On permission for individuals to file suit for removal of Nithyananda

It is for the State government to take a final call with regard to according permission to private individuals for filing a civil suit for removal of Nithyananda from the post of junior pontiff of Madurai Aadheenam if the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department fails to take action, the Madras High Court Bench here has said.

Justice K. Chandru made the observation while dismissing a writ petition filed by Tamil orator and television personality S. Nellai Kannan seeking a direction to the HR and CE Commissioner to consider an application made by him and another individual on June 11 seeking permission to file a civil suit against Nithyananda’s anointment as 293rd Aadheenam.

The judge pointed out that as per Section 59 (1) of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act 1959, either the HR and CE Commissioner himself or any two or more people interested in a math could file a civil suit for the removal of its trustee after obtaining written consent of the Commissioner.

Such a decree for removal of a trustee of a math or a specific endowment attached to a math could be sought for if the trustee was of unsound mind or if he was suffering from any physical or mental defect which rendered him unfit to be a trustee or if he had ceased to profess the Hindu religion or the tenets of the math.

The other valid reasons for such removal could be the breach by the trustee of any trust created in respect of any of the properties of the religious institution, waste of funds or properties of the institution or the wrongful application of such funds or properties for purposes unconnected with the institution. The Section further states that leading an immoral life or otherwise leading a life which was likely to bring the office of the head of the math into contempt could also be a reason for seeking removal of a math head. In the present case, the writ petitioner had precisely accused Nithyananda of involvement in immoral activities.

Section 59 (2) states that if the HR and CE Commissioner refuses to give permission for filing a suit, the applicants concerned could file an appeal to the government which, after making necessary enquiry into the issue, could either confirm the Commissioner’s order or direct him to give his consent in writing. “Therefore, the scheme of things is very clear that the power to grant consent solely vests with the Commissioner failing which the State government will have to be satisfied,” the judge said. In the present case, the Additional Commissioner (Enquiry) had returned the petitioner's application pointing out certain deficiencies.

The petitioner was told that he had not paid appropriate stamp duty and process fee for serving the papers to the heads of the math. It was also stated that the petitioner had not made the senior as well as junior pontiff of the Aadheenam as parties to the dispute and did not enclose additional copies of his application to be served on them. Not finding any illegality in the deficiencies pointed out by the Additional Commissioner, the judge said that the officer was legally right in making such demands as such power had been conferred on him to ensure that frivolous cases were not filed against any math. The Commissioner should not exercise the power mechanically without a detailed enquiry. Rejecting the petitioner’s contention that the head of a math need not be included as a party at the stage of seeking permission for suing him, the judge said that he would be at liberty to resubmit the application after rectifying the defects. .

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