24 August 1964
Supreme Court


Case number: Appeal (civil) 326 of 1962






DATE OF JUDGMENT: 24/08/1964


CITATION:  1965 AIR  906            1965 SCR  (1)  96

ACT: The  Jaipur Matmi Rules, 1945, rr. 4 and 5-"State grant"  in favour  of  idol-Liability  for  "Matmi  dues"-Practice-Writ Petition-Maintainability by affected party.

HEADNOTE: The  appellant,  an Idol, is the grantee of  certain  lands. They  are  "State  grants" under r. 4 of  the  Jaipur  Matmi Rules, 1945, having been made or recognised by the Ruler  of the State.  All State grants are subject to Matmi dues under the  Rules, that is, to the amount payable to the  State  by the  successor of a deceased grantee, on his recognition  as such.   There had been changes in the person of the  Shebait of the idol twice, the previous incumbent dying and his  son being recognised as the successor.  The respondent therefore passed  an  order  demanding Matmi  dues  from  the  present Shebait.   The  appellant by a Writ  Petition  disputed  the validity  of the order, but the petition was dismissed.   On appeal, HELD:(i) The grants in question being grants made in  favour of  the idol and not in favour of the Shebaits, no  question of the death of the grantee or his successor could arise and consequently, the respondent could not claim any Matmi  dues from the appellant. [100F-H]. (ii)Though  the  order for payment of Matmi  dues  had  been nominally passed against the Shebait, as they were  intended to  be  enforced  against the properties  belonging  to  the appellant,  the appellant’s Writ Petition was  maintainable. [102E-G].

JUDGMENT: CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal No. 326 of 1962. Appeal from the judgment and order dated September 10,  1959 of the Rajasthan High Court in D. B. Civil Writ Petition No. 10 of 1957. B.   K. Bhattacharya and S. N. Mukherjee, for the appellant. G.   C.   Kasliwal,  Advocate-General  for  the   State   of Rajasthan, K.   K. Jain and R. N. Sachthey, for the respondents.



The Judgment of the Court was delivered by Gajendragadkar C. J.  The  short point of law which arises in this  appeal  is whether  under rule 5 of the Jaipur Matmi Rules,  1945,  the appellant,  the Idol of Thakurji Shri Govind Deoji  Maharaj, is  liable to pay the Matmi amount in question.  It  appears that  respondent No. 1, the Board of Revenue, had passed  an order on November 6, 1956, directing that the Matalaba Matmi amounting  to Rs. 15,404/14/6 be recovered from the  Shebait of the appellant temple.  The appellant disputed the 97 validity of this order and filed a Writ Petition (No. 10  of 1957)  in  the High Court of Rajasthan contending  that  the said  amount  was not recoverable from the  appellant.   The High  Court  has  dismissed  this  writ  petition  and   the appellant has come to this court with a certificate  granted by the High Court. In its petition, the case for the appellant was that several lands  had been granted to the appellant from time  to  time and that these grants were made in the name of the Idol, and that  the Seva Pooja of the Idol and the management  of  its properties was entrusted to the Goswami ever since the  Idol of  Thakurji Shri Govind Deoji Maharaj was taken  to  Jaipur from Brindaban.  On the death of the ninth Shebait,  Goswami Shri  Krishna Chandra succeeded to the Shebaitship  in  1888 and  continued  to be in management as  such  Shebait  until 1935.   On  his  death, his eldest son  Goswami  Bhola  Nath succeeded and Seva Pooja was looked after by him during  his lifetime.   On the death of Goswami Bhola Nath in 1945,  his eldest   son  Goswami  Pradumna  Kumar  succeeded   to   the Shebaitship  and has been carrying on the management of  the properties of the temple and looking after the Seva Pooja of the  Idol.  It was during the management of  Pradumna  Kumar that the impugned order has been passed by respondent No. 1. According  to  this  order, Matmi has  been  sanctioned  "in favour of Goswami Bhola Nath on the death of Krishna Chandra Deo  and  in favour of Pradumna Kumar Deo on  the  death  of Bhola Nath" and the total amount directed in that behalf  is Rs.  15,404/14/6.   The  appellant’s  petition  specifically averred  that the property in question bad been  granted  to the  Idol itself and that the Shebaits have been  performing the  Seva Pooja of the Idol and managing the  properties  of the  temple  as such Shebaits.  On  these  allegations,  the appellant   prayed  that  an  appropriate  writ,  order   or direction should be issued prohibiting respondent No. 1  and the  Collector, Sawai Madhopur, respondent No. 2, and  their nominees  or agents from recovering or from taking any  step for  the recovery of any Matalaba Matmi under  the  impugned order of respondent No. 1 from the petitioner’s estate.  The appellant   also  claimed  that  an  appropriate  order   or direction  or  writ  should  be  issued  quashing  the  said impugned  order as well as the prior order dated  April  20, 1954 on which the latter order was based. Respondents 1, 2 and the State of Rajasthan which was joined as respondent No. 3 disputed the appellant’s claim and  made several pleas.  In regard to the allegation of the appellant that  the  properties in question had been  granted  to  the Idol, the 98 respondents’  reply merely, stated that allegation  was  not admitted as the documents regarding the original grants were not  traceable.   The respondents urged  that  the  Matalaba Matmi  had been properly levied by respondent No. 1  against the  Shebaits  and that the appellants  grievance  that  its properties  were not liable to pay the said amount  was  not well-founded.



