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MANU/SC/0361/1970

INTHESUPREMECOURTOFINDIA

CivilAppealNo.354of1967

DecidedOn:17.03.1970

Appellants:PerumalNadar(Dead)byLrs.
Vs.
Respondent:Ponnuswami

Hon'bleJudges/Coram:
A.N.Grover ,J.C.Shah andK.S.Hegde ,JJ.

Counsels:
ForAppellant/Petitioner/Plaintiff:N.S.Bindra,S.V.Gupte,R.Thiagarajan,JanendraLalandB.R.Agarawala,
Advs.

ForRespondents/Defendant:K.Hingorani,A.G.RatnaParkhiand,N.H.Hingorani,Advs.

Subject:Family

Subject:LawofEvidence

CatchWords

MentionedIN

CasesReferred:
AmmathayeeAmmalandAnr.vs.KumaresanandOrs.MANU/SC/0289/1966

RelevantSection:
MadrasHindu(BigamyPreventionandDivorce)Act,1949Section3Madras Hindu (Bigamy Prevention
andDivorce)Act,1949Section4IndianEvidenceAct,1872Section112

Acts/Rules/Orders:
MadrasHindu(BigamyPreventionandDivorce)Act,1949Section3,Madras Hindu (Bigamy Prevention
andDivorce)Act,1949Section4IndianEvidenceActSection112HinduMitaksharaLaw

PriorHistory:
AppealfromtheJudgmentandDecreedatedAugust25,1965oftheMadrasHighCourtinAppealNo.177of
1961

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Disposition:
AppealDismissed

CitingReference:

Discussed 5

CaseNote:

FamilylegitimacyofchildHinduLaw,Sections3and4ofMadrasHindu(BigamyPreventionand
Divorce) Act, 1949 and Section 112 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 legitimacy of respondent child,
performanceofmarriageandclaimofshareofrespondentchildinestateofappellantinissuemother
of respondent converted to Hinduism from Christian before her marriage with appellant a person
maybeHindubybirthorbyconversionmarriageperformedaccordingtoHinduritesinpresenceof
relativesmotherbonafideintendedtocontractmarriagewithappellantnoevidencethattherewas
anydisputeappellantandmotherofrespondentwerelivinginsamevillageunlessappellantableto
establishabsenceofaccesspresumptionraisedunderSection112ofActnotdisplacednoevidenceto
establish that appellant living in same village as mother had no access to mother during time when
respondentcouldhavebeenbegottenheld,respondentcouldclaimshareinestateofappellant.

JUDGMENT

J.C.Shah,J.

1. Perumal Nadar married Annapazham (daughter of Kailasa Nadaran Indian Christian) on November 29,
1950,atKannimadamintheStateofTravancoreCochinaccordingtoHindurites.Ann(sic)amgavebirthto
twochildrenthefirstonSeptember14,1951andtheotheronMarch5,1958.Theelderchilddiedshortly
afteritsbirth.TheyoungernamedPonnuswamiactingthroughhismotherAnnapazhamashisguardianfiled
an action in the Court of the Subordinate Judge, Tirunelveli. for separate possession of a half share in the
propertiesofthejointfamilyheldbyhisfatherPerumal.ThesuitwasdefendedbyPerumalcontendingthathe
had not married Annapazham as claimed by her that if it be proved that marriage ceremony had been
performed,itwasinvalid,andinanyeventPonnuswamiwasanillegitimatechildandcouldnotclaimashare
inhisestate.TheTrialCourtrejectedthedefence,anddecreedthesuit.PerumalappealedtotheHighCourtof
Madras, but without success. With certificate under Article 133(1)(c) of the Constitution, this appeal is
preferred.

2.Threecontentionsareurgedinsupportofthisappeal:(1)thatAnnapazhamwasanIndianChristiananda
marriage between a Hindu and an Indian Christian is regarded by the Courts in India as void (2) that the
marriage was invalid because it was prohibited by the Madras Act 6 of 1949 (3) that Annapazham and
PerumalwerelivingapartforalongtimebeforethebirthofPonnuswamiandonthataccountPonnuswami
couldnotberegardedasalegitimatechildofPerumal.

3.AnnapazhamwasbornofChristianparentsandshefollowedtheChristianfaith.ShemarriedPerumalwhen
she was about 19 years of age. It is not now in dispute that on November 19, 1950 she went through the
ceremony of marriage and lived with Perumal as his wife for several years thereafter. The children born to
AnnapazhaminSeptember1951andMarch1958wereenteredintheRegisterofBirthsasHindus.Onthe
occasionofthemarriage,printedinvitationsweresenttotherelativesofPerumalandofAnnapazhamandan
agreementwasexecutedbyPerumalandAnnapazhamrecitingthat:

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Individual No. 1 (Perumal) among us has married Individual No. 2 (Annapazham) as settled by our
parentsandalsowithourfullconsent.Asourrelativesareoftheopinionthatourmarriageshouldbe
registered, this agreement has been registered in accordance therewith. We have executed this
agreement by consenting that both of us shall lead a family life as husband and wife from this day
onwards, that we shall not part each other both in prosperity and adversity and that we shall have
mutualrightsinrespectofthepropertiesbelongingtous,undertheHinduMitaksharaLaw.

The marriage ceremony was performed according to Hindu rites and customs : a bridal platform was
constructed and Perumal tied the sacred thali which it is customary for a Hindu husband to tie in
acknowledgementofthemarriage.

4.TheHighCourtonaconsiderationoftheevidencerecordedthefollowingfinding:

Oral evidence was adduced to prove that the marriage was celebrated according to Hindu rites and
Samskaras.Invitationswereissuedatthetimeofthemarriageandusualcustomarytyingofthaliwas
observed. After the marriage she ceased to attend the Church, abandoned the Christian faith and
followedtheHinducustomsandmannerprevailingamongtheHinduNadarcommunityofTravancore.

PerumalwhohadpreviouslybeenmarriedtooneSeethalakshmiagreedtoanddidgothroughthemarriage
ceremony. It is in evidence that marriage between Hindu males belonging to the Nadar community and
ChristianfemalesarecommonandthewifeafterthemarriageisacceptedasamemberoftheHinduNadar
community.

5.Mr.GupteonbehalfofPerumalcontendsthatavalidmarriagemaytakeplacebetweentwoHindusonly
andnotbetweenaHinduandanonHinduandintheabsenceofanyevidencetoshowthatAnnapazhamwas
convertedtoHinduismbeforeshemarriedPerumal,themarriage,evenifperformedaccordingtotheHindu
rites and ceremonies, is not valid in law. Counsel also contended that the evidence that Annapazham lived
afterthemarriageisaHinduwillnotvalidatethemarriage.

6.ItisnotnecessarytodecideinthiscasewhethermarriagebetweenaHindumaleandanIndianChristian
femalemayberegardedasvalid,for,inourjudgment,thefindingoftheCourtsbelowthatAnnapazhamwas
convertedtoHinduismbeforehermarriagewithPerumalisamplysupportedbyevidence.Apersonmaybea
Hindubybirthorbyconversion.AmeretheoreticalallegiancetotheHindufaithbyapersonborninanother
faithdoesnotconverthimintoaHindu,norisabaredeclarationthatheisaHindusufficienttoconverthim
to Hinduism. But a bona fide intention to be converted to the Hindu faith, accompanied by conduct
unequivocally expressing that intention may be sufficient evidence of conversion. No formal ceremony of
purificationorexpiationisnecessarytoeffectuateconversion.

7. In Muthusami Mudaliar v. Masilamani alias Subramania Mudaliar I.L.R. 33 Mad. 342 the validity of a
marriageaccordingtoHinduritesbetweenaHinduandaChristianwomanfelltobedetermined.Itwasheld
that the marriage contracted according to Hindu rites by a Hindu with a Christian woman, who before
marriageisconvertedtoHinduism,isvalid,thoughthemarriagewasnotinstrictaccordancewiththeHindu
systemoflaw.Suchamarriageisstillcommonamongandrecognisedasvalidbythecustomofthecasteto
whichthemanbelongs.

8. In Goona Durgaprasada Rao and Anr. v. Goona Sudarasanaswami and Ors. I.L.R. [1940] Mad. 653
Mockett, J., observed that no gesture or declaration may change a man's religion, but when on the facts it
appears that a man did change his religion and was accepted by his coreligionists as having changed his
religionandlivedanddiedinthatreligion,absenceofsomeformalitycannotnegativewhatisanactualfact.
KrishnaswamiAyyangar,J.,observedthataHinduwhohadconvertedhimselftotheChristianfaithreturned
toHinduismandcontractedasecondmarriageduringthelifetimeofhisfirstwifeandremainedanddieda
Hindu having been accepted as such by the community and coreligionists without demur. Absence of
evidence of rituals relating to conversion cannot justify the Court in treating him as having remained a
Christian.

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9.TheevidenceclearlyestablishesthattheparentsofAnnapazhamarrangedthemarriage.Themarriagewas
performedaccordingtoHinduritesandceremoniesinthepresenceofrelativeswhowereinvitedtoattend:
customaryceremoniespeculiartoamarriagebetweenHinduswereperformed:noobjectionwasraisedtothe
marriageandafterthemarriageAnnapazhamwasacceptedbythelocalHinduNadarcommunityasbelonging
totheHindufaith,andtheplaintiffwasalsotreatedasaHindu.Ontheevidencetherecanbenodoubtthat
Annapazham bona fide intended to contract marriage with Perumal. Absence of specific expiatory or
purificatory ceremonies will not, in our judgment, be sufficient to hold that she was not converted to
Hinduism before the marriage ceremony was performed. The fact that Perumal chose to go through the
marriageceremonyaccordingtoHinduriteswithAnnapazhaminthepresenceofalargenumberofpersons
clearlyindicatesthatheacceptedthatAnnapazhamwasconvertedtoHinduismbeforethemarriageceremony
wasperformed.

10.Thesecondcontentionhaslittlesubstance.TheMadrasHindu(BigamyPreventionandDivorce)Act6of
1949providedbySections3&4(1):

Section3"ThisActappliestoHindusdomiciledintheStateofMadras.

Explanation.ThisActshallalsoapplyifeitherofthepartiestothemarriagewasaHindudomiciled
intheStateofMadras."

Section 4(1)"Notwithstanding any rule of law, custom or usage to the contrary, any marriage
solemnizedafterthecommencementofthisActbetweenamanandawomaneitherofwhomhasa
spouse living at the tune of such solemnization shall be void, whether the marriage is solemnized
withinoroutsidetheStateofMadras:

Provided...

11. Mr. Gupte contended that Perumal was domiciled in the village of Kannamkulam, Taluka Nanguneri,
DistrictTirunelveliintheStateofMadrasandonthataccountgovernedbyMadrasAct6of1949,andsince
PerumalhadbeenpreviouslymarriedtoSeethalakshmiwhowasalive,hismarriagewithAnnapazhamwas
invalid.TheCourtsbelowhaveheldthatPerumalhadmarriedSeethalakshmibeforehemarriedAnnapazham,
andthatSeethalakshmiwasaliveatthedateofPerumal'smarriagewithAnnapazham.Butnocontentionwas
raisedinthewrittenstatementfiledbyPerumalthathewasdomiciledintheStateofMadras.Themarriage
with Annapazham took place in Kannimadam which is admittedly within the territory of the State of
TravancoreCochin and after the marriage Perumal and Annapazham lived at Kannimadam. M. Thangiah
NadarP.W.2,andKailasaNadarP.W.4havedeposedthatthefamiliesofAnnapazhamandPerumalwerethe
subjectsoftheTravancoreMaharajaandthatevidencewasnotchallenged.PerumalandAnnapazhamwere
marriedaccordingtotheceremonieswhichmakeavalidmarriage:theyhadlivedashusbandandwifeandif
itwasthecaseofPerumalthatthemarriagewas,byreasonoftheprohibitioncontainedinMadrasAct6of
1949,invalid,itwasforhimtosetupandtoestablishthatpleabyevidence.Itistruethatanattemptwas
made after plaintiff closed her case to suggest to witnesses examined that he Perumal was a resident of
Kannamkulam and that he occasionally visited Kannimadam where he had a house. But no argument was
raised that Perumal was domiciled in the State of Madras. In the absence of any such contention, the Trial
Court held that Perumal was not domiciled in the State of Madras. It cannot be held in the absence of a
specificpleaandissueraisedtothatendthatPerumalwasdomiciledintheStateofMadrasandwasonthat
accountgovernedbytheprovisionsoftheMadrasHindu(BigamyPreventionandDivorce)Act6of1949.We
agreewiththeHighCourtthatitisnotprovedthatPerumalwasdomiciledintheStateofMadrasatthedate
ofhismarriagewithAnnapazham.

12.NorcanweacceptthecontentionthattheplaintiffPonnuswamiisanillegitimatechild.Ifitbeaccepted
thattherewasavalidmarriagebetweenPerumalandAnnapazhamandduringthesubsistenceofthemarriage
the plaintiff was born, a conclusive established that at the time when the plaintiff was conceived, Peru
presumptionarisesthathewasthesonofPerumal,unlessitbemalhadnoaccesstoAnnapazham.Thereis
evidence on the record that there were in 1957 some disputes between Annapazham and Perumal.
AnnapazhamhadlodgedacomplaintbeforetheMagistrate'scourtthatPerumalhadcontractedmarriagewith

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one Bhagavathi. That complaint was dismissed and the order was confirmed by the High Court of Madras.
Becauseofthiscomplaint,therelationsbetweenthepartieswerestrainedandtheywerelivingapart.Butitis
stillcommongroundthatPerumalandAnnapazhamwerelivinginthesamevillage,andunlessPerumalwas
abletoestablishabsenceofaccess,thepresumptionraisedbySection112oftheIndianEvidenceActwillnot
bedisplaced.

13.InChilukuriVenkateswarluv.ChilukuriVenkatanarayana,[1954]S.C.R.425inasuitfiledbyaHindu
son against his father for partition it was contended that the plaintiff was not the legitimate child of the
defendant.Thedefendantrelieduponcertaindocumentsbywinchhehadagreedtopaymaintenancetothe
plaintiff'smother,anduponadeedgiftingahousetoherandassertionsmadeinaprevioussuitthathehadno
intercoursewithherafterhemarriedasecondwife.TheCourtinthatcaseobserved,followingthejudgment
ofthePrivyCouncilinKarapayav.Mayandi,I.L.R.12Rang.243that"nonaccesscouldbeestablishednot
merelybypositiveordirectevidenceitcanbeprovedundoubtedlylikeanyotherphysicalfactbyevidence,
eitherdirectorcircumstantial,whichisrelevanttotheissueundertheprovisionsoftheIndianEvidenceAct,
though as the presumption of legitimacy is highly favoured by law it is necessary that proof of nonaccess
mustbeclearandsatisfactory",andsinceonthebasisofthatprooftherewasevidenceontherecordthatthe
plaintiff's mother lived in the house gifted to her by her husband and there was no impossibility of
cohabitationbetweentheparties,therewasnoacceptableevidenceofnonaccess.

14. In Ammathayee v. Kumaresain MANU/SC/0289/1966 : [1967]1SCR353 this Court held that the
conclusivepresumptionunderSection112oftheIndianEvidenceActcanonlybedisplacedifitisshownthat
thepartiestothemarriagehadnoaccessatanytimewhenthechildcouldhavebeenbegotten.

15.ThereisaconcurrentfindingoftheTrialCourtandtheHighCourtthatthereisnoevidencetoestablish
thatPerumallivinginthesamevillageasAnnapazhamhadnoaccesstoAnnapazhamduringthetimewhen
theplaintiffcouldhavebeenbegotten.

16.Theappealfailsandisdismissedwithcosts.

ManupatraInformationSolutionsPvt.Ltd.

MANU/SC/0136/1954

INTHESUPREMECOURTOFINDIA

CivilAppealNo.38of1953

DecidedOn:16.04.1954

Appellants:TheCommissioner,HinduReligiousEndowments,Madras
Vs.
Respondent:SriLakshmindraThirthaSwamiarofSriShirurMutt.

Hon'bleJudges/Coram:
M.C.Mahajan ,C.J.,B.K.Mukherjea ,GhulamHasan ,N.H.Bhagwati ,SudhiRanjanDas , T.L.
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VenkataramaAiyyar andVivianBose ,JJ.

Subject:TrustsandSocieties

Subject:Constitution

CatchWords

MentionedIN

RelevantSection:
ConstitutionofIndiaArticle27

Acts/Rules/Orders:
ConstitutionofIndiaArticle19(1)(F),ConstitutionofIndiaArticle25,ConstitutionofIndiaArticle26,
Constitution of India Article 27, Constitution of India Article 132(1) Madras Hindu Religious and
Charitable Endowments Act, 1951 Section 21,Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act,
1951Section30(2),MadrasHinduReligiousandCharitableEndowmentsAct,1951Section31, Madras
HinduReligiousandCharitableEndowmentsAct,1951Section55,MadrasHinduReligiousandCharitable
Endowments Act, 1951 Section 56, Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1951
Section 63, Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1951 Section 64, Madras Hindu
Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1951 Section 65, Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable
Endowments Act, 1951 Section 66, Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1951
Section 67, Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1951 Section 68, Madras Hindu
Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1951 Section 69, Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable
Endowments Act, 1951 Section 76, Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1951
Section76(1)

Overruled/Reversedby:
StateofHPv.ShivalikAgroPolyProducts,MANU/SC/0751/2004(2004)8SCC556

Disposition:
AppealDismissed

AuthoritiesReferred:
FindlayShirrason"ScienceofPublicFinance"Vol.ISeligman'sEssaysonTaxation

CitingReference:

Discussed 1

Mentioned 13

CaseNotes:
ThecasedebatedwhetherSections21,30(2),31,55,56and63to69oftheMadrasHinduReligiousand
Charitable Endowments Act, 1951 were ultra vires Articles 19(1)(f), 25 and 26 of the Constitution of
IndiaThemeaningofthewordproperty inArticle19(1)(f)oftheConstitutionandthedistinction
betweentaxandfeewereexaminedinthiscontextItwasheldthatthesectionswereultraviresand
Section76(1)oftheMadrasHinduReligiousandCharitableEndowmentsAct,1951wasvoidItwas
alsoheldthatanimpositionunderSection76(1)oftheActdidnotcomeinthelatterpartofArticle27

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of the Constitution despite it being a tax since the objective of contribution under the section was
properadministrationofreligioustrustsandinstitutions

JUDGMENT

B.K.Mukherjea,J.

1.ThisappealisdirectedagainstajudgmentofaDivisionBenchoftheMadrasHighCourt,datedthe13thof
December,1951,bywhichthelearnedJudgesallowedapetition,presentedbytherespondentunderarticle
226oftheConstitution,anddirectedawritofprohibitiontoissueinhisfavourprohibitingtheappellantfrom
proceedingwiththesettlementofaschemeinconnectionwithaMath,knownastheShirurMath,ofwhich
thepetitionerhappenstobetheheadorsuperior.Itmaybestatedattheoutsetthatthepetitionwasfiledata
time when the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act (Act II of 1927), was in force and the writ was
prayed for against the Hindu Religious Endowment Board constituted under that Act, which was the
predecessor in authority of the present appellant and had initiated proceedings for settlement of a scheme
againstthepetitionerundersection61ofthesaidAct.

2. The petition was directed to be heard along with two other petitions of a similar nature relating to the
templeatChidambaraminthedistrictofSouthArcotandquestionswereraisedinallofthemregardingthe
validity of Madras Act II of 1927, hereinafter referred to as the Earlier Act. While the petitions were still
pending,theMadrasHinduReligiousandCharitableEndowmentsAct,1951(hereinaftercalledtheNewAct),
waspassedbytheMadrasLegislatureandcameintoforceonthe27thofAugust,1951.InviewoftheEarlier
Act being replaced by the new one, leave was given to all the petitioners to amend their petitions and
challengethevalidityoftheNewActaswell.Undersection103oftheNewAct,notifications,ordersand
acts under the Earlier Act are to be treated as notifications, orders and acts issued, made or done by the
appropriate authority under the corresponding provisions of the New Act, and in accordance with this
provision, the Commissioner, Hindu Religious Endowments, Madras, who takes the place of the President,
HinduReligiousEndowmentsBoardundertheEarlierAct,wasaddedasapartytotheproceedings.

3.Sofarasthepresentappealisconcerned,thematerialfactsmaybeshortlynarratedasfollows:TheMath,
known as Shirur Math, of which the petitioner is the superior or Mathadhipati, is one of the eight Maths
situated at Udipi in the district of South Kanara and they are reputed to have been founded by Shri
Madhwacharya, the wellknown exponent of dualistic theism in the Hindu Religion. Besides these eight
maths, each one of which is presided over by a Sanyasi or Swami, there exists another ancient religious
institution at Udipi, known as Shri Krishna Devara Math, also established by Madhwacharya which is
supposed to contain an image of God Krishna originally made by Arjun and miraculously obtained from a
vesselwreckedatthecoastofTulava.ThereisnoMathadhipatiintheShriKrishnaMathanditsaffairsare
managedbythesuperiorsoftheothereightMathsbyturnsandthecustomisthattheSwamiofeachofthese
eightMathpresidesovertheShriKrishnaMathinturnforaperiodoftwoyearsineverysixteenyears.The
appointedtimeofchangeintheheadshipoftheShriKrishnaMathistheoccasionofagreatfestival,known
as Pariyayam, when a vast concourse of devotees gather at Udipi from all parts of Southern India, and an
ancient usage imposes a duty upon the Mathadhipati to feed every Brahmin that comes to the place at that
time.

4.ThepetitionerwasinstalledasMathadhipatiintheyear1919,whenhewasstillaminor,andheassumed
managementaftercomingofagesometimein1926.AtthattimetheMathwasheavilyindebt.Between1926
and1930theSwamisucceededinclearingoffalargeportionofthedebt.In1931,however,cametheturnof
histakingovermanagementoftheShriKrishnaMathandhehadtoincurdebtstomeettheheavyexpenditure
attendantonthePariyayamceremonies.Thefinancialpositionimprovedtosomeextentduringtheyearsthat
followed,buttroublesagainarosein1946,whichwastheyearofthesecondPariyayamoftheSwami.Owing
to scarcity and the high price of commodities at that time, the Swami had to borrow money to meet the
expenditure and the debts mounted up to nearly a lakh of rupees. The Hindu Religious Endowment Board,
functioningundertheEarlierActof1927,intervenedatthisstageandinexerciseofitspowersundersection
61A of the Act called upon the Swami to appoint a competent manager to manage the affairs of the
institution.Thepetitioner'scaseisthattheactionoftheBoardwasinstigatedbyoneLakshminarayanaRao,a
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lawyerofUdipi,whowantedtohavecontrolovertheaffairsoftheMath.Itappearsthatinpursuanceofthe
directionoftheBoard,oneSripathAcharwasappointedanagentandaPowerofAttorneywasexecutedin
favouronthe24thofDecember,1948.Theagent,itisallegedbythepetitioner,wantedtohavehisownway
in all the affairs of the Math and paid no regard whatsoever to the wishes of the Mahant. He did not even
submitaccountstotheMahantanddeliberatelyfloutedhisauthority.InthisstateofaffairstheSwami,onthe
26thofSeptember,1950,servedanoticeupontheagentterminatinghisagencyandcallinguponhimtohand
overtotheMathadhipatiallaccountpapersandvouchersrelatingtotheinstitutiontogetherwiththecashin
hand.Farfromcomplyingwiththisdemand,theagent,whowassupportedbytheaforesaidLakshminarayana
Rao,questionedtheauthorityoftheSwamitocancelhisagencyandthreatenedthathewouldreferthematter
foractiontotheBoard.Onthe4thofOctober,1950,thepetitionerfiledasuitagainsttheagentintheSub
Court of South Kanara for recovery of the account books and other articles belonging to the Math, for
renderinganaccountofthemanagementandalsoforaninjunctionrestrainingthesaidagentfrominterfering
with the affairs of the Math under colour of the authority conferred by the Power of Attorney which the
plaintiffhadcanceled.ThesaidSripathAcharanticipatingthissuitfiledanapplicationtotheBoardonthe3rd
ofOctober,1950,complainingagainstthecancellationofthePowerofAttorneyandhismanagementofthe
Math.TheBoardonthe4thOctober,1950,issuedanoticetotheSwamiproposingtoinquireintothematter
onthe24thofOctoberfollowingat2p.m.atMadrasandrequestingtheSwamieithertoappearinpersonor
byapleader.TothistheSwamisentareplyon21stOctober,1950,statingthatthesubjectmatterofthevery
enquirywasbeforethecourtintheoriginalsuitfiledbyhimandasthematterwassubjudice,theenquiry
should be put off. A copy of the plaint filed in that suit was also sent along with the reply. The Board, it
appears, dropped that enquiry, but without waiting for the result of the suit, initiated proceedings suo motu
undersection62oftheEarlierActandissuedanoticeupontheSwamionthe6thofNovember,1950,stating
thatithadreasontobelievethattheendowmentsofthesaidMathwerebeingmismanagedandthatascheme
shouldbeframedfortheadministrationofitsaffairs.ThenoticewasservedbyofficerontheSwamiandthe
8th of December, 1950, was fixed as the date of enquiry. On that date at the request of the counsel for the
Swami,itwasadjournedtothe21stofDecember,following.Onthe8thofDecember,1950,anapplication
was filed on behalf of the Swami praying to the Board to issue a direction to the agent to hand over the
accountpapersandotherdocuments,withoutwhichitwasnotpossibleforhimtofilehisobjections.Asthe
lawyerappearingfortheSwamiwasunwell,thematterwasagainadjournedtillthe10thofJanuary,1951.
The Swami was not ready with his objections even on that date as his lawyer had not recovered from his
illness and a telegram was sent to the Board on the previous day requesting the latter to grant a further
adjournment. The Board did not accede to this request and as no explanation was filed by the Swami, the
enquirywasclosedandordersreserveduponit.Onthe13thofJanuary,1951,theSwami,itappears,senta
written explanation to the Board, which the latter admittedly received on the 15th. On the 24th of January,
1951,theSwamireceivedanoticefromtheBoardstatinginteraliathattheBoardwassatisfiedthatinthe
interestsofproperadministrationoftheMathanditsendowments,thesettlementofaschemewasnecessary.
Adraftschemewassentalongwiththenoticeandifthepetitionerhadanyobjectionstothesame,hewas
required to send in his objections on or before the 11th of February, 1951, as the final order regarding the
schemewouldbemadeonthe15thofFebruary1951.Onthe12thofFebruary,1951,thepetitionerfiledthe
petition, out of which this appeal arises, in the High Court of Madras, praying for a writ of prohibition to
prohibittheBoardfromtakingfurtherstepsinthematterofsettlingaschemefortheadministrationofthe
Math.ItwasallegedinteraliathattheBoardwasactuatedbybiasagainstthepetitionerandtheactiontaken
byitwithregardtothesettlingofaschemewasnotabonafideactatall.Themaincontention,however,was
that having regard to the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution in matters of religion and
religious institutions belonging to particular religious denominations, the law regulating the framing of a
schemeinterferingwiththemanagementoftheMathanditsaffairsbytheMathadhipaticonflictedwiththe
provisionsofarticles19(1)(f)and26oftheConstitutionandwashencevoidunderarticle13.Itwasalleged
furtherthattheprovisionsoftheActwerediscriminatoryintheircharacterandoffendedagainstarticle15of
theConstitution.Ashasbeenstatedalready,aftertheNewActcameintoforce,thepetitionerwasallowedto
amendhispetitionandtheattackwasnowdirectedagainsttheconstitutionalvalidityoftheNewActwhich
replacedtheearlierlegislation.

5. The learned Judges, who heard the petition, went into the matter with elaborate fullness, both on the
constitutional questions involved in it as well as on its merits. On the merits, it was held that in the
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circumstancesofthecasetheactionoftheBoardwasaperverseexerciseofitsjurisdictionandthatitshould
notbeallowedtoproceedinregardtothesettlementofthescheme.Ontheconstitutionalissuesraisedinthe
case, the learned Judges pronounced quite a number of sections of the New Act to be ultra vires the
Constitutionbyreasonoftheirbeinginconflictwiththefundamentalrightsofthepetitionerguaranteedunder
articles19(1)(f),25,26,and27oftheConstitution.Intheresult,therulenisiissuedonthepetitionwasmade
absolute and the Commissioner, Hindu Religious Endowments, Madras, was prohibited from proceeding
furtherwiththeframingofaschemeinregardtothepetitioner'sMath.TheCommissionerhasnowcomeup
on appeal before us on the strength of a certificate granted by the High Court under article 132(1) of the
Constitution.

6.ThelearnedAdvocateGeneralforMadras,whoappearedinsupportoftheappeal,confinedhisarguments
exclusivelytotheconstitutionalpointsinvolvedinthiscase.Althoughhehadputinanapplicationtourge
groundsotherthantheconstitutionalgrounds,thatapplicationwasnotpressedandhedidnotchallengethe
findings of fact upon which the High Court based its decision on the merits of the petition. The position,
therefore,isthattheorderoftheHighCourtissuingthewritofprohibitionagainsttheappellantmuststand
irrespectiveofthedecisionwhichwemightarriveatontheconstitutionalpointsraisedbeforeus.

7. It is not disputed that a State Legislature is competent to enact laws on the subject of religious and
charitable endowments, which is covered by entry 28 of List III in Schedule VII of the Constitution. No
questionoflegislativeincompetencyonthepartoftheMadrasLegislaturetoenactthelegislationinquestion
has been raised before us with the exception of the provision relating to payment of annual contribution
containedinsection76oftheimpugnedAct.Theargumentthathasbeenadvancedis,thatthecontributionis
inrealityataxandnotafeeandconsequentlytheStateLegislaturehadnoauthoritytoenactaprovisionof
thischaracter.Wewilldealwiththispointseparatelylateron.Alltheotherpointscanvassedbeforeusrelate
to the constitutional validity or otherwise of the several provisions of the Act which have been held to be
invalid by the High Court of Madras on grounds of their being in conflict with the fundamental rights
guaranteed under articles 19(1)(f),25,26and27 of the Constitution. In order to appreciate the contentions
thathavebeenadvancedontheseheadsbythelearnedcounselonbothsides,itmaybeconvenienttorefer
brieflytotheschemeandthesalientprovisionsoftheAct.

