S.N. Katju, J.
1. This is an application by Mahant Ram Dulari Saran who alleges himself to be the Chela of Mahant Siabar Saran for punishing the respondents for contempt of court. The first respondent Sri Yogeshwar Sri Ram Balbhacharya Ji is the printer and publisher of a Hindi Weekly called 'Virakt,' the second respondent is 'Virakt' through its proprietor Brahmachari Sri Basudevacharya, the third respondent is Brahmachari Sri Basudevacharya, the fourth is Sri Ram Gopal Pandey, the editor of Virakt while the fifth respondent is one Mahabir Das.
2. It was alleged that one Ram Priya Saran had constructed a temple in Mohalla Ram Kot, Ayodhya city, wherein he had installed a deity called Thakur Anand Behari ji' and had endowed certain properties to the deity. Ram Priya Saran had appointed himself as the first sarbarakar of the temple and its properties and had mentioned in the deed of trust executed by him that on his death his chela Siabar Saran would become the Sarbarakar of the endowment. Thereafter, Siabar Saran was empowered to appoint his successor in accordance with the conditions laid down in the deed of trust. One of the qualifications for a Sarbarakar mentioned in the deed of trust is that the person to be appointed as Sarbarakar should be of good character and he should be a 'Vaishnava Virakt Ramanandi Brahman.' Mahant Siabar Saran had succeeded his Guru Ram Priya Saran as the Sarbarakar of the temple. He died on 6-10-1959 without appointing any successor. The claimants to the Mahantship after the death of Mahant Siabar Saran are the petitioner Ram Dulari Saran and the 5th respondent Mahabir Das. The fifth respondent says that his correct name is Mahabir Saran and the petitioner has wrongly described him as Mahabir Das.
3. Suit No. 22 of 1962 was instituted by Mahabir Das in the court of the Addl. Civil Judge, Faizabad for declaration that he was the Sarbarakar of the temple and its properties and possession of the endowed properties be given to him. Suit No. 1 of 1963 was filed by the petitioner, Ram Dulari Saran, for declaration that he was the chela of the deceased Mahant and he was the Sarbarakar of the endowed properties. It appears that the fifth respondent Mahabir Das is Bhumihar by caste while the petitioner Ram Dulari has a wife and children. The right of the petitioner Ram Dulari Saran to succeed to the deceased Mahant was challenged by Mahabir Das on the ground that Ram Dulari Saran being a householder could not be said to be Virakt person and, therefore, he was disqualified from becoming the Sarbarakar of the endowment. Ram Dulari Saran assailed the right of the fifth respondent Mahabir Das to succeed to the Mahantship on the ground that since Mahabir Das was a Bhumihar and Bhumihars are not Brahmans therefore he was disqualified from succeeding to the Mahantship of the temple.
4. Both the aforesaid suits were consolidated and heard together by the Additional Civil Judge of Faizabad. He, by his judgment dated 30-5-1966, dismissed the suit instituted by the fifth respondent (Suit No. 22 of 1962) and decreed the suit of the petitioner (Suit No. 1 of 1963). He held that Ram Dulari Saran was the Chela of the deceased Mahant Siabar Saran and at the time of the death of the latter on 6-10-1959 Ram Dulari Saran had renounced his Grishasth life and thus he had become 'Virakt Ramanandi Brahman'. The Court below further held.-
'.....the Bhumihars may call themselves Bhumihar Brahmans but it is nowhere established that they are really Brahmans .....
Accordingly I hold that Mahabir Saran plaintiff of suit No. 22 of 1962 is not a Brahman and he is not qualified for appointment as Mahant and Sarvarakar of the temple Anand Bhawan Behari Ji as contemplated by endowment deed, dated 23-8-1940.'
The fifth respondent filed an appeal against the aforesaid decree of the Additional Civil Judge of Faizabad on 18-7-1966 in the court of the District Judge, Faizabad and it is still pending in that court.
