the claim of the appellants is that they have been in lawful possession of the land for doing their business and, therefore, the respondents­the State Authorities and 3 the Temple Management cannot dispossess any of them from their individual shops without following the due process of law. 7. Since the appellants were threatened by the respondents of their dispossession from their shops by issuance of notices dated 14/16.02.2018, they felt aggrieved and filed the writ petitions in the High Court, out of which these appeals arise, against the respondents claiming inter alia the relief of issuance of writ of certiorari for quashing the notice and also for issuance of prohibitory writ restraining the respondents from taking any action of dispossessing them from their respective shops. – High court wrongly dismissed as the respondents have not taken action as per Endowments Act

NON­REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL Nos.3461­3505 OF 2019
(Arising out of S.L.P.(C) Nos.3007­3051 of 2019)
S. Kumar ….Appellant(s)
VERSUS
The Commissioner & Ors. ….Respondent(s)
WITH
CIVIL APPEAL Nos.3506­3515 OF 2019
(Arising out of SLP (C) Nos.2718­2727/2019)
CIVIL APPEAL No.3516 OF 2019
(Arising out of SLP (C) No. 2984/2019)
CIVIL APPEAL Nos.3517­3538 OF 2019
(Arising out of SLP (C) Nos. 3216­3237/2019)
CIVIL APPEAL Nos.3539­3544 OF 2019
(Arising out of SLP (C) Nos.3357­3362/2019)
CIVIL APPEAL Nos.3545­3564 OF 2019
(Arising out of SLP (C) Nos.3664­3683/2019)
CIVIL APPEAL No.3565 OF 2019
(Arising out of SLP (C) No. 5144/2019)
CIVIL APPEAL No.3570 OF 2019
(Arising out of SLP (C) No.6067/2019)
CIVIL APPEAL No.3566 OF 2019
(Arising out of SLP (C) No.5146/2019)
CIVIL APPEAL No. 3567 OF 2019
(Arising out of SLP (C) No.6065/2019)
1
AND
CIVIL APPEAL No.3569 OF 2019
(Arising out of SLP (C) No.9167/2019)
(D.No.8470/2019)

J U D G M E N T
Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.

  1. Leave granted.
  2. These appeals are filed against the final
    judgment and order dated 01.11.2019 in WAMD
    No.1166­1209,1269,690­692, 686­689, 696­698,
    1068, 1030­1051, 1334­1336, 1332­1333, 1340,
    1119­1126, 1128­1135, 1160, 1164, 1165, 1426,
    1166, 1212, 1112 & 1421 of 2018 passed by the
    High Court of judicature at Madras at Madurai
    whereby the Division Bench of the High Court
    dismissed the said writ appeals filed by the
    appellants herein.
    2
  3. A few facts need mention hereinbelow for the
    disposal of these appeals, which involve a short
    point.
  4. The appellants herein are the writ petitioners
    and the respondents herein are the respondents of
    the writ petitions, out of which these appeals arise.
  5. The appellants individually claim to be
    carrying on their small business of selling items by
    setting up their shops in the premises of several
    temples situated in various places in the districts of
    the State of Tamil Nadu.
  6. These appellants individually claim that they
    have been doing their business either as licensee
    or/and with the permission of the Temple
    Authorities. In substance, the claim of the
    appellants is that they have been in lawful
    possession of the land for doing their business and,
    therefore, the respondents­the State Authorities and
    3
    the Temple Management cannot dispossess any of
    them from their individual shops without following
    the due process of law.
  7. Since the appellants were threatened by the
    respondents of their dispossession from their shops
    by issuance of notices dated 14/16.02.2018, they
    felt aggrieved and filed the writ petitions in the High
    Court, out of which these appeals arise, against the
    respondents claiming inter alia the relief of issuance
    of writ of certiorari for quashing the notice and also
    for issuance of prohibitory writ restraining the
    respondents from taking any action of dispossessing
    them from their respective shops.
  8. The respondents contested the writ petitions.
    By a common order dated 04.06.2018, the Single
    Judge dismissed the writ petitions giving rise to
    filing of the writ appeals by the writ petitioners
    before the Division Bench of the High Court of
    4
    Madras. By impugned order, the Division Bench
    dismissed the appeals and upheld the order of the
    Single Judge, which has given rise to filing of the
    present appeals by way of special leave by the
    unsuccessful writ petitioners in this Court.
  9. So, the short question, which arises for
    consideration in this bunch of appeals, is whether
    the High Court (Single Judge ­ Writ Court and the
    Division Bench) was justified in dismissing the
    appellants’ writ petitions and intra court appeals.
  10. Heard Mr. S. Nagamuthu, learned senior
    counsel for the appellants and Mr. K.M. Nataraj,
    learned ASG and Mr. Mohan Parasaran, learned
    senior counsel for the respondents.
  11. Having heard the learned counsel for the
    parties and on perusal of the record of the case, we
    are inclined to allow these appeals and set aside the
    impugned order.
    5
  12. In our considered opinion, the issue raised in
    these appeals is governed by the provisions of the
    Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable
    Endowments Act, 1959 (for short “the Act, 1959).
    Chapter VII of the Act, 1959 deals with the cases of
    encroachment on the land belonging to religious
    institutions. This chapter consists of Sections 77 to
    1. Section 77 of the Act, 1959 deals with transfer
      of lands appurtenant to or adjoining religious
      institutions prohibited except in special cases.
      Section 78 deals with encroachment by persons on
      land or building belonging to charitable or religious
      institution or endowment and the eviction of
      encroachers. Section 79 deals with mode of eviction
      on failure of removal of the encroachment as
      directed by the Joint Commissioner. Section 79­A
      deals with encroachment by groups of persons on
      6
      land belonging to charitable religious institutions
      and their eviction. Section 79­B deals with penalty
      for offences in connection with encroachment.
      Section 79­C deals with recovery of moneys due to
      religious institution, as arrears of land revenue.
      Section 80 deals with eviction of lessees, licensees
      or mortgagees with possession in certain cases.
      Section 81 provides for an appeal against Joint
      Commissioner or the orders of Deputy
      Commissioner passed under Section 80. Section 82
      provides for payment of Compensation. Section 83
      deals with constitution of Tribunal. Section 84 deals
      with suits against the award. Section 85 provides
      for protection of action taken under Chapter VII of
      the Act, 1959.
  13. As mentioned above, the controversy, which is
    the subject matter of these appeals, is governed by
    the provisions of the Act, 1959. It is not in dispute
    7
    that the respondents did not resort to the remedies
    provided to them under the Act against any of the
    appellants. In other words, it is not in dispute that
    the action taken by the respondents, which was
    impugned by the appellants in the writ petitions
    before the High Court, was not taken under the Act,
    1959.
  14. It is for this reason, we are inclined to allow
    these appeals, set aside the impugned order and
    grant liberty to the respondents to take recourse to
    the remedies provided to them against the
    appellants individually in relation to the controversy
    raised by them in these proceedings.
  15. Needless to say, we have not gone into the
    merits of the claim raised by the appellants whether
    individually or/and severally. The respondents will,
    therefore, be at liberty to proceed in the matter in
    question against the appellants individually strictly
    8
    in accordance with law uninfluenced by any
    observations made by this Court.
  16. In view of the foregoing discussion, the appeals
    succeed and are accordingly allowed. The
    impugned order is set aside. .………...................................J. [ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE] ……………………………………….J.
    [DINESH MAHESHWARI]
    New Delhi;
    April 08, 2019
    9