8.Theobjectofthelegislation,asindicatedinthepreamble,istoamendandconsolidatethelawrelatingto
theadministrationandgovernanceofHindureligiousandcharitableinstitutionsandendowmentsintheState
of Madras. As compared with the Earlier Act, its scope is wider and it can be made applicable to purely
charitable endowments by proper notification under section 3 of the Act. The Earlier Act provided for
supervisionofHindureligiousendowmentsthroughastatutorybodyknownastheMadrasHinduReligious
EndowmentsBoard.TheNewActhasabolishedthisBoardandtheadministrationofreligiousandcharitable
institutions has been vested practically in a department of the Government, at the head of which is the
Commissioner.ThepowersoftheCommissionerandoftheotherauthoritiesunderhimhavebeenenumerated
inChapterIIoftheAct.UndertheCommissioneraretheDeputyCommissioners,AssistantCommissioners
andAreaCommittees.TheCommissioner,withtheapprovaloftheGovernment,hastodividetheStateinto
certain areas and each area is placed in charge of a Deputy Commissioner, to whom the powers of the
Commissionerscanbedelegated.TheStatehasalsotobedividedintoanumberofdivisionsandanAssistant
Commissioneristobeplacedinchargeofeachdivision.BelowtheAssistantCommissioner,therewillbean
AreaCommitteeinchargeofallthetemplessituatedwithinadivisionorpartofadivision.Undersection18,
the Commissioner is empowered to examine the records of any Deputy Commissioner, Assistant
Commissioner, or Area Committee, or of any trustee not being the trustee of a Math, in respect of any
proceedingundertheAct,tosatisfyhimselfastotheregularity,correctness,orproprietyofanydecisionor
order.ChapterIIIcontainsthegeneralprovisionsrelatingtoallreligiousinstitutions.Undersection20, the
administration of religious endowments is placed under the general superintendence and control of the
Commissionerandheisempoweredtopassanyorderswhichmaybedeemednecessarytoensurethatsuch
endowmentsareproperlyadministeredandtheirincomeisdulyappropriatedforthepurposesforwhichthey
werefoundedorexist.Section21givestheCommissioner,theDeputyandAssistantCommissionersandsuch
otherofficersasmaybeauthorisedinthisbehalf,thepowertoenterthepremisesofanyreligiousinstitution
or any place of worship for the purpose of exercising or any power conferred, or discharging any duty
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imposed, by or under the Act. The only restriction is that the officer exerting the power must be a Hindu.
Section23makesitobligatoryonthetrusteeofareligiousinstitutiontoobeyalllawfulordersissuedunder
the provisions of this Act by the Government, the Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner, the Area
CommitteeortheAssistantCommissioner.Section24laysdownthatintheadministrationoftheaffairsofthe
institution,atrusteeshoulduseasmuchcareasamanofordinaryprudencewoulduseinthemanagementof
hisownaffairs.Section25dealswiththepreparationofregistersofallreligiousinstitutionsandsection26
providesfortheannualverificationofsuchregisters.Section27imposesadutyonthetrusteetofurnishtothe
Commissionersuchaccounts,returns,reportsandotherinformationastheCommissionermayrequire.Under
section28,powerisgiventotheCommissioneroranyotherofficeauthorizedbyhimtoinspectallmovable
and immovable properties appertaining to a religious institution. Section 29 forbids alienation of all
immovable properties belonging to the trust, except leases for a term not exceeding five years, without the
sanctionoftheCommissioner.Section30laysdownthatalthoughatrusteemayincurexpenditureformaking
arrangementsforsecuringthehealthandcomfortofpilgrims,worshipersandotherpeople,whenthereisa
surplusleftaftermakingadequateprovisionforpurposespecifiedinsection79(2),heshallbeguidedinsuch
matters by all general or special instructions which he may receive from the Commissioner or the Area
Committee. Section 31 deals with surplus funds which the trustee may apply wholly or in part with the
permission,inwriting,oftheDeputyCommissionerforanyofthepurposespecifiedinsection59(1).Chapter
IVdealsspecificallywithMaths.Section52enumeratesthegroundsonwhichasuitwouldlietoremovea
trustee.Section54relatestowhatiscalled"dittam"orscaleofexpenditure.Thetrusteehasgottosubmitto
the Commissioner proposals for fixing the "dittam" and the amounts to be allotted to the various objects
connectedwiththeinstitution.Theproposalsaretobepublishedandafterreceivingsuggestions,ifany,from
persons interested in the institution, they would be scrutinised by the Commissioner. If the Commissioner
thinks that a modification is necessary, he shall submit the case to the Government and the orders of the
Government would be final. Section 55 empowers the trustee to spend at his discretion and for purposes
connectedwiththeMaththe"Pathakanikas"orgiftsmadetohimpersonally,butheisrequiredtokeepregular
accounts of the receipts and expenditure of such personal gifts. Under section 56, the Commissioner is
empoweredtocalluponthetrusteetoappointamanagerfortheadministrationofthesecularaffairsofthe
institutionandindefaultofsuchappointment,theCommissionermaymaketheappointmenthimself.Under
section58, a Deputy Commissioner is competent to frame a scheme for any religious institutions if he has
reasontobelievethatintheinterestsoftheproperadministrationofthetrustanysuchschemeisnecessary.
Subsection(3)ofthissectionprovidesthataschemesettledforaMathmaycontaininteraliaaprovisionfor
appointment of a paid executive office professing the Hindu religion, whose salary shall be paid out of the
fundsoftheinstitution.Section59makesprovisionforapplicationofthe"bypass"doctrinewhenthespecific
objectsofthetrustfail.ChapterVIoftheAct,whichcomprisessections63to69,dealswiththenotification
ofreligiousinstitutions.Areligiousinstitutionmaybenotifiedinaccordancewiththeprovisionslaiddownin
this chapter. Such notification remains in force for five years and the effect of it is to take over the
administration and vest it in an executive officer appointed by the Commissioner. Chapter VII deals with
budgets, accounts and audit and Chapter VIII relates to finance. Section 76 of Chapter VIII makes it
compulsoryforallreligiousinstitutionstopayannuallytotheGovernmentacontributionnotexceeding5per
cent. of their income on account of the services rendered to them by the Government and their officers
functioningunderthisAct.ChapterIXisnotmaterialforourpurpose,andChapterXdealswithprovisionsof
amiscellaneousnature.Section89inChapterXprescribesthepenaltyforrefusalbyatrusteetocomplywith
theprovisionsoftheAct.Section92laysdownthatnothingcontainedintheActshallbedeemedtoconfer
anypowerorimposeanydutyincontraventionoftherightsconferredonanyreligiousdenominationunder
clauses (a), (d) and (c) of article 26 of the Constitution. Section 99 vests a revisional jurisdiction in the
Government to call for and examine the records of the Commissioner and other subordinate authorities to
satisfythemselvesastotheregularityandproprietyofanyproceedingtakenoranyorderordecisionmadeby
then,inbrief,aretheprovisionsoftheActmaterialforourpresentpurpose.

9.ThelearnedJudgesoftheHighCourthavetakentheviewthattherespondentasMathadhipatihascertain
welldefinedrightsintheinstitutionanditsendowmentswhichcouldberegardedasrightstopropertywithin
themeaningofarticle19(1)(f)oftheConstitution.TheprovisionsoftheActtotheextentthattheytakeaway
or unduly restrict the power to exercise these rights are not reasonable restrictions within the meaning of
article19(5) and must consequently be held invalid. The High Court has held in the second place that the
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respondent,astheheadandrepresentativeofareligiousinstitution,hasarightguaranteedtohimunderarticle
25oftheConstitutiontopracticeandpropagatefreelythereligionofwhichheandhisfollowersprofesstobe
adherents.Thisright,intheopinionoftheHighCourt,hasbeenaffectedbysomeoftheprovisionsoftheAct.
The High Court has held further that the Math in question is really an institution belonging to Sivalli
Brahmins, who are a section of the followers of Madhwacharya and hence constitutes a religious
denomination within the meaning of article 26 of the Constitution. This religious denomination has a
fundamentalrightunderarticle26tomanageitsownaffairsinmattersofreligiousthroughtheMathadhipati
whoistheirspiritualheadandsuperior,andthoseprovisionsoftheAct,whichsubstantiallytakeawaythe
rights of the Mathadhipati in this respect, amount to violation of the fundamental right guaranteed under
article26.Lastly,theHighCourthasheldthattheprovisionforcompulsorycontributionmadeinsection76
oftheActcomeswithinthemischiefofarticle27oftheConstitution.Thislastpointraisesawideissueand
weproposetodiscussitseparatelylateron.Sofarastheotherthreepointsareconcerned,wewillhaveto
examine first of all the general contentions that have been raised by the learned AttorneyGeneral, who
appearedfortheUnionofIndiaasanintervenerinthisandotherconnectedcase,andthequestionsareraised
are, whether these articles of the Constitution are at all available to the respondent in the present case and
whether they give him any protection regarding the rights and privileges, of the infraction of which he
complains.

10. As regards article 19(1)(f) of the Constitution, the question that requires consideration is, whether the
respondent as Mathadhipati has a right to property in the legal sense, in the religious institution and its
endowmentswhichwouldenablehimtoclaimtheprotectionofthisarticle?Aquestionisalsoformulatedas
towhetherthisarticledealswithconcreterightsofpropertyatall?Sofarasarticle25oftheConstitutionis
concerned,thepointraisedis,whetherthisarticlewhich,itissaid,isintendedtoprotectreligiousfreedom
only so far as individuals are concerned, can be invoked in favour of an institution or organisation ? With
regard to article 26, the contention is that a Math does not come within the description of a religious
denominationasprovidedforinthearticleandevenifitdoes,whatcannotbeinterferedwithisitsrightto
manageitsownaffairsinmattersofreligiononlyandnothingelse.Itissaid,thattheword"religion",asused
in this article, should be taken in its strict etymological sense as distinguished from any kind of secular
activity which may be connected in some way with religion but does not form an essential part of it.
Referenceismadeinthisconnectiontoclause(2)(a)ofarticle25andclause(d)ofarticle26.Wewilltakeup
thesepointsforconsiderationoneafteranother.

11. As regards the property rights of a Mathadhipati, it may not be possible to say in view of the
pronouncementsoftheJudicialCommittee,whichhavebeenacceptedasgoodlawinthiscountryeversince
1921,thataMathadhipatiholdstheMathpropertyasalifetenantorthathispositionissimilartothatofa
Hinduwidowinrespecttoherhusband'sestateorofanEnglishBishopholdingabenefice.Heiscertainlynot
atrusteeinthestrictsense.Hemaybe,asthePrivyCouncil(VideVidyaVaruthiv.Batusami,48I.A.302.)
says,amangerorcustodianoftheinstitutionwhohastodischargethedutiesofatrusteeandisanswerableas
suchbutheisnotameremanageranditwouldnotberightdescribeMahantshipasamereoffice.Asuperior
ofaMathhasnotonlydutiestodischargeinconnectionwiththeendowmentbuthehasapersonalinterestof
abeneficialcharacterwhichissanctionedbycustomandismuchlargerthanthatofaShebaitinthedebutter
property.ItwasheldbyaFullBenchoftheCalcuttaHighCourt(VideMonahaiv.Bhupendra,60Cal.452.),
thatShebaitshipitselfisproperty,andthisdecisionwasapprovedofbytheJudicialCommitteeinGaneshv.
Lal Behary (63 I.A. 448.), and again in Bhabatarini v. Ashalata (70 I.A. 57.). The effect of the first two
decisions, as the Privy Council pointed out in the last case, was to emphasis the proprietary element in the
Shebaiti right and to show that though in some respects an anomaly, it was an anomaly to be accepted as
having been admitted into Hindu law from an early date view was adopted in its entirety by this court in
Angurbalav.DebabrataMANU/SC/0062/1951:1951SCR1125.)andwhatwassaidinthatcaseinrespectto
Shebaiti right could, with equal propriety, be applied to the office of a Mahant. Thus in the conception of
Mahantship, as in Shebaitship, both the elements of office and property, of duties and personal interest are
blendedtogetherandneithercanbedetachedfromtheother.ThepersonalorbeneficialinterestoftheMahant
intheendowmentsattachedtoaninstitutionismanifestedinhislargepowersofdisposalandadministration
and his right to create derivative tenures in respect to endowed properties and these and other rights of a
similar character invest the office of the Mahant with the character of proprietary right which, though
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anomalous to some extent, is still a genuine legal right. It is true that the Mahantship is not heritable like
ordinaryproperty,butthatisbecauseofitspeculiarnatureandthefactthattheofficeisgenerallyheldbyan
ascetic,whoseconnectionwithhisnaturalfamilybeingcompletelycutoff,theordinaryrulesofsuccessiondo
notapply.

12.Thereisnoreasonwhytheword"property",asusedinarticle19(1)(f)oftheConstitution,shouldnotbe
given a liberal and wide connotation and should not be extended to those well recognised types of interest
whichhavetheinsigniaorcharacteristicsofproprietaryright.Assaidabove,theingredientsofbothoffice
andproperty,ofdutiesandpersonalinterestareblendedtogetherintherightsofaMahantandtheMahanthas
therighttoenjoythispropertyorbeneficialinterestsolongasheisentitledtoholdhisoffice.Totakeaway
thisbeneficialinterestandleavehimmerelytothedischargeofhisdutieswouldbetodestroyhischaracteras
aMahantaltogether.Itistruethatthebeneficialinterestwhichheenjoysisappurtenanttohisdutiesandashe
isinchargeofapublicinstitution,reasonablerestrictionscanalwaysbeplaceduponhisrightsintheinterest
of the public. But the restrictions would cease to be reasonable if they are calculated to make him unfit to
discharge the duties which he is called upon to discharge. A Mahant's duty is not simply to manage the
temporalities of a Math. He is the head and superior of spiritual fraternity and the purpose of Math is to
encourage and foster spiritual training by maintenance of a competent line of teachers who could impart
religious instructions to the disciples and followers of the Math and try to strengthen the doctrines of the
particular school or order, of which they profess to be adherents. This purpose cannot be served if the
restrictionsaresuchaswouldbringtheMathadhipatidowntothelevelofaservantunderaStatedepartment.
Itisfromthisstandpointthatthereasonablenessoftherestrictionsshouldbejudged.

13.ApointwassuggestedbythelearnedAttorneyGeneralthatasarticle19(1)(f)dealsonlywiththenatural
rightsinherentinacitizentoacquire,holdanddisposeofpropertyintheabstractwithoutreferencetorights
toanyparticularproperty,itcanbeofnorealassistancetotherespondentinthepresentcaseandarticle31of
theConstitution,whichdealswithdeprivationofproperty,hasnoapplicationhere.InthecaseofTheStateof
West Bengal v. Subodh Gopal Bose (MANU/SC/0018/1953 : 1954 S.C.R. 587.) (Civil Appeal No. 107 of
1952,decidedbythiscourtonthe17thDecember,1953),anopinionwasexpressedbyPatanjaliSastriC.J
thatarticle19(1)(f)oftheConstitutionisconcernedonlywiththeabstractrightandcapacitytoacquire,hold
anddisposeofpropertyandthatithasnorelationtoconcretepropertyrights.This,itmaybenoted,wasan
expressionofopinionbythelearnedChiefJusticealoneanditwasnotthedecisionofthecourtforoutofthe
otherfourlearnedJudgeswhotogetherwiththeChiefJusticeconstitutedtheBench,twodidnotdefinitely
agreewiththisview,whiletheremainingtwodidnotexpressanyopiniononewayortheother.Thispoint
wasnotraisedbeforeusbytheAdvocateGeneralforMadras,whoappearedinsupportoftheappeal,norby
anyoftheothercounselappearinginthiscase.ThelearnedAttorneyGeneralhimselfstatedcandidlythathe
wasnotpreparedtosupporttheviewtakenbythelateChiefJusticeasmentionedaboveandheonlyraised
thepointtogetanauthoritativepronouncementuponitbythecourt.Inouropinion,itwouldnotbeproperto
expressanyfinalopinionuponthepointinthepresentcasewhenwehadnottheadvantageofanyarguments
addressed to us upon it. We would prefer to proceed, as this court has proceeded all along, in dealing with
similar cases in the past, on the footing that article 19(1)(f) applies equally to concrete as well as abstract
rightsofproperty.

14. We now come to article 25 which, as its language indicates, secures to every person, subject to public
order,healthandmorality,afreedomnotonlytoentertainsuchreligiousbelief,asmaybeapprovedofbyhis
judgment and conscience, but also to exhibit his belief in such outward acts as he thinks proper and to
propagateordisseminatehisideasfortheedificationofothers.Aquestionisraisedastowhethertheword
"person"heremeansindividualsonlyorincludescorporatebodiesaswell.Thequestion,inouropinion,isnot
atallrelevantforourpresentpurpose.AMathadhipatiiscertainlynotacorporatebodyheistheheadofa
spiritualfraternityandbyvirtueofhisofficehastoperformthedutiesofareligiousteacher.Itishisdutyto
practiceandpropagatethereligioustenants,ofwhichheisanadherentandifanyprovisionoflawprevents
himfrompropagatinghisdoctrines,thatwouldcertainlyaffectthereligiousfreedomwhichisguarantiedto
everypersonunderarticle25.Institutionsassuchcannotpracticeorpropagatereligionitcanbedoneonlyby
individual persons and whether these persons propagate their personal views or the tenants for which the

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institutionstandsisreallyimmaterialforpurposesofarticle25.Itisthepropagationofbeliefthatisprotected,
nomatterwhetherthepropagationtakesplaceinachurchormonastery,orinatempleorparlormeeting.

15.Asregardsarticle26,thefirstquestionis,whatistheprecisemeaningorconnotationoftheexpression
"religiousdenomination"andwhetheraMathcouldcomewithinthisexpression.Theword"denomination"
hasbeendefinedintheOxfordDictionarytomean"acollectionofindividualsclassedtogetherundersame
name : a religious sect or body having a common faith and organisation and designated by a distinctive
name."ItiswellknowthatthepracticeofsettingupMathsascentersoftheologicalteachingwasstatedby
Shri Sankaracharya and was followed by various teachers since then. After Sankara, came a galaxy of
religiousteachersandphilosopherswhofoundedthedifferentsectsandsubsectsoftheHindureligionthat
we find in India at the present day. Each one of such sects or subsects can certainly be called a religious
denomination,asitisdesignatedbyadistinctivename,inmanycasesitisthenameofthefounder,andhas
acommonfaithandcommonspiritualorganization.ThefollowersofRamanuja,whoareknownbythename
of Shri Vaishnabas, undoubtedly constitute a religious denomination and so do the followers of
Madhwacharyaandotherreligiousteachers.ItisafactwellestablishedbytraditionthattheeightUdipiMaths
werefoundedbyMadhwacharyahimselfandthetrusteesandthebeneficiariesoftheseMathsprofesstobe
followers of that teacher. The High Court has found that the Math in question is in charge of the Sivalli
BrahminswhoconstituteasectionofthefollowersofMadhwacharya.Asarticle26contemplatesnotmerelya
religious denomination but also a section thereof, the Math or the spiritual fraternity represented by it can
legitimatelycomewithinthepurviewofthisarticle.

16.Theotherthingthatremainstobeconsideredbyitregardtoarticle26is,whatisthescopeofclause(b)of
thearticlewhichspeaksofmanagement"ofitsownaffairsinmattersofreligion?"Thelanguageundoubtedly
suggeststhattherecouldbeotheraffairsofareligiousdenominationorasectionthereofwhicharenotmatters
ofreligionandtowhichtheguaranteegivenbythisclausewouldnotapply.Thequestionis,whereistheline
tobedrawnbetweenwhataremattersofreligionandwhatarenot?

17.Itwillbeseenthatbesidestherighttomanageitsownaffairsinmattersofreligion,whichisgivenby
clause(b),thenexttwoclausesofarticle26guaranteetoareligious denomination the right to acquire and
ownpropertyandtoadministersuchpropertyinaccordancewithlaw.Theadministrationofitspropertybya
religiousdenominationhasthusbeenplacedonadifferentfootingfromtherighttomanageitsownaffairsin
mattersofreligion.Thelatterisafundamentalrightwhichnolegislaturecantakeaway,whereastheformer
canberegulatedbylawswhichthelegislaturecanvalidlyimpose.Itisclear,therefore,thatquestionsmerely
relatingtoadministrationofpropertiesbelongingtoareligiousgrouporinstitutionarenotmattersofreligion
towhichclause(b)ofthearticleapplies.Whatthenaremattersofreligion?Theword"religion"hasnotbeen
definedintheConstitutionanditisatermwhichishardlysusceptibleofanyrigiddefinition.InanAmerican
case(VideDavisv.Benson,133U.S.333at342.),ithasbeensaid

"thattheterm'religion'hasreferencetoone'sviewsofhisrelationtohisCreatorandtotheobligations
they impose of reverence for His Being and character and of obedience to His will. It is often
confoundedwithcultsofformorworshipofaparticularsect,butisdistinguishablefromthelatter."

Wedonotthinkthattheabovedefinitioncanberegardedaseitherpreciseoradequate.Articles25and26of
ourConstitutionarebasedforthemostpartuponarticle44(2)oftheConstitutionofEireandwehavegreat
doubt whether a definition of "religion" as given above could have been in the minds of our Constitution
makers when they framed the Constitution. Religion is certainly a matter of faith with individuals or
communities and it is not necessarily theistic. There are well known religions in India like Buddhism and
JainismwhichdonotbelieveinGodorinanyIntelligentFirstCause.Areligionundoubtedlyhasitsbasisina
system of beliefs or doctrines which are regarded by those who profess that religion as conducive to their
spiritualwellbeing,butitwouldnotbecorrecttosaythatreligionisnothingelsebutadoctrineofbelief.A
religionmaynotonlylaydownacodeofethicalrulesforitsfollowerstoaccept,itmightprescriberitualsand
observances, ceremonies and modes of worship which are regarded as integral parts of religion, and these
formsandobservancesmightextendeventomattersoffoodanddress.

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18. The guarantee under our Constitution not only protects the freedom of religious opinion but it protects
also acts done in pursuance of a relation and this is made clear by the use of the expression "practice of
religion"inarticle25.LathamC.J.oftheHighCourtofAustralianwhiledealingwiththeprovisionofsection
116oftheAustralianConstitutionwhichinteraliaforbidstheCommonwealthtoprohibitthe"freeexerciseof
anyreligion"madethefollowingweightyobservations(VideAdelaideCompanyv.TheCommonwealth67
C.L.R.116,127.):

"It is sometimes suggested in discussions on the subject of freedom of religion that, though the civil
Governmentshouldnotinterferewithreligiousopinions,itneverthelessmaydealasitpleaseswithany
acts which are done in pursuance of religious belief without infringing the principle of freedom of
religion. It appears to me to be difficult to maintain this distinction as relevant to the interpretation of
section116.Thesectionrefersinexpresstermstotheexerciseofreligion,andthereforeitisintended
to protect from the operation of any Commonwealth laws acts which are done in the exercise of
religion. Thus the section goes far beyond protecting liberty of opinion. It protects also acts done in
pursuanceofreligiousbeliefaspartofreligion."

19. These observations apply fully to the protection of religion as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.
RestrictionsbytheStateuponfreeexerciseofreligionarepermittedbothunderarticles25and26ongrounds
ofpublicorder,moralityandhealth.Clause(2)(a)ofarticle25reservestherightoftheStatetoregulateor
restrictanyeconomic,financial,politicalandothersecularactivitieswhichmaybeassociatedwithreligious
practiceandthereisafurtherrightgiventotheStatebysubclause(b)underwhichtheStatecanlegislatefor
social welfare and reform even though by so doing it might interfere with religious practices. The learned
AttorneyGenerallaysstressuponclause(2)(a)ofthearticleandhiscontentionisthatallsecularactivities,
whichmaybeassociatedwithreligionbutdonotreallyconstituteanessentialpartofit,areamenabletoState
regulation.

20. The contention formulated in such broad terms cannot, we think, be supported. In the first place, what
constitutestheessentialpartofareligionisprimarilytobeascertainedwithreferencetothedoctrinesofthat
religionitself.IfthetenetsofanyreligioussectoftheHindusprescribethatofferingsoffoodshouldbegiven
totheidolatparticularhoursoftheday,thatperiodicalceremoniesshouldbeperformedinacertainwayat
certainperiodsoftheyearorthatthereshouldbedailyrecitalofsacredtextsoroblationstothesacredfire,all
these would be regarded as parts of religion and the mere fact that they involve expenditure of money or
employment of priests and servants or the use of marketable commodities would not make them secular
activitiespartakingofacommercialoreconomiccharacterallofthemarereligiouspracticesandshouldbe
regardedasmattersofreligionwithinthemeaningofarticle26(b).Whatarticle25(2)(a)contemplatesisnot
regulationbytheStateofreligiouspracticesassuch,thefreedomofwhichisguaranteedbytheConstitution
except when they run counter to public order, health and morality, but regulation of activities which are
economic,commercialorpoliticalintheircharacterthoughtheyareassociatedwithreligiouspractices.We
mayreferinthisconnectiontoafewAmericanandAustraliancases,allofwhicharoseoutoftheactivitiesof
personsconnectedwiththereligiousassociationknownas:Jehova'sWitnesses."Thisassociationofpersons
looselyorganisedthroughoutAustralia,U.S.A.andothercountriesregardtheliteralinterpretationoftheBible
asfundamentaltoproperreligiousbeliefs.ThisbeliefinsupremeauthorityoftheBiblecoloursmanyoftheir
political ideas. They refuse to take oath of allegiance to the king or other constituted human authority and
even to show respect to the national flag, and they decry all wars between nations and all kinds of war
activities.In1941acompanyof"Jehova'sWitnesses"incorporatedinAustraliacommencedproclaimingand
teaching matters which were prejudicial to war activities and the defence of the Commonwealth and steps
weretakenagainstthemundertheNationalSecurityRegulationsoftheState.Thelegalityoftheactionofthe
GovernmentwasquestionedbymeansofawritpetitionbeforetheHighCourtandtheHighCourtheldthat
theactionoftheGovernmentwasjustifiedandthatsection116,whichguaranteedfreedomofreligionunder
the Australian Constitution, was not in any way infringed by the National Security Regulations (Vide
Adelaide Company v. The Commonwealth, 67 C.L.R. 116.). These were undoubtedly political activities
though arising out of religious belief entertained by a particular community. Such cases, as Chief Justice
Lathampointedout,theprovisionforprotectionofreligionwasnotanabsoluteprotectiontobeinterpreted
andappliedindependentlyofotherprovisionsoftheConstitution.Theseprivilegesmustbereconciledwith

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the right of the State to employ the sovereign power to ensure peace, security and orderly living without
whichconstitutionalguaranteeofcivillibertywouldbeamockery.

21.ThecourtofAmericawereatonetimegreatlyagitatedoverthequestionoflegalityofaStateregulation
whichrequiredthepupilsinpublicschoolsonpainofcompulsiontoparticipateindailyceremonyofsaluting
thenationalflag,whilerecitinginunison,apledgeofallegiancetoitinacertainsetformula.Thequestion
arose in Minersville School District, Board of Education, etc. v. Gobitis (310 U.S. 586.). In that case two
small children, Lillian and William Gobitis, were expelled from the public school of Minersville,
Pennsylvania, for refusing to salute the national flag as part of the daily exercise. The Gobitis family were
affiliatedwith"Jehova'sWitnesses"andhadbeenbroughtupconscientiouslytobelievethatsuchagestureof
respectfortheflagwasforbiddenbythescripture.ThepointfordecisionbytheSupremeCourtwaswhether
therequirementofparticipationinsuchaceremonyexactedfromachild,whorefuseduponsincerereligious
ground,infringedthelibertyofreligionguaranteedbytheFirstandtheFourteenthAmendments?Thecourt
held by a majority that it did not and that it was within the province of the legislature and the school
authoritiestoadoptappropriatemeanstoevokeandfosterasentimentofnationalunityamongstthechildren
inpublicschools.TheSupremeCourt,however,changedtheirviewsonthisidenticalpointinthelatercaseof
WestVirginiaStateBoardofEducationv.Barnette(319U.S.624.).Thereitwasheldoverrulingtheearlier
decisionreferredtoabovethattheactionofaStateinmakingitcompulsoryforchildreninpublicschoolsto
salutetheflagandpledgeallegianceconstitutedaviolationoftheFirstandtheFourteenthAmendments.This
differenceinjudicialopinionbringsoutforciblythedifficulttaskwhichacourthastoperformincasesofthis
type where the freedom or religious convictions genuinely entertained by men come into conflict with the
proper political attitude which is expected from citizens in matters of unity and solidarity of the State
organization.

22. As regards commercial activities, which are prompted by religious beliefs, we can cite the case of
Murdockv.Pennsylvania(319U.S.105.).Herealsothepetitionerswere"Jehova'sWitnesses"andtheywent
aboutfromdoortodoorinthecityofJeannettedistributingliteratureandsolicitingpeopletopurchasecertain
religious books and pamphlets, all published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. A municipal
ordinancerequiredreligiouscolporteurstopayalicencetaxasaconditiontothepursuitoftheiractivities.
The petitioners were convicted and fined for violation of the ordinance. It was held that the ordinance in
questionwasinvalidundertheFederalConstitutionasconstitutingadenialoffreedomofspeech,pressand
religionanditwasheldfurtherthatuponthefactsofthecaseitcouldnotbesaidthatJehova'sWitnesses"
were engaged in a commercial rather than in a religious venture. Here again, it may be pointed out that a
contraryviewwastakenonlyafewyearsbeforeinthecaseofJonesv.Opelika(316U.S.584.),anditwas
heldthatacityordinance,whichrequiredthatlicencebeprocuredandtaxespaidforthebusinessofselling
books and pamphlets on the streets from house to house, was applicable to a member of a religious
organisationwhowasengagedinsellingtheprintedpropagandapamphletswithouthavingcompliedwiththe
provisionsoftheordinance.

23.ItistobenotedthatbothintheAmericanaswellasintheAustralianConstitutionstherighttofreedomof
religion has been declared in unrestricted terms without any limitation whatsoever. Limitations, therefore,
havebeenintroducedbycourtsoflawinthesecountriesongroundsofmorality,orderandsocialprotection.
AnadjustmentofthecompetingdemandsoftheinterestsofGovernmentandconstitutionallibertiesisalways
adelicateandadifficulttaskandthatiswhywefinddifferenceofjudicialopiniontosuchanextentincases
decided by the American courts where questions of religious freedom were involved. Our Constitution
makers, however, have embodied the limitations which have been evolved by judicial pronouncements in
AmericaorAustraliaintheConstitutionitselfandthelanguageofarticles25and26issufficientlyclearto
enableustodeterminewithouttheaidofforeignauthoritiesastowhatmatterscomewithinthepurviewof
religion and what do not. As we have already indicated, freedom of religion in our Constitution is not
confinedtoreligiousbeliefsonlyitextendstoreligiouspracticesaswellsubjecttotherestrictionswhichthe
Constitution itself has laid down. Under article 26(b), therefore, a religious denomination or organization
enjoyscompleteautonomyinthematterofdecidingastowhatritesandceremoniesareessentialaccordingto
thetenetsofthereligiontheyholdandnooutsideauthorityhasanyjurisdictiontointerferewiththeirdecision
insuchmatters.Ofcourse,thescaleofexpensestobeincurredinconnectionwiththesereligiousobservances
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wouldbeamatterofadministrationofpropertybelongingtothereligiousdenominationandcanbecontrolled
bysecularauthoritiesinaccordancewithanylawlaiddownbyacompetentlegislatureforitcouldnotbethe
injunctionofanyreligiontodestroytheinstitutionanditsendowmentsbyincurringwastefulexpenditureon
ritesandceremonies.Itshouldbenoticed,however,thatunderarticle26(d),itisthefundamentalrightofa
religiousdenominationoritsrepresentativetoadministeritspropertiesinaccordancewithlawandthelaw,
therefore, must leave the right of administration to the religious denomination itself subject to such
restrictionsandregulationsasitmightchoosetoimpose.Alawwhichtakesawaytherightofadministration
fromthehandsofareligiousdenominationaltogetherandvestsitinanyotherauthoritywouldamounttoa
violationofrightguaranteedunderclause(d)ofarticle26.

24.Havingthusdisposedofthegeneralcontentionsthatwereraisedinthisappeal,wewillproceednowto
examine the specific grounds that have been urged by the parties before us in regard to the decision of the
HighCourtsofarasitdeclaredseveralsectionsofthenewActtobeultravirestheConstitutionbyreasonof
theirconflictingwiththefundamentalrightsoftherespondent.Theconcludingportionofthejudgmentofthe
HighCourtwherethelearnedJudgessummeduptheirdecisiononthispointstandsasfollows:

"To sum up, we hold that the following sections are ultra vires the State Legislature in so far as they
relate to this Math : and what we say will also equally apply to other Maths of a similar nature. The
sectionsofthenewActare:sections18,20,21,25(4),section26(totheextentsection25(4)ismade
applicable),section28(thoughitsoundsinnocuous,itisliabletoabuseaswehavealreadypointedout
earlier in the judgment), section 29, clause (2) of section 30, section 31, section 39(2), section 42,
section53 (because courts have ample powers to meet these contingencies), section 54, clause (2) of
section55,section56,clause(3)ofsection58,sections63to69inChapterVI,clauses(2),(3)and(4)
of section 70, section 76, section 89 and section 99 (to the extent it gives the Government virtually
completecontrolovertheMathadhipatiandMaths)."

25.ItmaybepointedoutattheoutsetthatthelearnedJudgeswerenotrightinincludingsections18,39(2)
and42inthislist,asthesesectionsarenotaapplicabletoMathsundertheActitself.Thispositionhasnot
beendisputedbyMr.Somayya,whoappearsfortherespondent.

26.Section20oftheActdescribesthepowersoftheCommissionerinrespecttoreligiousendowmentsand
they include power to pass any orders that may be deemed necessary to ensure that such endowments are
properly administered and that their income is duly appropriated for the purposes for which they were
founded.HavingregardtothefactthattheMathadhipatioccupiesthepositionofatrusteewithregardtothe
Math,whichisapublicinstitution,someamountofcontrolorsupervisionoverthedueadministrationofthe
endowmentsanddueappropriationoftheirfundsiscertainlynecessaryintheinterestofthepublicandwedo
notthinkthattheprovisionofthissectionbyitselfoffendsanyfundamentalrightoftheMahant.Wedonot
agreewiththeHighCourtthattheresultofthisprovisionswouldbetoreducetheMahanttothepositionofa
servant.NodoubttheCommissionerisinvestedwithpowerstopassorders,butorderscanbepassedonlyfor
thepurposesspecifiedinthesectionandnotforinterferencewiththerightsoftheMahantasaresanctioned
byusageorforloweringhispositionasthespiritualheadoftheinstitution.Thesavingprovisioncontainedin
section91oftheActmakesthepositionquiteclear.Anapprehensionthatthepowersconferredbythissection
maybeabusedinindividualcasesdoesnotmaketheprovisionitselfhadorinvalidinlaw.

