel   for   the appellants. The rock inscription clearly indicates that the choultry is to be managed by the community of bakers, who will use the balance funds for the benefit of others. Further, the inscription also  states that the managers do not have any power of alienation with respect to the choultry. 

The genesis of the dispute in present case lies in the year 1987,  when the appellants’  predecessor ­in interest filed an application under Section 63(a) of the Tamil   Nadu   Hindu   Religious   and   Charitable Endowments Act, 1959  Act  before the Deputy Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Administration Department, Madras for a declaration to the effect that the “Bakers Choultry” is a  private property belonging to him, with a duty cast on him to perform certain private charities. 

Dismissing the appeal, it was held by the SC that the   rock   inscription   in   the   “Bakers Choultry”, which governs the functioning of the choultry, provides for the feeding of Brahmins. This is clearly a charity  which benefits the “public” and   the   same   is   not   the   private   property   of   the appellants.

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