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Dayalal and anr. Vs. Pyar Chand and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 103 of 1964
Judge
Reported inAIR1972Raj149
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Sections 9
AppellantDayalal and anr.
RespondentPyar Chand and ors.
Advocates: M.M. Vyas, Adv.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Cases ReferredNar Hari v. B. N. Temple Committee
Excerpt:
- - however, in spite of this finding in favour of the plaintiffs, he held that the suit was not of a civil nature and must accordingly fail. religious sentiments and religious observances are very often (as in this particular case) conflicting and unless the parties are reasonable and agree to settle their dispute themselves it is not possible that both could be pleased and satisfied. the question whether the plaintiff has such a right should be decided on the facts of the case and the usage of the temple concerned and where such a right is claimed and proved to be one enjoyed from time immemorial, according to the custom of that temple, it should be upheld......the explanation seeks to harmonise what are purely rituals of a religious nature with the civil rights of an individual. no provision has been referred to by learned district judge for holding that this was a suit whose cognizance was either expressly or impliedly barred. the explanation to the section emphasises that a case where the right to property or to an office is claimed, would be a suit of civil nature notwithstanding that such a right may depend entirely on the decision of questions as to religious rites or ceremonies.7. here, to my mind, the question that was raised was whether the members of the bees panthi amnai who had constructed the temple and were worshipping the deity therein according to their mode of worship could lay a claim to the right of worship. in other.....
Judgment:

Kan Singh, J.

1. This is a plaintiffs' second appeal and the facts leading to it are briefly these:--

There is a temple in village Kurabad, Tehsil Girwa, district Udaipur which has the idol of 'Shri Adinath Bhagwan' installed in it. The plaintiffs were the representatives of the Bees Panthi Amnai amongst the Digamber Jains and the defendants were the representatives of Terah Panthi Amnai of Digamber Jains. The plaintiffs claimed that the temple was constructed by the Bees Panthis some 50 years before the filing of the suit and some 37 years back the idol of 'Shri Adinath Bhagwan' was installed in it, according to the rituals and tenets practised by the Bees Panthis. According to the plaintiffs, the mode of worship in the temple was according to the beliefs and usages of Bees Panthi Amnai. It is regarding this that the two sects are divided. According to the Bees Panthis, the mode of worship is that the idol is anointed with saffron and flowers and fruits are offered to it in the course of worship. On the other hand, the mode of worship of the Terah Panthi is not by making any offer of saffron or fruits or flowers. They worship the idol without these offerings. The plaintiffs' case, in brief, was that in the Bhadwa of Samvat year 2016, sometime in the afternoon the defendants who were Terah Panthis washed away the saffron that was anointed on the idol in the morning by the Bees Panthis and this was, according to the plaintiffs, against their tenets- The plaintiffs apprehended that the defendants would change the entire mode of worship according to their beliefs which they were not entitled to do. It was on these averments that the plaintiffs sued for a declaration that the deity in the temple had been worshipped according to the tenets and rituals of the Bees Panthis and accordingly the defendants had no right to interfere with this mode of worship. The plaintiffs also sought a permanent injunction against the defendants from interfering with this mode of worship of the plaintiffs. The defendants resisted the suit on a number of grounds. The learned Additional Civil Judge, Udaipur, before whom the suit was filed, framed a number of issues. At this stage the Court is concerned with the following questions only:--

(1) Whether the temple of 'Shri Bhag-wan Adinath' situated in village Kurawad was constructed by the Bees Panthis and was worshipped according to the rituals and tenets of their sect and whether the plaintiffs have been worshipping the deity in the temple in dispute with saffron, flowers and fruits so that these offerings cannot be removed the very day?

(2) Whether the Civil Courts cannot grant the relief asked for in the suit?

2. The learned Additional Civil Judge decreed the suit in the following terms:--

'In this view of the matter the total result is that though the plaintiffs have succeeded in proving that originally the temple was built according to those rites and ceremonies that were practised and followed by the Bees Panthis, but they have not been able to prove that they could exclude the Terah Panthis entirely from worshipping in it, according to their beliefs, rituals and ceremonies. Therefore, a mutual compromise, a modus vivendi, will have to be found out and it is that the defendants shall have a right of worship in the temple in dispute for two hours after the sun-rise, thereafter the plaintiffs shall go to the temple and worship, the deity in their own way, and once the deity is anointed with saffron, it shall not be removed the same day by the defendants or any member of the Terah Panthi sect.'

3. Against the judgment and decree of the learned Additional Civil Judge, both the parties went up in appeal to the court of the learned District Judge, Udaipur. The learned District Judge on reappraisal of the evidence, both oral and documentary, came to the conclusion that the plaintiffs had succeeded in proving that the temple in dispute was of the Bees Panthi Amnai. However, in spite of this finding in favour of the plaintiffs, he held that the suit was not of a civil nature and must accordingly fail. In the result, he allowed the defendants' appeal and set aside the judgment and decree of the trial court and dismissed the suit. The plaintiffs' appeal was in consequence dismissed.