27.Weagree,however,withtheHighCourtintheviewtakenbyitaboutsection21.Thissectionempowers
theCommissionerandhissubordinateofficersandalsopersonsauthorisedbythemtoenterthepremisesof
anyreligiousinstitutionorplaceofworshipforthepurposeofexercisinganypowerconferredoranyduty
imposed by or under the Act. It is well known that there could be no such thing as an unregulated and
unrestrictedrightofentryinapublictempleorotherreligiousinstitution,forpersonswhoarenotconnected
withthespiritualfunctionsthereof.Itisatraditionalcustomuniversallyobservednottoallowaccesstoany
outsidertotheparticularlysacredpartsofatempleasforexample,theplacewherethedeityislocated.There
are also fixed hours of worship and rest for the idol when no disturbance by any member of the public is
allowed.Section21,itistobenoted,doesnotconfinetherightofentrytotheouterportionofthepremisesit
doesnotevenexcludetheinnersanctuary"theHolyofHolies"asitissaid,thesanctityofwhichiszealously
preserved.Itdoesnotsaythattheentrymaybemadeafterduenoticetotheheadoftheinstitutionandatsuch
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hours which would not interfere with the due observance of the rites and ceremonies in the institution. We
think that as the section stands, it interferes with the fundamental rights of the Mathadhipati and the
denominationofwhichheisheadguaranteedunderarticles25and26oftheConstitution.Ourattentionhas
beendrawninthisconnectiontosection91oftheActwhich,itissaid,providesasufficientsafeguardagainst
anyabuseofpowerundersection21.Wecannotagreewiththiscontention.Clause(a)ofsection91excepts
fromthesavingclauseallexpressprovisionsoftheActwithinwhichtheprovisionofsection21wouldhave
tobeincluded.Clause(b)againdoesnotsayanythingaboutcustomorusageobtaininginaninstitutionandit
doesnotindicatebywhomandinwhatmannerthequestionofinterferencewiththereligiousandspiritual
functionsoftheMathwouldbedecidedincaseofanydisputearisingregardingit.Inouropinion,section21
hasbeenrightlyheldtobeinvalid.

28.Section23imposesadutyuponthetrusteestoobeyalllawfulordersissuedbytheCommissionerorany
subordinate authority under the provisions of the Act. No exception can be taken to the section if those
provisionsoftheAct,whichoffendagainstthefundamentalrightsoftherespondent,areleftoutofaccountas
beinginvalid.Nobodycanmakeagrievanceifheisdirectedtoobeyordersissuedinpursuanceofvalidlegal
authority.Thesamereasonwould,inouropinion,applytosection24.Itmaybementionedherethatsections
23and24havenotbeenspecificallymentionedintheconcludingportionofthejudgmentoftheHighCourt
setoutabove,thoughtheyhavebeenattackedbythelearnedJudgesincourseoftheirdiscussion.

29. As regards section 25, the High Court has taken exception only to clause (4) of the section. If the
preparationofregistersforreligiousinstitutionsisnotwronganddoesnotaffectthefundamentalrightsofthe
Mahant, one fails to see how the direction for addition to or alteration of entries in such registers, which
clause(4)contemplatesandwhichwillbenecessaryasaresultofenquiriesmadeunderclause(3),can,inany
sense, be held to be invalid as infringing the fundamental rights of the Mahant. The enquiry that is
contemplatedbyclauses(3)and(4)isanenquiryintotheactualstateofaffairs,andthewholeobjectofthe
sectionistokeepanaccuraterecordoftheparticularsspecifiedinit.Weareunable,therefore,toagreewith
the view expressed by the learned Judges. For the same reasons, section 26, which provides for annual
verificationoftheregisters,cannotbeheldtobebad.

30.AccordingtotheHighCourtsection28isitselfinnocuous.Themerepossibilityofitsbeingabusedisno
groundforholdingittobeinvalid.Asallendowedpropertiesareordinarilyinalienable,wefailtoseewhythe
restrictions placed by section 29 upon alienation of endowed properties should be considered bad. In our
opinion,theprovisionofclause(2)ofsection29,whichenablestheCommissionertoimposeconditionswhen
hegrantssanctiontoalienationofendowedproperty,isperfectlyreasonableandtothatnoexceptioncanbe
taken.

31.Theprovisionofsection30(2)appearstoustobesomewhatobscure.Clause(1)ofthesectionenablesa
trusteetoincurexpenditureoutofthefundsinhischargeaftermakingadequateprovisionforthepurposes
referred to in section 70(2), for making arrangements for the health, safety and convenience of disciples,
pilgrims, etc. Clause (2), however, says that in incurring expenditure under clause (1), the trustee shall be
guidedbysuchgeneralorspecialinstructionastheCommissionerortheAreaCommitteemightgiveinthat
connection.Ifthetrusteeistobeguidedbutnotfetteredbysuchdirections,possiblynoobjectioncanbetaken
tothisclausebutifheisboundtocarryoutsuchinstructions,wedothinkthatitconstitutesanencroachment
onhisright.Underthelaw,asitstands,theMahanthaslargepowersofdisposaloverthesurplusincomeand
theonlyrestrictionisthathecannotspendanythingoutofitforhispersonaluseunconnectedwiththedignity
of his office. But as the purposes specified in subclauses (a) and (b) of section 30(1) are beneficial to the
institutionthereseemstobenoreasonwhytheauthorityvestedintheMahanttospendthesurplusincomefor
suchpurposesshouldbetakenawayfromhimandheshouldbecompelledtoactinsuchmattersunderthe
instructionsoftheGovernmentofficers.WethinkthatthisisanunreasonablerestrictionontheMahant'sright
ofpropertywhichisblendedwithhisoffice.

32.Thesamereasonappliesinouropiniontosection31oftheAct,themeaningofwhichalsoisfarfrom
clear.Ifaftermakingadequateprovisionforthepurposesreferredtoinsection70(2)andforthearrangements
mentionedinsection30(2)thereisstillasurplusleftwiththetrustee,section31enableshimtospenditfor

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thepurposesspecifiedinsection59(1) with the previous sanction of the Deputy Commissioner. One of the
purposesmentionedinsection59(1)isthepropagationofthereligioustenantsoftheinstitution,anditisnot
understoodwhysanctionoftheDeputyCommissionershouldbenecessaryforspendingthesurplusincome
for the propagation of the religious tenets of the order which is one of the primary duties of a Mahant to
discharge.Thenextthingthatstrikesoneis,whethersanctionisnecessaryifthetrusteewantstospendthe
moneyforpurposesotherthanthosespecifiedinsection59(1)?Iftheanswerisinthenegative,thewhole
object of the section becomes meaningless. If, on the other hand, the implication of the section is that the
surpluscanbespentonlyforthepurposesspecifiedinsection59(1)andthattoowiththepermissionofthe
DeputyCommission,itundoubtedlyplacesaburdensomerestrictionuponthepropertyrightsoftheMahant
whicharesanctionedbyusageandwhichwouldhavetheeffectofimpairinghisdignityandefficiencyasthe
headoftheinstitution.Wethinkthatsections30(2)and31havebeenrightlyheldtobeinvalidbytheHigh
Court.

33.Sections39and42,assaidalready,arenotapplicabletoMathsandhencecanbeleftoutofconsideration.
Section53hasbeencondemnedbytheHighCourtmerelyonthegroundthatthecourthasamplejurisdiction
to provide for the contingencies that this section is intended to meet. But that surely cannot prevent a
competent legislature from legislating on the topic, provided it can do so without violating any of the
fundamentalrightsguaranteedbytheConstitution.WeareunabletoagreewiththeHighCourtonthispoint.
There seems to be nothing wrong or unreasonable in section 54 of the Act which provides for fixing the
standardscaleofexpenditure.Theproposalsforthispurposewouldhavetobesubmittedbythetrusteethey
are then to be published and suggestions invited from persons having interest in the amendment. The
commissioner is to scrutinise the original proposals and the suggestions received and if in his opinion a
modificationofthescaleisnecessary,hehastosubmitareporttotheGovernment,whosedecisionwillbe
final.Thisweconsidertobequiteareasonableandsalutaryprovision.

34. Section 55 deals with a Mahant's power over Pathakanikas or personal gifts. Ordinarily a Mahant has
absolutepowerofdisposaloversuchgifts,thoughifhedieswithoutmakinganydisposition,itisreckonedas
the property of the Math and goes to the succeeding Mahant. The first clause of section 55 lays down that
suchPathakanikasshallbespentonlyforthepurposesoftheMath.Thisisanunwarrantedrestrictiononthe
propertyrightoftheMahant.Itmaybethataccordingtocustomsprevailinginaparticularinstitution,such
personal gifts are regarded as gifts to the institution itself and the Mahant receives them only as the
representativeoftheinstitutionbutthegeneralruleisotherwise.Assection55(1)doesnotsaythatthisrule
willapplyonlywhenthereisacustomofthatnatureinaparticularinstitution,wemustsaythattheprovision
in this unrestricted form is an unreasonable encroachment upon the fundamental right of the Mahant. The
sameobjectioncanberaisedagainstclause(2)ofthesectionforifthePathakanikasconstitutetheproperty
ofaMahant,thereisnojustificationforcompellinghimtokeepaccountsofthereceiptsandexpenditureof
such personal gifts. As said already, if the Mahant dies without disposing of these personal gifts, they may
formpartoftheassetsoftheMath,butthatisnoreasonforrestrictingthepowersoftheMahantoverthese
giftssolongasheisalive.

35.Section56hasbeenrightlyinvalidatedbytheHighCourt.Itmakesprovisionofanextremelydramatic
character. Power has been given to the Commissioner to require the trustee to appoint a manager for
administrationofthesecularaffairsoftheinstitutionandincaseofdefault,thecommissionercanmakethe
appointmenthimself.Themanagerthusappointedthoughnominallyaservantofthetrustee,haspracticallyto
doeverythingaccordingtothedirectionsoftheCommissionerandhissubordinates.Itistobenotedthatthis
powercanbeexercisedatthemereoptionoftheCommissionerwithoutanyjustifyingnecessitywhatsoever
and no prerequisites like mismanagement of property or maladministration of trust funds are necessary to
enablethetrusteetoexercisesuchdrasticpower.Itistruethatthesectioncontemplatestheappointmentofa
managerforadministrationofthesecularaffairsofthisinstitution.Butnorigiddemarcationcouldbemadeas
wehavealreadysaidbetweenthespiritualdutiesoftheMahantandhispersonalinterestinthetrustproperty.
TheeffectofthesectionreallyisthattheCommissionerisatlibertyatanymomenthechoosestodeprivethe
Mahantofhisrighttoadministerthetrustpropertyevenifthereisnonegligenceormaladministrationonhis
part.Suchrestrictionwouldbeopposedtotheprovisionofarticle26(d)oftheConstitution.Itwouldcripple
hisauthorityasMahantaltogetherandreducehispositiontothatofanordinarypriestorpaidservant.
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36.Wefindnothingwronginsection58oftheActwhichrelatestotheframingoftheschemebytheDeputy
Commissioner.ItistruethatitisaGovernmentofficerandnotthecourtwhoisgiventhepowertosettlethe
scheme, but we think that ample safeguards have been provided in the Act to rectify any error or unjust
decisionmadebytheDeputyCommissioner.Section61providesforanappealtotheCommissioneragainst
theorderoftheDeputyCommissionerandthereisarightofsuitgiventoapartywhoisaggrievedbythe
orderoftheCommissionerwithafurtherrightofappealtotheHighCourt.

37. The objection urged against the provision of clause (3)(b) of section 58 does not appear to us to be of
muchsubstance.Theexecutiveofficermentionedinthatclausecouldbenothingelsebutamanagerofthe
propertiesoftheMath,andhecannotpossiblybeempoweredtoexercisethefunctionsoftheMathadhipati
himself.Inanyevent,thetrusteewouldhavehisremedyagainstsuchorderoftheDeputyCommissionerby
wayofappealtotheCommissionerandalsobywayofsuitaslaiddowninsections61and62.Section59
simplyprovidesaschemefortheapplicationofthecypresdoctrineincasetheobjectofthetrustfailseither
fromtheinceptionorbyreasonofsubsequentevents.Hereagaintheonlycomplaintthatisraisedis,thatsuch
ordercouldbemadebytheDeputyCommissioner.Wethinkthatthisobjectionhasnotmuchsubstance.Inthe
firstplace,thevariousobjectsonwhichthetrustfundscouldbespentarelaiddowninthesectionitselfand
the jurisdiction of the Deputy Commissioner is only to make a choice out of the several heads. Further an
appealhasbeenprovidedfromanorderoftheDeputyCommissionerunderthissectiontotheCommissioner.
We,therefore,cannotagreewiththeHighCourtthatsections58and59oftheActareinvalid.

38.ChapterVIoftheAct,whichcontainssections63 to 69, relates to notification of religious institutions.


Theprovisionsareextremelydrasticintheircharacterandtheworstfeatureofitisthatnoaccessisallowed
tothecourttosetasideanorderofnotification.TheAdvocateGeneralforMadrasfranklystatedthathecould
not support the legality of these provisions. We hold, therefore, in agreement with High Court that these
sectionsshouldbeheldtobevoid.

39.Section70relatestothebudgetofreligiousinstitutions.Objectionhasbeentakenonlytoclause(3)which
empowerstheCommissionerandtheAreaCommitteetomakeanyadditionstooralterationsinthebudgetas
they deem fit. A budget is indispensable in all public institutions and we do not think that it is per se
unreasonabletoprovideforthebudgetofareligiousinstitutionbeingpreparedunderthesupervisionofthe
CommissionerortheAreaCommittee.ItistobenotedthatiftheorderismadebyanAreaCommitteeunder
clause(3),clause(4)providesanappealagainstittotheDeputyCommissioner.

40.Section89providesforpenaltiesforrefusalbythetrusteetocomplywiththeprovisionsoftheAct.Ifthe
objectionable portions of the Act are eliminated, the portion that remains will be perfectly valid and for
violation of these valid provisions, penalties can legitimately be provided. Section 99 vests an overall
revisional power in the Government. This, in our opinion, is beneficial to the trustee, for he will have an
opportunity to approach the Government in case of any irregularity, error or omission made by the
Commissioneroranyothersubordinateofficer.

41. The only other point that requires consideration is the constitutional validity of section 76 of the Act
whichrunsasfollows:

"76. (1) In respect of the services rendered by the Government and their officers, every religious
institutionshall,fromtheincomederivedbyit,paytotheGovernmentannuallysuchcontributionnot
exceedingfivepercent.ofitsincomeasmaybeprescribed.

(2) Every religious institution, the annual income of which for the fasli year immediately preceding
ascalculatedforthepurposesofthelevyofcontributionundersubsection(1),isnotlessthanone
thousandrupees,shallpaytotheGovernmentannually,formeetingthecostofauditingitsaccounts,
such further sum not exceeding one and a half per centum of its income as the Commissioner may
determine.

(3) the annual payments referred to in subsections (1) and (2) shall be made, notwithstanding
anythingtothecontrarycontainedinanyschemesettledordeemedtobesettledunderthisActfor

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thereligiousinstitutionconcerned.

(4) The Government shall pay the salaries, allowances, pensions and other beneficial remuneration
of the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioners, Assistant Commissioners and other officers and
servants(otherthanexecutiveofficersofreligiousinstitutions)employedforthepurposesofthisAct
andtheotherexpensesincurredforsuchpurposes,includingtheexpensesofAreaCommitteesand
thecostofauditingtheaccountsofreligiousinstitutions."

42.Thusthesectionauthorisesthelevyofanannualcontributiononallreligiousinstitutions,themaximumof
which is fixed at 5 per cent. of the income derived by them. The Government is to frame rules for the
purposes fixing rates within the permissible maximums and the section expressly states that the levy is in
respect of the services rendered by the Government and its officers. The validity of the provision has been
attackedonatwofoldground:thefirstis,thatthecontributionisreallyataxandassuchitwasbeyondthe
legislative competence of the State Legislature to enact such provision. The other is, that the contribution
being a tax or imposition, the proceeds of which are specifically appropriated for the maintenance of a
particularreligionorreligiousdenomination,itcomeswithinthemischieforarticle27oftheConstitutionand
ishencevoid.

43.Sofarasthefirstgroundisconcerned,itisnotdisputedthatthelegislationinthepresentcaseiscovered
byentries10and28ofListIIIinScheduleVIIoftheConstitution.Ifthecontributionpayableundersection
76oftheActisa"fee",itmaycomeunderentry47oftheConcurrentListwhichdealswith"fees"inrespect
ofanyofthemattersincludedinthatlist.Ontheotherhand,ifitisatax,asthisparticulartaxhasnotbeen
providedforinanyspecificentryinanyofthethreelists,itcouldcomeonlyunderentry97ofListorarticle
248(1) of the Constitution and in either view the Union Legislature alone would be competent to legislate
uponit.Onbehalfoftheappellant,thecontentionraisedisthatthecontributionleviedisafeeandnotatax
andthelearnedAttorneyGeneral,whoappearedfortheUnionofIndiaasintervenerinthisaswellasinthe
other connected appeals, made a strenuous attempt to support this position. The point is certainly not free
fromdoubtandrequirescarefulconsideration.

44.ThelearnedAttorneyGeneralhasarguedinthefirstplacethatourConstitutionmakesacleardistinction
between taxes and fees. It is true, as he has pointed out, that there are a number of entries in List I of the
SeventhSchedulewhichrelatetotaxesanddutiesofvarioussortswhereasthelastentry,namelyentry96,
speaks of "fees" in respect of any of the matters dealt with in the list. Exactly the same is with regard to
entries 46 to 62 in List II all of which relate to taxes and here again the last entry deals only with "fees"
leviable in respect of the different matters specified in the list. It appears that articles 110 and 119 of the
Constitutionwhichdealwith"MoneyBills"laydownexpresslythatabillwillnotbedeemedtobea"Money
Bill"byreasononlythatitprovidesfortheimpositionoffines....orforthedemandorpaymentoffeesfor
licencesorfeesforservicesrendered,whereasabilldealingwithimpositionorregulationofataxwillalways
beaMoneyBill.Article277alsomentionstaxes,cessesandfeesseparately.Itisnotclear,however,whether
theword"tax"asusedinarticle265hasnotbeenusedinthewidersenseasincludingallotherimpositions
likecessesandfeesandthatatleastseemstobetheimplicationofclause(28)ofarticle366whichdefines
taxationasincludingtheimpositionofanytaxorimpost,whethergeneral,localorspecial.Itseemstousthat
though levying of fees is only a particular form of the exercise of the taxing power of the State, our
Constitutionhasplacedfeesunderaseparatecategoryforpurposesoflegislationandattheendofeachoneof
thethreelegislativelists,ithasgivenapowertotheparticularlegislaturetolegislateontheimpositionoffees
inrespecttoeveryoneoftheitemsdealtwithinthelistitself.Someideaastowhatfeesaremaybegathered
fromclause(2)ofarticles110and119 referred to above which speak of fees for licences and for services
rendered. The question for our consideration really is, what are the indices or special characteristics that
distinguishafeefromataxproper?Onthispointwehavebeenreferredtoseveralauthoritiesbythelearned
counselappearingforthedifferentpartiesincludingopinionsexpressedbywritersofrecognisedtreatiseson
publicfinance.

45.Aneatdefinitionofwhat"tax"meanshasbeengivenbyLathamC.J.oftheHighCourtofAustraliain
Matthewsv.ChicoryMarketingBoard(60C.L.R.263,276.).

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"Atax",accordingtothelearnedChiefJustice,"isacompulsoryexactionofmoneybypublicauthority
forpublicpurposesenforceablebylawandisnotpaymentforservicesrendered".

This definition brings out, in our opinion, the essential characteristics of a tax as distinguished from other
formsofimpositionwhich,inageneralsense,areincludedwithinit.Itissaidthattheessenceoftaxationis
compulsion,thatistosay,itisimposedunderstatutorypowerwithoutthetaxpayer'sconsentandthepayment
isenforcedbylaw(VideLowerMainlandDairyv.OrystalDairyLtd.1933AC168.).Thesendcharacteristic
of tax is that it is an imposition made for public purpose without reference to any special benefit to be
conferredonthepayerofthetax.Thisisexpressedbysayingthatthelevyoftaxisforthepurposesofgeneral
revenue,whichwhencollectedformpartofthepublicrevenuesoftheState.Astheobjectofataxisnotto
conferanyspecialbenefituponanyparticularindividual,thereis,asitissaid,noelementofquidproquo
between the taxpayer and the public authority (See Findlay Shirras on "Science of Public Finance", Vol. p.
203.).Anotherfeatureoftaxationisthatasitisapartofthecommonburden,thequantumofimpositionupon
thetaxpayerdependsgenerallyuponhiscapacitytopay.

46.Comingnowtofees,a'fee'isgenerallydefinedtobeachargeforaspecialservicerenderedtoindividuals
bysomegovernmentalagency.Theamountoffeeleviedissupposedtobebasedontheexpensesincurredby
theGovernmentinrenderingtheservice,thoughinmanycasesthecostsarearbitrarilyassessed.Ordinarily,
thefeesareuniformandnoaccountistakenofthevaryingabilitiesofdifferentrecipientstopay(VideLutz
on"PublicFinance"p.215.).Theseareundoubtedlysomeofthegeneralcharacteristics,butastheremaybe
variouskindsoffees,itisnotpossibletoformulateadefinitionthatwouldbeapplicabletoallcases.

47.Asregardsthedistinctionbetweenataxandafee,itisarguedinthefirstplaceonbehalfoftherespondent
that a fee is something voluntary which a person has got to pay if he wants certain services from the
Governmentbutthereisnoobligationonhisparttoseeksuchservicesandifhedoesnotwanttheservices,
hecanavoidtheobligation.Theexamplegivenisofalicencefee.Ifamanwantsalicencethatisentirelyhis
ownchoiceandthenonlyhehastopaythefees,butnototherwise.Wethinkthatacarefulexaminationwill
revealthattheelementofcompulsionorcoercivenessispresentinallkindsofimposition,thoughindifferent
degrees and that it is not totally absent in fees. This, therefore, cannot be made the sole or even a material
criterionfordistinguishingataxfromfees.Itisdifficult,wethink,toconceiveofataxexcept,itbesomething
likeapolltax,theincidenceofwhichfallsonallpersonwithinaState.Thehousetaxhastobepaidonlyby
thosewhoownhouses,thelandtaxbythosewhopossesslands,municipaltaxesorrateswillfallonthose
who have properties within a municipality. Persons, who do not have houses, lands or properties within
municipalities,wouldnothavetopaythesetaxes,butneverthelesstheseimpositionscomewithinthecategory
oftaxesandnobodycansaythatitisachoiceofthesepeopletoownlandsorhousesorspecifiedkindsof
properties,sothatthereisnocompulsiononthemtopaytaxesatall.Compulsionliesinthefactthatpayment
is enforceable by law against a man in spite of his unwillingness or want of consent and this element is
presentintaxesaswellasinfees.Ofcourse,insomecaseswhetheramanwouldcomewithinthecategoryof
aservicereceivermaybeamatterofhischoice,butthatbyitselfwouldnotconstituteamajortestwhichcan
betakenasthecriterionofthisspeciesofimposition.Thedistinctionbetweenataxandafeeliesprimarilyin
thefactthatataxisleviedasapartofacommonburden,whileafeeisapaymentforaspecialbenefitor
privilege. Fees confer a special capacity, although the special advantage, as for example in the case of
registrationfeesfordocumentsormarriagelicences,issecondarytotheprimarymotiveofregulationinthe
publicinterest(VideFindlayShirrason"ScienceofPublicFinance"Vol.I,p.202.).Publicinterestseemsto
be at the basis of all impositions, but in a fee it is some special benefit which the individual receives. As
Seligmansays,itisthespecialbenefitaccruingtotheindividualwhichisthereasonforpaymentinthecase
offeesinthecaseofatax,theparticularadvantageifitexistsatallisanincidentalresultofStateaction
(VideSeligman'sEssaysonTaxation,p.408.).

48.If,aswehold,afeeisregardedasasortofreturnorconsiderationforservicesrendered,itisabsolutely
necessarythatthelevyoffeesshould,onthefaceofthelegislativeprovision,becorelatedtotheexpenses
incurredbyGovernmentinrenderingtheservices.Asindicatedinarticle110oftheConstitution,ordinarily
there are two classes of cases where Government imposes 'fees' upon persons. In the first class of cases,
Governmentsimplygrantsapermissionorprivilegetoapersontodosomething,whichotherwisethatperson

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wouldnotbecompetenttodoandextractsfeeseitherheavyormoderatefromthatpersoninreturnforthe
privilegethatisconferred.Amostcommonillustrationofthistypeofcasesisfurnishedbythelicencefees
for motor vehicles. Here the costs incurred by the Government in maintaining an office or bureau for the
grantingoflicencesmaybeverysmallandtheamountofimpositionthatisleviedisbasedreallynotuponthe
costsincurredbytheGovernmentbutuponthebenefitthattheindividualreceives.Insuchcases,accordingto
all the writers on public finance, the tax element is predominant (Vide Seligman's Essays on Taxation, p.
409.), and if the money paid by licence holders goes for the upkeep of roads and other matters of general
publicutility,thelicencefeecannotbutberegardasatax.

49.Intheotherclassofcases,theGovernmentdoessomepositiveworkforthebenefitofpersonsandthe
moneyistakenasthereturnfortheworkdoneorservicesrendered.Ifthemoneythuspaidissetapartand
appropriatedspecificallyfortheperformanceofsuchworkandisnotmergedinthepublicrevenuesforthe
benefitofthegeneralpublic,itcouldbecountedasfeesandnotatax.Thereisreallynogenericdifference
between the tax and fees and as said by Seligman, the taxing power of a State may manifest itself in three
differentformsknownrespectivelyasspecialassessments,feesandtaxes(Ibid,p.406.).

50.OurConstitutionhas,forlegislativepurposes,madeadistinctionbetweenataxandafeeandwhilethere
arevariousentriesinthelegislativelistswithregardtovariousformsoftaxes,thereisanentryattheendof
each one of the three lists as regards fees which could be levied in respect of any of the matters that is
includedinit.Theimplicationseemstobethatfeeshavespecialreferencetogovernmentalactionundertaken
inrespecttoanyofthesematters.

51.Section76oftheMadrasActspeaksdefinitelyofthecontributionbeingleviedinrespecttotheservices
rendered by the Government so far it has the appearance of fees. It is true that religious institution do not
wanttheseservicestoberenderedtothemanditmaybethattheydonotconsidertheStateinterferencetobe
a benefit at all. We agree, however, with the learned AttorneyGeneral that in the present day concept of a
State,itcannotbesaidthatservicescouldberenderedbytheStateonlyattherequestofthosewhorequire
these services. If in the larger interest of the public, a State considers it desirable that some special service
shouldbedoneforcertainpeople,thepeoplemustaccepttheseservices,whetherwillingornot(VideFindlay
Shirrason"ScienceofPublicFinance"Vol.I,p.202.).Itmaybenoticed,however,thatthecontributionthat
hasbeenleviedundersection76oftheActhasbeenmadetodependuponthecapacityofthepayerandnot
uponthequantumofbenefitthatissupposedtobeconferredonanyparticularreligiousinstitution.Further
theinstitutions,whichcomeunderthelowerincomegroupandhaveincomelessthanRs.1,000annually,are
excluded from the liability to pay the additional charges under clause (2) of the section. These are
undoubtedlysomeofthecharacteristicsofa'tax'andtheimpositionbearsacloseanalogytoincometax.But
thematerialfactwhichnegativesthetheoryoffeesinthepresentcaseisthatthemoneyraisedbylevyofthe
contribution is not earmarked or specified for defraying the expenses that the Government has to incur in
performingtheservices.AllthecollectionsgototheconsolidatedfundsoftheStateandalltheexpenseshave
tobemetnotoutofthesecollectionsbutoutofthegeneralrevenuesbyapropermethodofappropriationasis
doneincaseofotherGovernmentexpenses.Thatinitselfmightnotbeconclusive,butinthiscasethereis
totalabsenceofanycorelationbetweentheexpensesincurredbytheGovernmentandtheamountraisedby
contributionundertheprovisionofsection76andinthesecircumstancesthetheoryofareturnorcounter
paymentorquidproquocannothaveanypossibleapplicationtothiscase.Inouropinion,therefore,theHigh
Courtwasrightinholdingthatthecontributionleviedundersection76isataxandnotafeeandconsequently
itwasbeyondthepoweroftheStateLegislaturetoenactthisprovision.

52. In view of our decision on this point, the other ground hardly requires consideration. We will indicate,
however,verybrieflyouropiniononthesecondpointraised.Thefirstcontention,whichhasbeenraisedby
Mr. Nambiar in reference to article 27 of the Constitution is that the word "taxes", as used therein, is not
confined to taxes proper but is inclusive of all other impositions like cesses, fees, etc. We do not think it
necessary to decide this point in the present case, for in out opinion on the facts of the present case, the
imposition,althoughitisatax,doesnotcomewithinthepurviewofthelatterpartofthearticleatall.Whatis
forbiddenbythearticleisthespecificappropriationoftheproceedsofanytaxinpaymentofexpensesforthe
promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination. The reason underlying this

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provision is obvious. Ours being a secular State and there being freedom of religion guaranteed by the
Constitution,bothtoindividualsandtogroups,itisagainstthepolicyoftheConstitutiontopayoutofpublic
fundsanymoneyforthepromotionormaintenanceofanyparticularreligionorreligiousdenomination.But
theobjectofthecontributionundersection76oftheMadrasActisnotthefosteringorpreservationofthe
Hindu religion or any denomination within it. The purpose is to see that religious trusts and institutions,
wherevertheyexist,areproperlyadministered.Itisasecularadministrationofthereligiousinstitutionsthat
the legislature seeks to control and the object, as enunciated in the Act, is to ensure that the endowments
attachedtothereligiousinstitutionsareproperlyadministeredandtheirincomeisdulyappropriatedforthe
purposesforwhichtheywerefoundedorexist.Thereisnoquestionoffavouringanyparticularreligionor
religiousdenominationinsuchcases.Inouropinion,article27oftheConstitutionisnotattractedtothefacts
ofthepresentcase.Theresult,therefore,isthatinouropinionsections21,30(2),31,56and63to69arethe
onlysectionswhichshouldbedeclaredinvalidasconflictingwiththefundamentalrightsoftherespondentas
MathadhipatioftheMathinquestionandsection76(1)isvoidasbeyondthelegislativecompetenceofthe
MadrasStateLegislature.TherestoftheActistoberegardedasvalid.ThedecisionoftheHighCourtwillbe
modifiedtothisextent,butasthejudgmentoftheHighCourtisaffirmedonitsmerits,theappealwillstand
dismissedwithcoststotherespondent.

53.Appealdismissed.

ManupatraInformationSolutionsPvt.Ltd.

MANU/SC/0063/1961

INTHESUPREMECOURTOFINDIA

CivilAppealNo.272of1960

DecidedOn:17.03.1961

Appellants:TheDurgahCommittee,AjmerandAnr.
Vs.
Respondent:SyedHussainAliandOrs.

Hon'bleJudges/Coram:
A.K.Sarkar ,K.C.DasGupta ,K.N.Wanchoo ,N.RajagopalaAyyangar and P.B. Gajendragadkar
,JJ.

Subject:Constitution

CatchWords

MentionedIN

RelevantSection:
ConstitutionofIndiaArticle19(1)(F)
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Acts/Rules/Orders:
ConstitutionofIndiaArticle14,ConstitutionofIndiaArticle19(1)(F),ConstitutionofIndiaArticle19(1)
(G),ConstitutionofIndiaArticle25,ConstitutionofIndiaArticle25(1),ConstitutionofIndiaArticle26,
ConstitutionofIndiaArticle32DurgahKhwajaSahebAct,1955Section2,DurgahKhwajaSahebAct,
1955Section4,DurgahKhwajaSahebAct,1955Section5,DurgahKhwajaSahebAct,1955Section11,
DurgahKhwajaSahebAct,1955Section13,DurgahKhwajaSahebAct,1955Section14,DurgahKhwaja
SahebAct,1955Section16,DurgahKhwajaSahebAct,1955Section18

CasesOverruled/Reversed:
Syed Hussain Ali S/o Syed Siddiq Ali and Ors. Vs. The Durgah Committee, Ajmer and Anr.,
MANU/RH/0067/1959

Disposition:
AppealAllowed

CitingReference:

Discussed 4

Mentioned 1

CaseNote:

The case debated if the Durgah Khwaja Saheb Act, 1955, constituted for administration and
managementoftheDurgahendowmentwasviolativeofdenominationalrightsoftheChishtiaSoofies
ItwasalsodiscussediftheprovisionsoftheAct,1955,infringedthefundamentalrightsItwasheld
that on the religious denomination it must not be overlooked that the protection of Article 26 of the
ConstitutionofIndiacouldextendonlytosuchreligiouspracticesaswereessentialandintegralpartsof
thereligionandtonoothersFurther,sinceintheinstantcase,thechishtiSoofiesneverhadanyrights
ofthemanagementovertheDurgahendowmentforthecenturies,sinceitwascreated,theattackon
Section 4 and 5 of the Act, must fail Also, it is incorrect to say that Sections 2(d)(v) and 14 of the
impugnedAct,infringedArticle19(I)(f)and(g)oftheConstitutionofIndia

JUDGMENT

P.B.Gajendragadkar,J.