The  High Court has proceeded to deal with this  dispute  on the  basis  that the appellant, the Idol  of  Thakurji  Shri Govind  Deoji Maharaj was the owner of the properties.   It, however, took the view that since the Shebaits were managing the  properties  and  performing  the  Seva  Pooja  of   the appellant  Idol,  Shebaitship  itself  being  property   the relevant  Rules  applied, because  the  beneficial  interest which the Shebaits held could be said to amount to a  ’State grant’ within the meaning of r.4(1). On this view, the  High Court  came to the conclusion that what,is  contemplated  in the  Matmi  Rules is the succession to a Shebait.   In  that connection,  the  High Court referred to the fact  that  the predecessors  of the present Shebait had applied  for  Matmi and  the  present  Shebait himself had  similarly  filed  an application  in that behalf.  According to the  High  Court, the plain meaning of the definition of ’Matmi’ is that it is payable  at  the time of the recognition of  the  succeeding Shebait.   In  this  connection  the  High  Court  has  also observed  that the writ petition had been filed by the  Idol and though the Shebait appeared as the agent of the Idol, it was  not a petition filed by the Shebait as such, and  since the impugned order had been passed against the Shebait,  the grievance  made by the Idol was technically  not  justified. Even so, since the High Court was inclined to take the  view that by virtue of the beneficial interest which the Shebaits have  in the property of the temple the impugned  order  had been  properly passed, the High Court considered the  merits of the writ petition filed by the appellant and dismissed it with  costs.   The  main  judgment  has  been  delivered  by Bhandari  J.  Modi.  J. has agreed with the  conclusions  of Bhandari  J.  and  in a brief order  he  has  indicated  the principal grounds on which his conclusions rested.  Modi  J. also held that it was not possible for the Court to help the appellant  in view of the Rules as they stand.   He  thought that  the only relief which the appellant can secure  is  by moving  respondent  No. 3 to exercise its  discretion  under clause (xvii) of r.20 and get exemption from the payment  of the  amount in question.  It is against this  decision  that the appellant has come to this Court. The  Jaipur Matmi Rules came into force in 1945 and some  of the   relevant  provisions  of  these  Rules  must  now   be considered 99 Rule  4 contains definitions.  Rule, 4(1) defines  a  ’State grant’  as  meaning a grant of an interest in land  made  or recognised  by the Ruler of the Jaipur State and includes  a jagir,  muamla, suba, istimrar, chakoti, badh,  bhom,  inam, tankha,   udak,  milak,  aloofa,  khangi,  bhog   or   other charitable  or  religious  grant, a  site  granted  free  of premium  for  a residence or a garden, or other grant  of  a similar nature.  Rule 4(2) defines a person holding a  State grant as a ’State Grantee’.  Rule 4(3) refers to ’Matmi’ and defines it in these terms:               "Matmi"  means  mutation of the  name  of  the               successor to a State grant on the death of the               last  holder.  The person in whose name  matmi               is sanctioned is called the "matmidar" and the               sum payable by him on his recognition as  such               by the State is called "matalba matmi".               Rule 4 (4) defines ’Nazarana’ thus:               "Nazrana"  is the sum payable, in addition  to               matalba  matmi,  by  an adopted son  or  by  a               successor  other  than a  direct  male  lineal               descendant of the last holder". It  will thus be noticed that under r. 4 (1) a  State  grant