4. It is in these circumstances that the plaintiffs have come to this Court in appeal.

5. The defendants-respondents have not cared to appear today.

6 Since the two courts below have given the concurrent finding that the temple was constructed by the members of the Bees Panthi Amnai and the idol was being worshipped in accordance with the tenets and beliefs of the Bees Panthi Amnai, I am left to consider only the question whether the suit was barred under Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code. I may read Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code:--

'Section 9. The Courts shall subject to the provisions herein contained have jurisdiction to try all suits of a civil nature excepting suits of which their cognizance is either ex-presslv or impliedly barred.'

Explanation-- A suit in which the right to property or to an office is contested is a suit of a civil nature, notwithstanding that such right may depend entirely on the decision of questions as to religious rites or ceremonies.'

The enacting part of the section lays down in unmistakable terms that a civil court shall have jurisdiction to try all suits of a civil nature excepting suits of which their cognizance is expressly or impliedly barred. There is again a rider that the Court shall have jurisdiction subject to the provisions contained herein. The explanation to the section makes it clear that a suit in which the right to property or to an office is contested is a suit of a civil nature, notwithstanding that such right may depend entirely on the decision of questions as to religious rites or ceremonies. The explanation seeks to harmonise what are purely rituals of a religious nature with the civil rights of an individual. No provision has been referred to by learned District Judge for holding that this was a suit whose cognizance was either expressly or impliedly barred. The explanation to the section emphasises that a case where the right to property or to an office is claimed, would be a suit of civil nature notwithstanding that such a right may depend entirely on the decision of questions as to religious rites or ceremonies.

7. Here, to my mind, the question that was raised was whether the members of the Bees Panthi Amnai who had constructed the temple and were worshipping the deity therein according to their mode of worship could lay a claim to the right of worship. In other words, whether the right to worship in a temple was a civil right. To my mind, it is very much so.

8. In Gafoor v. Chhotey Lal, AIR 1948 Oudh 279, it was held that the right of worship is a civil right enforceable in a civil court and is an inherent right independent of custom.

9. In Janki Prasad v. Karamat Hussain, ILR 53 All 836 = (AIR 1931 All 674), Mukherji J. observed as follows:--

'Is the suit to be decided on the ground of sentiment and rules of religious observances or whether on the ground of civil rights as they subsist in the subjects of the Crown in general? Religious sentiments and religious observances are very often (as in this particular case) conflicting and unless the parties are reasonable and agree to settle their dispute themselves it is not possible that both could be pleased and satisfied. The basis of the decision in a Court of law must be the Civil rights and Civil rights alone and no account can be taken of mere sentiments of a certain section of the subjects of the Crown. The civil right of every subject of the Crown is that he would be entitled to carry on his worship in any method he likes, but only so long as he does not by his performances affect others injuriously.'

10. In Rattan Singh v. Bell Ram, AIR 1952 Punj 163, Kapur J., as he then was, observed:--

'It is the civil right of every citizen that he should be entitled to carry on hisworship in any method he likes so long as he does not by his performances affect others injuriously.'

In that case the question was whether a man could go bare-headed or otherwise into the temple. His Lordship observed that this was not a form of ritual and even if he went into the temple and began to worship without anything on his head it may be good or bad manners according to the notions of the people, but it had no reference to the ritual. In the circumstances it was held that a suit for an injunction restraining the defendants from obstructing the plaintiffs from entering into the temple bare-headed and worship while bare-headed was not barred as one relating purely to rituals and civil court was held to have jurisdiction to try it.

11. In Managobinda v. Sachida-nanda Swami, AIR 1953 Orissa 15.1, Panigrahi J. held that a right to take part in public worship either in a temple or of a deity while it is being taken out in procession is a civil right, cognizable by a Civil Court. The question whether the plaintiff has such a right should be decided on the facts of the case and the usage of the temple concerned and where such a right is claimed and proved to be one enjoyed from time immemorial, according to the custom of that temple, it should be upheld.

12. In Thiruvenkata Ramanuja V. Venkatacharlu, AIR 1947 PC 53, their Lordships had considered the question whether in the Vaishnavite temples of Tirumalai and Tirupathi the Jiyyangar was entitled to conduct the worship exclusively in Tengalai order by commencing Prabandha Parayanam by saying Sadit Arula and going on with the Tengalai patram to the exclusion of the Vadagalai patram, and to use the same order in processions both inside and outside the temple.

Their Lordships held that the Vadagalais can participate in the worship in the temple but their right to participate in worship does not carry with it the right to insist on using the Vadagalai ritual in the temple worship. In allowing the appeal their Lordships upheld the relief that was granted to the plaintiffs. Though there was no direct discussion on the question whether such a suit was of a civil nature or not within the meaning of Section 9, Civil Procedure Code, this case affords an example where such a question was taken to be one of a civil nature.

13. Nar Hari v. B. N. Temple Committee, AIR 1952 SC 245 was about the right of entrance into a public temple for the purposes of worship or 'darsban'. The question for consideration was whether the Pandas of Badrinath temple could enter it with their yajamans and take gifts. Such a suit was held cognizable as the right of the plaintiffs to enter the temple was held to be a civil right.

14. The conclusion reached by the learned District Judge in holding that thesuit was not of a civil nature was, therefore, erroneous.

15. The result is that I allow this appeal, set aside the judgment and decree of the learned District Judge, Udaipur and restore that of the Additional Civil Judge, Udaipur. Since no one has appeared to contest the appeal, the appellants are left to bear their own costs.


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