1. In the High Court of Judicature for Rajasthan at Jodhpur a writ petition was filed under Art. 226 of the
ConstitutionbytheninerespondentswhoareKhadimsofthetombofKhwajaMoinuddinChishtiofAjmer
challenging the vires of the Durgah Khwaja Saheb Act XXXVI of 1955 (hereafter called the Act). In this
petitiontherespondentsallegedthattheActingeneralandtheprovisionsspecifiedinthepetitioninparticular
are ultra vires and they claimed a direction or an appropriate writ or order restraining the appellants the
Durgah Committee and the Nazim of the said Committee from enforcing any of its provisions. The writ
petitionthusfiledbytherespondentssubstantiallysucceededandtheHighCourthasmadeadeclarationthat
the impugned provisions of the Act are ultra vires and has issued an order restraining the appellants from
enforcingthem.TheappellantsthenappliedforandobtainedacertificatefromtheHighCourtanditiswith
thesaidcertificatethattheyhavecometothisCourtbytheirpresentappeal.

2.AccordingtotherespondentstheshrineofNazratKhwajaMoinuddinChishtiwhichisgenerallyknown
as the Durgah Khwaja Saheb situated at Ajmer is one of the most important places of pilgrimage for the

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muslims of India. Since persons following other religions also hold the saint in great veneration a large
numberofnonmuslimsvisitthetombeveryyear.

3. Khwaja Saheb came to India sometime towards the end of the 12th Century A.D. and settled down in
Ajmer. His saintly character and his teachings attracted a large number of devotes during his lifetime and
these devotees honoured him as a great spiritual leader. Khwaja Saheb belonged to the Chishti Order of
Soofies. He died at Ajmer in or about 1236 A.D., and naturally enough after his death his tomb became a
placeofpilgrimage.

4. The respondents case further is that after his death the tomb under which the saint was interred was a
kutcha structure and continued to be such for nearly 300 years thereafter. The petition alleged that a pucca
structurewasbuiltbytheKhiljiSultansofManduandoverthesaidpuccastructureatombwasconstructed.
ThereaftersuccessiveMuslimRulers,particularlytheMoghulEmperors,madeendowmentsandaddedtothe
wealthandsplendouroftheshrine.

5.KhwajaSyedFukhuruddinandSheikhMohammadYadgar,whooriginallyaccompaniedtheKhwajaSaheb
toIndia,werehiscloseanddevotedfollowers.Afterthesaint'sdeathbothofthemlookedafterthegraveand
attendedtothespiritualneedsofthepilgrims.Thedescendantsofthesetwodisciplesgraduallycametobe
known as Khadims. For generations past their occupation has been that of religious service at the tomb of
KhwajaSaheb.TherespondentsbelongtothissectorsectionofKhadims.Theyclaimthattheyaremembers
ofareligiousdenominationorsectionknownasChishtiaSoofies.Theirpetitionfurtheraversthatthroughout
thecenturiestheKhadimshadnotonlylookedafterthepremisesofthetombbutalsokeptthekeysofthe
tomb and attended to the multitude of pilgrims who visited the shrine and acted as spiritual guides in the
performance of religious functions to wit the Fateha (act of prayer) for which they received Nazars
(offerings).TheseNazarswerethemainsourceofincomeforthelivelihoodoftheKhadimsandhaveinfact
alwaysconstitutedtheirproperty.

6.AccordingtotherespondentstherightoftheKhadimstotheofferingsandNazarsmadebypilgrimsbefore
thetombandattheDurgahhadbeenthesubjectmatterofseveraljudicialdecisionsandthesamehadbeen
finally decided by the Privy Council in Syed Altaf Hussain v. Dewan Syed Ali Rasul Ali Khan
MANU/PR/0018/1937.Thepetitionissubstantiallybasedonwhattherespondentsregardtotheeffectofthe
saiddecisioninrespectoftheirrights.Accordingtothemtherightsrecognisedbythesaiddecisionamountto
their fundamental rights to property and their fundamental right to manage the said property, and that in
substanceisthebasisofthepetition.

7.ThustherespondentschallengedtheviresoftheActonthegroundthatitsmaterialprovisionstakeaway
and/orabridgetheirfundamentalrightsasaclassandalsothefundamentalrightsofthemuslimsbelongingto
the Scoofi Chishtia Order guaranteed by Arts. 14, 19(1)(f) and (g), 25, 26, 31(1) and (2) as well as 32.
AccordingtothecasesetoutinthepetitionallHanafimuslimsdonotnecessarilybelieveinSoofismanddo
not belong to the Chishtia Order of Soofies and it is to the latter sect that the shrine solely belongs the
maintenanceoftheshrinehasalsobeenthesoleconcernofthesaidsect.Itisthissectwhichhastomaintain
theinstitutionforreligiouspurposesandmanageitsaffairsaccordingtocustomandusage.Thatiswhythe
respondents alleged that the material provisions of the Act were violative of their fundamental rights. In
regardtos.5oftheActunderwhichtheDurgahCommitteeisconstitutedtherespondents'objectionisthatit
canconsistofHanafiMuslimswhoarenotmembersoftheChishtiaOrderandthatintroducesaninfirmity
which makes the said provision inconsistent with Art. 26 of the Constitution. On these allegations the
respondentsclaimedadeclarationthatcertainspecifiedsectionsoftheActwerevoidandultravireswhich
madethewholeoftheActvoidandultraviresandtheyaskedfordirectionsorordersorwritinthenatureof
mandamusoranyotherappropriatewrittotheappellantsrestrainingthemfromenforcinginanymannerthe
saidActagainstthem.

8.Theclaimthusmadebytherespondentswasdisputedbytheappellantsintheirdetailedwrittenstatement.
Theyaverredthatthecircleofdevoteesof,andvisitorsto,theshrinewasnotconfinedtotheChishtiaOrder
butitincludeddevoteesandpilgrimsofallclassesofpeoplefollowingdifferentreligions.Accordingtothem
the largest number of pilgrims and visitors were Hindus, Khoja Memons and Parsis. It was denied that the
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DurgahwaslookedafterbythedescendantsofSyedFukhuruddinandMohammadYadgar.Theallegations
madebytherespondentsinrespectoftheiroccupation,dutiesandrightswereseriouslychallengedandthe
case made out by them in regard to the receipt of the offerings and Nazars was disputed. According to the
appellantsthereligiousservicesatthetombwereandtheperformedbytheSajjadanashinoftheDurgahand
therespondentshadnorighttolookafterthepremises,tokeepthekeysofthetomb,toattendtothepilgrims
visiting the shrine or to receive any offerings or Nazars. Their case was that the Khadims were and are no
morethanservantsoftheholytombandtheirdutiesaresimilartothoseofchowkidars.

9.TheappellantsfurtherpleadedthataccordingtoIslamicbeliefofferingsmadeatthetombofadeadsaint
aremeantforthefulfillmentofobjectswhichweredeartothesaintinhislifetimeandtheyaremeantforthe
poor,theindigent,thesickandthesufferingsothatthebenedictionmayreachthesoulofthedepartedsaint.
The averments made by the respondents in regard to their fundamental rights and their infringement were
challenged by the appellants and it was urged that the Act in general and the provisions specified in the
petitioninparticularwereintraviresandconstitutional.

10.OnthesepleadingstheHighCourtproceededtoconsiderthehistoryoftheinstitution,thenatureofthe
rightssetupbytherespondentsandtheeffectoftheimpugnedlegislationonthoserights.TheHighCourthas
foundthattheofferingsmadebeforethetombfornearly400yearsbeforethetombwasrebuiltintoapucca
structuremusthavebeenusedbytheKhadimsforthemselves.ItalsoheldthattheKhadimswereperforming
several duties set out by the respondents and that it was mainly the Khadims who circulated the stories of
miraclesperformedbyKhwajaSahebduringhislifetimeandthushelpedtospreadthereputationofthetomb.
Even after the tomb was rebuilt and endowments were made to it the Khadims looked after the tomb,
performedthenecessaryritualsandspentthesurplusincomefromtheofferingsforthemselves.Induecourse
Sajjadanashinscametobeappointed,but,accordingtotheHighCourttheiremergenceonthescenemerely
enabledthemtobecomesharersintheofferings.IthasfurtherbeenfoundbytheHighCourtonareviewof
judicialdecisionspronouncedinseveraldisputesbetweenthepartiesthattheofferingsmadeatthetombare
governmentbythecustomarymodeoftheirutilisationandthehistoryoftheinstitutionprovedthatthesaid
offeringshavebeenusedaccordingtoacertaincustomwhichhadbeenupheldbythePrivyCouncilinthe
case of Syed Altaf Hussain MANU/PR/0018/1937. This custom showed that the offerings made before the
shrinearedividedbetweentheSajjadanashinandtheKhadimsinthemannerindicatedinthesaiddecision.It
is in the light of these broad findings that the High Court proceeded to examine the vires of the impugned
provisionsoftheAct.

11. Thus considered the High Court came to the conclusion that the several sections challenged by the
respondentsintheirwritpetitionareultravires.Ithasheldthats.2(b)(v)violatesArt.19(1)(f),s.5violates
Art.26,s.11(f)Arts.19(1)(g)and25(1),Sections11(b)and13(i)Art.25,s.14Art.19(1)(f)andSections16
and18Art.14readwithArt.32.HavingfoundthatthesesectionareultravirestheHighCourthasissuedan
orderrestrainingtheappellantsfromenforcingthesaidsections.Inregardtos.5inparticulartheHighCourt
has found that the said section is ultra vires inasmuch as it lays down that the Committee shall consist of
HanafimuslimswithoutfurtherrestrictingthattheyshallbeoftheChishtiaOrderbelievinginthereligious
practicesandritualinvogueattheshrine.Itmaybeaddedthatsinces.5whichcontainsthekeyprovisionof
the Act has thus been struck down, though in a limited way, the whole of the Act has in substance been
renderedinoperative.

12. Before dealing with the merits of the appeal it would be relevant and useful to consider briefly the
historical background of the dispute, because, in determining the rights of the respondents and of the sect
whichtheyclaimtorepresent,itwouldbenecessarytoascertainbroadlythegenesisoftheshrine,itsgrowth,
thenatureoftheendowmentsmadetoit,themanagementofthepropertiesthusendowed,therightsofthe
KhadimsandtheSajjadanashininregardtothetombandtheeffectoftherelevantjudicialdecisionsinthat
behalf. This enquiry would inevitably take us back to the 13th Century because Khwaja Moinuddin died
eitherin1236or1233A.D.anditwasthenthatakutchatombwasconstructedinhishonour.Itappearsthat
intheHighCourtthepartiesagreedtocollecttherelevantmaterialinregardtothegrowthofthisinstitution
whichhasnowbecomescarceandobscureowingtolapseoftimefromtheImperialGazetteerdealingwith
Ajmer, the Report of the Ghulam Hasan Committee (hereafter called the Committee) appointed in 1949 to

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enquire into and report on the administration of the present Durgah as well as the decision of the Privy
CouncilinAsrarAhmedv.DurgahCommittee,AjmerA.I.R.1947P.C.1.TheCommittee'sreportshowsthat
theCommitteeexaminedalargenumberofwitnessesbelongingtoseveralcommunitieswhoweredevotedto
theshrine,itconsideredtheoriginalSanadsandavolumeofotherdocumentsproducedbeforeit,tookinto
account all the relevant judicial decisions to which its attention was drawn, and passed under review the
growth of this institution and its management before it made its recommendations as to the measures
necessarytosecuretheefficientmanagementoftheDurgahEndowment,theconservationoftheshrineinthe
interestofthedevoteesasawhole.Presumablywhenthepartiesagreedtorefertothehistoricaldatasupplied
by the Committee's report they advisedly refrained from adopting the course of producing the original
documentsthemselvesinthepresentenquiry.ThepoliticalhistoryofAjmerhasbeenstormy,andthroughthe
centuries sovereignty over the State of Ajmer has changed hands with the inevitable consequence that the
fortunesoftheshrinevariedfromtimetotime.Itistruethatthematerialwhichhasbeenthusplacedbefore
the Court is not satisfactory, as it could not but be so, because we are trying to trace the history of the
institutionsincethe13thCenturyfornearly600yearsthereafterbutthepicturewhichemergesasaresultof
acarefulconsiderationofthesaidmaterialisonthewholeclearenoughforourpurposeinthepresentappeal.

13. Khwaja Moinuddin was born in Persia in 1143. Later he migrated with his father to Nisharpur near
MeshadwhereOmarKhayyamisburied.ThenhemovedfromplacetoplaceuntilhereachedAjmerabout
theendofthe12thCentury.AtAjmerhediedattheripeoldageof90.Itappearsthatheretiredintohiscell
ontheFirstofRajabandwasfounddeadinthecellontheSixthDaywhenitwasopened.Thatiswhyhis
death anniversary is celebrated every year during the six days of Rajab. He received formal theological
education at Samarkhand and Bukhara, and in the pursuit of spiritual knowledge he travelled far and wide.
UltimatelyhebecameadiscipleofHazratKhwajaUsmanHarooniwhowasawellknownfaqiroftheChishti
sect.Duringhislifetime the reputation of Khwaja Moinuddin travelled far andwideandattracteddevotees
followingdifferentreligionsthroughoutthecountry.

14.Athisdeaththesaintcouldnothaveleftanypropertyandsotherewasnoquestionofmanagementofthe
propertybelongingtohistomb.Nodoubtthetombitselfwasconstructedimmediatelyafterhisdeathbutit
was a kutcha structure and apparently for several years after his death there does not appear to have been
endowment of property to the tomb, and so its financial position must have been of a very modest order.
Persons belonging to the affluent classes were not attracted for many years and so there was hardly any
occasion to manage any property of the tomb as such. After his death the family of the saint remained in
AjmerforsometimebutitappearsthatthemembersofthefamilyweredrivenoutofAjmerforsomeyears
and they came back only centuries later. This was the consequence of the change of rulers who exercised
sovereignpoweroverAjmer.

15.TheconstructionofapuccatombwascommencedinthereignofoneoftheMalwaKingswhosedynasty
ruledoverAjmerupto1531.Thereisnoevidencetoshowthatanypropertywasdedicatedtothetombeven
then.It,however,doesappearthatoneoftheMalwaKingshadappointedaSajjadanashintolookafterthe
tombthisSajjadanashinwasinlatertimescalledDewan.Theconstructionofthetombtookafairlylongtime
butevenafteritwascompletedthereisnotraceofanyendowmentofproperty.

16.Inorabout1560AkbardefeatedtheMalwaKingsandAjmercameunderMoghulruleandsotheMoghul
periodbegan.Akbartookgreatinterestinthetombandthatmusthaveaddedtothepopularityofthetomb
andattractedalargenumberofaffluentpilgrims.Itwasabout1567A.D.thatthetombwasrebuiltandre
endowed by Akbar who reigned from 1556 to 1605. A Farman issued by Akbar ascribed to the year 1567
showsthateighteenvillagesweregrantedtotheDurgah.AccordingtothereportoftheCommitteewhichhad
accesstotheoriginalSanadandotherrelevantdocumentstheyearoftheSanadwasnot1567but1575.The
reportalsoshowsthattheobjectofthisfirstendowmentwasnotoneforthegeneralpurposesoftheDurgah
butforaspecificpurpose,namely,'langarkhana'.Itappearsthatduringthisperiodadescendantofthesaint
functionedasaSajjadanashinandhealsoperformedthedutiesofaMutawalli.Thereisnoreliableevidence
inregardtothepositionoftheSajjadanashin,hisdutiesandfunctionsbeforethedateofAkbar,butitisnot
difficulttoimaginethatevenifaSajjadanashinwasinchargeofthetombhehadreallyverylittletomanage
because the tomb had not until 1567 attracted substantial grants or endowments. The Committee's report

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clearlybringsoutthattheappointmentofaSajjadanashininthetimeofAkbarwaspurelyonthebasisofan
appointmentbytheStatebecauseitispointedoutthatassoonasAkbarwasnotsatisfiedwiththeworkofthe
Sajjadanashinappointedbyhimin1567heremovedhimfromofficein1570andappointedanewincumbent
in his place. This new incumbent carried on his duties until 1600. Similarly in 1612 Jehangir appointed a
Sajjadanashin to function also as Mutawalli. During Jehangir's time (16051627) some more villages were
endowedtotheDurgah.

17. During Shahjehan's time (16271658) some significant changes took place in the management of the
Durgah.TheofficeoftheSajjadanashinwasseparatedfromthatoftheMutawalliunderthenameofDarogah,
theMutawalliwasputinchargeofthemanagementandadministrationofthesecularaffairsoftheDurgah.It
wouldalsoappearthatsomeoftheDarogahswereHindus.InhisturnShahjehanendowedseveralvillagesin
favour of the Durgah. This endowment, unlike that of Akbar, was for the general purposes of the Durgah.
According to the Committee Shahjehan's endowment was in supersession of the earlier grants though it is
difficult to decide as to whether it was in supersession of Akbar's grant or of an earlier grant made by
Shahjehan himself. However that may be, it is quite clear that at the very time when Shahjehan made his
endowment he separated the office of the Sajjadanashin from that of the Mutawalli and left it to the sole
chargeoftheMutawalliappointedbytheRulertomanagethepropertiesendowedtotheDurgah.Thelater
historyoftheinstitutionshowsthattheseparateofficeoftheMutawalliwhowasinsolemanagementofthe
administration of the properties of the Durgah continued ever since, and that throughout its history the
Mutawallis have been appointed by the State and were as such answerable to the State and not to the sect
representedbytherespondents.ThisstateofaffairscontinuedduringthereignofAurangzeb(16591707).

18.AfterAurangzebdiedtherewasachangeinthepoliticalfortunesofAjmerbecauseRathorRajputsseized
Ajmerin1719andruledoveritfortwoyearsthereafter.Thischangeofpoliticalsovereigntydoesnotappear
tohaveaffectedtheadministrationoftheDurgahwhichcontinuedasbefore.In1721theMoghulrulewasre
established over Ajmer but that again made no change to the administration of the Durgah and the
managementofitsproperties.TheMoghulruleinturnwasdisturbedin1743bytheRajputRathorswhowere
inpowerfornearly13years.TheRathorrulecametoanendwhentheScindiasoccupiedAjmerin1756and
continued in possession of the city until 1787. In that year the Rathors came back again and remained in
possessiontill1791whenScindiasoverpoweredthemandcontinuedtooccupyituntil1818.Inabout1818,
afterthePindariWarAjmerpassedintothehandsoftheEastIndiaCompanyandsoitsconnectionwiththe
BritishGovernmentcommenced.WhilstpoliticalsovereigntyoverAjmerwasthuschanginghandsfromtime
to time the state of affairs in relation to the Durgah remained as it was during the time of Shahjehan. The
SajjadanashinlookedaftertheperformanceofthereligiousobservancesoftheritesandtheMutawallilooked
aftertheadministrationandmanagementofthepropertiesoftheDurgah.Inthisconnectionitisrelevantand
significanttonotethattheMutawallihasalwaysbeenanofficerappointedbytheGovernmentinpower.That
inbriefisthebroadpicturewhichemergesinthelightofthematerialplacedbythepartiesbeforetheCourtin
thepresentproceedings.

19.Atthisstageitwouldbematerialtonarrateverybrieflytherelevanthistoryoflegislationinregardtothe
administration of religious endowments which followed the assumption of political power by the British
Government. The first Act to which reference must be made is Act XX of 1863. This Act was passed to
enabletheGovernmenttodivestitselfofthemanagementofreligiousendowmentswhichhadtillthenvested
intheRevenueBoards.Section3oftheActprovided,interalia,thatinthecaseofeverymosquetowhichthe
earlier regulations applied Government shall as soon as possible after the passing of the Act make special
provisionfortheadministrationofsuchmosquesasspecifiedintheActbysubsequentsections.Unders.4
the transfer of the administration of the said mosque and other institutions to trustees is provided with the
consequencethattheadministrationbyRevenueBoardshadtocometoanend.Section6dealswiththerights
of the trustees to whom the property is transferred under s. 4 and it also contemplates the appointment of
committeeswhichmayexercisepowersasthereinspecified.WiththerestoftheprovisionsofthisActweare
notconcerned.TheeffectofthisActwasthatthemanagementofreligiousendowmentswhichhadbeentaken
overbytheGovernmentandwhichvestedintheRevenueBoardswasentrustedtothetrusteesasprescribed
bys.4.Inaccordancewiththeprovisionsofs.6acommitteewasappointedtolookafterthemanagementof
theDurgahwithwhichweareconcernedandthatcommitteecontinuedtobeinsuchmanagementuntil1936.
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20. In 1936 Act XXIII of 1936 was passed specifically with the object of making better provision for the
administrationoftheDurgahandtheEndowmentoftheDurgahofKhwajaMoinuddinChishtiknownasthe
Durgah Khwaja Saheb, Ajmer. This Act consisted of twenty sections and in a sense it provided a self
contained code for the administration of the Durgah and its endowments. Section 2(4) defines a Durgah
Endowmentasincluding(a)theDurgahKhwajaSaheb,Ajmer,(b)allbuildingsandmovablepropertywithin
the boundaries of the Durgah Sharif, (c) Durgah Jagir including all land, houses and shops and all landed
propertywheresoeversituatedbelongingtotheDurgahSharif,(d)allotherpropertyandallincomederived
fromanysourcewhatsoever,dedicatedtotheDurgahorplacedforanyreligious,piousorcharitablepurposes
under the Durgah Administration, and (e) only such offerings as are intended explicitly for the use of the
Durgah. It would be noticed that the material provisions of the Act which dealt with the management and
administration of the Durgah were intended to operate in regard to the Durgah Endowment thus
comprehensively defined. Under s. 4 the administration and control of this endowment had to vest in a
committeeconstitutedinthemannerprescribed.Thepowersanddutiesofthiscommitteeareprescribedbys.
11whereass.16providesforarbitrationofdisputesthatmayarisebetweenthecommitteeontheonehand
and the Sajjadanashin, the Mutawalli and the Khadim or any of them on the other. With the rest of the
provisions of the Act we are not concerned. In pursuance of the material provisions of this Act a Durgah
CommitteewasappointedandithasbeeninmanagementoftheDurgahEndowmenteversince.

21.AswehavealreadyindicatedtheGovernmentofIndiaappointedtheCommitteeundertheChairmanship
of Mr. Justice Ghulam Hasan in 1949 to enquire into and report on the administration of the Durgah
Endowmentandtomakeappropriaterecommendationstosecuretheconservationoftheshrinebyefficient
managementofthesaidEndowment.TheCommitteemadeitsreportonOctober13,1949,andthatledtothe
promulgationofOrdinanceNo.XXIVof1949whichwasfollowedbyEmergencyProvisionsAct,1950,and
finally by the Act of 1955 with which we are concerned in the present appeal. The Committee held an
exhaustive enquiry, considered the voluminous evidence produced before it, reviewed the conduct of the
SajjadanashinsandtheKhadims,examinedthemannerinwhichtheofferingswerereceivedandappropriated
bythem,tookintoaccountseveraljudicialdecisionsdealingwiththequestionoftherightsandobligationsof
the said parties and came to the conclusion that "the historical review of the position leads only to the
inference that the Sajjadanashins and the Khadims between themselves came to an agreement for mutual
benefit and to the detriment of the Endowment and adopted a kind of a practice to realised offerings from
visitorstotheDurgahonashowofsomecharitableobjectandledtheignorantandtheunwaryintothetrap"
[ReportoftheDurgahKhwajaSaheb(Ajmer)CommitteeofEnquirydatedOctober13,1949,publishedby
Government of India in 1950, p. 63.]. The Committee has observed that most of the spokesmen before it
candidlyadmittedtheexistenceofmanymalpracticesindulgedinbyKhadimsandamajorityofthemshowed
akeendesiretointroduceradicalsocialreforminthecommunityprovidedtheyarebackedbytheauthorityof
law[Ibid,p.56.].TheCommitteethencommentedontheagreemententeredintobetweentheSajjadanashins
andtheKhadimsasamountingtoanunholyallianceamongunscrupulouspersonstotradefortheirpersonal
aggrandisementinthenameoftheholysaint,anditnoticedwithregretthattheinterestofthecommunityhad
sufferedmorefromthesuperstitious,ignorantandthereactionaryhierarchythanfromthedoingofzealous
reformers[Ibid,p.64.].AccordingtotheCommittee"tinkeringwiththeproblemwillbearemedyworsethan
the disease and it had no doubt that no narrow and technical considerations should stop us from marching
forward". As a result of the findings made by the Committee it made specific recommendations as to the
manner in which reform should be introduced in the management and administration of the Durgah
Endowment by legislative process. Speaking generally, the Act has been passed in the light of the
recommendationsmadebytheCommittee.

22. Thus it would be clear that from the middle of the 16th Century to the middle of the 20th Century the
administration and management of the Durgah Endowment has been true to the same pattern. The said
administrationhasbeentreatedasamatterwithwhichtheStateisconcernedandithasbeenleftinchargeof
theMutawalliswhowereappointedfromtimetotimebytheStateandevenremovedwhentheywerefound
to be guilty of misconduct or when it was felt that their work was unsatisfactory. So far as the material
producedinthiscasegoestheDurgahEndowmentwhichincludesmovableandimmovablepropertydoesnot
appeartohavebeentreatedasownedbythedenominationorsectionofthedevoteesandthefollowersofthe
saint,anditsadministrationhasalwaysbeenleftinthehandsoftheofficialappointedbytheState.
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23. In this connection it may be relevant to refer to the decision of the Privy Council in the case of Asrar
Ahmed[A.I.R.1947P.C.1.].TheappealbeforethePrivyCouncilinthatcasearosefromasuitfiledbySyed
Asrar Ahmed against the Durgah Committee in which he claimed a declaration that the office of the
MutawallioftheDurgahKhwajaSaheb,Ajmer,washereditaryinhisfamilyandthattheDurgahCommittee
was not competent to question his status as a hereditary Mutawalli in succession to the last holder of that
office.TheDistrictJudgewhotriedthesaidsuitpassedadecreeinfavourofAsrarAhmedbutonappealthe
JudicialCommissionersetasidethedecreeanddismissedAsrarAhmed'ssuit.OnappealbyAsrarAhmedto
thePrivyCouncilthedecisionoftheJudicialCommissionerwasconfirmed.Indealingwiththisdisputethe
PrivyCouncilhasconsideredthegenesisandgrowthoftheshrinealongwiththestormyhistoryoftheState
ofAjmertowhichwehavealreadyreferred.InthecourseofhisjudgmentLordSimondsobservedthatitwas
not disputed that in the reign of Emperor Shahjehan the post of Mutawalli was separated from that of
Sajjadanashin and had become a Government appointment, whereas the Sajjadanashin remained and
continuedtobethehereditarydescendantofthesaint.ThenhereferredtothefirmanofShahjehanissuedin
1629 by which the Emperor ordered that the Mutawalli appointed by the State was to sit on the left of the
SajjadanashinattheMahfils.SimilarlythefirmanissuedbyAurangzebin1667directedtheorderofsittingat
the Mahfils by laying down that Daroga Balgorkhana, i.e., Mutawalli of the Durgah or anyone who is
appointedbytheStatedositontheleftoftheSajjadanashin.ItissignificanttonotethatDarogaBalgorkhana
wasaHinduinAkbar'stime.HavingthusheldthattheofficeoftheMutawalliwasanofficecreatedbythe
StateandtheholderoftheofficewasaStateservantthePrivyCouncilexaminedtheevidenceonwhichAsrar
Ahmedreliedinsupportofhispleathatbycustomtheofficewashereditaryandheldthatthesaidevidence
did not justify the claim. This decision supports the conclusion that the Durgah Endowment and its
administrationhavealwaysbeeninchargeoftheMutawalliappointedbytheStateandthatonoccasionsthe
postoftheMutawalliwasheldbyaHinduaswell.

24.Havingthusreviewedbroadlythegenesisoftheshrine,itsgrowthandthestoryofitsendowmentsand
their management, it may now be relevant to enquire what is the nature of the tenets and beliefs to which
Soofismsubscribes.SuchanenquirywouldservetoassistusindeterminingwhethertheChishtiasectcanbe
regarded as a religious denomination or a section thereof within Art. 26. According to Murray T. Titus
["IndianIslam",aReligiousHistoryofIslaminIndia,byMurrayT.Titus,publishedbyOxfordUniversity
PressintheSeries"TheReligiousQuestofIndia",pp.110,111.]"Islam,likeChristianity,hasitsmonastic
orders and saints, the underlying basis of which is the mystic interpretation of the religious life known as
Sufiism". According to this author, the men imbued with soofi doctrine came very early to India is not
disputedbutwhothoseearliestcomerswereorwhentheyarrivedcannotbedefinitelyascertained.Healso
expressestheopinionthatthoughSoofismisfoundsoextensively"itisnotthereligionofasect,itisrathera
naturalrevoltofthehumanheartagainstthecoldformalismofaritualisticreligion,andsowhileSufishave
never been regarded as a separate sect of muslims they have nevertheless tended to gather themselves into
religiousorders".Thesehavetakenonspecialformsoforganisation,sothattodaythereisagreatnumberof
suchorders,which,curiouslyenough,belongonlytotheSunnis.Theauthorthenenumeratesfourteenorders
orfamilies(khandan)amongstthemistheChishtiaOrder.

25. According to the report of the Committee, however, the Soofies are divided into four main silsilas
amongstthemareChishtias.ThereportexpressesthedefiniteopinionthattheSoofisilsilasarenotsects(p.
13). The characteristic feature of a particular silsila is confined to a few spiritual practices, like Aurad or
Sama, to certain festivals, institutions like veneration of shrines and the devotion to certain leading
personalitiesoftheorder.Soofismreallydenotestheattitudeofmind,thatistosay,aSoofi,whileaccepting
all that orthodox Islam has to offer, finds lacking in it an emotive principle. According to Soofies a clear
distinctionhastobedrawnbetweentherealandtheapparent,andtheybelievedthattheultimaterealitycould
begraspedonlyintuitively(Ma'arifatorgnosis).AspecialfeatureofSoofibeliefisdivinelove.Anintellect,
accordingtoSoofies,performsarestrictedfunction.ThecenterofspirituallifeistheQalbortheRooh(p.16).

26.InPiranv.AbdoolKarimI.L.R(1891).19Cal.204,AmeerAli,J.,hadoccasiontoconsiderthefunctions
oftheSajjadanashinandtheMutawalli.HeobservedthattheSajjadanashinhascertainspiritualfunctionsto
perform.HeisnotonlyaMutawallibutalsoaspiritualpreceptor.HeisthecuratoroftheDurgahwherehis
ancestor is buried and in him he is supposed to continue the spiritual line (silsila). As is wellknown these
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Durgahsarethetombsofcelebrateddervishes,whointheirlifetimewereregardedassaints.Someofthese
men had established Khamkahs where they lived an their disciples congregated. These dervishes professed
esoteric doctrines and followed distinct systems of initiation. They were either Soofies or the disciples of
MianRoushanBayezidwhoflourishedaboutthetimeofAkbarandwhohadfoundedanindependentesoteric
brotherhood in which the chief occupied a peculiarly distinct position. The preceptor is called the pir, the
discipleamurid.Onthedeathofthepirhissuccessorassumestheprivilegeofinitiatingthedisciplesintothe
mysteriesofdervishismorSoofism.ThisprivilegeofinitiationisoneofthefunctionsoftheSajjadanashin(p.
220221).Thusontheoreticalconsiderationsitmaynotbeeasytoholdthatthefollowersanddevoteesofthe
saint who visit the Durgah and treat it as a place of pilgrimage can be regarded as constituting a religious
denominationoranysectionthereof.However,forthepurposeofthepresentappealweproposetodealwith
thedisputebetweenthepartiesonthebasisthattheChishtiasectwhomtherespondentspurporttorepresent
and on whose behalf (as well as their own) they seek to challenge the vires of the Act is a section or a
religiousdenomination.ThispositionappearstohavebeenassumedintheHighCourtandwedonotpropose
tomakeanydepartureinthatbehalfindealingwiththepresentappeal.

