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Saripaka China Mahadeva Vazulu and ors. Vs. Muthura Suryaprakasam - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1915Mad597; 24Ind.Cas.204; (1914)26MLJ482
AppellantSaripaka China Mahadeva Vazulu and ors.
RespondentMuthura Suryaprakasam
Cases ReferredSee Yaleswara Aiyar v. Muthukrishna Aiyar
Excerpt:
- - 1470 and 1471 of 1911, i have ventured to state that a claim to succeed by hereditary right to any office, especially to an office involving spiritual minsitrations, should be looked upon with strong disfavour by courts. the plaintiffs have failed to prove that there was any agreement by the defendants to pay the plaintiffs any portion of the moneys paid to them for the religious services rendered by them......clients, so to say, from resorting to religious ministrations from other than the holders of the purohit office. probably it is too late in bombay to go back from the long set of precedents which have been established, recognising such rights. but as i said before, my mind is clear on the point that the purohit office should not be recognised as an office entitling anybody to claim an exclusive privilege or monopoly to give spiritual ministrations to particular clients, or for the receiver of the emoluments of which a suit will lie in a civil court unless of course the spiritual ministrations had been already given by the plaintiff to a defined client in consideration of the promise of a pecuniay reward. the sale or lease or mortgage of any such office or exclusive right should not be.....
Judgment:

Sadasiva Aiyar, J.

1. Plaintiffs are appellants. In the plaint they state that they are entitled to the hereditary purohitship of all the villages in the Chemudu Zamindari and that they alone are entitled to officiate as purohits at the ceremonies performed by the Chemudu Zamindars and also for the people in the villages in the zamindari. They further allege that according to mamool, they employed defendant to perform ceremonies in those villages on his agreeing to pay them Rs. 12 a year and that he has not paid Rs. 12 due for Plavanga (1907-08) and the suit was brought to recover that amount.

2. The lower appellate Court found that there was no contract between the plaintiffs and the defendant for the year Plavanga and that therefore the suit ought to be dismissed. I do not wish to base my judgment upon this finding of fact as I am strongly against the recognition of an office which could give rise to an exclusive right to officiate as purohit for a particular person or in a particular village or villages, especially, a right which can be enforced in courts of law. I adopt the arguments of the learned Advocate General as reported at page 63 in Valeswara Aiyar v. Muthukrishna Aiyar : (1910)21MLJ57 and I hold that a monopoly to officiate as purohit should not be recognised by Courts and that it is against public policy to allow any such claim. One of the lawful occupations of a Brahmana is officiating as priest for others and receiving whatever is freely and voluntarily given after such priestly office is performed. But there is no authority in the Shastras for the view that the occupation carries with it the right to put the duties on the shoulders of a third person while receiving a portion of the remuneration given for the performance of the duties. That a custom to claim a monopoly to pursue an occupation which is reasonable at one time may become unreasonable at another time has also been suggested by Lord Macnaghten in the course of the arguments before the Privy Council in the case in Sadagopachariar v. A. Rama Rao 11 C.W.N. 585.: I.L.R. 30 M. 30 185 P.C : 17 M.L.J. 240. The right to exclude other people from following a legitimate calling or profession (the calling of purohitship being open to all Brahmins) cannot be countenanced by courts. There can be no individual property in any such common calling, though, of course the following of that calling by the paintiff as an individual can give rise to rights in him as against those who have entered into contracts and obtained benefits from the exercise of that calling by the plaintiff.

3. The plaintiffs in this case not only claim the office but they claim it as an hereditary office. In S.A. Nos. 1470 and 1471 of 1911, I have ventured to state that a claim to succeed by hereditary right to any office, especially to an office involving spiritual minsitrations, should be looked upon with strong disfavour by courts. I also hold that it is contrary to the Hindu Sastras to recognise any such hereditary right, in a spiritual office, the right to hold such on office depending on the requisite spiritual qualifications. In Dwarakunath Misser v. Rampertab Misser (1911) 13 Cal. L.J. 449. (at p.451 to 453) Mr. Justice Mookerjee has advanced cogent arguments for the position that though when an office is attached to an idol or some other image of the deity, it may be recognised by court as an exclusive right to perform religious ceremonies for pilgrims or to officiate as priests for pilgrims or other ill-defined class of persons cannot be recognised by courts so as to entitle the plaintiffs, (the alleged holders of that right) to maintain suits for the voluntary offerings which are given by those who obtain spiritual ministrations at certain theerthams or places. The cases quoted by the appellants' learned vakil namely, Bheemacharyalu v. Ramanujacharyulu (1907) 17 M.L.J. 493 Bashiakar v. Thathackariar (1910) 20 M.L.J. 530 and the case in C.R.P. No. 352 of 1909, related to offices attached to a temple or a mosque and those decisions throw no light on the decision of the question now in dispute.

4. No doubt, in Bombay, the exclusive right to officiate as a purohit for certain families or in certain villages have been recognised by the courts as entitling the holders thereof to bring suits to establish the said rights and to claim emoluments wrongly received by the defendants, though the emoluments were in the nature of voluntary offerings and even to enjoin the spirtual clients, so to say, from resorting to religious ministrations from other than the holders of the purohit office. Probably it is too late in Bombay to go back from the long set of precedents which have been established, recognising such rights. But as I said before, my mind is clear on the point that the purohit office should not be recognised as an office entitling anybody to claim an exclusive privilege or monopoly to give spiritual ministrations to particular clients, or for the receiver of the emoluments of which a suit will lie in a civil court unless of course the spiritual ministrations had been already given by the plaintiff to a defined client in consideration of the promise of a pecuniay reward. The sale or lease or mortgage of any such office or exclusive right should not be recognised as it is opposed to the Hindu religion and also to public policy.

5. In the result, I dismiss the second appeal with costs.

Seshagiri Aiyar, J.

6. I agree in the conclusion at which my learned brother has arrived. The discussion before us in this case is not sufficient to Warrant the conculsion that the right to lease the privilege of ministering to clients on religious occasions is opposed to public policy and I do not base my judgment on that ground. The Subordinate Judge finds that the plaintiffs are the hereditary purohits of the village in question. That finding imports nothing more than this that the people in the village are in the habit of asking the aid of the plaintiffs for spiritual ministrations. It has been held in this Court a quarter of a century ago that a person who has been in the habit of engaging the services of a particular purohit for a number of years cannot be restrained from availing himself of the services of others See Ramakrishna v. Ranga I.L.R. (1884) M. 424 That decision has been followed ever since. See Yaleswara Aiyar v. Muthukrishna Aiyar (1909) 21 M.L.J. 57 and the cases quoted by the learned vakils for both sides in this case. I do not think that it can be said that purohitam is an office at all, that it is hereditary and that it is immoveable property, which can be leased. There is a shorter ground upon which the second appeal can be disposed of. The plaintiffs have failed to prove that there was any agreement by the defendants to pay the plaintiffs any portion of the moneys paid to them for the religious services rendered by them. The Subordinate Judge finds that the written contract for two years is not sufficient to enable him to infer that the defendants for all time to come contracted to pay them a share of the fees collected. I see no reason to differ from him in this conclusion. I agree with him and dismiss the second appeal with costs.


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