1. In this case the plaintiff Raja Sashi Sekareshwar Roy, Rai Bahadur, describes himself as the Chief Secretary of the Board of Trustees, otherwise known as the Pratinidhi Sabha, of an Association known as the Sri Bharat Dharma Mahamandal, registered under Act XXI of 1860. He complains in effect that the two defendants, who are members of the same Association, are seeking to remove him from the post of Chief Secretary and have endeavoured to do so by measures contrary to the rules of the Association itself. He asks for a declaration that a circular convening a meeting to be held on May 12th, 1912, was invalid and inoperative under the rules or constitution of the said Sri Bharat Dharma Mahamandal,' and that the meeting held in consequence of this notice and the resolutions passed at the said meeting are 'null and void.'
2. The first Court held that the dispute was not one cognizable by the Civil Courts and that the plaintiff had no locus standi under Section 42 of the Specific Relief Act to ask for a declaration; it dismissed the suit accordingly. The learned District Judge in appeal has reversed this finding and remanded the suit for trial on the merits. The appeal before us is by the defendants against this order of remand.
3. I think the first Court was substantially right and that the learned District Judge has taken too narrow a view of the question in issue. In order to succeed, the plaintiff has to satisfy, the Court both that the suit is one concerning the right to an office, within the meaning of Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure, and also that what he is enforcing in this suit is his right to a certain 'legal character' within the meaning of Section 42 of the Specific Relief Act (No. 1 of 1877). Of the reported cases to which we were referred in argument, the one most nearly in point is that of Channu Dat Vyas v. Babu Nandan 6 Ind. Cas. 223 : 9 A.L.J. 529 : 32 A. 527. It may be that the fact that a plaintiff is claiming some position to which no remuneration attaches is not always decisive; but in the present case I think it is so. If the plaintiff were the paid Secretary of the Board of Trustees he would have certain rights founded upon contract, and he could claim, the enforcement of the rules of the Society or Association as they existed at the time of his appointment, in so far as those rules formed part of the essential conditions subject to which he accepted his employment. As a matter of fact the plaintiff's services are voluntary and gratuitous; there is no question of any contract between him and the Board of Trustees. The latter have a perfect right to entrust the duties of Honorary Secretary to their body to such person or persons, willing to undertake the same, as they may from time to time approve. It would be idle for the Civil Courts to enter upon an investigation of the rules of this particular Association governing the appointment of Honorary Secretaries, when those rules themselves could be altered at any moment by the Board of Trustees, and there is no enforceable contract in existence which could bind the Trustefs to abide by the rules in existence at the time of the plaintiff's appointment in their subsequent dealings with him. That this is no merely conjectural argument is sufficiently shown by the fact that, at the hearing of this appeal, we have been handed two different sets of rules, the appellant putting in a book dated 'January 1911' and the respondents one of 1913. The point really lies in a nutshell. The plaintiff either does or does not possess the confidence and support of a majority of the Board of Trustees. In the former case no such machinations as are alleged in the plaint could prevent the said Board from continuing to use his services as their Honorary Secretary, in the latter case no decree which any Civil Court could pass on a suit like the present could prevent the Board of Trustees from dispensing with the plaintiff's services and employing some one else.
4. I would set aside the order of the lower Appellate Court and restore the decree of the Court of first instance dismissing this suit.
5. Chamier, J.--I agree.
6. By the Court.--The order and decree of the lower Appellate Court are set aside and the decree of the Court of first instance dismissing the suit is restored. The defendants will get their costs in all Courts.