Bagyammal Trust v. The State of Tamil Nadu: Supreme Court Judgement

In a significant legal battle, the Supreme Court of India has delivered a judgement in the case of Bagyammal Trust v. The State of Tamil Nadu. The case delves into the interpretation of laws governing public trusts, specifically the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act of 1959. The dispute revolves around the nature of the trust created by Bagyammal and its classification as either a public or private family trust. Let’s explore the key findings and implications of this landmark judgement.


  • The appellant claimed that the plaint schedule property had been settled in favour of Bagyammal by her predecessors under a Deed of Settlement.
  • The appellant argued that the trust in respect of Sri Swamiya Dhamodara Perumal Temple is not a public trust.
  • Bagyammal is alleged to have executed a Deed of Settlement in favour of Raju Chettiar.
  • Jagathambal is alleged to have settled the property in favour of her son-in-law W S Natarajan Chettiar.
  • The appellant contended that the trust created by Bagyammal is a private family trust and not subject to the provisions of the Act of 1959.
  • An appeal was made to the Commissioner against the order of the Deputy Commissioner.
  • The original plaintiff appealed against the judgement of the High Court that reversed the judgement of the City Civil Court.
  • The Deputy Commissioner issued a notice stating that the Bagyammal Trust is a public trust.
  • The appellant, as the son, claimed succession to the property and took over possession until his death in 1968.
  • A suit was instituted under Section 70(1) by the appellant.
  • The Trial Judge decreed the suit on 27 October 1995.
  • The Trial Court’s judgment was reversed by the learned Single Judge of the High Court on 27 October 2006.
  • A Letters Patent Appeal was dismissed citing non-maintainability under Section 100(A) of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908.
  • A Special Leave Petition was filed before the Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution to challenge the Single Judge’s judgment, and leave was granted on 4 May 2017.
  • Section 63, part of Chapter V which relates to inquiries, is specifically mentioned in the case.
  • Section 63 outlines provisions related to inquiries.

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  • Section 70 allows for a suit to be filed by a party aggrieved by an order of the Commissioner in appeal, specifically regarding matters outlined in Section 63.
  • The Joint Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner is empowered under 9 to handle and resolve disputes falling under clauses (a) to (g).
  • Deed of Settlement dated 4 June 1926 entrusted Bagyammal with construction of an additional choultry.
  • The High Court determined whether the settlement constituted a specific endowment under Section 6(19) of the Act.
  • The choultry was specifically for accommodating devotees of Sree Agastheeswara Swamiyar Devasthanam Temple.
  • It was found to be insufficient during religious festivals.
  • The property was specifically endowed for a religious charity within the temple.
  • No encumbrance could be created on the choultry or the land.
  • Bagyammal, her descendants, or nominees were to maintain the choultry.
  • The document marked as Exhibit-A1 was executed in favor of Bagyammal by the temple trustees.
  • The Deed of Settlement indicated public entitlement to use the choultry.
  • The choultry was to be utilised for the general public at all times.
  • The definition of specific endowment in Section 6(19) includes property or money endowed for specific service, charity, or religious charity in a temple or math.
  • In the case of M J Thulasiraman v Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowment Admn, the High Court held that the endowment was for a specific purpose.
  • Shri S Nagamuthu, learned Senior Counsel, challenged the judgment of the High Court by arguing that there was no specific endowment as defined in Section 6(19) of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act 1959.
  • Justice J C Shah, in the case of Commissioner, Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments v Narayana Ayyangar, explained the concept of ‘religious charity’ while interpreting a stone inscription to determine the nature of the institution known as ‘Bakers Choultry’.
  • The High Court reversed the judgment of the Trial Court.
  • The Trial Judge made an error in determining the absence of a ‘specific endowment’ under Section 6(19).
  • The High Court found the Trial Judge’s conclusion to be incorrect.
  • The interpretation of ‘specific endowment’ under Section 6(19) was essential for the case.
  • The High Court’s decision was justified based on the correct interpretation of the law.

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  • No merit in the appeal
  • Appeal is dismissed

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Case Number: C.A. No.-008349 / 2017

Click here to read/download original judgement

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