5. The impugned articles in the 'Virakt' appeared in its issues dated 9-8-1966 and 23-8-1966. The first article which appeared in the issue of Virakt dated the 9th August 1966 is its editorial while the second article is by Sri Basudevacharya, the third respondent before me. The editorial appearing in the Virakt of 9-8-1966 starts with a generalisation that only the persons competent to handle particular problems should deal with them. The persons suffering from physical disorders should go to a doctor while a litigant should approach a lawyer. It will not be proper for a litigant to go to a doctor and for a patient to approach a lawyer. Then the editorial refers to the suits before the Additional Civil Judge of Faizabad and the decision of the court In the aforesaid suits. It says that in the aforesaid suits the rival claimants were two persons one of whom was a 'Saryu-pari Householder Brahman' while the second was a 'Virakt Bhumihar Brahman'. Then it goes on to say that the court has declared a Brahman Bhumihar person as a 'shudra* who was incompetent to perform the puja of the Supreme deity. It adds that to put a particular community in the category of Shudras and non-Brah-mans and holding them incompetent to perform the Puja of the Supreme Being was beyond the powers of the court. It further said that a householder could not be a Sarbarakar of a 'Virakt Vaish-nava temple'. Then the editorial proceeds further and refers to the persons connected with the Math,
6. In the article contributed by the third respondent Brahmachari Sri Basu-devacharya in the issue of the 'Virakt' dated 23-8-66, there is a general expression of opinion of the writer that Bhumi-hars are Brahmans. He describes their contribution in the various walks of life and says that they have been recognised as Brahmans since long. Then he refers to the decision of the court in the aforesaid two suits and expresses the view that If the decree of the court is not set aside by a superior court then in that case the temple in dispute in the aforesaid two suits would pass out of the hands of a 'Virakt' and would go into the hands of a householder and he expresses his disapproval of such an eventuality. Then he further says that 'All this should not be. Therefore, I would like the Virakt Bhumihar Brahman to occupy the position of the Mahantship of that temple and in the circle of Mahants of Ayodhya the said Bhumihar Virakt Brahman Sadhu who is the chela of the deceased Mahant has been accepted and he has been recognised as such by the deceased Mahant who had given him the Mahantship and he has been supported by me since the very beginning.' He concludes by saying that as a result of the decision of the court in the aforesaid two suits the Bhumihar Brahmans have been confronted with a question of life and death for them and he appeals to the Bhumihar Brahman community to take steps for the setting aside of the aforesaid decision of the court.
7. The petitioner has stated that the fifth respondent who is claiming to succeed as Sarbarakar of the endowment got respondents 1, 3 and 4 interested in the matter and they wrote the aforesaid articles in the Virakt in support of his claim and they were written 'at the instance and with the connivance of respondent No. 5 and to deprive the applicant from the Mahantship of the temple as well as to prejudice the mind of the appellate court as well as to scandalise the wisdom and judgment of the learned Civil Judge who decided the case against respondent No. 5.'
8. There is not sufficient material before me to show that the impugned articles in the Virakt had been written at the instance of and with the connivance of respondent No. 5. The controversy between the petitioner and the fifth respondent had assumed a shape in which not only the parties to the aforesaid two suits were concerned but in which the members of a large community were definitely interested. Bhumihars, both by their numerical strength as well as by the position of eminence which they occupy in Uttar Pradesh and in Bihar form an important community and its members must have been concerned by the pronouncement of the court in the aforesaid two suits. The entire community had been declared to be non-Brahmans. Bhumihars who call themselves Brahmans must have been agitated by the judicial pronouncement declaring the status of their community and if respondents 1, 3 and 4 leaned towards the side of the 5th respondent it could not be said that it was because they were siding with the 5th respondent in his dispute with the petitioner. It may be that they were prompted to express their views on account of their concern on the verdict of the court with regard to the status of the community which, according to them, had been wrongly determined by the Additional Civil Judge. I, therefore, do not find much force in the contention of the petitioner that the impugned articles in the Virakt had been written at the behest of the fifth respondent.
9. The next question for consideration is whether there are elements of contempt of court in the two impugned articles. The respondents have contended that they were not aware of the fact that an appeal had been preferred from the decree of the Additional Civil Judge on 18-7-1966 in the court of the District Judge of Faizabad. It may be that the third respondent Brahmachari Sri Basudevacharya was unaware of the lodging of the appeal by the fifth respondent. He is the founder of an institution called the 'Akhil Bharat-varshiya Virakt Mahamandal.' The weekly Virakt is the organ of the aforesaid institution founded by the third respondent It is likely that the third respondent being away from Faizabad was not actually aware of the fact that the decree of the learned Additional Civil Judge of Faizabad had been subjected to an appeal before the District Judge of Faizabad. But he was certainly aware of the decision of the learned Additional Civil Judge in the aforesaid two suits and he had himself emphasized the necessity of the judgment of the Additional Civil Judge being set aside by a superior Court. Even if he was not aware of the fact that an appeal had already been preferred on 18-7-1966 he must have known that steps were being taken for filing an appeal. Under these circumstances he cannot be said to be wholly unaware of the sub iudice nature of the proceedings in the matter.