means,  inter alia, a grant of an interest in land  made  by the  Ruler of the Jaipur State and it includes a  charitable or  religious  grant.   The High Court has  dealt  with  the present  writ petition on the basis that the grant has  been made  in  favour of the Idol.  In fact, the  two  grants  to which  our  attention was invited fully support  this  view. The  copy of the Patta dated 21st Ramzan St. 1123  (Amnexure Exbt.  4)  shows  that  the  villages  Dehra  and  Salampukh Balahadi in Pargana Hindaun Baseshu Prasad were allotted for "Punya Bhog" of Thakurji Sriji.  Similarly, the copy of  the Patta  dated  Katik Badi 8 of Smt. 1808 (Annexure  Exbt.  5) shows that the village Govindpur Bas Hathyod Tehsil  Oasaba, Sawai  Jaipur was allotted for the Bhog (food offerings)  of Thakurji Sriji.  Therefore, we feel no difficulty in dealing with  the. present appeal on the same basis which  the  High Court  has adopted in its judgment.  The grants in  question were grants made in favour of the Idol and not in favour  of the  Shebaits.  It is well-known that a religious grant  can be made either in favour of the Idol as such or may be  made to  a  person burdening the grantee with the  obligation  to render  requisite services to the temple.  It is  with,  the first  category  of  grants that we are  concerned  in  this appeal.   The  grant is one to the Idol and if  the  Shebait manages the properties granted to the Idol, it is by virtue 100 of  his  Shebaitship and not because he is in any  manner  a grantee from the State as such. Rule  5 provides that all State grants shall be  subject  to Matmi with certain exceptions.  With these exceptions we are not concerned.  Rule 6 provides for the submission of  death reports  by persons claiming succession to a grant.  Rule  7 prescribes  the penalty for the successor’s failure to  make the report.  Rule 8 provides for attachment of State  grants pending  Matmi.   Rule 9 provides for the  Bhograj  expenses during. attachment of a bhog grant.  Under Rule 12, a  claim for  succession to a State grant, if not made within a  year of the last holder’s death, shall be rejected as time-barred and the grant resumed.  Rule 13 deals ,with the question  of the  persons  entitled to succeed.  Rule 14 deals  with  the same  problem  in  the  absence  of  a  direct  male  lineal descendant.   The proviso to rule 14 lays down, inter  alia, that in the case of a grant for the maintenance of a temple, other than a lain temple, it shall be within the  discretion of the Government to select as successor any one of the male lineal descendants of the original grantee, with due  regard to his suitability for the performance of worship.  With the rest  of  the  Rules we are not  concerned  in  the  present appeal. The  question  which arises is, can the grant  made  to  the appellant be said to attract the operation of rule 5 ?  Rule 5  prescribes  for  the levy of Matmi in  respect  of  State grants  and  if the said rule applies, the  appellant  would have  no case.  In deciding the question as to  whether  the appellant’s  estate is liable to pay Matmi under r. 5 it  is necessary to examine the nature of this Matmi, and find  out whether  a  claim in respect of it can be made  against  the appellant.   We  have  already  noticed  that  Matmi   means mutation  of the name of the successor to a State  grant  on the  death  of the last holder.  It is obvious that  in  the case of a grant to the Idol or temple as such there would be no  question about the death of the grantee and,  therefore, no  question  about  its  successor.  An  Idol  which  is  a juridical person is not subject to death, because the  Hindu concept  is  that  the Idol lives for ever, and  so,  it  is plainly impossible to predicate about the Idol which is  the



