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Ganapati Bhatta Vs. Raghaweshvara Bharati Swami and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported in(1894)4MLJ101
AppellantGanapati Bhatta
RespondentRaghaweshvara Bharati Swami and anr.
Cases Referred and Murari v. Suba
Excerpt:
- - that appellant's liability to pay kanike or subscription or fee was a caste matter and that appellant had no right to complain unless the fee demanded was unreasonable or extortionate which it was not in the case before us as evidenced by exhibit xiv......custom. it was held in the queen v. sankara i.l.r 6 m 381 and murari v. suba i l. r 6 b 725 that a guru's jurisdiction extends over such matters. this being so, the facts found show that 1st respondent exercised his jurisdiction bond fide. it is found that the fee demanded was neither unreasonable nor extortionate. it is not denied that appellant did violate the duty which he owed to 1st respondent by refusing to visit him. the provisional nature of the order shows that care was taken to see that the punishment by way of ex-communication, which as ecclesiastical chief 1st respondent was competent to inflict, was not more extensive than was necessary to enforce obedience to caste duties. as observed by the subordinate judge, if there has been no enquiry, its absence is due to appellant's.....
Judgment:

1. The parties to this appeal are Havik Brahmins who form a sub-division of the Brahmin community in South Canara. First respondent is the head or the ecclesiastical chief of the sub-caste; the 2nd is his Parupathyagar or manager; and appellant is a member of the caste subject to the spiritual jurisdiction of 1st respondent. On the 17th May 1887, 1st respondent issued against appellant a provisional order of ex-communication and communicated it to the Vaidikas and Grahastas, secular and lay Brahmins of Mangalore. Three caste offences are mentioned in the order. The first is that when the Guru went to appellant's division or Hobli, appellant neglected to visit him, and pay the kanike or fee as other Havik Brahmins did, though he was duly apprised of 1st respondent's arrival; the 2nd is that when the people of Vittal remonstrated with him against his conduct and advised him to see his Guru, he referred to his disapproval of the ex-communication of one Sham Bhatta and others of the Bayar village and to his promise to those persons to continue in caste communion with them, and declared that it was not necessary for him either to see the 1st respondent or to pay to him the arrears of kanike or fee. The 3rd caste offence is that he associated with persons already ex-communicated in defiance of 1st respondent's authority as the chief of his sub-caste. The order proceeds then to state that it shall be in force until appellant attends before 1st respondent and obtains an order disposing of the matters mentioned therein. It purports to be signed by 2nd respondent under the orders of 1st respondent.

2. Appellant brought this suit to have it declared that the order passed against him is unjust and invalid on the ground that it was issued without notice to him and that he suffered thereby both in his property and reputation. In defence respondents admitted the order, but alleged that it was only provisional and that it was fully competent to 1st respondent as the head and chief of his caste to issue such order. The District Munsif considered that 1st respondent was at liberty to deal with questions relating to caste and religious usages, that the Civil Courts ought not to interfere to prevent 1st respondent from correcting caste misconduct. In this view, the District Munsif dismissed the suit with costs; and on appeal the Subordinate Judge confirmed the decision. He observed (1) that the order was provisional in its nature, (2) that the decisions marked as Exhibits I to III and VI, and that reported in The Queen v. Sankara I. L. R 6 M 381 showed that, as Garu, 1st respondent had authority to enquire into the misconduct of his disciples and to punish them for caste offence's and derelictions. He was also of opinion. that appellant's liability to pay kanike or subscription or fee was a caste matter and that appellant had no right to complain unless the fee demanded was unreasonable or extortionate which it was not in the case before us as evidenced by Exhibit XIV. He found further that due notice was given to appellant, and that if no enquiry was held it was because of appellant's contumacious conduct in refusing to attend such enquiry. He also remarked that appellant asked but for a declaratory decree in regard to a temporary interdict or an ad interim order in respect of certain caste imputations and that in his judgment this was a case in which he in the exercise of the discretion vesting in him under Section 42 of the Specific Relief Act might properly refuse to pass a merely declaratory decree. Hence this second appeal.

3. For appellant it is contended that upon the facts found, the decision of the Subordinate Judge is wrong in law; but we are unable to accede to this contention. The relation between appellant and 1st respondent is that of a member and the ecclesiastical chief of his caste. Whether the disciple should visit his Guru and make his obeisance, whether the former should pay the latter a kanike or fee by virtue of the spiritual relation and whether the disciple could abstain from intercourse with persons already ex-communication by his Guru, are matters relating to the autonomy of caste with which, as the head of the caste, 1st respondent has jurisdiction to deal according to recognized caste custom. It was held in The Queen v. Sankara I.L.R 6 M 381 and Murari v. Suba I L. R 6 B 725 that a Guru's jurisdiction extends over such matters. This being so, the facts found show that 1st respondent exercised his jurisdiction bond fide. It is found that the fee demanded was neither unreasonable nor extortionate. It is not denied that appellant did violate the duty which he owed to 1st respondent by refusing to visit him. The provisional nature of the order shows that care was taken to see that the punishment by way of ex-communication, which as ecclesiastical chief 1st respondent was competent to inflict, was not more extensive than was necessary to enforce obedience to caste duties. As observed by the Subordinate Judge, if there has been no enquiry, its absence is due to appellant's contumacious refusal to attend for such enquiry. On a matter relating to caste customs over which the ecclesiastical chief has jurisdiction, and exercises his jurisdiction with due care and in conformity to the usage of caste, the Civil Courts cannot interfere.

4. The decision of the courts below is open to no legal objection and we dismiss this appeal with costs.


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