27.ThenextpointwhichneedstobeconsideredisthedutiesoftheKhadimsandtheirrightsonwhichtheir
claim for an appropriate writ is based in the present proceedings. In the High Court the question about the
duties of the Khadims was settled by calling upon the respondents to file an affidavit in that behalf. In
accordance with the order passed by the High Court Syed Mohammed Hanis, who is one of the Khadims,
madeadetailedaffidavit,settingforththedutiesoftheKhadimsandthestatementsmadeinthisaffidavitdo
notappeartohavebeentraversedatthetrial.Accordingtothisaffidavit,everydayoneKhadiminrotation
opensthefirstgateofthedomecontainingtheshrineat4a.m.afterpronouncingthesacredcallnamedthe
"Azan".Accompaniedbyafewothershethenproceedstoopenthesecondgatepronouncingcertainsacred
formulaeinaadulationofKhwajaSaheb.ThentheKhadimeremovetheoldflowersfromtheMazarandput
freshflowersonit.Thisceremonyiscalled"Sej".Thedomepremisesarethencleaned,'Loban'isburntand
thewitheredflowersaredepositedinasacreddepository.Thisisfollowedbygeneralprayerwhereuponthe
Mazaristhrownopenforthepilgrims.OneKhadimremainsondutyinsidethedomewhileothersguidethe
pilgrims.TheKhadimwhoispresentinsidethedomehelpsthepilgrimstokisstheMazarandpraysforthem,
afterputtingtheDaman,thatistosay,theclothcoveringofthegraveoverthepilgrims'heads.Atthisstage
thepilgrimsofferNazar.At3p.m.thedomegatesareclosedandtheflowersarechangedonceagain.Atthis
timethedomeisgivenapaintofsandalpasteandtheKabrPoshisalsochanged.TheKhadimoffersprayers
forallthefoursilsilasoftheSoofiesandallotherhumanbeings,andthisisfollowedbytheopeningofthe
Mazaragain.Atsunset there is a beat of Nakkara which gathers the pilgrimsatthedome.Atthistimethe
Khadimscarrylampsinsidethedome,andwhilesodoingtheytouchtheheadsofdevoteeswiththeirlamps
andthenthelampsareplacedonlampposts.Madha(songinpraiseofKhwajaSaheb)isrecitedfollowedby
therecitationofDuaandallpilgrimsjoinbysayingAmin.TheMazarremainsopeninthiswayuntil10p.m.
whenKhadimsgiveaceremonialsweepthriceinsidethesomeandlockitforthenight.Besidesthesedaily
duties the Khadims perform a special ceremony during Urs and it is called Ousl. On the day of Basant
PanchamiKavvalsbringfreshgreenplantsandflowersaspresentstotheMazarandtheyareplacedonthe
Mazar by the Khadims on duty. That in brief is the nature of the duties performed by the Khadims in the
DurgahKhwajaSaheb.

28.Letusnowconsidertherightswhichaccordingtotherespondentshavebeenheldestablishedbyjudicial
decisions.InthisconnectiontherespondentsrelymainlyonthejudgmentoftheJudicialCommissionerinthe
litigationwhichwentbeforehimin1931aswellasthedecisiononappealtothePrivyCouncilinthematter.
The contending parties in this litigation were the Dewan (i.e., Sajjadanashin), the Khadims and the Durgah
Committee.Itisnotnecessaryforourpresentpurposetosetouttherespectivecontentionsoftheparties.It
would be enough if we recite the conclusions reached by the Judicial Commissioner and mention the final
decision of the Privy Council in respect of them. This is how the Judicial Commissioner recorded his
conclusionsattheendofhisjudgmentinparagraph14:

"(a)TherightsoftheDiwaninrespectofofferingsmadeattheDurgaharedeclaredtobeasfollows
:

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(i) All offerings or presents made to the Diwan at the Diwan's Khanqah or sitting place within the
precinctsoftheDurgaharetheexclusivepropertyoftheDiwan.

(ii) Offerings or presents of gold or silver vessels or implements or Qabarposhes for the use of the
Durgah are the property of the Durgah Committee as trustee for the Durgah irrespective of the
paymentofTawantotheKhadims,andirrespectiveofthespotatwhichtheyarepresented.

(iii)OtherofferingsifmadeoutsidethedomeoftheShrinearetheperquisitesoftheKhadims,with
the exception that offerings of animals or such bulky articles as cannot conveniently be brought
within the dome shall, if made at the steps of the Shrine be divided between the Diwan and the
Khadimsrespectivelyinequalshares.

(iv)OtherofferingsifmadewithinthedomeoftheShrineshallbedivisiblebetweentheDiwanand
theKhadimsrespectivelyinequalsharesirrespectiveofthespotatwhichtheyaredepositedwithin
the dome, provided that the following class of offerings shall be the perquisites of the Khadims
exclusively:

(a) Copper coins and cowries and gold or silver articles (other than coins) of a
valuelessthan8Annas,andcottonclothofinferiorquality.

(b)Allofferingsmadebetweenthehoursof4a.m.and4p.m.on'Qul'dayi.e.the
lastdayofthe'Urs'.

(v) Cash or other offerings sent by post shall be deemed to be offerings made at the Shrine, i.e.
withinthedome,unlessaddressedspecificallytotheDurgahCommittee,theDiwanortheKhadims
fortheirexclusiveuse.

(vi) In the case of articles falling within the scope of clause (ii) the payment of Tawan shall be
deemedconclusiveproofthatanarticleispresentedfortheuseoftheDurgahandincaseinwhich
noTawanispaidinrespectofanarticlefallingwithinthescopeofclause(ii)theDurgahCommittee
shallbetheauthoritytodecidewhethersucharticleisrequiredorshouldberetainedfortheuseof
theDurgah.

(b) The defendant Khadims are enjoined to refrain from any interference with plaintiff's rights as
abovedeclared."

29.IthasbeenstrenuouslyurgedbeforeusbyMr.Pathakonbehalfoftherespondentsthattheonlyofferings
towhichtheDurgahCommitteecanlayaclaimunderthisjudgmentarethosespecifiedinclause(a)(ii),and
hecontendsthattheseofferingsarenoneotherthanthepresentsofspecifiedarticlesasthereinindicatedin
otherwords,theargumentisthatitisonlyofferingsofcertainarticlesforcertainspecificusesoftheDurgah
thatconstitutethepropertyoftheDurgahallotherofferingsfalltobedistributedeitherunderclause(a)(ii)or
clause(a)(iv).Iftheofferingsaremadeoutsidethedomewiththeexceptionstherespecifiedtheygotothe
Khadims exclusively if they are made within the dome they are to be divided between the Dewan and the
Khadimsinequalshares,buteveninrespectofsuchofferingsthosethatfallwithinclause(a)(iv)(a)orclause
(a)(iv)(b)havetobepaidtotheKhadims.Mr.Pathakthussuggeststhatclause(a)(ii)refersonlytospecific
presentsgivenforspecificpurposesandtheopeningword"offerings"inthesaidclausereallyreferstothe
saidpresentsandnothingelse.Wewouldreadthisclauseasconfinedtospecificpresentsandasexcluding
every other offering altogether. In our opinion, this contention is unsound. In dealing with the effect of the
finding recorded by the Judicial Commissioner we cannot lose sight of the fact that we are not construing
termsofastatutebutweareattemptingtofindouttheeffectofthefindingsmadeinjudicialproceedings.The
said findings cannot therefore be divested from the rest for the reasons given in the judgment, and those
reasonsdonotsupporttheconstructionsuggestedbyMr.Pathak.Besides,clause(v)specificallyreferstocash
orotherofferingssentbypost,anditprovides,interalia,thatifthesaidcashorotherofferingsareaddressed
specifically to the Durgah Committee they would belong to the Durgah just as if they are addressed
specificallytotheDewanortheKhadimstheywouldbelongtothemrespectivelytotheexclusionofanyone
else.Clause(v)thusclearlypostulatesthatcashorotherofferingsmaybesentbythedevoteestotheDurgah
CommitteespecificallyforthepurposesoftheCommittee,andthatmustinevitablymeanthatofferingmaybe
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made in cash or may take other forms, and if it is earmarked even generally for the Durgah Committee it
wouldgototheDurgahCommittee,andneithertheSajjadanashinnortheKhadimcanclaimanyshareinit.
Construingtheword"offerings"inclause(a)(ii)inthelightofclause(a)(v)wearedisposedtotaketheview
thattheword"offerings"includesalsoanofferingbesidespresentswhicharespecificallyreferredtointhat
clauseandsoitfollowsthatevenaccordingtothefindingsconsideredasawhole,ifanyofferingsincashor
kindaremadeinfavouroftheDurgahandinthatsenseearmarkedforitsgeneralpurposestheywouldbelong
onlytotheDurgahandneithertheKhadimnortheSajjadanashincanmakeanyclaiminregardtoit.

30. This matter had gone before the Privy Council in Syed Altaf Hussain v. Diwan Syed Ali Khan
MANU/PR/0018/1937. Dealing with the question of the offerings and the rights of the respective parties
thereto the Privy Council observed that it was conceded by the parties before the Court of Appeal that a
distinctionmustbedrawninteraliabetweenthosearticlessuchasQaberposheswhicharepresentedforthe
useoftheDurgahandtheotherofferingswhicharemadeattheDurgahanditaddedthatwhiletheofferings
belonging to the latter category may be divisible between the Dewan and the Khadims those made for the
specificuseoftheDurgaharethepropertyoftheDurgah.Inappreciatingtheeffectofthisobservationitmust
berememberedthatthecontroversybetweenthepartiesatthatstagewasnotastowhetherofferingsmade
otherwisethanintheformofspecificarticlesbutearmarkedtotheDurgahwouldbelongtotheDurgahornot.
Even in respect of the articles specifically given to the Durgah for specific purposes the Khadims made a
claimandthatwasrejected.Thisbackgroundofthedisputecannotbeoverlookedinjudgingtheeffectofthe
decisionitselfandobservationsmadeinthecourseofthejudgment.Evenso,itissignificantthatthePrivy
Council specifically observed that "it appears that the offerings which are not intended for the use of the
Durgaharemadeatvariousplacesofthebuildingsattachedtotheshrine".Inotherwords,itwouldappear
that the offerings which were intended for the use of the Durgah were treated as constituting a class of
offerings apart from the other offerings which were divisible between the Khadims and the Sajjadanashins,
and that clearly is consistent with the view which we have taken in regard to the effect of the findings
recorded by the Judicial Commissioner in appeal. The Privy Council found that Khadims who work as the
servantsoftheShrinewerenodoubtentitledtotheofferingsasalreadyindicatedbutthattheycanmakeno
claiminregardtotheofferingswhichareintendedfortheuseoftheDurgah.

31. At this stage we ought to examine the scheme of the Act and read its material provisions the vires of
whichischallengedbytherespondents.TheActconsistsof22sections,andlikeitspredecessorActXXIIIof
1936 it provides a selfcontained Code for the administration of the Durgah and the Endowment of the
Durgah. Section 2(d) defines Durgah Endowment in five clauses. The first three clauses are exactly in the
sametermsasthecorrespondingclausesofs.2(4)oftheearlierActXXIIIof1936.Clause(iv)ofs.2(d)is
substantially similar to the corresponding clause in the earlier section except that it includes the Jagirdari
villages of Hokran and Kishanpur in Ajmer expressly, whereas clause (v) is somewhat differently worded.
Under clause (v) all such nazars or offerings as are received on behalf of the Durgah by the Nazir or any
personauthorisedbyhimareincludedintheDurgahEndowment.Bys.3theprovisionsoftheActaregiven
overriding effect even though they may be inconsistent with the provisions contained in Act XX of 1863.
Section 4(1) deals with the appointment of the Committee in which the administration, control and
management of the Durgah Endowment shall be vested. This Committee shall be called the Durgah
Committee, Ajmer that is the effect of s. 4(2). Section 5 prescribes the composition of the Committee. It
providesthattheCommitteeshallconsistsofnotlessthanfiveandnotmorethanninemembersallofwhom
shallbeHanafiMuslimsandshallbeappointedbytheCentralGovernment.Section6dealswiththetermsof
officeandresignationandremovalofmembersandcasualvacancies.Section7providesfortheelectionof
thePresidentandtheVicePresidentoftheCommittee.Section8prescribestheconditionsunderwhichthe
Committee may be superseded. Section 9 provides for the power of the Central Government to appoint a
Nazimands.10contemplatestheappointmentofanAdvisoryCommitteetoadvisetheNazim.Unders.11
thepowersanddutiesoftheCommitteearespecified.Allofthesepowersareinregardtotheadministration,
controlandmanagementoftheDurgahEndowment.Twooftheseoughttobespecifiedbecausetheyarethe
subjectmatterofchallenge.Section11(f)referstothepoweroftheCommitteetodeterminetheprivilegesof
theKhadimsandtoregulatetheirpresenceintheDurgahbythegranttothemof"licencesinthatbehalfifthe
Committeethinksitnecessarysotodo",andunders.11(h)powerisgiventotheCommitteetodeterminethe
functions and powers, if any, which the Sajjadanashin may exercise in relation to the Durgah. Under s. 12
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provisionismadefortheremunerationoftheSajjadanashin.SuccessiontotheofficeoftheSajjadanashinis
thesubjectmatterofs.13.Section13(1)providesthatassoonastheofficeoftheSajjadanashinfallsvacant,
theCommitteeshall,withthepreviousapprovaloftheChiefCommissioner,makesuchinterimarrangements
for the performance of the functions of the Sajjadanashin as it may think fit and immediately thereafter
publishanoticeinsuchformandmannerasmaybedeterminedbytheCommittee,invitingapplicationsfor
theofficeofthesuccessorasthereinspecified.Fourothersubsectionsofs.13dealwiththeappointmentof
thesuccessorbuttheyarenotthesubjectmatterofanycontroversyandsoitisunnecessarytorefertothem.
Section14isimportant.ItmakesitlawfulfortheNazimoranypersonauthorisedbyhiminthisbehalfto
solicit and receive on behalf of the Durgah any nazars or offerings from any person, and it adds that
notwithstanding anything contained in any rule of law or decision to the contrary no person other than the
Nazimoranypersonauthorisedbyhiminthisbehalfshallreceiveorbeentitledtoreceivenazarsorofferings
on behalf of the Durgah. This section prohibits the Khadims or the Sajjadanashins to solicit offerings on
behalfoftheDurgahandisthesubjectmatterofdispute.Section15enjoinsupontheCommitteetoobserve
MuslimlawandtenetsoftheChishtisaintinconductingandregulatingtheestablishedritesandceremoniesat
tomb.Section16 provides for the appointment of a Board of Arbitration. If any dispute arises between the
CommitteeontheonepartandtheSajjadanashin,anyKhadimandanypersonclaimingtobetheservantof
theDurgahontheotherpartprovidedsuchdisputedoesnot,intheopinionoftheCommittee,relatetoany
religious usage or custom or to the performance of any religious office, it has to go before the Board of
ArbitrationwhichconsistsofanomineeoftheCommitteeandanomineeoftheotherpartytothedisputeand
person who holds or has held the office or is acting or has acted as a district judge to be appointed by the
Central Government. This section provides that an award of the Board shall be final and shall not be
questionedinanycourt.Section16(2)laysdownthatnosuitshalllieinanycourtinrespectofanymatter
whichisrequiredbysubs.(1)tobereferredtoaBoardofArbitration.Section17thenlaysdownthatany
defectintheconstitutionof,orvacancyin,theCommitteewouldnotinvalidateitsactsandproceedingsand
s.18providesfortheenforcementofthefinalorderspassedbytheCommitteeinthesamemannerandbythe
same procedure as if the said orders were a decree or order passed by a civil court in a suit. Section 19
providesfortheauditofaccountsandannualreport,ands.20empowerstheCommitteetomakebyelawsto
carryourthepurposesofthisAct.Section21dealswithtransitionalprovisions,ands.22repealstheearlier
Actof1936.ThatinbriefisthenatureandscopeofthematerialprovisionsoftheAct.

32.ThechallengetotheviresoftheActrestsbroadlyontwoprincipalgrounds.Itisurgedthatitsimpugned
provisionsareinconsistentwithArt.26(b),(c),(d)oftheConstitutionandtherebyviolatetherighttofreedom
of religion and to manage denominational institutions guaranteed by the said Article. It is also argued that
someofitsprovisionsareviolativeoftherespondents'fundamentalrightguaranteedunderArt.19(1)(f)and
(g). It would be convenient to deal with these two principal grounds of attack before examining the other
argumentsurgedagainstthevalidityofdifferentsections.

33. We will first take the argument about the infringement of the fundamental right to freedom of religion.
Articles25and26 together safeguard the citizen's right to freedom of religion. Under Art. 2(1), subject to
public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of Part III, all persons are equally entitled to
freedom of conscience and their right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion. This freedom
guarantees of to every citizen not only the right to entertain such religious beliefs as may appeal to his
conscience but also affords him the right to exhibit his belief in his conduct by such outward acts as may
appeartohimproperinordertospreadhisideasforthebenefitofothers.Article26providesthatsubjectto
publicorder,moralityandhealtheveryreligiousdenominationoranysectionthereofshallhavetheright

(a)toestablishandmaintaininstitutionsforreligiousandcharitablepurposes

(b)tomanageitsownaffairsinmattersofreligion

(c)toownandacquiremovableandimmovablepropertyand

(d)toadministersuchpropertyinaccordancewithlaw.

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34. The four clauses of this Article constitute the fundamental freedom guaranteed to every religious
denomination or any section thereof to manage its own affairs. It is entitled to establish institutions for
religiouspurposes,itisentitledtomanageitsownaffairsinthemattersofreligion,itisentitledtoownand
acquiremovableandimmovablepropertyandtoadministersuchpropertyinaccordancewithlaw.Whatthe
expression"religiousdenomination"meanshasbeenconsideredbythisCourtinTheCommissioner,Hindu
Religious Endowments, Madras v. Sri Lakshmindra Thirtha Swamiar of Sri Shirur Mutt
MANU/SC/0136/1954 : [1954]1SCR1005 . Mukherjea, J., as he then was, who spoke for the Court, has
quotedwithapprovalthedictionarymeaningoftheword"denomination"whichsaysthata"denomination"is
acollectionofindividualsclassedtogetherunderthesamename,areligioussectorbodyhavingacommon
faith and organisation and designated by a distinctive name". The learned Judge has added that Art. 26
contemplatesnotmerelyareligiousdenominationbutalsoasectionthereof.Dealingwiththequestionsasto
whatarethemattersofreligion,thelearnedJudgeobservedthattheword"religion"hasnotbeendefinedin
the Constitution, and it is a term which is hardly susceptible of any rigid definition. Religion, according to
him,isamatteroffaithwithindividualsorcommunitiesanditisnotnecessarilytheistic.Itundoubtedlyhas
itsbasisinasystemofpleasordoctrineswhichareregardedbythosewhoprofessthatreligionasconducive
totheirspiritualwellbeing,butitisnotcorrecttosaythatreligionisnothingelsebutadoctrineorbelief.A
religionmaynotonlylaydownacodeofethicalrulesforitsfollowerstoaccept,itmightprescriberitualsand
observances, ceremonies and modes of worship which are regarded as integral parts of religion, and these
formsandobservancesmightextendeventomattersoffoodanddress.Dealingwiththesametopic,thoughin
another context, in Sri Venkataramana Devaru v. The State of Mysore MANU/SC/0026/1957 :
[1958]1SCR895,VenkataramaAiyar,J.spokefortheCourtinthesameveinandobservedthatitwassettled
thatmattersofreligioninArt.26(b)includeevenpracticeswhichareregardedbythecommunityaspartofits
religion,andinsupportofthisstatementthelearnedJudgereferredtotheobservationsofMukherjea,J.which
wehavealreadycited.Whilstwearedealingwiththispointitmaynotbeoutofplaceincidentallytostrikea
noteofcautionandobservethatinorderthatthepracticesinquestionshouldbetreatedasapartofreligion
they must be regarded by the said religion as its essential and integral part otherwise even purely secular
practiceswhicharenotanessentialoranintegralpartofreligionareapttobeclothedwithareligiousform
andmaymakeaclaimforbeingtreatedasreligiouspracticeswithinthemeaningofArt.26.Similarly,even
practices though religious my have sprung from merely superstitious beliefs and may in that sense be
extraneous and unessential accretions to religion itself. Unless such practices are found to constitute an
essentialandintegralpartofareligiontheirclaimfortheprotectionunderArt.26mayhavetobecarefully
scrutinisedinotherwords,theprotectionmustbeconfinedtosuchreligiouspracticesasareanessentialand
anintegralpartofitandnoother.

35.InthepresentappealweareconcernedwiththefreedomsguaranteedunderArt.26(c)and(d)particular.
The respondents contend that the appointment of the Committee contemplated by Sections 4 and 5 has
effectivelydeprivedthesectionofthedenominationrepresentedbythemofitsrighttoowntheendowment
properties and to administer them. We have already stated that we propose to deal with this appeal on the
assumptionthattherespondentshavefiledthepresentwritpetitionnotonlyfortheKhadimsbutalsoforand
onbehalfoftheChishtisandthattheChishtisconstituteasectionofareligiousdenomination.Consideredon
thisbasisthecontentionoftherespondentsisdirectedagainstthepowersconferredontheCommitteeforthe
purposeofadministeringthepropertyoftheDurgahandinsubstanceitamountstoachallengetothevalidity
of the whole Act, because according to them it is for the section of the denomination to administer this
propertyandtheLegislaturecannotinterferewiththesaidright.

36.Indealingwiththisargumentitisnecessarytorecallthefactthatthechallengetotheviresofs.5has
been made by the respondents in their petition on a very narrow ground. They had urged that since the
CommitteeconstitutedundertheActwaslikelytoincludeHanafiMuslimswhomaynobeChishtimuslims
the provision authorising the appointment of the Committee was ultra vires, and in fact the decision of the
HighCourtisalsobasedonthisnarrowground.Now,itisclearthattheviresofs.5 cannot be effectively
challengedonanysuchnarrowground.Iftherightofthedenominationorasectionofsuchdenominationis
adverselyaffectedbythestatutetherelevantprovisionofthestatutemustbestruckdownasawholeandinits
entiretyornotatall.IfrespondentscouldproperlyinvokeArt.26(d)itwouldnotbeopentothestatuteto
constitute by nomination a Committee for the management and administration of the property of the
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denominationatall.Inotherwords,theinfirmityortheviceinthestatutecannotbecuredbyconfiningthe
membersoftheproposedCommitteetothedenominationitself.Thisnodoubtisaseriousweaknessinthe
basisonwhichtheyleveledtheirattackagainstthevalidityofs.5inthecourtbelow.

37.Beside,itissignificantthatthepropertyinrespectofwhichtheclaimhasbeenmadebytherespondentsis
onlythepropertyconsistingofofferingsmadeeitherinoroutsidetheshrine.Wehavealreadyseenthatthe
DurgahEndowmentcontainsseveralotheritemsofpropertyandnoneoftheseitemsexcepttheofferingshas
beenreferredtointhepetition,andthatreasonablysuggeststhattherespondentswereconsciousthattheother
itemsofpropertythoughtheyformedpartoftheDurgahEndowmentwereneverinthemanagementofthe
denominationassuchandsoastowhichtheycouldlegallymakenoclaim.Thatisanotherinfirmityinthe
claimmadebytherespondentsinchallengingtheviresofs.5.

38.However,wehaveallowedMr.Pathaktoarguethispartoftherespondents'caseonthebroadandgeneral
groundthattheChishtiaSoofiesconstituteeitheradenominationorasectionofadenominationandassuch
theyareentitledtoadministerandmanageallthepropertiesoftheDurgahincludingtheofferingstowhich
specificreferencehasbeenmadeinthepetitionbytherespondents.Thechallengethuspresentedtothevires
ofs.5andothersubsidiarysectionsdealingwiththepowersoftheCommitteecannotsucceedforthesimple
andobviousreasonthatthedenominationneverhadtherighttoadministerthesaidpropertyinquestion.We
have already seen how the history of the administration of the Durgah Endowment from the time the first
endowmentwasmadedowntothedateoftheActclearlyshowsthattheendowmentshavealwaysbeenmade
on such terms as did not confer on the denomination the right to manage the properties endowed. The
managementofthepropertiesendowedwasalwaysinthehandsofofficersappointedbytheStatewhowere
answerabletotheStateandwhowereremovablebytheStateattheState'spleasure.Wehavealreadyseen
thatuntilAkbarmadehisendowmentinfavouroftheDurgahthepositionoftheDurgahanditsproperties
wasverymodestandtherewashardlyanypropertytomanageoradminister.Eversincethefirstendowment
we made and subsequent additions by similar endowments followed the administration and management of
the property has been consistent with the same pattern and the said pattern excludes any claim that the
administrationofthepropertyinquestionwaseverinthehandsofthesaiddenomination.Itisobviousthat
Art. 26(c) and (d) do not create rights in any denomination or its section which it never had they merely
safeguardandguaranteethecontinuanceofrightswhichsuchdenominationoritssectionhad.Inotherwords,
if the denomination never had the right to manage the properties endowed in favour of a denominational
institutionasforinstancebyreasonofthetermsonwhichtheendowmentwascreateditcannotbeheardto
say that it has acquired the said rights as a result of Art. 26(c) and (d), and that the practice and custom
prevailinginthatbehalfwhichobviouslyisconsistentwiththetermsoftheendowmentshouldbeignoredor
treatedasinvalidandtheadministrationandmanagementshouldnowbegiventothedenomination.Sucha
claim is plainly inconsistent with the provisions of Art. 26. If the right to administer the properties never
vested in the denomination or had been validly surrendered by it or has otherwise been effectively and
irretrievablylosttoitArt.26cannotbesuccessfullyinvoked.Thehistoryoftheadministrationoftheproperty
endowed to the tomb in the present case which is spread over nearly Four Centuries is sufficient to raise a
legitimateinferenceabouttheoriginofthetermsofonwhichtheendowmentswerefounded,anoriginwhich
isinconsistentwithanyrightssubsistinginthedenominationstoadministerthepropertiesbelongingtothe
institution.Itwasbecausetherespondentswerefullyconsciousofthisdifficultythattheydidnotadoptthis
broadbasisofchallengeintheirwritpetition.Inconsideringthisquestionitisessentialtorememberthatthe
pilgrimstothetombhaveatnotimebeenconfinedtoChishtiaSoofiesnortomuslimsbutthatinfactalarge
numberofHindus,KhojaMemonsandParsisvisitthetomboutofdevotionforthememoryofthedeparted
saint and it is this large cosmopolitan circle of pilgrims which should in law be held to be the circle of
beneficiaries of the endowment made to the tomb. This fact inevitably puts a different complexion on the
whole problem. We must, therefore, hold that the challenge to the vires of s. 5 and the subsidiary sections
whichdealwiththepowersoftheCommitteeonthegroundthatthesaidprovisionsviolatethefundamental
rightguaranteedtothedenominationrepresentedbytherespondentsunderArt.26(c)and(d)fails.

39. That takes us to the other principal challenge based on Art. 19(1)(f) and (g). This challenge is directed
partly against clause (v) in s. 2(d) which defines a Durgah Endowment. We have already seen that by this
clauseallsuchNazarsorofferingsasarereceivedonbehalfoftheDurgahbytheNazimoranyotherperson
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authorisedbyhimareincludedintheDurgahEndowment.Section14maybereadalongwiththisdefinition.
ThissectionconferspowerontheNazimorhisagenttosolicitorreceiveofferingsonbehalfoftheDurgah
andprohibitsanyotherpersonfromsolicitingsuchofferings.Therespondentscontendthattheseprovisions
infringe their fundamental right to property inasmuch as offerings or Nazars which under the custom
judiciallyrecognisedwouldhavegonetothemarenowsoughttobedivertedtotheDurgahtotheirdetriment.
Thisargumentproceedsontheassumptionthatitisonlyparticularpresentsmadeforcertainspecificpurpose
oftheDurgahthatwouldbelongtotheDurgahandthattherestoftheofferingswouldbedivisiblebetween
theKhadimsandtheSajjadanashinsasdirectedintheearlierlitigationtowhichwehavealreadyreferred.If
theassumptionmadebytherespondentswaswellfoundedthattheeffectofthesaiddecisionwastolimitthe
rightoftheDurgahonlytothereceiptofthespecificarticlesforspecificpurposesthenofcoursetherewould
havebeenconsiderableforceintheargumentthats.2(d)(v)ands.14seektoaugmentthatrightandtothat
extent diminish or prejudicially affect the rights of the respondents. But, as we have already indicated, the
decisionoftheJudicialCommissioneraswellasthatofthePrivyCouncildonotsupporttheclaimmadeon
behalfoftherespondents.Evenunderthesaiddecisions,specificarticlesgivenforspecificpurposesaswell
asofferingsmadeforthegeneralpurposeoftheDurgahandearmarkedforitalwaysbelongedtotheDurgah
anditisonlytheseofferingswhichareincludedwithinthedefinitionoftheDurgahEndowmentbys.2(d)(v).
Offerings or Nazars which are paid to the Durgah and as such received on behalf of the Durgah constitute
DurgahEndowmentands.14 authorises the Nazim or his agent to receive such offerings and prohibit any
otherpersonfromreceivingthem.Inotherwords,theeffectofthetwoprovisionsisthatwhenofferingsare
madeearmarkedgenerallyfortheDurgahtheybelongtotheDurgahandsuchofferingscanbereceivedonly
by the Nazim or his agent and by nobody else. It is clear that these offerings never belonged to the
respondents and they can therefore have no grievance against either s. 2(d)(v) or s. 14. That is a matter
concerningthepropertyoftheDurgahanditisopentotheLegislaturetoregulatebyprovidingthatthesaid
offerings can be solicited by the Nazim or his agent and by no one else. The Khadims' right to receive
offerings which has been judicially recognised is in no manner affected or prejudiced by the impugned
provisions.EvenaftertheActcameintoforcepilgrimsmightandwouldmakeofferingstotheKhadimsand
thereisnoprovisionintheActwhichpreventsthemfromacceptingsuchofferingswhenmade.Therefore,in
ouropinion,thechallengetotheviresofthesetwoprovisionsmustalsofail.

40.Beforewepartwiths.2(d)(v)itmaybepertinenttoobservethatinsubstancetherelevantportionofthe
definition of the Durgah Endowment is the same as in the earlier Act. Under the earlier Act only such
offerings as were intended explicitly for the use of the Durgah were included in the Durgah Endowment,
whileunders.2(d)(v)allMazarsandofferingswhicharereceivedonbehalfoftheDurgaharesoincluded.
Theomissionoftheword"explicitly"fromthepresentdefinitionismerelyintendedtomakeitclearthatif
from the nature of the offering or the circumstances surrounding the making of the offering or from other
relevantfactsitappearsthattheofferingwasmadeforthepurposeoftheDurgahandwasacceptedonbehalf
oftheDurgahassuchitwouldbeanitemoftheDurgahEndowmentthoughtheofferingmaynothavebeen
explicitly made for the Durgah as such but the broad idea underlying both the definitions is that where
offeringsaremadeapartfromthegiftofspecificarticlesintendedforspecificpurposesoftheDurgahanditis
foundthattheyareearmarkedortheintendedfortheDurgahforthegeneralpurposesoftheinstitutionthey
wouldconstituteapartoftheDurgahEndowment.Thereforethecontentionthatbyenlargingthedefinitionof
DurgahEndowments.2(d)(v)hasmadeanencroachmentonthefundamentalrightsoftherespondentsisnot
atallwellfounded.

41. That takes us to s. 11(f) and (h). The challenge to the vires of these two provisions proceeds on the
assumptionthattheyencroachuponthefundamentalrightoftherespondentsunderArt.25(1).Itisurgedthat
theCommitteehasbeengivenpowerbytheseprovisionstodeterminetheprivilegesoftheKhadimsaswella
the functions and powers, if any, which the Sajjadanashin may exercise in relation to the Durgah and that
means infringement of the freedom of the Khadims to practice their religion according to the custom and
according to their concept. We are not impressed by this argument. What the relevant provisions intend to
achieveistheregulationofthedischargeofdutiesbytheKhadimsandthedischargeoffunctionsandpowers
bytheSajjadanashin.ItiscommongroundthattheKhadimsdischargedtheirdutiesbyrotationandthatitself
provesthatsomeregulationisnecessary,andsotheimpugnedprovisionsmerelyprovidefortheregulationof

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the discharge of the duties by the Khadims and nothing more, and so the plea that the freedom to practice
religionguaranteedbyArt.25(1)hasbeenviolateddoesnotappeartobewellfounded.

42.Inthisconnectionweoughttorefertos.15whichmakesitobligatoryfortheCommitteeinexerciseofits
powersanddischargeofitsdutiestofollowtherulesofMuslimlawapplicabletoHanafimuslimsinIndia,
andsoalltheceremoniesintheDurgahhavenecessarilytobeconductedandregulatedinaccordancewiththe
tenets of the Chishti saint. The powers conferred on the Committee by s. 11(f) and (h) must be read in the
lightofthemandatoryprovisionsofs.15.Thusreadtheapprehensionthatthefundamentalrighttofreedom
ofreligionisinfringedbythesaidprovisionswillclearlyappeartobewhollyunjustified.

43.Thereisyetanothersectionwhichisrelevantindealingwiththepresentpoint,andthatiss.16.Unders.
16arbitrationisprovidedforwhendisputesarisebetweentheCommitteeontheonepartandtheKhadims
andothersontheother.Thisprovisionappliestoalldisputesexceptthosethatrelatetoanyreligioususageor
customortotheperformanceofanyreligiousoffice.Inotherwords,disputesinregardtopsecularmattersare
leftforthedecisionofthearbitrators,andthat,inouropinion,isaverysensibleprovision.Thecomposition
oftheBoardofArbitrationisbasedonwellrecognisedprinciplesthetwopartiestothedisputenametheir
respectivenomineesandanimpartialmemberisrequiredtobeappointedontheBoardwiththequalifications
specifiedbys.16(1)(iii).Theargumentthats.16offendsagainstthefundamentalrightguaranteedbyArt.14
readwithArt.32seemstoustobewhollyuntenable.Thepolicyunderlyings.16isinouropinionhealthy
andunexceptionableandsotheprovisionsofs.16canbesustainedonthegroundthattheyareobviouslyin
theinterestoftheinstitutionaswellasthepartiesconcerned.Theprovisionsforcompulsoryadjudicationby
arbitrationarenotunknownanditwouldbeidletocontendthattheyoffendagainstArt.14readwithArt.32.