grantee  in the present case that it has died at  a  certain time  and the claims of a successor fall to  be  determined. That being so, it seems difficult to hold that any claim for Matmi  can  be  made against the appellant,  and  that  must clearly  lead  to  the  inference  that  no  amount  can  be recovered  from the properties belonging to the Idol on  the ground that Matmi is claimable 101 against  a  person  who claims to be the  successor  of  the Shebait of the appellant. The  learned  Advocate-General was unable  to  dispute  this position.   He, however, attempted to argue that all  grants pertaining  to  the  properties of the  appellant  were  not before the Court, and so, it may not be proper to proceed on the basis that all the properties of the appellant have been granted  to  the  appellant in its own  name.   We  are  not impressed by this argument.  We have already noticed that  a specific  averment was made by the appellant in paragraph  3 of  its writ petition that all the State grants made to  the appellant  from time to time were in the name of  the  Idol, and though the, respondents did not specifically admit  this averment,  they pleaded that since the  documents  regarding the  original grants were not traceable, they  required  the appellant  to prove its case in that behalf.  The  appellant produced two grants and it appears from the judgment of  the High  Court that the matter was proceeded with on the  basis that  the ldol is the grantee of all the  properties.   That being so, we do not think it is open to the Advocate-General now  to  contend that some of the properties may  have  been granted   to  the  Shebaits  no  doubt  burdened  with   the obligation to perform the services of the Idol. The High Court appears to have taken the view that because a Shebait  has  some  kind of a  beneficial  interest  in  the property  of  the temple, that  beneficial  interest  itself could  be treated as a State grant and it is on  this  basis that  the High Court held that the impugned order passed  by respondent No. 1 was valid.  In the present case we are  not concerned  to enquire whether for recognising  a  succeeding Shebait  any Matmi can be recovered by the respondents;  but since the High Court has laid emphasis on the fact that  the Shebait has a beneficial interest in the properties  granted to  the appellant, it is necessary to point out that  though the  Shebait by virtue of the special position attaching  to Shebait  under  the  Hindu law  can  claim  some  beneficial interest,  that  interest is derived not by  virtue  of  the grant made by the State, but by virtue of the provisions  of Hindu  law,  or custom, or usage of the temple  or  locality where the temple is situated.  In Tilkayat Shri Govindalalji Maharaj etc. v. State of Rajasthan & Ors., (1) the "position of  the  Shebaits  was  incidentally  considered,  and   the observations made by Mr. Justice Ameer Ali in Vidva  Varuthi Thirtha  Swamigal  v.  Balusami Ayyar (2)  were  cited  with approval.   "In almost every case", said Mr.  Justice  Ameer Ali,  "the  Mahant  is  given the right to  a  part  of  the usufruct, the mode of (1) [1964] 1 S.C.R. 561. (2) 48 I.A. 392, 311. 102 enjoyment and the amount of the usufruct depending again  on usage  and custom.  In no case was the property conveyed  to or  vested in him, nor is he a trustee in the English  sense of  the term, though in view of the obligations  and  duties resting on him, he is answerable as a trustee in the general sense  for  mal-administration." Therefore, it seems  to  us that  the  High  Court  was in error  in  holding  that  the



beneficial  interest  of  the  Shebaits  in  the  properties granted to the appellant amounted to a State grant, and  so, the  impugned  order was perfectly  valid.   The  incidental effect  of  the conclusions reached by the  High  Court  may perhaps  be taken to be that the order passed by  respondent No.  I being valid, the amount in question can be  recovered from  the  properties  of the appellant.   That  is  why  we thought it necessary to clarify the position in law on  this point. In  fact, by Civil Misc.  Petition No. 1081 of 1964  it  has been brought to our notice by the appellant that it had made a compensation claim because lands granted to the  appellant had  been resumed by the State of Rajasthan by  notification No.  F.(388)/  REV/1.A/53  dated Jan. 1, 1959  and  that  an annual  sum  by  way  of  annuity  to  the  Deity  had  been sanctioned  by the State of Rajasthan under its order  dated April 24, 1962.  This order has, however, directed that  the amount  of  Rs.  15,404/14/6  which  has  been  ordered   by respondent  No. 1 to be recovered by way of Matmi should  be deducted  and that, it is urged before us by the  appellant, cannot be done.  This fact clearly shows that the  appellant is justified in apprehending that though the order of  Matmi dues has been nominally passed against the present  Shebait, it  may be enforced against the properties belonging to  the appellant.   Since we have held that the properties  granted to the appellant constitute State grants under r. 4(1),  but do  not  become liable to pay Matmi dues under r.  4(3),  we must  hold that the appellant’s writ petition was  justified inasmuch   as   it  asked  for  an   appropriate   direction restraining  the  respondents and their nominees  or  agents from recovering the said amount from the appellant’s estate. Therefore,  prayer made by the appellant in paragraph  16(1) of  its  writ petition must be allowed.  Since  we  are  not concerned   with  the  validity  of  the  order  passed   by respondent No. 1 against the present Shebait, we propose  to express  no  opinion in regard to the merits of  the  prayer contained in paragraph 16(2) of the writ petition. The  result is, the appeal is allowed, the order  passed  by the  High  Court  is  set aside  and  the  appellant’s  writ petition is allowed with costs. Appeal allowed. 103