1. The plaintiff filed this suit against the Secretary of State for India in Council, praying for declaration that the Government Order No. 532 dated November 30th, 1922, was illegal and not binding upon him, and for the refund of Rs. 73-2-3, together with future interest at twelve per cent, which had been taken away from him in eon-sequence of the order. The order is as follows:
Whereas Mr. Shripad Vishnu Pandit of Wai who holds 5/36th share in the inam village of Ruighar, Taluka Javali, has taken an active part in the non-co-operation movement by presiding over a meeting held on November 16, 1921, at Wai for boycotting the visit to India of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and thus failed to observe the conditions of faithfulness and loyalty to Government laid down in the original Sanad of the inam village, Government have ordered that his 5/36th share in the aforesaid village shall be forfeited.
2. The facts of the case are not in dispute. The Mamlatdar of Wai made a report, dated November 17, 1921, to the Collector in which he said:
The local branch of the Congress Committee convened a meeting last evening for boycotting the visit to India of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. Mr. Vishvanath Dhonddev Teli, Editor of Udyamyprakash and Secretary of the local Congress branch, proposed Mr. Shripad Vishnu Pandit, a staunch N.C.O. of Wai (being Inamdar of Ruighbar, Javali Taluka, to the chair. The Chairman in his opening speech dwelt upon the necessity of the proposed boycott since the Prince was not called to India by Indians but by the white Government servants. He referred to the Ali brothers and Dharwar convicts and thus remarked that India being in mourning should not participate, in the Royal visit.
3. Then reference is made to other speakers. Finally, the President urged on the meeting the necessity of not going to Poona by those that were invited.
4. The Collector then sent a memo, to the plaintiff, dated November, 21, 1921.
It is reported to me that you presided at a meeting held at Wai on the 16th instant to recommend that the visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to India should he boycotteed and that you spoke in favour of the motion. Inamdars held their Inams under condition of loyalty to Government. I shall be glad to hear within three days from the receipt of this memorandum what explanation you have to offer of your conduct failing which I shall report the matter to Government.
5. The plaintiff replied on November 26, 1921:
It is a fact that I presided at the meeting convened to express the feeling of the public of Wai towards the then proposed visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. But neither I, as President, nor any of the speakers alluded to any point in the speeches that would carry the least sense of disrespect to the Crown or to the person of His Royal Highness.
Taking the present state of the country into consideration, I am firmly of opinion that in having been the President of the said meeting I have not in the least degree transgressed the limits of loyalty to Government and in my humble opinion I am as loyal as I have been before.
6. It is admitted that the plaintiff holds 5/36th share in the inam village of Ruighbar which was granted to the original holder by the Peshwas. The latest sanad on which the inam was held is dated May 8, 1888. It contained the condition that the holders should continue faithful subjects of the British Government and, should render to the same the fixed yearly dues. The Judge said:
The words 'faithful subject' have not, so far as I can ascertain, been the subject of judicial interpretation in India. Faithfulness is primarily an attitude of mind but the mind can only be understood in so far as it manifests itself in speech or action. Some help may be afforded by a reference to Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, though it seems to be clear that a man may cease to be a 'faithful subject' and yet not render himself liable to a prosecution for sedition. The question therefore which I ask myself is 'Did plaintiff intend to bring the British. Government into hatred or contempt.
7. We doubt whether that was a helpful course to pursue. We have to consider whether the plaintiff forfeited the sanad by breach of the condition on which it was held owing to his conduct. It is more easy to consider on facts stated whether certain conduct is unfaithful or a breach of the duty to be faithful, than to attempt to define with sufficient exactness what is meant by the term 'faithful subject' But undoubtedly, what is connoted in the term is fidelity or allegiance to some person in relation to whom there is a binding tie, and it cannot be doubted that the conduct of the plaintiff on this occasion was not such as would entitle him to be considered any longer a faithful subject of the British Government. From the character of the remarks made at this meeting, it is clear that the plaintiff referred to the conviction of the Ali Brothers, who were convicted of sedition and the conviction of the Dharwar convicts, who were convicted of offences of rioting in connexion with the sentences passed on certain persons at Dharwar for offences connected with political agitation, and considering that the plaintiff must have referred to those convictions as having been improperly brought about and as being disastrous to the country so that they provided the reason why discourtesy and gross disrespect should be shown to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, who was visiting India as an official guest, it is impossible to say that such conduct on the part of the plaintiff was in any way consistent with his duties by which he was bound under the sanad in question.
8. We do not think, if we can release our selves from all consideration of the circumstances surrounding the agitation at the time of the Royal visit, and look at the conduct of the plaintiff in an entirely dispassionate manner, that it could possibly be described as consistent with the tie of fidelity and allegiance by which he was bound to Government.
9. We think, then that the decision was right and the appeal must be dismissed with costs.