1. It is contended for the appellants, on the authority of this Court's decision in Vasudev v. Vamnaji 5 B. 80 that a Civil Court has no jurisdiction to try a suit of the present character because its prayer is for a bare declaration of the plaintiffs' right either to perform by themselves or to get performed certain religious ceremonies in a temple, and there is no contest as to any right to property or to any office. Carefully analysed, the suit is not of that nature. The plaintiffs are members of the Committee of Management of the Temple of Shri Vithoba and Shri Rakhmabai at Pandharpur. They hold the office under a sanad from Government and receive annually a certain sum of money for defraying the expenses of certain kinds of religious worship in the Temple, known as Sirkari puja. The obligation is attached to that office to get that worship performed by the hereditary officers or servants attached to the Temple. The plaintiffs complain that those officers, owing to quarrels among themselves, have failed to perform the worship, with the result that the duties owing to the idol are neglected and the funds in the hands of the plaintiffs undisbursed for the purposes for which the plaintiffs hold those funds in trust. Accordingly, they ask for a declaration of their right to disburse the funds by getting the worship performed by a suitable person or persons of their own choice in the event of the hereditary officers or servants of the Temple concerned failing to perform it; and they ask for an injunction to restrain those officers or servants from obstructing the plaintiffs in the exercise of the right so declared.
2. The facts above stated, which are found proved by both the Courts below, distinguish the present case from that in Vasudev v. Vamnaji 5 B. 80. The latter was a case of bare religious worship. Here the plaintiffs are trustees of a public charitable trust holding moneys in their hands for disposal in a certain manner for certain defined purposes. They hold the funds on behalf of the public for the benefit of the deity of the Temple, who, in Hindu law, is considered as a sacred entity, or ideal personality possessing proprietary rights: see Thackersey Dewraj v. Hurbhum Nursey 8 B. 432. The deity of the Temple being, according to that law, a juridical person as the ideal embodiment of a pious or benovelent idea as the centre of the foundation, this artificial subject of rights is as capable of taking offerings of cash and jewels as of land. Those who take physical possession of the one as of the other kind of property incur thereby a responsibility for its due application to the purpose of the foundation. They are answer able as trustees...and a remedy may be sought against them for maladministration by a suit open to anyone interested' Manohar Ganesh Tambekary v. Lakhmiram Govindram 12 B. 247 ,
3. It would be so in the case of non-administration also. An action would lie against them by the Advocate-General acting on behalf of the public to compel them to a due execution of their particular acts of duty. The obligation cast on them by the trust gives them a corresponding right to disburse the funds after getting the religious worship, for which those funds arc intended, properly performed. Such a right is not the less of a civil nature though the funds are to be appropriated to religious ceremonies. The Court is not called upon to enter into the adjudication of any rites or ceremonies as such. What it has to decide is the right of the trustees to fulfil the trust unhindered.
4. The suit was brought against two sets of defendants-one consisting of the Badves and the other consisting of the Shevadharis, of the Temple. The lower Courts have given to the plaintiffs a decree as against both the classes of defendants. But it is urged in this second appeal that the decree is erroneous in law so far as it affects those Shevadharis who are not Pujaris, because these had nothing to do with the dispute between the Badves and the other Shevadharis which led to the stoppage of the worship and compelled the plaintiffs to file the suit. This objection; does not appear to have been raised in the lower appellate Court. That Court has found that the plaintiffs had to sue because of the conduct of the Badves and the Shevadharis. That finding of fact included all classes of Shevadharis. Even assuming that the Shevadhari defendants, who are not Pujaris, had done nothing before suit to give the plaintiffs a cause of action against them, the denial of the plaintiffs' right by them in their written statements is sufficient in law to cure that defect and entitle the plaintiffs to the declaration claimed as against them under Section 42 of the Specific Belief Act, 1877.
5. The decree of the lower Court declares the right of the plaintiffs to get the worship performed by their Badves appointed perpetually, viz., the descedants of Bhimaji.' For the appellants it is complained that this term of the decree ignores the rights which they have according to the decrees passed by this Court in litigation between them and the Badves. I do not think that the declaration was intended by the lower Courts to have any such result. But to prevent all ambiguity or misconstruction, I would add the words, 'with due regard to the judicially declared rights of the other Badves and the Shevadharis,' after the words above quoted. As to the second appeal preferred by Mr. Chamier's clients (S. A. No. 488 of 1907) I do not think that there is any conflict or inconsistency between the decree passed by the Subordinate Judge, Mr. Kotval, and that passed by the Subordinate Judge, Mr. Karkare, both of which have been confirmed by the lower appeal Court.
6. The lower Court's decree is imperfect in that it does not give to the plaintiffs the particular relief for which the suit was brought. They asked for a declaration that in the event of the Badves and the Shevadharis refusing or failing to perform the Sirkari pujas, they (the plaintiffs) were entitled to get the pujas performed by a suitable person or persons of their choice. This declaration must be added to the decree.
7. The result is that the lower Court's decree must be modified by adding the words and the declarations above-mentioned. As to costs, the appellants in Second Appeal No. 454 of 1907 must pay the costs of the respondents (separate sets for plaintiffs and the respondent defendants). In Second Appeals No. 588 and 589, the appellants must have their costs from the respondents. In Second Appeal No. 488 of 1907 each party should bear his own costs.