Supreme Court Guidelines

Radhakanta Deb v. Commissioner of Hindu Religious Endowments, Orissa, AIR 1981 SC 798: (1981) 2 SCC 226

Test for determining whether an endowment is of a private or of a public nature


Radhakanta Deb v. Commissioner of
Hindu Religious Endowments, Orissa,
AIR 1981 SC 798: (1981) 2 SCC 226

The following tests may be laid down as providing sufficient guidelines to determine on the facts of each case whether an endowment is of a private or of a public nature:

(1) Where the origin of the endowment cannot be ascertained, the question whether the user of the temple by members of the public is as of right;

(2) The fact that the control and management vests either in a large body of persons or in the members of the public and the founder does not retain any control over the management. Allied to this may be a circumstance when the evidence shows that there is provision for a scheme to be framed by associating the members of the public at large;

(3) Where, however, a document is available to prove the nature and origin of the endowment and the recitals of the document show that the control and management of the temple is retained with the founder or his descendants, and that extensive properties are dedicated for the purpose of the maintenance of the temple belonging to the founder himself, this will be a conclusive proof to show that the endowment was of a private nature;

(4) Where the evidence shows that the founder of the endowment did not make any stipulation for offerings or contributions to be made by members of the public to the temple, this would be an important intrinsic circumstance to indicate the Private nature of the endowment.

Source: M A Rashid, Supreme Court Guidelines and Precedents

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