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U.P.M.Rajendra Velar v. The Commissioner - WRIT PETITION No. 12765 OF 2002  RD-TN 306 (30 April 2002)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS
THE HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE E.PADMANABHAN
WRIT PETITION No. 12765 OF 2002
WPMP NO: 17157 OF 2002
President of Archagar Sangam
Vettudayar Kaliamman Temple
Alagapuri Post, Sivaganga Taluk. ..Petitioner Vs.
1. The Commissioner,
HR & CE Admn Dept.
2. The Executive Officer
O/o Vettudayar Kaliamman Temple
Alagapuri Post, Sivaganga Taluk. .. Respondents For petitioner :: Mr.W.C.Thiruvengadam
For respondents:: Mr.G.Sukumar, Spl.Govt.Pleader Writ petition filed under Art.226 of The Constitution of India praying for the issue of a writ of certiorarified mandamus, as stated therein. :O R D E R
The petitioner prays for the issue of a writ of certiorarified mandamus calling for the records of the first respondent in RP.No.21 of 2 001, D-2, dated 25.3.2002 on the file of the Commissioner, HR & CE Administration Dept., Chennai, and quash the same.
2. Heard Mr. W.C.Thiruvengadam, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner and Mr.G.Sukumar, Special Government Pleader, appearing for H.R & C.E., taking notice for the respondents.
3. The petitioner claims to be the President of Archagar Sangam in Sri Vettudayar Kaliamman Temple, in Kollengudi Village in Sivaganga Taluk. The petitioner claims that he is one of the Poojaris and also the President of Archagar Sangam consisting of 100 Archagars in total, who are entitled to pooja services by rotation. The second respondent temple is a popular temple in the area and it attracts large number of devotees. For various services ticket system have been introduced under Section 57(1) of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act. The tickets were sold at the rate of Rs.1 for Archana and out which 50 was given to the Poojaris. So also various rates were fixed and the share of the Pojaris were being paid. On 1.7.2001 the Executive Officer increased the rate of ticket for Archana to Rs.2 but fixed the share of Poojaris at 60 paise per ticket as against his being paid 50 paise per ticket. While stating that the Executive Officer had given a notice to the Poojaris communicating the increase, it is contended that the Executive Officer did not consult the poojaris before fixing their share as contemplated under section 5 7(1) of the Act. According to the petitioenr though various rates are revised, there is no proportionate increase in the share of Archagars for various services and it is contended that though increase or decrease should be made after consultation, it should be proportionate for either side. Challenging the increase, the petitioner preferred a revision in R.P.No.21 of 2001 before the first respondent. The first respondent by the impugned proceedings dated 25.3.2002 dismissed the revision petition and being aggrieved, the present writ petition has been filed. The first respondent has recorded a finding in the revision petition that there has been no total reduction of the share of the petitioner or any other Archagars though the rates of various services such as Archana had been increased by the institution. The revision petition has been dismissed and hence the present writ petition.
4. Mr.W.C.Thiruvengadam, learned counsel heavily relied upon the order of P.SATHASIVAM,J., in Executive Officer, Sri Rajagopalaswamy Devasthaman, Mannagudi Vs. Raghava Dikshidar and others, reported in 2001 (1)L.W.544. In the said pronouncement, the Learned Judge held that a notice is required before determining the increase in fees for the ticket for the services in the temple pursuant to the resolution of the Board of Trustees. This court is of the considered view that on facts, the case on hand is clearly distinguishable as there is no decrease in the emoluments, but there is some increase of the share, but it may not proportionate to the increased rate of collection of tickets, besides it has been effected after notice and considering the objections raised.
5. Therefore, the points that arise for consideration are :- A) Whether the claim of Archagars, like the petitioners for proportionate increase in their share in ticket collection rates is legally valid and sustainable ?
B) Whether they should be given a notice before revision of rates even though there is no reduction of share in quantum, besides an upward revision of total shares in favour of Poojaris doing service ?
Both the points could be discussed together.
6. In every statutory provision wherever there is no specific provision for affording an opportunity, the principles of natural justice should be read in to that provision. The basic rule of administrative law being a fair procedure, a fair opportunity should be afforded to put forth or bring one's stand in the proposed action or revision whenever there is an attempt to interfere with the established right or custom or usage. In the present case by the revision of rates there is no reduction in the share of the petitioner, but there is no proportionate sharing in the revised rate of tickets for various pooja services in the temple.
7. Mr.W.C.Thiruvengadam, Learned counsel appearing for the petitioner contends that increase in share should be in proportion or at the rate at which the sharing was prevailing before the revision of rates. This court is unable to persuade itself to agree to such a contention.
8. Section 57 of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act reads thus:-
"Section 57: POWER TO FIX FEES FOR SERVICES ETC., AND TO DETERMINE THEIR APPONTMENTS:-
Notwithstanding anything contained in any scheme settled or deemed to have been settled under this Act or any decree or usage to the contrary, the trustee of a religious institution shall have power, subject to such conditions as the Commissioner may, by general or special order direct to fix fees for the performance of any service, ritual or ceremony in such religious institution and to determine what portion, if any, of such fees shall be paid to the Archakas or other officeholders or servants of such religious institution."
9. Section 57 provides that a trustee of a religious institution shall have the power to increase the fees for the performance of any service, ritual or ceremony in the institution and also has the power to determine what portion, if any, of such fees shall be paid to the archakas or other office holders or servants of such religious institution. It is being contended that if there is to be a variation be it an increase or decrease, the service holders must be heard. It is well settled that power is conferred on the Trustees of the Temple to increase fees for the Archakas as well as rates of fees for Deeparadhana and determine what portion of such fees shall be paid to the Archagars or other office holders or servants of the temple.
10. Mr.W.C.Thiruvengadam, learned counsel for the petitioner contended that the rights conferred under section 57 is a statutory right on the Trustee or statutory function and procedure prescribed in that respect should be followed and in this case no procedure has been followed and therefore the order is vitiated.
11. The revisional authority had considered the contention and recorded a finding that before taking steps to revise the fee/rates, the second respondent has applied for sanction of the Commissioner and the second respondent has also issued a month's notice to all the concerned including the Poojaris. According to the findings of the second respondent notice was affixed in all prominent places in the temple and the VAO's office. The Archagars Sangam also sent an objection dated 10.5.2000 signed by the Members. Therefore the Commissioner, the first respondent has recorded a finding that sufficient opportunity had been afforded by the second respondent before revising the rates. Had there been no notice at all, the petitioner or the Sangam in which the petitioner is a member could not have sent objections. The Poojaris have also submitted their representations. The first respondent had rightly held that sufficient opportunity had been given. Section 57 does not contemplate an enquiry or hearing, but what is required is a formality of information, receipt of objections and consideration and thereafter it is well open to the second respondent to revise the rates. The first respondent has recorded a finding that the petitioner and other Archagars have been afforded sufficient opportunity and they have also availed the opportunity by forwarding their objections. It is to be pointed out that revision of share which is brought about by the impugned action of the second respondent as affirmed by the first respondent is to bring it in tune with the circular issued by the Head of the Department, namely the Commissioner, H.R. & C.E.,
12. In the present case, actually notice has been issued and the objections have been taken into consideration and thereafter the rates have been increased. Merely because the rates of share has not been increased in proportion to the existing rates of sharing though the ticket rates have been increased by twice or thrice, it cannot be held that the respondents have acted illegally or in violation of section 57. It is rightly pointed out by Mr.G.Sukumar, learned Special Government Pleader that the quantum of total share which the Archagars hitherto had been earning has not been reduced, but there has been increase in ticket rates. That apart, according to Mr.G.Sukumar, learned Special Government Pleader, the temple has attracted more number of devotees and the statistics would show that devotees are increasing day by day. As a result of such increase in devotees, there is manifold increase in sale of total number of tickets and the Archagars also get due shares and at the same time the temple has to incur more expenditure on its part in maintaining the temple presincts or making available other items for the Sevas. Therefore it is rightly pointed out that there is no law or requirement, nor any statutory rule which provides that whenever there is a revision of rates, such revision should be proportion to the existing rates in sharing should be maintained cannot be sustained. So long as the quantum of earnings per ticket has not been reduced, it cannot be held that the right accrued to the petitioner had been altered or changed. A perusal of the rates would show that it is a rationalisation of the rates of tickets for various tickets/services.
13. It may be that though the rates have been doubled or increased, the share of the temple vis-a-vis the Archakars has not been proportionately increased, but there is some increase. There is no law which compels the respondents, nor there is any obligation on the part of the respondents to increase the sharing in proportion to the increase of rates. Such a contention cannot be countenanced at all. Such a contention was not the subject matter of consideration before P. SATHASIVAM,J., and the Learned Judge had no occasion to consider such a contention. While agreeing with the view taken by the Learned Judge that principles of natural justice should be followed, in this case, this court holds that there has been compliance of the principles of natural justice as well as Section 57 and that the respondents are well founded in their contentions.
14. In the foregoing circumstances, this court holds that no interference is called for with the order passed by the first respondent. The order of the first respondent is not vitiated, nor it is violative of principles of natural justice, nor the decision of the second respondent had contravened Section 57 of the Act. Both the points are answered against the petitioner.
15. In the foregoing circumstances, the Writ Petition is dismissed. Consequently, connected, WPMP is also dismissed. No costs. Index:yes
1. The Commissioner,
HR & CE Admn Dept.
2. The Executive Officer
O/o Vettudayar Kaliamman Temple
Alagapuri Post, Sivaganga Taluk.
W.P.No;12765 of 2002
Pronounced on 30-04-2002
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