Kattalai Grants

KATTALAI GRANTS IN SOUTH INDIA

Kattalai or special grant:

A special grant for religious services in a temple which is in vogue in Southern India and is known by the name of Kattalai.

As Muttusami Aiyyar, J. explained in Vythilinga v. Somasundara, in ordinary parlance, the term Kattalai as applied to temple means endowments and signifies a special endowment for certain specific service or religious charity in the temple.

Ardajama Kattalai or endowment for midnight service is an instance of the former and Annadan Kattalai or an endowment for distributing food to the poor is an example of the latter.

In this sense the word Kattalai is used in contradistinction to the endowment designed generally for the upkeep and maintenance of the temple. Persons who endow properties for kattalais are entitled to appoint special trustees to administer them, and the general trustees of the institution have no right to dispossess them. And if under the terms of the grant, the special trustee has to utilise the income for specified services in the temple, the general trustee has the right, as the person in charge generally of the temple, to require the special trustee to hand over the income to him. But the special trustee is, in respect of the management of the kattalai properties, under the same obligations as a trustee, and an alienation by him of those properties would be void, unless it is for necessity or benefit. In the case of some important temples, the sources of the income are classified into distinct endowments according to their importance. Each endowment is placed under a separate trustee and specific items of expenditure are assigned to it as legitimate charges to be paid therefrom. Each of such endowments is called also a Kattalai and the trustee who administers it is called the Kattlaigar or stanik of the particular Kattalai.

The import of this expression was discussed in detail by Sesagiri Aiyyar, J. in Ambala Vana v Sree Minakshy. According to him, this expression is used with reference to three different kinds of endowments. Properties may be endowed—

(a) for the performance of pujas in the temple, or

(b) for the performance of certain festivals in the temple, or

(c) for the performance of Archanas to the deity in the name of the donors.

(a) Ordinarily, the puja is not performed in the name of the donor, and consequently, supplementary grants are made by pious persons in order that the service should be more efficiently performed. Instances of this type of grant are to be found in the famous temple at Chidambaram, where almost all the necessary daily services are conducted by means of Kattalais endowed by pious donors.

(b) It also happens that where lands for funds in respect of particular service or festival at temples are not sufficient for conducting them on the original scale, new donors come forward to supplement these funds.

(c) For Archana, however, no supplementary grant by other donors is possible.

It is intended solely for the spiritual benefit of the grantor and it is not the concern of third parties to help in his performance if the funds are for any reason not found sufficient. Whatever the exact nature of Kattalais may be-and that must depend upon the usages of particular temples-one fact ought to be remembered in this connection, and that is that when the grant is to the deity and the income of particular funds is earmarked for special services which are entrusted to special trustees, if there is a surplus which cannot be spent on these services, it would be a case for the application of the cy pres doctrine and the special trustee can, on no account, claim the surplus. This has been held by the Judicial Committee in an appeal from the Madras High Court.

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