1. This is a case in which the Subordinate Judge has allowed questions which ought never to have been allowed. The suit was by the Vannia or Goundar community to have certain processions and worship carried out in the usual manner: and for restraining the defendants from interfering with the plaintiffs in their worship. The plaint is a very simple one. It sets out that in this village of Vilangathur there were eighty houses out of which the Vannias live in about forty houses, while the other communities including the Odayars live in the remaining houses, that the villagers used to perform festivals to all the deities in the village other than the Perumal temple once a year between the months of February-March and August-September. Each of the festivals lasts about 7 to 10 days and various details are given as to how the festivals were being conducted. Then paragraph 7 says that till about July-August 1937, the members of both the communities were offering worship to the deities and also conducting the utsavams in concord and amity, and that there were also years in which the two communities performed such worship separately. In July August, 1937 an attempt was made by the members of the defendants' community to create trouble and that is referred to in paragraph 8 and also the consequent complaint by the members of the plaintiffs' community to the police and Magistrate. In paragraph 9 it is stated that at the direction of the Sub-Magistrate, the Sub-Inspector of Police went to the village and at that time, some of the defendants and other Odayars for and on behalf of their community undertook not to create any disturbance, that they gave a statement' that they would celebrate the festivals separately and that the Goundars may celebrate their festivals separately, each community engaging for the purpose their own workmen. Paragraph 10 recites that the Magistrate directed that each community should without causing any disturbance of any public tranquillity perform the festivals separately. Then it is said that the members of the Odayar community performed the festival for about 8 days from 19th August, 1937, and that thereafter when the plaintiffs began to celebrate the festival, the defendants unlawfully interfered, carried away the vahanams and prevented the plaintiffs from having the festival conducted as contemplated by the order of the Sub-Magistrate. The later paragraphs merely set out that the plaintiffs' community are entitled to have the worship and festivals conducted in the usual manner and state that the temple-in question being a public temple, the members of the plaintiffs' community are entitled to perform the public worship as aforesaid, that they are entitled for the said purpose to have the said utsava vigrahams being carried on their respective vahanams during all the days of the festival, to have the kahri on all the days and also to take the vigraham in perambulation on the vahanams. There is no whisper here that the right claimed in this suit is by some trustees against other trustees. The trial Court went into the question and found in favour of the plaintiffs--as regards the right claimed and gave a decree. (1) The decree of the trial Court restrained defendants 1 to 4 and 6 to 10 and the members of the defendants' community by a permanent injunction from interfering in any way with the performance of the utsavams to the deities mentioned in the plaint by the plaintiffs and their community alone if the aforesaid defendants and their community refuse to cooperate in the performance of the festivals, (2) that if the defendants 1 to 4 and 6 to 10 and their community wish to co-operate, then the festival shall be conducted by both the Odayars and the Goundars as in the past, the fifth plaintiff for the Goundars and defendants 1 and 4 for Odayars acting in the management of the said utsavams every year. The decree also directed the defendants by a mandatory injunction to restore the vahanams to their places.
2. It is a highhanded action on the part of the defendants to have carried away the vahanams and the idols to a different place so as to prevent the plaintiffs from carrying on the worship in the usual manner.. If the defendants did not co-operate with the plaintiffs, then the decree of the trial Court directed these two communities to celebrate the festivals separately and that is what the Sub-Magistrate had ordered. On appeal the Subordinate Judge raised a new point which he concedes was not Raised in the plaint. He says that the suit was by one set of trustees against another set of trustees and that the suit was one to regulate the rituals, the management and the administration of temple affairs and that therefore the suit was barred by Section 73 of the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act. Nowhere is it said in the plaint that the plaintiffs are some of the trustees and that the defendants are the other trustees. This is a suit simply by one set of villagers against an aggressive set of other villagers who in spite of their leaders' consent given before the Magistrate most highhandedly took away the idols.
3. It is an elementary right of every worshipper of a public temple to have the usual festivals conducted in the usual manner and to be allowed to take part in them in the usual manner. There are cases in which for reasons of their own trustees prevented particular members of the public who were worshipping in a particular form in the past from conducting the worship by either not taking the deity at all for worship to the street where the particular worshipper was residing as was done in the past or in preventing him from offering the worship in front of his residence. In all these cases it is recognised that the right is a civil right which every worshipper has as an individual and that he is entitled to the protection of the Court in the exercise of his right.
4. The decree of the lower appellate Court is reversed and that of the trial Court restored with costs throughout. (No leave).