The ‘Bakers Choultry’ Endowment Dispute: Supreme Court’s Verdict

Delve into the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the ‘Bakers Choultry’ endowment dispute. The case involves a longstanding disagreement regarding the nature of the endowment associated with the property. Explore the complex legal arguments and the Court’s decision in this significant case.


  • The genesis of the dispute dates back to 1987 when the predecessor-in-interest of the appellants filed an application under Section 63(a) of the Act for a declaration regarding the ‘Bakers Choultry’ as private property with charitable duties.
  • The application was dismissed in 1990, and subsequent appeals up to the High Court were also unsuccessful.
  • A civil suit was filed in 1994 challenging the orders of the Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner, but it was dismissed in 1999.
  • The High Court dismissed the appeal in 2008, leading to the appellants maintaining possession as per a 2010 order of this Court.
  • The present Civil Appeal was filed by the appellants after becoming legal representatives due to the demise of their predecessor.
  • The appeal before the High Court of Madras under Section 70(2) of the Act was dismissed in 2008, leading to the current legal proceedings.
  • The main issue in question pertains to the nature of the ‘Bakers Choultry’ institution and the type of endowment associated with it.

Also Read: Legal Analysis: Sheikh Noorul Hassan vs. Nahakpam Indrajit Singh – Permissibility of Subsequent Pleading in Election Petition Proceedings


  • Counsel for the appellants argues against the concurrent findings of the lower courts regarding the existence of a specific endowment related to the ‘Bakers Choultry’.
  • The counsel relies on judgments from the Madras High Court to support the argument that the rock inscription is vague, secular, and does not result in a divestment of title, thus not meeting the criteria of a ‘specific endowment’ under the Act.
  • Counsel for the respondents contends that the High Court has already addressed and dismissed these arguments with valid reasoning in the impugned judgment.
  • Respondent’s counsel emphasizes that the appellants are challenging four concurrent findings made by the lower courts and the respondent authorities.
  • The counsel for the respondent submitted that the predecessors-in-interest of the appellants had participated in previous proceedings where they claimed the property to be trust property.
  • It was argued that having made such a claim previously, the appellants could not now claim the property to be private property.
  • The respondent’s counsel emphasized the inconsistency in the appellants’ position regarding the nature of the property in question.

Also Read: CRPF Act: Validity of Rule 27 for Compulsory Retirement – Case of Head Constable vs. CRPF


  • The definition of ‘religious charity’ under the Act is linked to Hindu festivals or observances of a religious nature.
  • The Act does not explicitly define ‘public charity’, but it aligns with the scope of benefiting the public as per a Supreme Court decision.
  • A specific endowment, which includes money for religious charities, is defined under Section 6(19) of the Act.
  • The concept of ‘endow’ and ‘endowment’ signifies dedicating something for a purpose.
  • The rock inscription in the case designates funds from ‘Bakers Choultry’ for feeding Brahmins during specified religious festivals.
  • The choultry’s management is divested from absolute ownership rights, indicating a valid specific endowment.
  • Arguments were largely centered around interpreting a rock inscription from 1834 within ‘Bakers Choultry’.
  • The endowment must be for religious charity under the Act, which was evident in feeding Brahmins during religious festivals.
  • The inscription restricts the choultry managers from transferring the property, reinforcing the endowment’s validity.
  • Money endowed for performing a religious charity is sufficient for constituting a specific endowment under the Act.
  • Rock inscription mandates the utilization of bakery business profits for feeding Brahmins during festivals and other charity expenses.
  • Those conducting charities of choultries are restricted from alienating choultries and their belongings.
  • They have the authority to carry out choultries’ charities appropriately and support Brahmins as per their discretion.
  • Key consideration: interpreting whether the inscription constitutes a specific endowment as per the Act.
  • Definitions of ‘specific endowment’ and ‘religious charity’ as per Sections 6(19) and 6(16) of the Act provided for context.
  • No requirement for a public charity to be associated with a temple or a math as per Act.
  • In the case of M.R. Goda Rao Sahib v. The State of Madras, it was held that divestment is necessary for an endowment to exist.
  • The settlors must divest themselves of the property endowed to create an endowment.
  • The uncertain and fluctuating body of persons associated with a particular religious faith makes no difference in defining a trust as private or public under the Act.
  • The rock inscription in the ‘Bakers Choultry’ establishes a religious charity under Section 6(13) of Madras Act 19 of 1951.
  • The authorities managing the festival do not control the expression of the festival charity.
  • The expression ‘associated’ in the Act means ‘connected with’ or ‘in relation to’.
  • The case of K.S. Soundararajan v. Commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments dealt with the nature of charities in a Will involving feeding Brahmins during religious festivals.
  • Charities associated with specific religious festivals constitute religious charities under the Act.
  • Public charity in the form of feeding Brahmin pilgrims during a festival is considered a religious charity.
  • A public trust involves an uncertain and fluctuating body of persons, distinguishing it from a private trust.
  • The charity specified in the rock inscription, linked to a religious festival, falls under the definition of a religious charity under the Act.
  • Predecessor-in-interest of the appellants had previously claimed ‘Bakers Choultry’ to be a specific endowment.
  • Despite withdrawing the previous application, he later filed claiming it as personal property.
  • The ‘Bakers Choultry’ and its rock inscription are deemed a specific endowment as per the law and facts of the case.
  • High Court judgment, deeming it not the private property of the appellants, is upheld without interference.

Also Read: DAMEPL vs. DMRC: Curative Petition and Arbitral Award Restoration


  • Appeal dismissed with no costs
  • Status quo granted on 14.05.2010 stands vacated
  • Pending applications also disposed of


Case Number: C.A. No.-004676-004676 / 2010

Click here to read/download original judgement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *