1. It is not disputed that plaintiff has bought the right to certain dignities and emoluments under the name of Malji Dharmakarta Miras in the Gonjeevaram Devarajaswami Devastanam and also that these rights have been accorded to him and to his predecessors in title by the defendants.
2. The only question before us is whether these rights are recoverable at law. It is. contended that they are only honours and dignities of a religious nature of which the civil courts have no cognizance. The character of the various rights claimed by the plaintiff are set forth in paragraph 29 of the lower Court's judgment. As regards Nos. 6 to 18 there can he no doubt that they possess a money value consisting as they do of the right to take money and food on the periodical occasions referred to. So that, the question is really narrowed down to items Nos. 1 to 5, which do appear to be only honours without any appreciable money value. We should have been inclined to think, had we been disposing 6i the matter for the first time, that these were rights not enforceable at law; but we find that from the year 1810 A.D. up to now, these rights have always been treated as part and parcel of the whole miras. They appear to be rights, which are inseparable from the other rights. They seem to be so far in the nature of an office that they allow the holder of the miras to bake part in the ceremonial services of the God; and out of this right, or we may say duty springs the right to receive the dignities and emoluments appertaining to that service. As already observed, they have always een classed together and they have been mortgaged, bought and sold together. They were sold together by the Madras Supremo Court in 1843 (see the sale certificate, Exhibit P, wherein they are valued together under the style of ' honours and incomes ' at Rs. 104-11-8). They were the subject of a civil action in the District Munsif's Court of Trivellore in O.S. No. 346 of 1864. The same question was then raised on a remand as to whether these items, Nos, 1 to 5, were honours of a purely religious character, or not. Though the District Munsif held that they were, his decision was reversed on appeal by the District Court of Chingleput in appeal suit No. 66 of 1871. Although no specific reason was given by the Civil Judge for disagreeing with the Munsif, it must be observed that he was the same Judge who had previously raised the doubt as to whether these rights were recoverable at law or not, and he, therefore, ultimately came to the conclusion, that they were. Upon the Civil Judge's decision, the matter was brought to the notice of this Court, where it formed the sixth ground of appeal in special appeal No. 734 of 1872, and this Court dismissed the appeal. It must, therefore, be inferred that the learned Judges saw no reason for differing from the view of the Civil Judge. Though these decisions may not strictly operate as res judicata, we see no reason why we should differ from the conclusions already arrived at in that previous case by the District Court and by this Court. They doubtless proceeded upon the ground that it was impossible to divide or separate those rights which were rather dignities than emoluments from the miras or dharmakarthaship which comprised the whole. Not only have they been, as above shewn, decreed together, hut they have been executed by process of the Civil Court even as to, the doing of the honours as well as with respect to the recovering of the fees (Exhibits S and T of 1857). In all these circumstances, we must treat the rights appertaining to the miras as one and indivisible.
3. The plaintiff is, therefore, entitled to the declaration which he has obtained by the decree in the Lower, Court together with the decree which he has also obtained for the enforcement of his rights in future and for the arrears of fees now due to him.
4. The appeal is accordingly dismissed with costs.