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Gopalji Maharaj Vs. Krishna Sunder Nath Kaviraj - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAllahabad
Decided On
Reported inAIR1929All887; 122Ind.Cas.869
AppellantGopalji Maharaj
RespondentKrishna Sunder Nath Kaviraj
Cases ReferredKalyana Venkata Ramana v. Kasturiranga
Excerpt:
- - the judgment of the court below is clearly right and ought to be affirmed. i should have been inclined to grant the application upon the ground that the plaintiff having failed upon a technical ground with reference to the frame of the suit, the permission asked for should be granted in this case......the lessee of the idol on behalf of one naudin chand goshain who was the mutwalli of the plaintiff idol. swami keshwanandji claimed to be the manager of the plaintiff idol through one mt. basant kumari who was not the mutwalli. on these grounds the suit was dismissed.2. the application for revision was heard by ashworth, j. who referred the following issue to the trial court:on the death of the late shebait naudip chand goshain was mt. basant kumari a member of the founder's family and were there any other members known to exist?3. the finding of the small cause court judge is that:the jagdish kunj was founded by jagdish pandit, that mt. basant kumari does not belong to the said founder's family and that madho suddan das goswami, narhari das goswami, naudip chand goswami deceased were.....
Judgment:

Sen, J.

1. This is an application for civil revision under Section 25, Small Cause Courts Act and arises under the following circumstances: A suit for arrears of rent in respect of a house was instituted in the Court of Small Causes of Muttra by the plaintiff Sri Gopal Ji Maharaj who is the idol of a Hindu temple situate at Bindraban in the district of Muttra. The suit was brought through one Swami Keshwanandji who claimed to be the manager of the shrine. The trial Court held that the defendant was a tenant of the plaintiff idol. It held, however, that Swami Keshwanandji did not in law represent the idol. The defendant is the lessee of the idol on behalf of one Naudin Chand Goshain who was the mutwalli of the plaintiff idol. Swami Keshwanandji claimed to be the manager of the plaintiff idol through one Mt. Basant Kumari who was not the mutwalli. On these grounds the suit was dismissed.

2. The application for revision was heard by Ashworth, J. who referred the following issue to the trial Court:

On the death of the late shebait Naudip Chand Goshain was Mt. Basant Kumari a member of the founder's family and were there any other members known to exist?

3. The finding of the Small Cause Court Judge is that:

the Jagdish Kunj was founded by Jagdish Pandit, that Mt. Basant Kumari does not belong to the said founder's family and that Madho Suddan Das Goswami, Narhari Das Goswami, Naudip Chand Goswami deceased were members and now Brij Gopal Goswami is the sole surviving member of the said founder's family.

4. A long and elaborate objection has been filed by the plaintiff applicant against the findings arrived at by the Small Cause Court. The objections are directed against the findings of fact and cannot be entertained.

5. Shortly put the case is this: The house leased out to the defendant appertained to Jagdish Kunj of which the plaintiff idol is the owner The house was let out on behalf of the plaintiff to the defendant and the relation between the parties is that of landlord and tenant. The defendant is liable to pay the rent of the house to the plaintiff idol. The objection raised by the defendant is purely technical. The objection raised by the defendant is directed against the frame of the suit. The shibaitship or mutwalliship of the temple vests in the family of Jagdish Pandit, the founder, and Brij Gopal is the sole surviving member of the founder's family. Mt. Basant Kumari had no right to appoint Swami Keshwanandji as manager of the shrine. The question is whether the suit was properly framed having been instituted on behalf of the plaintiff idol by a person who was not the mutwalli or shebait of the temple and who was not appointed the shebait or manager of the temple by or on behalf of Brij Gopal Goswami who is the sole surviving member of the founder's family. The Civil Procedure contains no rule for regulating the conduct of suits on behalf of a Hindu idol. Dr. Katju relies upon Order 32, Rule 4, Civil P.C. which provides in Sub-clause (1) that any person who is of sound mind and has attained majority may act as next friend of a minor or as his guardian for the suit. A Hindu idol although not a sentient being is a juristic person and has been regarded as occupying a position analogous to that of an infant. It is doubtful whether Order 32, Rule 4, Civil P.C. can be applied to the case of a Hindu idol. In Jodhi Rai v. Basdeo Prasad [1911] 33 All. 735 it was ruled that a suit on behalf of an idol must be carried on by some person who represents the idol, usually the manager of the temple in which the idol is installed. Swami Keshwanandji is not a person who represents the idol. He cannot be described as this manager of the temple, not having been appointed to the administration of the temple and its property either under powers granted by the original founder or under the authority of his successor. In Sheo Ramji v. Ridhnath Mahadeo Ji A.I.R. 1923 All. 160 the facts were peculiar. Ajudhia Puri who was the original manager of the temple property was dead. His chela and successor was a minor. One of the persons who was appointed to supervise the management was Ram Kishna Das. Ram Kishna Das appointed Vivekanand guardian of the property of the idol on behalf of the minor. In a suit brought by the idol through Vivekanand as next friend to recover possession of the property which had been wrongfully sold by a relative of Ajudhia Puri, it was held that Vivekanand had a sufficient interest in the subject matter of the suit to be entitled to bring the suit in the name and on behalf of the idol. It is not shown in the present case what interest Swami Keshwanand has in the idol or in the property belonging to the idol. Reference has been made to Damodhar Das v. Lakhan Das [1910] 37 Cal. 885. This case is beside the point, the question of limitation alone having been considered in the case. In Pramatha Nath Mullick v. Pradyumna Kumar Mullick the Judicial Committee directed that the idol might appear by a disinterested next friend to be appointed by the Court. Dealing with the legal position of the idol their Lordships observed as follows:

A Hindu idol is, according to a long established authority, founded upon the, religious customs of the Hindus, and the recognition thereof by Courts of law, a 'juristic entity.' It has a juridical status with the power of suing and being sued. Its interests are attended to by the person who has the deity in his charge and who is, in law, its manager with all the powers which would, in such circumstances, on analogy, be given to the manager of the estate of an infant heir.

6. Swami Keshwanandji Maharaj may have the deity in his charge at the date of the suit but not being in law the manager of the deity, he is not competent to represent the minor in the action. Matters might have worn a different complexion if the Court had appointed him the next friend of the minor idol on the evidence that he was a disinterested person and as such qualified to represent the idol. Reference was also made to Kalyana Venkata Ramana v. Kasturiranga [1917] 40 Mad. 212. This was a suit by two of the worshippers of a temple for themselves and others under Order 1, Rule 8, Civil P.C. and has therefore no relevancy to the question in hand. The judgment of the Court below is clearly right and ought to be affirmed.

7. The plaintiff asks for leave to withdraw the suit with permission to institute a fresh suit upon the same cause of action. This application is opposed by the other side upon the ground that the parties having fought out the case in the Court below upon evidence, the application ought to be refused at this stage. I should have been inclined to grant the application upon the ground that the plaintiff having failed upon a technical ground with reference to the frame of the suit, the permission asked for should be granted in this case. But upon further consideration I have thought it advisable to reject the prayer. The suit on behalf of the idol not having been brought by any person who in law or fact properly represented the idol there is nothing to prevent the idol from instituting a fresh suit upon the same cause of action provided that the proper formalities have been fulfilled and the suit has been launched through the proper agency. I dismiss this application. In view of the peculiar circumstances of the case I direct that the parties bear their own costs.


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