44. If a dispute rises between the Committee and the Khadims in regard to a religious matter it would
necessarilyhavetobedecidedinaccordancewiththeordinarylawandinordinarycivilcourtsofcompetent
jurisdiction. Such a dispute is outside the purview of s. 16 and indeed, in respect of such a dispute the
Committee is not authorised to make any orders or issue any directions at all. Therefore the conclusion
appears to us to be inescapable that the provisions of s. 11(f) and (h) are valid and do not suffer from any
constitutionalinfirmity.

45. The next section which is challenged is s. 13(1). The validity of this section has not been specifically
attackedinthepetitionbutevensosincethewholeoftheActhasinageneralwaybeenchallengedwehave
allowed Mr. Pathak to urge his arguments against the validity of s. 13(1). Section 13(1) authorises the
Committee to make provisional interim arrangement if a vacancy occurs in the office of the Sajjadanashin.
Now,inconsideringthescopeandeffectofthisprovisionitcannotbereadapartfromtheprovisionsofthe
remaining subsections of s. 13. Section 13 is really intended to lay down the procedure for determining
disputesastothesuccessiontotheofficeoftheSajjadanashin.Thatisthemainobjectofthesection,butifa
vacancyoccurssuddenlyasitalwayswillinthecaseofdeathforinstancesomeinterimarrangementmust
obviously be made and all that s. 13(1) empowers the Committee to so is to make an appropriate interim
arrangement in that behalf and to proceed to take the necessary steps for the appointment of a permanent
successorasprescribedbytheotherprovisionsofs.13.Thereforeitisfutiletocontendthats.13(1)offends
againstArt.25(1)oftheConstitution.

46.Section14isattackedonthegroundthatitviolatestherespondents'righttopropertyunderArt.19(1)(f).
Wehavealreadydiscussedthisquestionindealingwiths.2(d)(v).Aswehavepointedoutallthats.14does
istocreateastatutoryrightintheNazimorhisagenttosolicitandreceiveofferingsonbehalfoftheDurgah.
Thatdoesnotaffecttherightoftherespondentstoreceiveofferingspaidtothembythepilgrimsvisitingthe
Durgah.Therespondentscannotpossiblyclaimarighttosolicitorreceiveofferingsintendedforthebenefit
of the Durgah. In fact no such claim has been made in the petition and no such claim can be made at all.
Thereforethevalidityofs.14isnotshakenbythechallengemadebytherespondentsunderArt.19(1)(f).

47. That leaves only one section to be considered, and that is s. 18. It is urged that s. 18 also violates the
fundamentalrightsguaranteedtotherespondentsunderArts.14and32oftheConstitution.Itisdifficultto
appreciatetheargument.Itmaybeconcededthats.18issomewhatclumsilyworded.Thefinalorderswhose
enforcementisprovidedforbys.18wouldappeartobefinalorderspassedinmatterswithinthecompetence
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oftheCommitteeastowhichnodisputeisraisedbythepersonsagainstwhomthesaidordersarepassed.We
havealreadyseenthatifdisputesariseinrespectofanymatterslefttothejurisdictionoftheCommitteeand
theyarenotofareligiouscharacterthentheyhavetobereferredtoarbitrationprovidedforbys.16,andin
thatcaseitistheawardpassedbytheBoardofArbitrationthatwouldbeinforce.Ifdisputesarisebetween
thepartiesonanyreligiousmatterstheywillhavetobedecidedinaccordancewithlawintheordinarycivil
courtsofcompetentjurisdictionandsodecisionsinthesedisputesarealsooutsides.18.Thusconsideredthe
scope of s. 18 would be confined only to such final orders as are passed by the Committee within its
jurisdictionagainstpersonswhodonotobjecttothembutwhofailtocomplywiththem.Ifthatisthescopeof
s. 18, as we hold it is, it is idle to contend that either Art. 14 or Art. 32 or the two read together are
contravened.

48. During the course of his argument Mr. Pathak emphasised the fact that though the provisions of the
enactmentmaybewithinthefourcornersoftheConstitutionandnoneoftheimpugnedprovisionsmaybe
foundtobeultravireshisclientswereapprehensivethatinfactandinpracticetheirrightstoreceiveofferings
wouldbeprejudiciallyaffected.Thatisamatteronwhichweproposetoexpressnoopinion.Allthatweare
concernedtoseeiswhetherthelegalrightsoftherespondentsorofthesectionofthedenominationtheyseek
to represent are prejudicially affected by the impugned legislation contrary to the provisions of the
Constitution and a careful examination of the relevant sections in the light of the criticisms made by Mr.
Pathakagainstthemhassatisfiedusthatnoneoftheimpugnedsectionscanbesaidtobeunconstitutional.If
asaresultoftheenforcementofthepresentActincidentallymoreofferingsarepaidtotheDurgahandare
receivedonbehalfoftheDurgahthatisaconsequencewhichtherespondentsmayregardasunfortunatebut
whichintroducesnoinfirmityinthevalidityoftheAct.

49.Intheresulttheappealisallowed,theorderissuedbytheHighCourtissetasideandthepetitionfiledby
therespondentsdismissedwithcoststhroughout.

50.Appealallowed.

ManupatraInformationSolutionsPvt.Ltd.

MANU/SC/0061/1983

INTHESUPREMECOURTOFINDIA

CivilAppealNo.3118of1981

DecidedOn:16.12.1983

Appellants:KailashSonkar
Vs.
Respondent:Smt.MayaDevi

Hon'bleJudges/Coram:
M.P.Thakkar ,R.B.Misra andS.MurtazaFazalAli ,JJ.

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Counsels:
ForAppellant/Petitioner/Plaintiff:U.R.LalitandA.K.Sanghi,Advs

ForRespondents/Defendant:G.B.PaiandVineetKumar,Advs.

Subject:Constitution

CatchWords

MentionedIN

Acts/Rules/Orders:
Constitution(ScheduleCastes)Order,1950

CasesReferred:
C.M. Arumugam vs. S. Rajgopal and Ors. MANU/SC/0283/1975 Chatturbhuj Vithaldas Jasani vs.
Moreshwar Parashram and Ors. MANU/SC/0092/1954 S. Rajagopal vs. C.M. Armugam and Ors.
MANU/SC/0360/1968 G. Michael vs. Mr. S. Venkateswaran, Additional Secretary to Government, Public
(Elections)Department,FortSt.George,MadrasMANU/TN/0198/1952DippalaSuriDoravs.V.V.Giriand
othersMANU/AP/0167/1958Ganpatvs.ReturningOfficerandOrs.MANU/SC/0265/1974

PriorHistory:
From the Judgment and Order dated September 25, 1981 of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Election
PetitionNo.2of1980

Disposition:
AppealDismissed

CitingReference:

Discussed 9

Mentioned 2

CaseNote:
ElectionValidityofIsmembershipincastetobedeterminedbybirthorbyopinionofitsmembers
anddoesonelosehiscasteonconversion?Held,appellantadmittedthattherearefivesixthousands
people of katia caste He did not make any enquiries about parents of respondent Considering
evidence it is clear that appellant was aware that respondent had been reconverted to Hinduism and
hadbeenacceptedbyKatiacommunityItappearsthatrespondentwasbornofChristianparents
Four years before election respondent was reconverted to Hinduism Respondent was not only
acceptedbutalsowelcomedbyimportantmembersofcommunityThereisnoevidencetoshowthat
therewasanybarunderChristianreligionwhichcouldhavepreventedherfromreconvertingherself
to Hinduism There was no evidence to show that even her parents had been Christians from
generation to generation Therefore matter fulfils conditions required for being reconverted to
Hinduism from Christianity in order to revive original caste It is not disputed that Katia caste is
mentioned as scheduled caste Therefore it cannot be said that at time when respondent filed her
nomination papers, she was not member of Katia caste Therefore impugned order affirmed and
appealdismissed

JUDGMENT

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S.MurtazaFazalAli,J.

1.ByourOrderdatedOctober.20,1983,wehaddismissedtheappeal.Wenowproceedtogiveourreasons
forthesame.

2.ThevictoryofourlongdrawnstruggleforfreedomfromtheBritishyokecametousafteroneandahalf
centuryofperpetualandconstanteffortssoakedincoldbloodanddippedinsupremesacrifice.Thehistorical
midnightofAugust15,1947,whichusheredinanewera,wasmerelyacompletionofaphaseandnottheend
ofanepochbutonlythebeginningoftheend.

3. Soon thereafter the wise wizards and the founding fathers of our Constitution set out to devote their
wholehearted attention to devise ways and means to give to our subcontinent a solid and comprehensive
Constitutionwhichmaysolvemultifariousandmanifolddifficulties,fulfiltheburningneedsofthenationand
sortoutcomplexandcomplicatedproblemswhicharoseafterourhardwonfreedomwhichmusthavebaffled
our leaders. There was the question of achieving a secular democracy the largest in the world, based on a
socialistpatternwhichwouldtakecareofallsortsandkindsofpeoplehavingdifferentcultures,languages
and religions to confer and guarantee fundamental rights of citizens through mandatory provisions, to lay
downdirectiveprinciplesofStatePolicywhichweretobetheguidingspiritoftheConstitution,thequestion
ofachievingagrarianreformsbydisplacingtheoldBritishbureaucraticsystemandsubstitutinganeworder,
theissueofreconcilingtheirreconcilableandvariousotherthornyandtrickymatters.Oneoftheimportant
objectives to be translated into action was to take special care of the backward classes, members of the
scheduledcastesandtribesbybringingthemtotheforethroughpragmaticreformsandprovidingadequate
opportunitiesfortheirameliorationanddevelopment,education,employmentandthelike.

4. As Mahatma Gandhi, father of the nation, said "India lives in villages" and so do the backward classes,
hence the primary task was to take constructive steps in order to boost up these classes by giving them
adequateconcessions,opportunities,facilitiesandrepresentationintheservicesand,lastbutnottheleast,in
theelectoratesothattheirvoicesandviews,grievancesandneedsintheParliamentandStatelegislaturesin
thecountrymaybeheard,feltandfulfilled.

5.InthiselectionappealwhichhasbeenfiledagainsttheJudgmentdatedOctober25,1981oftheHighCourt
ofMadhyaPradesh,wearereallyconcernedwiththelastaspectmentionedabove.Despiteoddsandendsour
Constitution has made exhaustive provisions for achieving these ends and how far they have been
implemented is difficult to say, for this is really a herculean task and one cannot expect miracles to be
performedwithinaspanofthreedecadeswhichinthehistoryofnations,isnotaverylongperiod.Theknotty
and difficult, puzzling and intricate issue with which we are faced is, to put it shortly, 'what happens if a
memberofascheduledcasteortribeleaveshisPresentfold(Hinduism)andembracesChristianityorIslamor
anyotherreligion'doesthisamounttoacompletelossoftheoriginalcastetowhichhebelongedforeverand,
if so, if he or his children choose to abjure the new religion and get reconverted to the old religion after
performingthenecessaryritesandceremonies,couldtheoriginalcasterevive?Theseriousquestionposed
here arose and has formed the subjectmatter of a large catena of decisions starting from the year 1861,
traversingaperiodofaboutacenturyandahalf,andculminatinginadecisionofthisCourtinthecaseof
G.M.Arumugamv.S.RajagopalandOrs.MANU/SC/0283/1975:[1976]3SCR82.

6. The Constitution has tried to solve the problem to a great extent by the Constitution (Scheduled Castes)
Order1950(hereinafterreferredtoasthe'1950Order')issuedunderArticle341,whichlaysdownalistof
variouscastesprevailinginthecountryandthenormstodeterminethesame.ThisOrderhasbeenamended
from time to time. In our opinion, despite a genuine attempt to solve the problem the provisions do not
provideacompleteanswertothejudicialinterpretationbythisCourtwhichlaysdownthelawoftheland.

7.ItistruethatthecontroversyhasbeennarroweddowntotheminimumbythedecisioninArumugan'scase
(supra) still there are some vital questions which remain unanswered. Before dealing with the cases on the
subjectandstartingthechapteroftheissuesinvolvedinthiscase,itmaybegermanetogiveashorthistoryof
thenature,character,originandbackgroundofthecontroversy.Tobeginwith,thecastesystemactuallycame
into existence since the dawn of the civilized races in this country, viz., Dravidian followed by Aryan
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civilization which through Hinduism divided by castes into three clear cut subdivisions which started by
virtueoftheoccupationalpursuitsfollowedbythevariousclasses.Thepriestsandthescholarswereknown
astheBhrahmanasandlookedafterreligiousceremonies,education,etc.ThisClasswassupposedtobethe
highest Class or atleast respected and regarded as such. Then came the Kshatriyas who were the people
engagedinfightingwarsandrulingandadministeringtheStates.Thirdy,thereweretheVaisayaswhocarried
ontheoccupationoftradeandcommerce.TheSudraswereaddedasthefourthClassafterfusionofthepre
Dravidian with the Dravidian and Aryan civilizations which formed the basic fabric of Hinduism and the
HindusocietyThisClasswastreatedasalittleinferiorandsufferedfromcertaindisabilities.

8. In fact, it seems to us that our large subcontinent was inhabited by a very large variety of peoples and
facesindigenous and outsidersconsisting of Scythians, Yavanas, Kirathas, Kambhojas and Persians and
otherswhocametoIndiainancienttimesandgotmixedupwiththeoldinhabitantsofthecountryandthus
completelylosttheiridentity.ItappearstousthatalltheseracesenteredthewideandbroadfoldofHinduism,
whichisnotonlyareligionbutalsoawayorpoetryoflife,aphilosophy,anexhaustiveandethicalcodeof
livingwhichadaptsitselftoallformsandcultures.Inviewofthiscomplexinterminglingofvariouskindsof
people, as time went by, castes started multiplying, and in this process the avocations and occupations
followedbymembersofsuchcastesfromgenerationtogenerationwerelabelledasaseparateclasstowhich
thepeoplepractisingvariousprofessionsbelongedandthisinstitutionhadcometostay.Theorigin,therefore
ofthefundamentalbasisofthecasteshasnowdisappearedandgivenrisetoindividualismandseparatismasa
resultofwhichitwasdulyrecognisedbyallschoolsofHinduthoughtthatbirthalonewoulddeterminethe
caste and this principle would have to continue unless the concept of caste is banished for ever. In other
words,itisnowwellsettledwhetheroneacceptsitornotthatcasteistheresultofbirthandnotofchoiceor
volition.Withouttraversingonanycontroversialissueandcomingbacktotheoriginofthecastesystem,we
wouldliketorefertothemostauthoritativepronouncementsordainedbyLordKrishnainShreeBhagvadgita
whichwoulddemonstratethatthedivisionofcasteswasmadepurelyonthebasisofinherentqualitiesand
avocationsofapersonandhencethequestionofsuperioritybetweenoneortheotherlaynotonthenatureof
the caste but on their actions and deeds. This would be illustrated by a reference to the actual text of Shri
BhagvadgitaascompiledbyF.MaxMullerinhisbookentitled'SacredBooksoftheEast(Vol.VIII)'andwe
wouldliketoextractsomepassagesandinjunctionsofLordKrishnaillustratingthevicesandvirtuesofmen
wherecastesalsofigure.InShloka13,Chapter4ofBhagvadaGeeta,LordKrishnaclearlyproclaimedthat
"FourVarnas,viz.,Brahmanas,Kshtriyas,VaisyasandSudraswerecreatedbyhimonthebasisofinherent
qualitiesandavocationsofaparticularindividual".(TranslatedintoEnglishfromtheoriginaltextinHindi).

FurthersaidLordKrishnatothesonofKuntithus:

Whateveryoudo,O'SonofKunti:Whateveryoueat,whateverScarifiesyoumake,whateveryougive,
whateverpenanceyou,dothatasofferedtome...Iamaliketoallbeingstomenoneishateful,none
dear. But those who worship me with devotion (dwell) in me, and I too in them. Even if a very ill
conductedmanworshipsme,notworshippinganyoneelse,hemustcertainlybedeemedtobegood,for
hehaswellresolved....(Youmay)affirm,OsonofKunti:thatmydevoteeisneverruined.For,Oson
of Pritha : even those who are of sinful birth, women, Vaisyas and Sudras likewise, resorting to me,
attain the supreme goal. What then (need be said of) holy Brahmanas and royal saints who are (my)
devotees?

9. These passages clearly go to confirm the true philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi that the Sudras or the
members of the scheduled castes are Harijans and he condemned untouchability and the habit of looking
down upon the scheduled caste people merely because they belonged to the Sudra caste. Further, Lord
Krishnagoesontoordainasfollows:

The duties of Brahmanas, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas, and of Sudras, too, O terror of your foes are
distinguished according to the qualities born of nature. Tranquility, restraint of the senses, penance,
purity, forgiveness, straight forwardness, also knowledge, experience, and belief (in a future world),
thisisthenaturaldulyofBrahnianas.Valour,glory,courage,dexterity,notaslinkingawayfrombattle
gifts,exerciseoflordlypower,thisisthenaturaldutyofKshatriyas.Agriculture,tendingcattle,trade,
(this) is the natural duty of Vaisyas. And the natural duty of Sudras, too, consists in service. (Every)

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manintentonhisownrespectivedutiesobtainsperfection....Worshipping,by(theperformanceof)his
own duty, him from whom all things proceed, and by whom all this is permeated, a man obtains
perfection.

10.Inanotherchapter,Viduraisquotedassayingthus:

IambornofaSudrawomb,anddonotliketosaymorethanwhat(Ihavesaid').Buttheintelligenceof
that youth, I believe to be eternal. He who has come of a Brahmana womb, even though he may
proclaimagreatmystery,doesnottherebybecomeliabletothecensureofthegods.ThereforedoIsay
thistoyou.

InviewoftherevealedinjunctionsintheShreeBhagavadgitaMahatmaGandhi'sdreamthatalldistinctionsof
castesandcreedmustdisappearandmanmustbeknownbyhisaction,towhatevercastehemaybelong,has
been realised to some extent and necessary provisions to this effect have been made in the Constitution in
ordertosafeguardtheinterestsofthebackwardclassesandmembersofthescheduledcastesandscheduled
tribes and perhaps, let us hope, a day comes when the distinction between caste and creed disappears
completely.

Oneofthemostpuzzlingquestionthatarisesinthiscaseis:

'Ismembershipinacasteortribetobedeterminedsolelybybirthorbyallegianceorbytheopinionof
itsmembersoroftheneighbourhood?Doesonelosehiscasteonconversionorbyexcommunication?

11. The decisions to which we would refer hereafter have thrown flood of light on these questions and the
generally accepted view seems to be the one which has been laid down in Charlotte Abraham and Daniel
VincentAbrahamv.FrancisAbraham9M.I.A.199wherethePrivyCouncilobservedthus:

Itisplainthatnoruleastosuchuseandenjoyment,whichtheancestorsmayvoluntarilyhaveimposed
onthemselves,couldbeofcompulsoryobligationonadescendantoftheirs,acquiringhisownwealth.
IfaHindooinanundividedfamilymaykeephisownsoleacquisitionsseparate,asheundoubtedlymay,
afortioriaChristianmaydothesame....Ifthespiritofanadoptedreligionimprovesthosewhobecome
converts to it, and they reject, from conscience, customs to which their first converted ancestors'
adhered,musttheabandonedusagesbeassortbyassortoffictiojurisasstilltheenduringcustomsof
thefamily.

12.SofarasthisCourtisconcerned,thesequestionswereclearlyansweredinChaturbhujVithahlasJasaniv.
MoreshwarParashramandOrs.MANU/SC/0092/1954:[1954]1SCR817,(hereinafterreferredtoas'Jasani's,
case'whereatripletestwaslaiddownthus:

Lookedatfromthesecularpointofview,therearethreefactorswhichhavetobeconsidered:

(1)thereactionsoftheoldbody,(2)theintentionsoftheindividualhimselfand(3)therulesofthe
new order. If the old order is tolerant of the new faith and sees no reason to outcaste or ex
communicate the convert and the individual himself desires and intends to retain his old social and
politicalties,theconversionisonlynominalforallpracticalpurposesandwhenwehavetoconsider
thelegalandpoliticalrightsoftheoldbodytheviewsofthenewfaithhardlymatter....Ontheother
hand, if the convert has shown by his conduct and dealings that his break from the old order is so
complete and final that he no longer regards himself as a member of the old body and there is
reconversion and readmittance to the old fold, it would be wrong to hold that he can nevertheless
claim temporal privileges and political advantages which are special to the old order.... The only
modificationhereisthatitisnotonlyhischoicewhichmustbetakenintoaccountbutalsotheviews
ofthebodywhosereligioustenetshehasrenounced,becauseheretherightweareconsideringisthe
rightoftheoldbody,therightconferredonitasaspecialprivilegetosendamemberofitsownfold
toParliament.

13.Theobservationscitedabovegivethegeneraltestthatcanbeappliedinjudgingthequestionastowhena
Hinduonconversionloseshiscaste.Althoughthetestlaiddownbythiscaseisfullysupportedbytheoriginal
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text of Hindu Law, it does not in so many words answer the other side of the picture, viz, if a Hindu after
conversiontoanotherreligionisreconvertedtohisoriginalfold,couldhiscasterevive?Infact,thecasecited
abovewasnotacaseofconversionfromonereligiontoanotherreligionorfromonesecttoanothersect.

14.Byandlarge,thetestlaiddowninthatcasecanbeusefullyappliedwithalterationsandmodificationsto
suitthefactsofaparticularcaseinjudgingthequestionwhetheronconversionthecasteiscompletelylost.

15. The next case which throws some light on the question is S. Rajagopal v. C.M. Armugam Ors.
MANU/SC/0360/1968:[1969]1SCR254.Inthiscasewhathadhappenedwasthattheappellant(beforethe
Supreme Court) had filed his nomination papers for a constituency reserved for members of the scheduled
castementionedunderthe1950OrderbuthewasdefeatedbyrespondentNo.1ofthatcase,whosepetition
succeeded.ThecontentioninthepetitionwasthattheappellantwasnotaHindubutaChristianandtherefore
notqualifiedtobeacandidateforaconstituencyreservedforscheduledcaste.TheHighCourtfoundasafact
thattheappellanthadbecomeaChristianin1949andhislaterreconversiontoHinduismremainedunproved.

16.ThisCourtsagreeingwiththeHighCourtdismissedtheappeal.Oneimportantfeatureofthiscasemaybe
notedwhichwouldatoncedistinguishthiscasefromthefactsofthepresentcase.Thequestionastowhether
aChristianonbeingreconvertedtoHinduismwouldgetbackhiscastedidnotariseatallinthatcasebecause
on the facts found, reconversion was not proved Therefore, the question of caste being acquired or being
revivedonreconversiontoHinduismdidnotfallfordeterminationandwasleftopen.Evenso,considering
Jasani'scaseandanumberofothertexts,Bhargava,J.madethefollowingobservations:

Considering the question of entry into the caste, Krishnaswami Ayyangar, J., held that, in matters
affectingthewellbeingorcompositionofacaste,thecasteitselfisthesupremejudge.Itwasonthis
principle that a reconvert to Hinduism could become a member of the caste, if the caste itself as the
supremejudgeacceptedhimasafullmemberofit.

17. While holding that if a person is reconverted to Hinduism and the community of the caste to which he
originallybelongedacceptshim,hiscastewouldreviveneverthelessthequestionwasleftopen.Rajagopal's
case(supra)merelyreiterateswhatwasheldinJasani'scaseanddoesnotgoanyfurther.

18. In our opinion, there is one aspect which does not appear to have been dealt with by any of the cases
discussed by us. Suppose, A, a member of the scheduled caste, is converted to Christianity and marries a
Christiangirlandadaughterisborntohimwho,accordingtothetenetsofChristianreligion,isbaptisedand
educated.AftershehasattainedtheageofdiscretionshedecidesofherownvolitiontoreembraceHinduism,
shouldinsuchacaserevivalofthecastedependontheviewsofthemembersofthecommunityofthecaste
concernedorwoulditautomaticallyreviveonherreconversionifthesameisgenuineandfollowedbythe
necessaryritesandceremonies?Inotherwords,isitnotopenforB(thedaughter)tosaythatbecauseshewas
bornofChristianparentstheirreligioncannotbethrustonherwhenafterattainingtheageofdiscretionand
gainingsomeknowledgeoftheworldaffairs,shedecidestoreverttoheroldreligion.Itwasnotherfaultthat
shewasbornofChristianparentsandbaptisedatatimewhenshewasstillaminorandknewnothingabout
the religion. Therefore, should the revival of the caste depend on the whim or will of the members of the
community of her original caste or she would lose her caste for ever merely because fortunately or
unfortunatelyshewasborninaChristianfamily?Withduerespect,ourconfirmedopinionisthatalthough
theviewsofthemembersofthecommunitywouldbeanimportantfactor,theirviewsshouldnotbeallowed
to a complete loss of the caste to which B belonged. Indeed, if too much stress is laid on the views of the
membersofthecommunitythesamemayleadtodangerousexploitation.Perhaps,thisfactorwaspresentin
the mind of Bhagwati, J., who delivered the leading judgment in a later decision of this Court in G.M.
Arumugamv.S.RajagopalandOrs.MANU/SC/0283/1975:[1976]3SCR82where,speakingfortheCourt,
hemadethefollowingobservations:

Itissufficienttostatethatoriginallytherewereonlyfourmaincastes,butgraduallycastesandsub
castes multiplied as the social fabric expanded with the absorption of different groups of people
belonging to various cults and professing different religious faiths. The caste system in its early
stageswasquiteelasticbutincourseoftimeitgraduallyhardenedintoarigidframeworkbasedupon

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heredity....Butthatimmediatelyraisesthequestionwhatisacaste.Whenwespeakofacaste,we
do not mean to refer in this context to the four primary castes, but to the multiplicity of castes and
subcastes which disfigure the Indian social scene.... A caste is more a social combination than a
religiousgroup.

Butfromthatitdoesnotnecessarilyfollowasaninvariablerulethatwheneverapersonrenounces
Hinduismandembracesanotherreligiousfaith,heautomaticallyceasestobeamemberofthecaste
inwhichhewasbornandtowhichhebelongedpriortohisconversion....Ifthestructureofthecaste
issuchthatitsmembermustnecessarilybelongtoHindureligion,outofthecaste,becausenonon
Hindu can be in the caste according to its rules and regulations. Where, on the other hand, having
regard to its structure, as it has evolved over the years, a caste may consist not only of persons
professing Hindu religion but also persons professing some other religion as well, conversion from
Hinduismtothatotherreligionmaynotinvolvetossofcaste,becauseevenpersonsprofessingsuch
otherreligioncanbemembersofthecaste....ThisisindeednotaninfrequentphenomenoninSouth
India where, in some of the castes, even after conversion to Christianity, a person is regarded as
continuingtobelongtothecaste.

Therearecastes,particularlyinSouthIndia,wherethisconsequencedoesnotfollowonconversion,
sincesuchcastescomprisebothHindusandChristians.

19.Theseweightyobservationssupporttheviewthatafterreconversionthecastewillnormallyrevive.Onthe
questionwhetherthecastewillreviveifthemembersofthecommunityacceptsthereconvert,theJudgesare
silent. Although Bhagwati, J. held that prima facie on conversion to Christianity the respondent would not
ceasetobelongtotheAdiDravidacaste,yetherefrainedfromexpressinganyfinalopiniononthepoint.

20.InarecentdecisionofthisCourtS.Ambalaganv.B.DevarajanandOrs.[1984]1S.C.R..(whichwasalso
an election case), a threeJudge Bench reiterated the principles enunciated by Arumugan's case (supra) and
observedthus:

Unless the practice of the caste makes it necessary no expiatory rites need be performed and,
ordinarily, he regains his caste unless the community does not accept him.... The practice of caste
howeverirrationalitmayappeartoourreasonandhoweverrepugnantitmayappeartoourmoraland
social sense, is so deeprooted in the Indian people that its mark does not seem to Disappears on
conversiontoadifferentreligion.Ifitdisappears,itdisappearsonlytoreappearonreconversion....

Infact,thisprocessgoesoncontinuouslyinIndiaandgenerationbygenerationlostsheepappearto
returntothecastefoldandareonceagainassimilatedinthatfold.Thisappearstobeparticularlyso
in the case of members of the Scheduled Castes, who embrace other religions in their quest for
liberation, but return to their old religion on finding that their disabilities have clung to them with
greattenacity.

21.Thefactsofthiscaseappearstobeonallfourswiththefactsofthepresentcase.

22.AnumberofHighCourtshavealsotakenaviewsimilartotheonetakeninArumugam'scaseof1976
(supra)basingmainlytheirdecisionsontheleadingcaseofJasani.InthecaseofGoonaDurgaprasadaRao
andAnr.v.GoonaSudarsanaswamiandOrs.ILR1940Mad653,aDivisionBenchoftheMadrasHighCourt
observedthus:

ItishardlyrightfortheCourttoerectabarrierwhichtheautonomyofthecastedoesnotseefittodo,
simply because in some other caste or some other community it might be considered proper that an
expiatoryceremonyshouldbeperformed.ThataHinduhayingrenouncedHinduismoncecanrevertto
itscarcelyadmitsofdoubt.

23. A Similar view was expressed in G. Michael v. S. Venkateswaran MANU/TN/0198/1952 :


AIR1952Mad474whichmaybeextractedthus:

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"AmemberofoneofthecastesorsubcasteswhenheisconvertedtoIslamceasestobeamemberof
any caste. He becomes just a Mussalman find his place in Muslim society is not determined by the
castetowhichhebelongedbeforehisconversion.LearnedCounselalsoconcededthatgenerallythisis
soevenwhentherehasbeenaconversiontoChristianity.Buthesaidthattherewereseveralcasesin
whichamemberofoneofthelowercasteswhohasbeenconvertedtoChristianityhasContinuednot
onlytoconsiderhimselfasstillbeingamemberofthecaste,buthasalsobeenconsideredsobyother
members of the caste who had not been converted.... But these are all cases of exception and the
generalruleisconversionoperatesasanexpulsionfromthecasteinotherwords,aconvertceasesto
haveanycaste.

24. Thus, it was clearly hinted that in some cases even converts to Christianity could retain their original
caste. In the case of Dippala Suri Dora v. V.V. Giri MANU/AP/0167/1958 : AIR 1958 A.P. 724a Division
BenchoftheAndhraPradeshHighCourtmadethefollowingobservations:

EveniftheycomewithinthefoldofHinduism,questionwouldarisewhethertheyhaveformedseparate
sectamongthemselves,ortheywouldbelongtothe4thclass,ortothetwicebornclass....Inorderto
provethatheceasedtobeamemberofthattribe,thereshouldbefirstofall,evidenceofintention,the
reactions of the old body and that of the new body. Viewed in the light of these observations, the
evidencediscussedabove,inouropinion,fallsshortofthetest.

25.ThiscasemerelylaysdownthetripletestenunciatedinJasani'scase.Tothesameeffectarethedecisions
inthecasesofWilsonReadev.C.S.BoothandOrs.AIR1958Ass128,andB.Shyamsunderv.ShankarDeo
VedalankarandOrs.AIR1960Mys27.

26.Onacarefulconsiderationoftheauthoritiesreferredtoaboveandtheprinciplesenunciatedbythem,the
positionthatemergesmaybestatedthus:

27. It is true that a caste to which a Hindu belongs is essentially determined by birth and if a Hindu is
convertedtoChristianityoranyotherreligionwhichdoesnotrecognisecaste,theconversionamountstoa
lossofthesaidcaste.