10. The first respondent and the fourth respondent must have been in any case, aware of the fact that an appeal had been filed in the court of the District Judge of Faizabad on 18-7-1966. and, further, that when the impugned articles appeared in the 'Virakt' of 9-8-66 and 23-8-66 an appeal arising from one of the aforesaid two suits was pending before the appellate court. It has to be seen whether the impugned articles amounted to contempt of court. There are two aspects of the problem which were the subject matter of discussion in the two articles. A question involving the consideration of the precise status of a community may be a subject matter of controversy between the parties and the court has to adjudicate on it. Where, however, the nature of the controversy is fuch that it is not confined merely to the contending parties before the Court but it overflows and affects a very large section of the people, then in such a case comments involving the general nature of the controversy, apart from the dispute before the court, could not be wholly shut out. The question before the court was whether the Bhumihars are Brahmans or not The court had interpreted a condition incorporated in the deed of trust. It says that only a Brahman could succeed to the Mahantship of the temple in dispute. The petitioner had assailed the right of the fifth respondent to succeed to the Mahantship on the ground that he was not a Brahman because he was a member of the Bhumihar community and since Bhumihars are not Brahmans he was disqualified from succession. It is difficult to hold, under these circumstances, that a general discussion outside the court on the question whether the Bhumihars are Brahmans or not could entirely be shut out and on any such discussion or public debate being brought to the notice of the court it would be sensitive and would look upon such discussion or comment as amounting to contempt of Court Where the nature and the scope of a controversy of this kind is too wide the Court can only insist that there should be no comments outside the court with regard to matters pertaining to the dispute before It If, however, a particular comment on the question directly refers to the contending parties before a court and if any criticism is offered which pointedly amounts to taking sides in the dispute before the court then in such a case the court may treat the impugned comment as amounting to contempt. It is a well-known and equally well understood rule of law that all debates and expression of opinion on a question which is the subject matter of dispute before a court should be hushed as long as the court is seized of the controversy. Where, however, as I have mentioned above, the nature of the controversy itself has a broad sweep, then in such a case the Court would take notice of only such comments which pointedly refer to the proceedings before it and which may be construed to interfere with the judicial process.
11. Whether the Bhumihars are Brahmans or not is a question which has to be determined primarily by the Bhumihars themselves and relatively by the other sections of the Hindu society. The question of caste, in the Hindu society, has always been a matter primarily for the caste itself and for the Hindu society. All that a Court could do is to recognise what has been declared and decided by the people themselves on the evidence before it. It is true that sometimes a court has to decide the precise status of a particular caste in a dispute between the parties, but primarily the decision of the Court would deal only with the controversy between the contending parties before it. A court could neither take upon itself the task of finally and conclusive-ly declaring for all times the status of a particular caste or section of the Hindu Society nor could it expect that its verdict would be the last word on the subject. As I have said above, this is a matter which is primarily for the people them-selves and the courts could only give effect to what has been decided by the people. The pattern of Hindu Society is! changing and it must keep pace with the, fast altering conditions. In what manner a section of people belonging to the Hindu community call themselves or treat themselves must always rest with them and other sections of the Hindu Society. I am not prepared to take a harsh notice of the comments made by the respondents that the Bhumihars are Brahmans and the court had erred in deciding otherwise.
12. But respondents 1, 3 and 4 did not stop with their expression of disagreement with the verdict of the Court that Bhumihars are not Brahmans. There are passages in the impugned articles in which they have pointedly referred to thecase and the controversy before the Courtand have pronounced their opinion on themerits of the dispute between theparties. The third respondent has pointedly said that he supports the claim of thefifth respondent. This clearly amounts tocontempt of Court. No one has a right toexpress his views publicly on the meritsof claims of contending parties in a suitpending before a court of law. The Courtmust see that nothing is done which interferes with the flow of justice during thependency of a case. The impugned articlesappeared at a time when the appellatecourt was seized of the matter and theexpression of opinion, as mentioned above,by respondents 1, 3 and 4 clearly amountsto contempt of court. Considering thenature of the controversy and the importance of the question to the Bhumi-hars in general who form a large sectionof the people of Uttar Pradesh and BiharI cannot overlook the agitation whichmust have been caused in their minds inconsequence of the decision of the Court.In this view of the matter I accept theunqualified apologies tendered by respondents 3 and 4 in the affidavits filed bythem and by the first respondent in person before me. The notices issued to therespondents are discharged and the petition is dismissed. Respondents 1, 3 and4 will pay Rs. 40 each to the State Counsel, Mr. Z. H. Kasimi, as costs within twoweeks from today.