28.Thequestionthatarisesforconsiderationiswhetherthelossofthecasteisabsolute,irrevocablesoasnot
toreviveunderanycircumstances?Inconsideringthisquestionthecourtshavegoneintothehistoryofthe
castesystemandhaveformulatedthefollowingguidingprinciplestodeterminethisquestion:

(a)Whereapersonbelongingtoascheduledcasteisconverted,toChristianityorIslam,thesameinvolves
lossofthecasteunlessthereligiontowhichheisconvertedisliberalenoughtopermittheconverteetoretain
his caste or the family laws by which he was originally governed. There are a number of cases where
membersbelongingtoaParticularcastehavingbeenconvertedtoChristianityoreventoIslamretaintheir
casteorfamilylawsanddespitethenewOrdertheywerepermittedtobegovernedbytheiroldlaws.Butthis
canhappenonlyifthenewreligionisliberalandtolerantenoughtopermitsuchacourseofaction.Wherethe
newreligion,howeverdoesnotatallacceptorbelieveinthecastesystem,thelossofthecastewouldbefinal
andcomplete.InalargeareaofSouthandsomeoftheNorthEasternStatesitisnotunusualtofindpersons
convertedtoChristianityretainingtheiroriginalcastewithoutviolatingthetenetsofthenewOrderwhichis
done as a matter of common practice existing from times immemorial. In such a category of cases, it is
obviousthatevenifapersonabjureshisoldreligionandisconvertedtoanewone,thereisnolossofcaste.
Moreover,itisacommon feature of many converts to a new religion to believeorhavefaithintheSaints
belonging to other religions. For instance, a number of Hindus have faith in the Muslim Saints, Dargahs,
ImambadaswhichbecomesapartoftheirlivesandsomeHindusevenadoptmuslimnamesaftertheSaints
butthisdoesnotmeanthattheyhavediscardedtheoldOrderandgotthemselvesconvertedtoIslam.

(b)Inallothercases,conversiontoChristianityorIslamoranyotherreligionwhichdoesnotacceptthecaste
systemandinsistsonrelinquishingthecaste,thereisalossofcasteonconversion.

29.Theotherimportantquestionwhichistobeansweredandwhichisreallythecontroversyinthepresent
caseis:ifafterapersonisconvertedtoanewreligionintheinstantcase,Christianitydoeshiscasterevive
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ifheisreconvertedtohisoldreligionand,ifso,underwhatcircumstances?Asindicatedabove,startingfrom
the Privy Council to the presentday, authorities of the High Courts and this Court have laid down certain
normsandconditionsunderwhichacastecouldrevive.Theseconditionsareasfollows:

(1)wheretheconverteeexhibitsbyhisactionsandbehaviourhisclearintentionofabjuringthenew
religiononhisownvolitionwithoutanypersuasionandisnotmotivatedbyanybenefitorgain,

(2) where the community of the old order to which the convertee originally belonged is gracious
enoughtoadmithimtotheoriginalcasteeitherexpresslyorbynecessaryintendment,and

(3)RulesofthenewOrderinpermittingtheconverteetojointhenewcaste.

30.Unlesstheaforesaidconditionsarefulfilledtothelossofcasteonconversioniscompleteandcannotbe
revived.Inouropinion,havingregardtothepresentsetupandthecircumstancesprevailinginourmodern
society, it will be difficult to insist on the second condition, viz., the insistence on the members of the
communityofthecastetoadmittheconverteeonreconversiontotheoriginalfaithbecausesuchacourseof
action may lead to dangerous consequences and illconceived exploitation. The curse and cancer of
untouchability despite thirty years of social reforms still persist and no quarter should be given to further
persecution of the members of the scheduled castes who, as we often find, are subjected to all kinds of
indignities,insultsandarelookeddownuponasslavesorvassals,meantmerelytoservethemembersofthe
highercaste.InthecaseofGanpatv.ReturningOfficerandOrs.MANU/SC/0265/1974:[1975]2SCR923this
CourtspeakingthroughAlagiriswami,J.highlightedthisparticularaspectinthefollowingwords:

Themonstrouscurseofuntouchabilityhasgottobeeradicated.Ithasgottobeeradicatednotmerelyby
making constitutional provisions or laws but also by eradicating it from the minds and hearts of men.
Forthatitisevenmoreimportantthatmembersofcommunitieswhoareuntouchableshouldasserttheir
selfrespectandfightfortheirdignitythanthatmembers,oftheothercommunitiesshouldforgetabout
it.

31.Inouropinion,themaintestshouldbeagenuineintentionofthereconverttoabjurehisnewreligionand
completely dissociate himself from it. We must hasten to add here that this does not mean that the
reconversion should be only a ruse or a pretext or a cover to gain mundane worldly benefits so that the
reconversion becomes merely a show for achieving a particular purpose whereas the real intention may be
shroudedinmystery.Thereconvertmustexhibitaclearandgenuineintentiontogobacktohisoldfoldand
adoptthecustomsandpracticesofthesaidfoldwithoutanyprotestfrommembersofhiserstwhilecaste.In
ordertojudgethisfactor,itisnotnecessarythatthereshouldbeadirectorconclusiveproofoftheexpression
oftheviewsofthecommunityoftheerstwhilecasteanditwouldbesufficientcomplianceofthisconditionif
no exception or protest is lodged by the community members, in which case the caste would revive on the
reconversionofthepersontohisoldreligion.

32.Anotheraspectwhichonemustnotforgetisthatwhenachildisbornneitherhasheanyreligionnorishe
capable of choosing one until he reaches the age of discretion and acquires proper understanding of the
situation.Hence,themerefactthattheparentsofachild,whowereChristians,wouldinordinarycourseget
theusualbaptismcertificateandperformotherceremonieswithoutthechildknowingthatisbeingdonebut
afterthechildhasgrownupandbecomesfullymatureandabletodecidehisfuture,heoughtnottobebound
bywhathisparentsmayhavedone.Therefore,insuchcases,itistheintentionoftheconverteewhichwould
determinetherevivalofthecaste.Ifbyhisclearandconclusiveconductthepersonreconvertstohisoldfaith
andabjuresthenewreligioninunequivocalterms,hiscasteautomaticallyrevives.

33. Another dominant factor to determine the revival of the caste of a convert from Christianity to his old
religion would be that in cases of election to the State Assemblies or the Parliament where under the
PresidentialOrderaparticularconstituencyisreservedforamemberofthescheduledcasteortribeandthe
electorategivesamajorityverdictinhisfavour,thenthiswouldbedoubtlessproofpositiveofthefactthathis
communityhasaccepted him back to his old fold and this would result in a revivaloftheoriginalcasteto
whichthesaidcandidatebelonged.

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34.Inouropinion,whenapersonisconvertedtoChristianityorsomeotherreligiontheoriginalcasteremains
under eclipse and as soon as during his/her lifetime the person is reconverted to the original religion the
eclipsedisappearsandthecasteautomaticallyrevives.Whetherornottherevivalofthecastedependsonthe
will and discretion of the members of the community of the caste is a question on which we refrain from
giving any opinion because in the instant case there is overwhelming evidence to show that the respondent
was accepted by the community of her original katia caste. Even so, if the fast of the acceptance by the
membersofthecommunityismadeaconditionprecedenttotherevivalofthecaste,itwouldleadtograve
consequences and unnecessary exploitation, sometimes motivated by political considerations. Of course, if
apartfromtheoralviewsofthecommunitythereisanyrecogniseddocumentaryproofofacustomorcodeof
conduct or rule of law binding on a particular caste, it may be necessary to insist on the consent of the
members of the community, otherwise in normal circumstances the caste would revive by applying the
principles of doctrine of eclipse. We might pause here to add a rider to what we have said, i.e., where it
appears that the person reconverted to the old religion had been converted to Christianity since several
generations,itmaybedifficulttoapplythedoctrineofeclipsetotherevivalofcaste.Howeverthatquestion
doesnotarisehere.

35.Comingnowtothefactsandevidenceofthepresentcasethepositionmaybebrieflystatedasfollows:

36.Theappellant,anM.A.,LL.B.fromJabalpurUniversityhadcontestedelectionfromtheMadhyaPradesh
VidhanSabha(hereinafterreferredtoas'VidhanSabha)fromLegislativeAssemblyconstituencyNo.195in
the general election of 1977 as a Janata Party Candidate which was reserved for Scheduled Caste under
Article 332 of the Constitution being item No. 30 of Part IXMadhya Pradesh of the 1950 Order. He was
declaredelecteddefeatinghisnearestrivalcandidate,oneRamprasadChoudhary,aCongresscandidate.The
Vidhan Sabha was, however, dissolved in February 1980 after which general elections for all the
constituenciesweretobeheldafresh,asnotifiedintheGazette,inthemonthofMay1980.Thelastdatefor
filingnominationpaperswas2.5.1980,thedateofscrutinywas3.5.80andthepollingtookplaceon31.5.80.
The results were declared on 2.6.80. In this election, the appellant submitted his nomination papers as an
Independent candidate from constituency No. 195 (Jabalpur East) and was opposed by Smt. Maya Devi
Shalwar(hereinafterreferredtoas'MayaDevi')whofiledhernominationpapersasaCongress(I)candidate.
Shedescribedherselfasbelongingtothescheduledcaste'Katia"whichismentionedatserialNo.29ofPart
IXMadhya Pradesh of the 1950 Order. In view of the short and narrow compass of this appeal we are not
concernedwithothercandidates.

37.Itmaybementionedthatoriginallythecaste'Katia'wasnotincludedinthelistofscheduledcastestillthe
year1977butbytheScheduledCastesandScheduledTribesOrder(Amendment)Act,1976(ActNo.108of
1976) the schedule was amended and replaced by a new Schedule in which Katia caste was Included as a
scheduledcasteandshownatserialNo.29.

38.ItappearsthatatthetimeofthescrutinyofthenominationpapersofMayaDevi,severalpersonsraised
objection that she, being a Christian by birth, could not be treated as a member of the scheduled caste and
thereforeherdeclarationasascheduledcastecandidatewasfalsewhichmeriteddismissalofhernomination
papers.ThecaseofMayaDeviwasthatshewasamemberofthescheduledcastebybirthandherhusband,
Jai Prakash Shalwar, also belonged to the Katia caste. She denied that she was a Christian by birth "and
averredthatherfather'snamewasnotJohnWesleyasallegedbytheappellant.Herpleafoundfavourwiththe
ReturningOfficerwhoacceptedhernominationpapers.Afterthepoll,MayaDevireceivedmajorityofvotes,
havingsecured16,770votes,andwasdeclaredelected,andtheappellantlosttheelection.

39.ItwasfurtherallegedbytheappellantthatMayaDeviafterbeingbornaChristianwasbaptisedaccording
toChristianrilesandhermothersnamewasElizabeth.TheappellantalsoaverredthatMayaDevi'smarriage
withJaiPrakashShalwarwasnotarecognisedformofmarriageand,therefore,notvalid.Anumberofother
pleaswerealsotakenbytheappellantinhispetitionbutMr.U.R.Lalit,appearingonhisbehalf,confinedhis
argumentstotwoimportantquestions:

(1)whetherMayaDevihavingbeenbornofChristianparentslostthekatiacastetowhichsheorher
ancestorsoriginallybelonged?and
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(2) that after being baptised she continued to be a Christian and was shown as such in various
documents.

40.Inthisviewofthematteritwas'contendedthatevenifshemarriedJaiPrakashShalwarwhobelongedto
Katiacaste,hercastecouldnotrevivebecausecasteisdeterminednotbymarriagebutbybirth.

41.Inproofofhispleas,theappellantadducedbothoralanddocumentaryevidence.Theallegationsmadeby
himweredeniedbytherespondentwhocategoricallystatedthatshewasneveraChristiannorwassheborna
Christian.ShealsoaverredthatevenherfatherormotherwerenotChristians.Ontheotherhand,shealways
remainedamemberoftheKatiacasteandwasacceptedassuchbythemembersofthatcommunitybecause
her marriage with Jai Prakash Shalwar was performed according to Hindu rites of Aryasamaj sect and was
attendedbyanumberofmembersofhercasteandduepublicitywasgiventothemarriage.

42.Boththepartieshaveadducedevidenceinsupportoftheircases.Oneimportantfactwhichmaybenoted
hereisthatthefatheroftherespondentJohnWesleywhoaccordingtoMayaDeviwasJohnWesleySingh,
inspiteofbeingcitedasawitnessdidnotenterthewitnessboxtothrowlightontheoriginofthereligionof
therespondentandahugecapitalhasbeenmadeofthenonappearanceofthesaidwitness,whichaccording
totheappellantisthestrongestpossiblecircumstancetodiscreditthecaseoftherespondent.

43.Itistruethatthefatheroftherespondentwasnotexaminedasawitnessbuthavingregardtothenatureof
thedocumentsproducedbythepartiesthemerefactthatJohnWesleywasnotexaminedasawitnessisnot
sufficienttothrowthecaseoftherespondentaboard.Itisalsotruethattherespondentwasilladvisedtodeny
theentirecaseoftheappellantbymakinganavermentthatshewasnotbornofChristianparentsatall.We
would,therefore,takeitasestablishedthattherespondentwasundoubtedlybornofChristianparents.Thatby
itselfdoesnotadvancethecaseoftheappellantanyfurtherbecauseifitisprovedthatshewasvoluntarily
reconvertedtoHinduismthenaccordingtothelawreferredtousandappliedtothefactsofthepresentcase
onreconversionheroriginalcastewouldautomaticallyrevive.Wewouldgiveabriefsummaryofthenature
oftheevidenceproducedbythepartiesonthislimitedquestion.

44.Tobeginwiththeappellanthasreliedonthebirthcertificate(Ex.P21)whichshowsthatafemalechild
was born to John Wesley's wife on 4.6.1947. It is also clearly mentioned therein that John Wesley was a
Christian. This was followed by a baptism certificate which shows that she was baptised according to the
religiousceremoniesoftheChristians.TheappellantalsoproducedaChurchmembershipcertificatetoshow
thatMayaIsabellaJohnWesley(respondent)wasbaptisedandadmittedasamemberoftheCityMethodist
ChurchinSouthernAsiaatJabalpur,MadhyaPradesh.Theschooltransfercertificatedated6.6.1956shows
thatMayaIsabellaJohnWesleywasaChristianandremainedastudentofPeeliKothiGirlsPrimarySchool,
Jabalpur from 1.7.1952 to 3.0.4.1956, and her data of birth in this certificate has been shown as 4.6.1947
whichfullytallieswithherbirthcertificate.Inviewoftheoverwhelmingevidencereferredtoabove,itisnot
necessary for us to consider the oral and documentary evidence which conclusively proves (1) that the,
parents of the respondent were Christians and (2) that after her birth she got baptised and remained a
Christian,andthereforeitcannotbedeniedthattherespondentwasbornaChristianandinthisviewofthe
matterthemomentsheenteredthefoldofChristianity,heroriginalcastewascompletelylost.Therespondent
in her anxiety to succeed has overstated her case by wrongly alleging that she was never born of Christian
parents or that her parents were not Christians, a fact which is completely falsified by the oral and
documentaryevidenceproducedbytheappellant.

45.Accepting,therefore,theevidenceledbytheappellant,thevitalquestionfordeterminationinthiscase
remainsastowhetherornottherespondentwasvoluntarilyreconvertedtoHinduismandthereuponhercaste
revived. There is clear and unimpeachable evidence to show that the respondent had reconverted herself to
Hinduismvoluntarilyandwithfullpublicity,makingnosecretofthisfact.Aletterappearingatpage22ofthe
Paperbook shows that she accepted Hindu religion with all its customs, and rites voluntarily. The relevant
partoftheletterreadsthus:

IampreparedtoownHindureligionwithallsincerityandtofollowallitscustomsandrites.

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Today, on 6.11.76 I am fully major. Hence the above decision is of my own wherein no external
interferenceexists.

46. Immediately thereafter she was married to one Jai Prakash Shalwar and the marriage certificate dated
14.11.76 fully corroborates this fact (page 24 of the Paperbook). The Marriage certificate states that the
marriageofMayaDeviwithJaiPrakashwasperformedon6.11.76inAryaSamajGorakhpuraccordingto
vedicrites.AnothercertificateissuedbytheSecretaryoftheAryaSamajGorakhpurisalsotothesameeffect.
Theaforesaiddocumentsareamplycorroboratedbytheoralevidenceledbytherespondent.

47. The evidence of Darshanlal Dharmak deserves special mention because this witness was a prominent
memberandPresidentoftheKatiacommunityforthelasttwoandahalfyears.Thewitnessgoesontostate
thatthemarriagewascelebratedinthepresenceof80personsofhiscommunity,includingelderlypeopleand
hispresenceatthemarriageclearlyindicatesthatthecommunityhadfullyacceptedtherespondentbackto
hercaste.Themarriagewasfollowedbyareception34dayslaterwhichwasattendedbythiswitnessalso
and at that time nobody raised any objection about Maya as not belonging to the Katia community. The
witnessfurtherstatesthathehadgonetothehouseoftherespondentandthatmembersofthecommunityhad
cometocelebratethebirthdayofherchild.

48. It would appear from the evidence of Bharyalal Nag, another witness produced by the respondent, that
there was a Katia Samaj Sanstha in Madhya Pradesh which was registered under the Societies Registration
ActandthewitnesswastheVicePresidentofthisorganisation.HestatesthatJaiPrakashwasknowntohim
andbelongedtohiscasteandthathewasmarriedtoMayaDevi.Hefurtherstatesthatnoobjectionwasraised
in the Organisation about this marriage. He further stated that Maya Devi had been attending number of
marriagesinhiscaste.HemakesaverystarkstatementwhichisfullysupportedbytheAbhinandanPatraand
hisstatementmaybeextractedthus:

WementionedherinthisAbhinandanPatraasbelongingtoKatiacasteaswewereproudasshewas
thefirstM.L.A.inourcaste.

49.Ex.D1AistheAbhinandanPatragiventoMayaDevisometimeintheyear197778,i.e.3yearsbefore
the elections. Furthermore, there is the evidence of Keshav Prasad Pathak which is rather important. His
evidenceshowsthatajointapplicationwasmadebytherespondentandherhusbandregardingtheirconsent
tothemarriage.Hefurtherslatedthatbeforethepartiesaremarried,ifeitherofthemisnotaHinduthenheis
first converted to Hinduism (Shudhikaran) by religious rites performed in accordance with the Arya Samaj
rites. He proves the applications given by the respondent and her husband (Ex. P8 and 9). He has further
statedthatthemarriageceremonyisusuallyperformedbeforethemembersoftheExecutiveCommitteeof
the Arya Samaj. He further defines the term 'Shudhikaran to mean "Convert a nonHindu to Hinduism. He
goes on to say that the marriage was celebrated at the Arya Samaj according to vedic ceremony which
includedSaptapadiandHavan.

50. The appellant himself in his statement admitted that in Jabalpur there are fivesix thousands people of
katiacaste.Hefurtheradmittedthathedidnotmakeanyenquiriesabouttheparentsortheplaceofresidence
ofElizabeth,motheroftherespondent.Hefurtheradmitsatpage87ofthePaperbookthatin1978hewas
takenbyShriDharmakasChiefGuestintheConferenceofKatiaSamaj.Asuggestionwasmadetohimthat
hewaspresentwhentheKatiacommunityhonouredtherespondentonhervictoryintheelection.Readingin
betweenthelinesofhisevidenceitisclearthathewasfullyawarethattherespondenthadbeenreconverted
toHinduismandhadbeenacceptedbytheKatiacommunity.

51. On a full and complete appraisal of the oral and documentary evidence, the following conclusions are
inevitable:

1) That the respondent was born of Christian parents and was educated in various schools or
institutionswhereshewasknownasaChristian,

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2) that 34 years before the election, the respondent was reconverted to Hinduism and married Jai
PrakashShalwar,amemberofthekatiacaste,andalsoperformedtheShudhikaranceremony,

3) that she was not only accepted but also welcomed by the important members, including the
PresidentandVicePresident,ofthecommunity,

4)thereisnoevidencetoshowthattherewasanybarundertheChristianreligionwhichcouldhave
preventedherfromreconvertingherselftoHinduism.

5)thattherewasnoevidencetoshowthatevenherparentshadbeenChristiansfromgenerationto
generation.

52. In these circumstances, therefore, this case fulfils the conditions required for being reconverted to
HinduismfromChristianityinordertorevivetheoriginalcaste.

53.UnderClause(3)ofthe1950Orderonlytwoconditionsarerequiredforbeingeligibleforelectiontoa
reservedconstituency

(a)thatthecandidateshouldnotprofessareligiondifferentfromtheHinduortheSikhreligion,and

(b)thatthecandidateisamemberofscheduledcasteasshownintheschedules.

54.Intheinstantcase,itisnotdisputedthattheKatiacasteismentionedasascheduledcasteinpartIXofthe
1950OrderandshownatserialNumber29.Havingregardtothecircumstancesdiscussedabove,itcannotbe
said that at the time when the respondent filed her nomination papers, she was not a member of the Katia
caste.Forthereasonsgivenabove,thejudgmentoftheHighCourtisaffirmedandtheappealisdismissedbut
inthecircumstanceswithoutanyorderastocosts.

ManupatraInformationSolutionsPvt.Ltd.

MANU/SC/0072/1983

INTHESUPREMECOURTOFINDIA

CivilAppealNo.544of1981

DecidedOn:05.12.1983

Appellants:S.Anbalagan
Vs.
Respondent:B.DevarajanandOrs.

Hon'bleJudges/Coram:
E.S.Venkataramiah ,O.ChinnappaReddy andS.MurtazaFazalAli ,JJ.

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Counsels:
ForAppellant/Petitioner/Plaintiff:Y.S.Chitale,P.N.RamalingamandA.T.M.Sampath,Advs.Adv

ForRespondents/Defendant:M.C.Bhandare,K.RajendraChowdhary,K.S.ChowdharyandA.V.Rangam,for
theRespondentNo.7Advs.

Subject:Constitution

CatchWords

MentionedIN

Acts/Rules/Orders:
ConstitutionofIndiaArticle334

CasesReferred:
S.Rajagopalvs.C.M.ArmugamandOrs.MANU/SC/0360/1968C.M.Arumugamvs.S.RajgopalandOrs.
MANU/SC/0283/1975 Chatturbhuj Vithaldas Jasani vs. Moreshwar Parashram and Ors.
MANU/SC/0092/1954

PriorHistory:
FromtheJudgmentandOrderdatedDecember23,1980oftheMadrasHighCourtActMadrasinElection
PetitionNo.1of1980

Disposition:
AppealDismissed

CitingReference:

Discussed 9

Mentioned 2

CaseNote:
Election Legality of Present appeal filed against order whereby Tribunal hold that appellant
belongedtoScheduledCastesandupheldelectionHeld,birthextractofrespondentno.1showsthat
his parents was Hindu He was treated as Hindu student belonging to Scheduled Castes and was
awarded scholarships on that basis There is not scrap of acceptable evidence to show that he ever
professedChristianityafterhecameofageThereforecasewasrightlydecidedbyTribunalHence,
appealdismissed

JUDGMENT

O.ChinnappaReddy,J.

1. 3, 26, 112 adult men and women voters of Rasipuram Parliamentary Constituency reserved for the
Scheduled Castes accepted the candidature of the first Respondent, B. Devarajan for the reserved seat,
apparentlyconsideredhimasamemberoftheScheduledCastes,votedforhimandelectedhimtotheLok
Sabha,byaconvincingmajorityofnearlysixtythousandvotesattheelectionheldinJanuary1980.And,it
wasnotthefirsttime.HewasinfactasittingmemberoftheLokSabhahavingbeenelectedfromthesame
reservedconstituencyatthepreviousgeneralelectionalso,Buttheverdictofthepeoplewasnotsufficientfor
theappellant,S.Anbalagan,whosecured1,76,240votesintheJanuary1980pollandlosttheelection.He
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wantedtheverdictofanElectionTribunalonthequestionwhethertherespondentwasaCharistianandnota
memberoftheScheduledCastes,asclaimedbyhim.Sohefiledanelectionpetitionquestioningtheelection
onthatground.TheElectionTribunalon.anelaborateconsiderationoftheevidenceheldthattheappellant
belonged to the Scheduled Castes and, on that finding, upheld the election. Anbalagan has preferred this
appeal.

2. Dr. Chitale, learned Counsel for the appellant, canvassed the finding of the Election tribunal that the
respondentwasaHinduAdiDravidaand,therefore,amemberoftheScheduledCastes.Hearguedthatthe
parentsandthesistersoftherespondentwereshowntobeChristiansandtherespondentthoughobviouslya
Christian himself was pretending to be a member of the Scheduled castes for the purpose of gaining some
advantages.HeinvitedourattentiontotheBaptismalcertificateandcertainotherdocumentsandurgedthat
the Respondent was born a Christian and there was no way he could acquire a caste and become an Adi
DravidaonconversiontoHinduism.

3.Inordertoproperlyappreciatethequestionsinvolved,itisnecessaryfirsttounderstandthelegalposition
inregardtocastestatusonconversionorreconversiontoHinduism.

4.InAdministratorGeneralofMadrasv.AnandachariandOrs.ILR9Mad466,alearnedsingleJudgeofthe
MadrasHighCourtheldthattheconversionofaHinduBrahmintoChristianityrenderedhim,accordingto
HinduLaw,anoutcasteanddegraded.Itwasalsoobservedthatthedegradationmightbeatonedforandthe
convert readmitted to his status as a Brahmin, if he at any time during his life renounced Christianity and
performedtheritesofexpiationenjoinedbyhiscaste.

5.InMuthusamiMudaliarandAnr.v.MasilamaniandOrs.ILR33Mad342ShankaranNair,J.explainedat
length the process of formation of caster and also pointed out how simple the matter of reconversion to
HinduismwaswhenaHinduchangedhisreligionandlaterrevertedbacktoHinduism.

6.InGurusamiNadarv.IrulappaKonar67MLJ389,Varadachariar,J.explainedtheobservationsmadein
certain cases by Ananta Krishna Iyer, J. about the necessity of expiatory ceremonies for reconversion to
Hinduismandpointedoutthatinthosecases,theallegedreconversionwasintotheBrahmincommunityof
Hindus and it was possible to suggest that certain vedic rites would have been adopted in such cases.
Expiatory ceremonies, it was further pointed out, would be necessary if such was the practice of the
communityandnototherwise.Onehad,therefore,onlytolooktothesenseofthecommunityandnomore.In
Ramayyav.Mrs.JosephineElizabethAIR1937Mad.172VenkatasubbaRap,OCJandVenkataramanaRao,J.
approved the observations of Varadachariar, J. and thought it unnecessary to pursue the matter further.
MookettandKrishnaswamiAyyangar,JJ.inGoonaDurgaprasadRaov.SudarsanaswamiILR1940Mad.653
observedthataconvertfromtheBalijicastetoChristianity,onreconversionwentbackintothefoldofthe
Baliji community and where there was no evidence about the necessity for expiatory ceremonies, it was
hardlyrightforthecourttoerectabarrierwhichtheautonomyofthecastedidnotrequire,simplybecause,in
someothercommunityexpiatoryceremonieswerethoughtnecessary.

7. In Rajagopal v. Armugam and Ors. MANU/SC/0360/1968 : [1969]1SCR254 , the appellant was elected
from a constituency reserved for members of the Scheduled Castes and the election was questioned on the
groundthathewasnotaHindubutaChristianandthathewasnotqualifiedtobeelectedfromaconstituency
reservedfortheScheduledCastes.ThecourtfoundthattheappellanthadbecomeaChristianin1949and
thatfromabout1967onwardshecertainlystartedprofessingtheHindureligion.Thecourthowever,heldthat
theappellanthadlosthisAdiDravidaHinducasteonembracingChristianityand,ontheevidencebeforethe
court, it was not possible to hold that he had regained his caste on reconversion to hinduism, The general
questionwhethermembershipofacastecouldbeacquiredbyconversionorreconversiontoHinduismwas
notdecidedinthecase.

8.Rajagopal.whosucceededattheelectionheldin1967,butwhoseelectionwassetasideonthegroundthat
hewasaChristianandnotamemberoftheScheduledCastesandArmugamwholosttheelectionin1967,but
successfullychallengedtheelectionofRajagopalbywayofanelectionpetition(videRajagopalv.Armugam
MANU/SC/0360/1968:[1969]1SCR254referredtointhepreviousparagraph)wereagaincontestantsatthe
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electionheldin1972fromthesameconstituencyreservedformembersoftheScheduledCastesRajgopalwas
again Successful in the election. His election was once more impeached by Arumugam. But this time
Rajgopal farred better. His election was upheld first by the High Court and then by the Supreme Court
MANU/SC/0283/1975 : [1976]3SCR82 The Supreme Court held that the Question whether Rajagopal
embraced Christianity in 1949 and whether he was reconverted to Hinduism was concluded by the earlier
decisionofthecourt.TheviewoftheHighCourtistheimmediatecasebeforethemthatonreconversion1:0
Hinduism,hecouldreverttohisoriginalcasteifhewasacceptedassuchbytheothermembersofthecaste
wasacceptedascorrectOntheevidence,itwasfoundthatafterreconversiontoHinduismhewasrecognised
andacceptedasamemberoftheAdiDravidaHinducastebytheothermembersofthecommunity.Thecourt
consisting of Chandrachud, J. (as he then was), Bhagwati and Sarkaria, JJ. noticed that it was not an
infrequent phenomenon in South India for a person to continue to be regarded as belonging to his original
casteevenafterconversiontoChristianityThedecisionsoftheHighCourtofAndhraPradeshinKothapalli
Narasayyav.JammanaJogiandK.NarasimhaReddyv.G.Bhupattiwerenoticed.Itwasthenobserved:

Itcannot,therefore,belaiddownasanabsoluteruleuniformlyapplicableinallcasesthatwhenevera
memberofacasteisconvertedfromHinduismtoChristianity,heloseshismembershipofthecaste.It
is true that ordinarily that on conversion to Christianity, he would cease to be a member of the caste,
but that is not an invariable rule. It would depend on the structure of the caste and its rules and
regulations. There are castes, particularly in South India, where the consequence does not follow on
conversionsincesuchcastescomprisefromHindusandChristians.

The learned Judges than proceeded to consider the question whether Rajagopal could once again become a
member of Adi Dravida caste even if it was assume that he had ceased to be such on conversion to
Christianity.AfterreferringtotheMadrascasesalreadynoticedbyusearlier,itwasheld:

ThesecasesshowthattheconsistentviewtakeninthiscountryfromthetimeAdministratorGeneralof
Madrasv.Anandachariwasdecided,thatis,since1886,hasbeenthatonreconversiontoHinduism,a
personcanonceagainbecomeamemberofthecasteinwhichhehasbornandtowhichhebelonged
beforeconversiontoanotherreligion,ifthemembersofthecasteaccepthimasamember.Thereisno
reason either on principle or on authority which should compel us to disregard this view which has
prevailed for almost a century and lay down a different rule on the subject. If a person who has
embracedanotherreligioncanbereconvertedtoHinduism,thereisnorationalprinciplewhyheshould
notbeabletocomebacktohiscaste,iftheothermembersofthecastearepreparedtoreadmithimas
amember.Itstandstoreasonthatheshouldbeabletocomebacktothefoldtowhichheoncebelonged
providedofcoursethecommunityiswillingtotakehimwithinthefold....
...AMaharoraKolioraMalawouldnotberecognisedasanythingbutaMaharoraKolioraMala
after reconversion to Hinduism and he would suffer from the same social and economic disabilities
from which he suffered before he was converted to another religion. It is, therefore, obvious that the
object and purpose of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) order, 1950 would be advanced rather than
retarded by taking the view that on reconversion to Hinduism a person can once again become a
member of the Scheduled Caste to which he belonged prior to his conversion. We accordingly agree
withtheviewtakenbytheHighCourtthatonreconversiontoHinduism,the1strespondentcouldonce
againreverttohisoriginalAdiDravidacasteifhewasacceptedassuchbytheothermembersofthe
cast.

9.InPerumalNaderv.Ponnuswami[1971]3S.C.R.49,thequestionarosewhetherAnnapazham,daughterof
anIndianChristianandherselfaChristianbybirthcouldbeconvertedtoHinduismwithouttheperformance
of any expiatory ceremonies ? The court held that formal Ceremony of purification or expiation was
unnecessary.Itwasobserved:

ApersonmaybeaHindubybirthorbyconversion.AmeretheoreticalallegiancetotheHindufaithby
apersonborninanotherfaithdoesnotconverthimintoaHindu,norisabaredeclarationthatheisa
Hindu sufficient to convert him to Hinduism, But a bona fide intention to be converted to the Hindu
faith, accompanied by conduct unequivocally expressing that intention may be sufficient evidence of
conversion.Noformalceremonyofpurificationorexpiationisnecessarytoeffectuateconversion.

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10. All the cases so far considered are from South India. To conclude the discussion, we may also refer to
Vermaniv.VermaniAIR1943LAH51andGhatturbhujVithaldasJasaniv.MoreshwerParashramandOrs.
MANU/SC/0092/1954:[1954]1SCR817bothofwhicharecasesfromelsewhere.

11.InVirmaniv.Virmani,aFullBenchoftheLahoreHighCourtfollowingthedecisionoftheMadrasHigh
CourtinILR1940MAD653heldthatitwasnotnecessaryforaHinduconverttoChristianitytoundergoany
expiatoryceremoniesbeforehecouldreverttohisoriginalreligion.Hisconductandthecircumstancethathe
wasreceivedbyhiscommunityweresufficienttoestablishhisreversiontoHinduism.

12. In Chatturbhrij's case, a question arose whether a member of the Mahar caste which was one of the
Scheduled Castes continued to be a member of the Mahar caste despite his conversion to the tenets
Mahanubhava Panth, a sect, the founder of which repudiated the caste system and a multiplicity of Gods.
Bose,J.afternoticingthecomplexitiesbroughtinthetrainofconversion,observed:

Lookedatfromthesecularpointofview,therearethreefactorswhichhavetobeconsidered:(1)the
reactionsoftheoldbody,(2)theintentionsoftheindividualhimselfand(3)therulesoftheneworder.
If the old order is tolerant of the new faith and sees no reason to outcaste or excommunicate the
convert and the individual himself desires and intends" to retain his old social and political ties, the
conversion is only nominal for all practical purposes and when we have to consider the legal and
political rights of the old body the views of the new faith hardly matter. The new body is free to
ostracise and outcaste the convert from its fold if he does not adhere to its tenets, but it can hardly
claim the right to interfere, in matters which concern the political rights of the old body when neither
the old body nor the convert is seeking either legal or political favours from the new as opposed to
purelyspiritualadvantage.Ontheotherhand,iftheconverthasshownbyhisconductanddealingsthat
hisbreakfromtheoldorderissocompleteandfinalthathenolongerregardshimselfasamemberof
the old body and there is no reconversion and readmittance to the old fold, it would be wrong to hold
thathecanneverthelessclaimtemporalprivilegesandpoliticaladvantageswhicharespecialtotheold
order.

Bose,J.foundthatwhatevertheviewsofthefounderoftheMahanubhavasectnighthavebeenaboutcaste,it
wasevidentthattherehadbeennorigidadherencetothemamonghisfollowersinlateryears.Theyhadeither
changed their view or they had not been able to keep a tight enough control over converts who choose to
retain their old caste customs. On a consideration of the evidence it was found that the convert from the
Maharcasteretainedhiscasteevenafterconversion.

13. These precedents, particularly those from South India, clearly establish that no particular ceremony is
prescribed for conversion to Hinduism of a person who had earlier embraced another religion. Unless the
practiceofthecastemakesitnecessary,expiatoryritesneedbeperformedand,ordinarily,heregainshiscaste
unlessthecommunitydoesnotaccepthim.Infact,itmaynotbeaccuratetosaythatheregainshiscasteit
may be more accurate to say that he never lost his caste in the first instance when he embraced another
religion.Thepracticeofcastehoweverirrationalitmayappeartoourreasonandhoweverrepugnantitmay
appeartoourmoraland.socialsense,issodeeprootedintheIndianpeoplethatitsmarkdoesnotseemto
disappearonconversiontoadifferentreligion.Ifitdisappears,onlytoreappearonreconversion.Themarkof
castedoesnotseemtoreallydisappearevenaftersomegenerationsafterconversion.InAndhraPradeshand
in Tamil Nadu, there are several thousands of Christian families whose forefathers became Christians and
who.thoughtheyprofesstheChristianreligion,nonethelessobservethepracticeofCaste.ThereareChristian
Reddies,ChristianKammas,CeristianNadars,ChristianAdiAndhras,ChristianAdiDravidasandsoon.The
practiceoftheircasteissorigorousthatthereareintermarriageswithHindusofthesamecastebutnotwith
Christiansofanothercaste.Now,ifsuchaChristianbecomesaHindu,surelyhewill.reverttohisoriginal
caste,ifhehadlostitatall.InfactthisprocessgoesoncontinuouslyinIndiaandgenerationbygeneration
lostsheepappeartoreturntothecastsfoldandareonceagain"assimilatedinthatfold.Thisappearstobe
particularlysointhecaseofmembersoftheScheduledCastes,whoembraceotherreligionsintheirquestfor
liberation, but return to their old religion on finding that their disabilities have clung to them with great
tenacity.WedonotthinkthatanydifferentprinciplewillapplytothecaseofconversiontoHinduismofa
person whose forefathers had abandoned Hinduism and embraced another religion from the principle
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applicable to the case of reconversion to Hinduism of a person who himself had abandoned Hinduism and
embracedanotherreligion.

14.Now,whatarethefactsofthepresentcase?Thebirthextractofthefirstrespondent,Devarajanshows
thathisparentsasHinduAdiDravidas.Throughouthiseducationalcareer,hewastreatedasaHindustudent
belongingtotheScheduledCastesandwasawardedscholarshipsonthatbasis.Theschoolrecordsrelatingto
hischildrenalsoshowthemasHinduAdiDravidas.Ononeoccasionintheadmissionregisterofaschool,he
waswronglyshownasAdiDravidaChristian,butitwascorrectedasAdiDravidaasfarbackasin1948.He
neverattendedachurch.Ontheotherhand,thereisacceptableevidencetoshowthathewasofferingworship
toHindudeitiesinHindutemplesandthathismarriagewasperformedaccordingtoHinducustomandrites.
Our attention was however, drawn to the finding of the Tribunal that the sisters of the first respondent
professed Christianity as revealed by their service registers. Our attention was further invited to certain
evidenceindicatingthattheparentsofthefirstrespondenthadbecomeChristiansandthatthefirstrespondent
himselfhadbeenbaptisedwhenhewassevenmonthsold.Evenassumingthattheparentsandsistersofthe
firstrespondenthadbecomeChristiansandthatthefirstrespondenthimselfhadbeenbaptisedwhenhewas
sevenmonthsold,weseenodifficultyinholding,ontheevidenceinthecase,thatthefirstrespondenthad
longsincerevertedtoHinduismandtotheAdiDravidacaste.Thereisnotascrapofacceptableevidenceto
showthatheeverprofessedChristianityafterhecameofage.Ontheotherhand,everybitofevidenceinthe
case shows that from his childhood, he was always practising Hinduism and was treated by everyone
concerned as an Adi Dravidh. There is then the outstanding circumstance that the voters of the Rasipuram
ParliamentaryConstituencyreservedfortheScheduledCastesacceptedhiscandidatureforthereservedseat
and elected him to the Lok Sabha twice. We have no doubt whatsoever that at all relevant times, he was a
Hindu Adi Dravida and professed no religion other than Hinduism. The case was rightly decided by the
ElectionTribunalandtheappealisaccordinglydismissedwithcosts.

ManupatraInformationSolutionsPvt.Ltd.

MANU/SC/0050/1964

INTHESUPREMECOURTOFINDIA

CivilAppealNo.562of1964

DecidedOn:26.10.1964

Appellants:PunjabRao
Vs.
Respondent:D.P.MeshramandOrs.

Hon'bleJudges/Coram:
P.B.Gajendragadkar ,C.J.,K.N.Wanchoo ,M.Hidayatullah ,J.R.Mudholkar andRaghubarDayal
,JJ.

Subject:Constitution

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CatchWords

MentionedIN

Acts/Rules/Orders:
ConstitutionofIndia(ScheduledCastes)Order,1950

CasesReferred:
NarayanWaktuKarwadivs.PanjabraoHukamShambharkarandAnr.MANU/MH/0086/1958

AuthoritiesReferred:
OxfordDictionary

Disposition:
AppealAllowed

CitingReference:

Mentioned 1

CaseNote:
Constitution(ScheduledCastes)Order,1950.Clause3ConstitutionofIndia,Article25Word"profess"
inClause3ofOrder,meaningofDefinitionofHinduinExplanationIItoArticle25.

Theword"profess"inClause3oftheConstitution(ScheduledCastes)Order,1950,isusedinthesense
ofanopendeclarationorpracticebyapersonoftheHinduortheSikhreligion.Where,therefore,a
person makes a public declaration that he has ceased to be a Hindu and has accepted the Buddhist
religion he cannot derive any benefit from that Order and claim to be treated as one belonging to a
ScheduledCaste.

In Clause 3 of the Order the word "Hindu" is used in the narrower sense of the orthodox Hindu
religionwhichrecognisescastesandcontainsinjunctionsbasedoncastedistinctions.

The definition of Hindu contained in Explanation II to Article 25 of the Constitution of India is


expandedforthespecialpurposesofArticle25(2)(b)andfornoother.

N.W.Karwadiv.P.H.Shambharkar[1958]A.I.R.Bom.296,S.C.60Bom.L.R.776referredto.

JUDGMENT

J.R.Mudholkar,J.

1. The question which arises for consideration in this appeal by special leave from the judgment of the
BombayHighCourtiswhetherrespondentNo.1Dr.D.P.Meshramwasentitledtobeacandidateforelection
totheMaharashtraLegislativeAssemblyfromconstituencyNo.190ofNagpurIII,aconstituencyreserved
forcandidatesfromscheduledcastes.

2.Theappellantandrespondents1to4werecandidatesdulynominatedforelectiontotheAssemblyfromthe
aforesaidconstituency.ThepollwastakenonFebruary27,1962andrespondentNo.1whohadpolledthe
highestnumberofvoteswasdeclaredelected.Theappellantthereuponpreferredanelectionpetitionbefore
the Election Commission, the main allegations in which were (a) that respondent No. 1 having embraced
Buddhism on March 17, 1957 had ceased to be a member of a Scheduled Caste within the meaning of the
Constitution(ScheduledCastes)Order,1950andwasthusdisentitledfrombeingacandidatefortheparticular

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seatand(b)thatrespondentNo.1wasguiltyofseveralcorruptpractices.TheTribunalheldthatthecorrupt
practices alleged against respondent No. 1 were not established. It, however, came to the conclusion that
respondent No. 1 had embraced Buddhism as alleged by the appellant and was, therefore, not eligible for
being a candidate for election from the reserved constituency. Upon this ground the Tribunal set aside the
electionofrespondentNo.1.Itmaybementionedthattheappellanthadmadeafurtherprayertotheeffect
thatheshouldbedeclaredelectedtotheseatbutthisprayerwasnotgrantedbytheTribunalontheground
that he was not the only other candidate for election and, therefore, it cannot be said how the votes which
respondentNo.1hadsecuredwouldhavebeendistributedamongtheremainingcandidates.Aggrievedbythe
decision of the Tribunal respondent No. 1 preferred an appeal before the High Court of Bombay. The only
questionwhichwasurgedbeforetheHighCourtwasregardingtheallegedconversionofrespondentNo.1to
Buddhism.OnthatquestiontheHighCourtreversedthefindingoftheTribunalandheldthatthefacthadnot
beenestablishedbyevidence.TheHighCourt,therefore,upheldtheelectionofrespondentNo.1.

3. In support of his contention that respondent No. 1 was converted to Buddhism on March 17, 1957 the
appellanthadadducedevidenceofP.W.9RamrattanJanorkar,P.W.2AkantMate,P.W.5DevajiBhagatand
P.W.10WasudeoDongre.RamrattanwhoclaimstobeaBuddhahassaidthathepresidedoverameetingheld
at Lashkari Bagh, Nagpur, two or three days after the Holi festival of the year 1957 at which a mass
conversion of persons belonging to Scheduled Castes to Buddhism took place. He named ten persons who,
accordingtohim,hadbeenconvertedatthatmeeting,oneofthembeingrespondentNo.1.Amongstothers
named by him were P.W. 2 Akant Mate, P.W. 5 Devaji Bhagat and P.W. 10 Wasudeo Dongre. These three
persons have corroborated the evidence of Ramrattan. We have been taken through the evidence of these
witnesses and though there may be some contradictions on minor points on the whole their evidence is
consistentandhasaringoftruthinit.Moreover,theTribunalwhichheardandsawthewitnessesdeposehas
believed in their veracity. The High Court has, however, not chosen to accept their evidence mainly on the
groundthatthesewitnesses belong to a party which is opposed to respondentNo.1andhisparty.Itisnot
disputedbeforeusthatthesewitnessesaswellasrespondentNo.1weremembersoftheRepublicanPartyof
India founded by the late Dr. Ambedkar and that some time after his death there was rift in the party as a
resultofwhichtwogroupswereformed.TheleaderofoneofthesegroupsinHaridasAwadeandthatofthe
otherisKhobargade.RespondentNo.1belongstothegroupheadedbyKhobargadewhiletheappellantand
thewitnessesbelongtotheothergroup.

4.WeagreewiththeHighCourtthatweshouldnotlosesightofthisfact.Inouropinion,however,thereare
goodgroundsforacceptingtheevidence.

5.Inthefirstplacethereisthefact,whichisadmittedbyrespondentNo.1himself,thatamassconversionof
a very large number of persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes to Buddhism took place at Nagpur on
October14,1956atameetingwhichwaspresidedoverbyDr.Ambedkar.Whattookplaceatthatmeetingis
setoutinEx.66whichgivesanaccountoftheproceedings.Itsaysthatabout5lakhsofpersonsattendedthe
meeting. At that meeting Dr. Ambedkar was present along with Rev. Mahesthavir Chandramani who is a
Bhikku. The Bhikku made Dr. Ambedkar and Mrs. Ambedkar recite the three refuges (Thrisathi) and five
preceptsinPali,afterwhichbothofthemgarlandedtheidolofLordBuddhawhichhadbeeninstalledinthe
pandal where Dr. and Mrs. Ambedkar, the Bhikku and other prominent people were sitting. Dr. and Mrs.
Ambedkarthentook22vowswhichapparentlyhehadhimselfprepared.Thereafterthemassordinationtook
placeatwhichthosewhowishedtobeconvertedrecitedthethreerefugesthreetimes.Thiseventhadattracted
attentionthroughoutthecountryandwasgivenwidepublicitybythepresswhichwaswellrepresentedatthe
meeting. Respondent No. 1 has admitted that he was a member of Dr. Ambedkar's party at that time and
thoughhecouldnotattendtheconversionceremonyhehadnotdissociatedhimselffromit.Accordingtohim
thereasonwhyhedidnotattendtheceremonywasthathewasthenbusywithmakingarrangementsatthe
waterworksforthesupplyofwatertothelakhsofpeople,mostofwhomhadcomefromtheneighbouring
villagestoattendtheceremony.Itisintheevidenceofwitnessesthatatleastthreelakhsofpersonsbelonging
totheScheduledCasteswereconvertedtoBuddhismatthatmeetingandthattheworkofconversionwenton
evenafterOctober14,1956forquitesometime.Anotherfactortobeborneinmindisthatprominentpersons
belonging to the Scheduled Castes were converted to Buddhism and it would be highly improbable that
respondent No. 1 who was a prominent member of the Scheduled Castes in Nagpur and a follower of Dr.
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AmbedkarwouldhaveremainedalooffromthemovementstartedbyDr.Ambedkar.ThemainobjectofDr.
AmbedkarwastosecureforthemembersoftheScheduledCastesanhonourableplaceinsocietyandhefelt
thatthevariousdisabilitiesplaceduponmembersofthesecasteswereduetothefactthatinHindureligionto
whichtheybelonged,theyhadbeenaccordedthelowestrankinsocietywiththeresultthattheyhadcometo
beregardedasuntouchables.Undoubtedly,thecastesystemhasvirtuallycometoberegardedasanessential
featureofHindusocietyand,therefore,Dr.Ambedkarfeltthattheonlywayopentomembersbelongingto
thelowestgroupwastosevertheirconnectioncompletelyfromsuchasociety.HefoundthatBuddhism,the
way or path of peace, not only, offered solace to the spirit but also social equality to all its members. Dr.
Ambedkar was the unquestioned leader of the Scheduled Castes, at any rate in Maharashtra. It would,
therefore,notbeunreasonabletoinferthatthosewhohadacceptedhisleadershipandthosewhoinaddition
heldprominentplacesamongstpeoplebelongingtotheScheduledCastesshouldfollowDr.Ambedkarand
renouncing Hinduism embrace like him, Buddhism. If this probability is borne in mind the evidence of the
witnesses who have deposed to the fact of the actual conversion of respondent No. 1 to Buddhism would
becomemoreeasilyacceptable.

6.That,however,isnotall.Corroborationofthisevidencewassoughttobesuppliedbytheappellantfrom
the conduct of respondent No. 1 subsequent to his conversion. For this purpose he has relied upon three
matters:OneisthesigningofadeclarationbyrespondentNo.1alongwithsomeotherpersonstotheeffect
thathehadembracedBuddhismandthathe,therefore,ceasedtobeanylongeramemberoftheScheduled
Castesthesecondisaweddinginvitationsubscribedto,amongstothers,byrespondentNo.1onwhichthe
picture of Lord Buddha is inscribed : and the third is the conversion of a Shiva temple situate near the
appellant'shousetoaBuddhatemple.

7.ThedeclarationisEx.42andisdatedJuly5,1957.Itistothefollowingeffect:

"Towhomsoeveritmayconcern:

We,thefollowingsignatories,doherebyaffirmthatweembracedBuddhareligionon
1731957andnolongersinceremainHarijans."

8. Then follow the names of ten persons, including P.W. 2 Akant Mate, P.W. 5 Devaji Bhagat and P.W. 10
Dongre. Each of them has signed therein against his name. The reason why this declaration came into
existenceis,accordingtotheappellant,thefollowing:

Elections had taken place to the Nagpur Corporation and a meeting was held on July 5, 1957 for
selection of six additional members. One of the Corporators, Mr. Udhoji, raised a point of order to
theeffectthatnomemberoftheScheduledCasteshavingbeenelectedtotheCorporationaperson
belonging to the Scheduled Castes was required to be selected under the provisions of the Nagpur
MunicipalCorporationAct.RespondentNo.1wasoneofthepersonswhohadalreadybeenelected
totheCorporationandwaspresentatthemeeting.He,however,didnotcontestthestatementofMr.
UdhojitotheeffectthatnopersonbelongingtotheScheduledCasteshadbeenelected.Apparently,
the point of order was disallowed and selection of six members, none of whom belonged to the
Scheduled Castes, took place. Immediately thereafter the declaration referred to above was signed
bytenpersons,includingrespondentNo.1,whohadallbeenelectedasmembersoftheMunicipal
CorporationattheCorporationelection.Thiswasfiledalongwiththewritpetitionpresentedbefore
theHighCourtinwhichtheselectionmadeatthemeetingofJuly5,wassoughttobequashedonthe
ground that no person belonging to a Scheduled Caste had been selected. Respondent No. 1 admits
thathedidsignthisdeclarationbutinhiswrittenstatementthereasongivenbyhimisthathedidso
underpoliticalpressure.Inhisevidence,however,hehasgivenadifferentexplanation.Thisiswhat
hehassaid:

"AkantMatecametherewithsomewritingandtoldusthatitwasthedirectiveof
theScheduledCastesFederationthatmemberselectedonitsticketsshouldsignit.

.......IdonotknowhowhegotthatdirectivefromtheFederation,andfromwhom
hegotit.ThewritingwasinEnglishandIsigneduponit.AkantMatetoldmethatI

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should sign on the document, he would go and get signatures of other Corporators
andgiveitintheCorporationoffice.IcouldnotmyselfreadtheEnglishtypewritten
material. Akant Mate told me that the President of the meeting gave the ruling in
the information by the Commissioner that I and Mate were members of the
Scheduled Caste and that if this were not so, we would be able to get one more
member and, therefore, I should sign on the document. My consent was not taken
forfilingthedeclarationintheHighCourt.Iwasnotapartytotheproceedingsin
theHighCourt,inconnectionwithwhichthedeclarationwastaken."

9.Whathehassaidis,insubstance,thathewasdupedbyAkantMate.Thereisthusavariationbetweenhis
pleading and the proof adduced and in the circumstances we will be justified in rejecting his explanation.
Oncetheexplanationisrejectedthedeclarationmustbetakenintoaccountasapieceofcorroborationofthe
factthathehadceasedtobeaHinduashehadbeenconvertedtoBuddhism.

10.RespondentNo.1doesnotdenythattheweddinginvitationplacedonrecordbytheappellantbearshis
nameasoneofthehosts.TheinvitationpertainstotheweddingofhisdaughtersLalitaandPushpaLataand
theirrespectivebridegroomswereSirishandYashwantRao.Atthetopoftheinvitationaretheusualwords
"Subh Langna" (auspicious wedding). Then there is a picture of Lord Buddha followed by the inscription
"MayvictoryandprosperitybyyoursObeisancestoBuddha".ItiswellknownthatinHinduweddingsthe
invitationsissuedinanIndianlanguagethepictureoftheKuladaivataisgenerallyprintedandtheblessingsof
theKuladaivataareinvoked.HadrespondentNo.1consideredhimselftobeaHinduhewouldhavefollowed
theusualpractice.Nodoubt,sophisticatedpeople,thoughstillbelongingtoHindureligion,havediscardedthe
practiceofprintingthepictureofthefamilydeityonweddinginvitationsandofinvokingtheblessingsofthe
deity.RespondentNo.1doesnotsuggestthathebelongstothatclass.Indeed,ifthatwereso,therewould
havebeennooccasiontoprintthepictureofLordBuddhaandseekhisblessings.Inthisinvitationthepicture
oftheKuladaivatawassubstitutedbythatofLordBuddha.ThisismoreconsistentwithRespondentNo.1
havingbecomeaBuddhistthatwithhisremainingaHindu.

11.AccordingtorespondentNo.1hedidnotknowtillaftertheSakshyagandh(engagement)wasoverthat
eitherofthebridegroomswasaBuddhist.Hesaysthataweekbeforethemarriagessomeonefromthesideof
thebridegroomsmethimandtoldhimthattheweddingshadtobeperformedaccordingtotheBuddhistritual
andifhewasnotagreeabletheengagementswouldbebrokenoff.Itwasthenthathefirstthoughtthatthe
bridegroomswereBuddhists.However,hedidnotthinkitpropertobreakofftheengagements.Now,ifhe
werestillaHindubelongingtotheScheduledCastesitisunlikelythathewouldhavereconciledhimselfwith
the idea of giving his daughters in marriage to nonHindus, more particularly when the bridegrooms' side
insisted on following the Buddhist ritual. He has, no doubt, tried to give an explanation for this curious
conduct by saying that he treated Lord Buddha as the "11th (sic) incarnation" and that is why he had Lord
Buddha'spictureprintedontheweddinginvitation.Thatexplanationcannotbeeasilyaccepted.

12.AsregardsthethirdcircumstancethereistheevidenceofBudhajiGodbole,P.W.11,andKisanShende,
P.W.14,inadditiontothatoftheappellant.AccordingtothemrespondentNo.1convertedtheShivaTemple
inGautamnagarintoBuddhatempleonJune6,1959andinstalledLordBuddha'simageatafunctionover
whichhepresidedandatwhichDr.Y.B.Ambedkar,PresidentofBuddhistSocietywaspresent.Respondent
No. 1 had admitted most of the facts, as pointed out by the High Court itself. The variation between the
contentionsofthepartiesisthis.AccordingtorespondentNo.1therewasaShivaTempleonaplotoflandin
GaddigudamatNagpur.Whilelayinganewroadintheyear1932orsothisplotwastakenoverbytheNazul
authorities and another plot was given for the Shiva Temple in exchange. But according to him, no Shiva
TemplewasatallconstructedorShivaLinginstalledtherein.Thisisobviouslyuntrue.Headmitsthatthis
plot "was managed by a Panch Committee" of which he was a member. For, without constructing a Shiva
TempleontheplottherecouldhavebeennothingtomanagebythePanchCommittee.Nodoubt,hesaysthat
while he was Chairman of that Committee in the year 1959 or 1960 it was decided to construct a Shiva
Templethereon.Butitisdifficulttobelievethatthepeopleofthelocalitywouldhavewaitedfor28yearsfor
takingthedecision.HeadmitsthatatemplededicatedtoLordBuddhawasconstructedthereonasallegedby
theappellantandhiswitnesses.Itseemsclearthatthedecisionofthecommitteetowhichherefersrelatedto
theconstructionofthistempleandnottoaShivaTemplewhichwasalreadythere.Theevidenceledonbehalf
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of the appellant was to the effect that at the ceremony held on June 6, 1959 the idol of Lord Buddha was
installedabovetheShivaLinga,presumablymeaningtherebythattheShivaLingawasoverlaidwithearthor
bricksandonthetopofittheimageofLordBuddhawasinstalled.ReferringtotheevidenceofShendethe
HighCourthasobserved:

"ThewitnesshoweverdoesnotsaythathesawtheremovaloftheoldimageofLordShivaortheLing
and the Pinda which were already there. On the other hand, it is the case of Meshram that the
CorporationhadalreadygivenanotherplottowhichtheShivaMandirhadlongbeforebeenshiftedand
sincethisplotwasidle,hegaveitfortheinstallationofBuddha'sidol."

13.TheobservationoftheHighCourtunderlinedbyusisapparentlybasedonamisreadingoftheevidenceof
respondentNo.1andalsoignoreshispleaonthepointinhiswrittenstatement.Itisnothiscasethattwoplots
wereallottedforaShivaTempleoneofwhichwasvacant.Hiscase,asalreadystated,wasthattheplotgiven
inexchangefortheoldonewasneverutilisedandnotthattwoplotsweregiven,oneofwhichwasutilised.
Again,theHighCourthasfailedtoappreciateproperlytheevidenceofBudhajiGodbole.Whathehassaidis
this:

"One house away from the house of respondent No. 1 is a plot of land on which then stood a Shiva
Temple.ThisplotstoodinthenameoftherespondentNo.1.InthattemplewasLingandPindofShiva
......From661959thistemplehasnowbecomeBuddhaVihar.Onthatday,theLingandPindwereput
underground and at that place was installed idol of God Buddha ..... The installation of the image of
GodBuddhawasdonebyBhaiyasahebAmbedkar.ItwastherespondentNo.1whowastheprincipal
maninconvertingtheShivatempleintoaBuddhaVihar."

14.Thereisnosuggestioninhiscrossexaminationthatthiswitnesshadnopersonalknowledgeofwhathe
had deposed to. Since he has clearly spoken about the burial of the Shiva Linga and the installation of the
image of Lord Buddha on top of it, he must be understood to mean that this was what happened in his
presenceandalsointhatofrespondentNo.1.Incidentally,itmaybestatedthatthiswitnessisalsoaconvert
toBuddhism.AreferencemayalsobemadetotheevidenceoftheotherwitnessKisanShende.Therelevant
portionofhisdepositionisasfollows:

"The respondent No. 1 was the President of the function. The idol of Buddha was installed by
BhaiyasahebAmbedkaronanotawhichcoveredtheoldLingandPindrepresentingGodShiv........."

15. This part of evidence of this witness has not been challenged in crossexamination. There is no reason
whythisevidenceoughtnottobeaccepted,particularlywhensomeoftheessentialfactsdeposedtobythe
witnesses have been admitted by respondent No. 1 himself. If we accept this evidence then the only
conclusion which can emerge is that respondent No. 1 had ceased to be a Hindu. For, however great the
admirationorregardaHindumayhaveforLordBuddha,hewouldshudderattheideaofdesecratingaShiva
Linga in this manner or even of converting what was once a Shiva temple into a Buddhist temple. In our
opinion,thiswouldbethestrongestcircumstancecorroboratingtheevidenceofeyewitnessesregardingthe
conversionofrespondentNo.1toBuddhism.

16.ItiscontendedonbehalfofrespondentNo.1thatthereisaregisterofpersonswhohadbeenconverted
too Buddhism and that the first respondent's name does not appear there. It is true that R.W. 5 Waman
Godbolespeaksofsomeregisterbuthisevidenceclearlyshowsthattheregisterisnotregularlymaintained
norarethesignaturesofpersonswhohadbeenconvertedtakenaccordingtothedatesofconversion.Thereis
nothing to show that it was obligatory on every person who had been converted to sign in the register.
Moreover,asignatureinsucharegisterwouldatbestbeonlyapieceofevidenceofthefactofconversion
andnothingmore.Absenceofaperson'ssignatureintheregisterwouldnotnecessarilynegativehisbeingat
allconvertedtoBuddhism.ThenitissaidthatonlyBhikkuisentitledtoconvertnonBuddhiststoBuddhism.
There is abundant evidence on record that at the conversion ceremony held on October 14, 1956 Dr.
AmbedkarhadtoldthenewBuddhiststhatanyonewhohadbecomeaBuddhistcouldadmitotherstothefold
ofBuddhism.Apartfromthatwehavebeenshownnoauthoritytotheeffectthatapersoncannotbecomea
BuddhistunlessheisconvertedtoBuddhismbyaBhikku.Buddhismwasinessencealsoaprotestagainst

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orthodoxyandthepowerofthepriesthood.Itwould,therefore,bestrangetosaythatforanonBuddhistto
becomeaBuddhiststrictcompliancewithritualsisnecessary.Itisinevidencethatateveryconversionthree
vows had been repeated thrice. Five precepts had also to be repeated by those who offered themselves for
conversion.ThiswasexactlywhatwasdonebyDr.Ambedkar,hiswifeandothersatthemassmeetingon
October14,1956anditisnotsuggestedthatwhattheydidwasinadequateandsotheycannotbedeemedto
haveembracedBuddhismfromthatdate.Itis,therefore,futiletosaythatotherswhowentthroughthesame
procedurehadnotbecomeBuddhistsmerelybecausenoBhikkuhadofficiatedatthefunction.

17.Whatclause(3)oftheConstitution(ScheduledCastes)Order,1950contemplatesisthatforapersontobe
treatedasonebelongingtoaScheduledCastewithinthemeaningofthatOrderhemustbeonewhoprofesses
either Hindu or Sikh religion. The High Court, following its earlier decision in Karwade v. Shambhakar
MANU/MH/0086/1958:AIR1958Bom296hassaidthatthemeaningofthephrase"professesareligion"in
the aforementioned provision is "to enter publicly into a religious state" and that for this purpose a mere
declaration by person that he has ceased to belong to a particular religion and embraced another religion
wouldnotbesufficient.Themeaningsoftheword"profess"havebeengiventhusinWebster'sNewWord
Dictionary:"toavowpubliclytomakeanopendeclarationof.......todeclareone'sbeliefin:as,toprofess
Christ.Toacceptintoareligiousorder."ThemeaningsgivenintheShorterOxfordDictionaryaremoreor
lessthesame.Itseemstousthatthemeaning"todeclareone'sbeliefin:astoprofessChrist"isonewhichwe
havetobearinmindwhileconstruingtheaforesaidorderbecauseitisthiswhichbearsuponreligiousbelief
andconsequentlyalsouponachangeinreligiousbelief.Itwouldthusfollowthatadeclarationofone'sbelief
must necessarily mean a declaration in such a way that it would be known to those whom it may interest.
Therefore,ifapublicdeclarationismadebyapersonthathehasceasedtobelongtohisoldreligionandhas
accepted another religion he will be taken as professing the other religion. In the face of such an open
declarationitwouldbeidletoenquirefurtherastowhethertheconversiontoanotherreligionwasefficacious.
Theword"profess"inthePresidentialOrderappearstohavebeenusedinthesenseofanopendeclarationor
practicebyapersonoftheHindu(ortheSikh)religion.Where,therefore,apersonsays,onthecontrary,that
hehasceasedtobeaHinduhecannotderiveanybenefitfromthatOrder.

18. Finally it is argued that the word Hindu is comprehensive enough to include a Buddhist and in this
connectionourattentionisinvitedtoExplanationIItoclause(2)ofArt.25oftheConstitution.Clause(1)of
Art.25recognises,amongstotherthings,freedomtopractiseandpropagatereligion.Subclause(b)ofclause
(2)runsthus:

"NothinginthisarticleshallaffecttheoperationofanyexistinglaworpreventtheStatefrommaking
anylaw

...

(b)providingforsocialwelfareandreformorthethrowingopenofHindureligiousinstitutionsofa
publiccharactertoallclassesandsectionsofHindus."

ExplanationIIreadsthus:

"Insubclause(b)ofclause(2),thereferencetoHindusshallbeconstruedasincludingareferenceto
personsprofessingtheSikh,JainaorBuddhistreligion,andthereferencetoHindureligiousinstitutions
shallbeconstruedaccordingly."

19.ThedefinitionofHinduisexpandedforthespecialpurposesofsubclause(b)ofclause(2)ofArt.25and
fornoother.Paragraph3oftheConstitution(ScheduledCastes)Orderreadsthus:

"Notwithstandinganythingcontainedinparagraph2,nopersonwhoprofessesareligiondifferentfrom
theHinduortheSikhreligionshallbedeemedtobeamemberofaScheduledCaste."

20.Ifitwasintendedthattheword"Hindu"usedinthisparagraphshouldhaveawidemeaningsimilartothat
inExplanationIIjustquotedtherewouldhavebeennoneedtomakeamentionoftheSikhreligion.Fromthe
factthataspecialmentionismadeoftheSikhreligionitwouldfollowthattheword"Hindu"isusedinthe
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narrower sense of the orthodox Hindu religion which recognises castes and contains injunctions based on
castedistinctions.

21.FortheforegoingreasonswearesatisfiedthatrespondentNo.1hadceasedtobeaHinduatthedateofhis
nominationandthatconsequentlyhewasineligibletobeacandidateforelectionfromaconstituencyreserved
for members of Scheduled Castes. In the circumstances the Tribunal was right in setting aside his election.
Accordinglyweallowtheappeal,setasidethejudgmentoftheHighCourtandrestorethatoftheTribunal.
CoststhroughoutwillbebornebyrespondentNo.1.

22.Appealallowed.

ManupatraInformationSolutionsPvt.Ltd.

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