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

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1894)ILR17Mad222
AppellantGanapati Bhatta
RespondentBharati Swami and anr.
Cases Referred and Murari v. Suba I.L.R.
Excerpt:
hindu law - powers of the head of a caste in respect of caste customs--jurisdiction of the civil courts. - - 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......it was held in the queen v. sankare i.l.r. 6 mad. 381 and murari v. suba i.l.r. 6 bom. 725 that a guru's jurisdiction extends over such matters. this being so, the facts found show that first respondent exercised his jurisdiction bona fide. it is found that the fee demanded was neither unreasonable nor extortionate. it is not denied that appellant did violable the duty which he owed to first 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 excommunication which, as ecclesiastical chief, first 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 inquiry, its absence is due to.....
Judgment:

1. The parties to this appeal are Havik Brahmans, who form a sub-division of the Brahman community in South Canara. First respondent is the head or the ecclesiastical chief of the sub-caste; the second is his parupathyagar or-manager; and appellant is a member of the caste subject to the spiritual jurisdiction of first respondent. On the 17th May 1887, first respondent issued against appellant a provisional order of excommunication and communicated it to the Vaidikas and Grahastas, secular and lay Brahmans 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 Brahmans did, though lie was duly apprised of first respondent's arrival; the second 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 excommunication 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 first respondent or to pay to him the arrears of kanike or fee. The third caste offence is that he associated with persons already excommunicated in defiance of first respondent's authority as the chief of his sub-caste the order proceeds then to state that it shall he in force until appellant attends before first respondent and obtains an order disposing of the matters mentioned therein. It purports to be signed by socond respondent under the orders of first 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 first respondent as the head and chief of his caste to issue such order. The District Munsif considered that first respondent was at liberty to deal with questions relating to caste and religious usages, and that the Civil Courts ought not to interfere to prevent first respondent from correcting caste misconduct. On this view, the District Munsif dismissed the suit with costs; and on appeal the Subordinate Judge confirmed the decision. He observed (i) that the order was provisional in its nature; (ii) that the decisions marked as Exhibits T to III and VI and that reported in The Queen v. Sankara I.L.R. 6 Mad. 381 showed that as guru first respondent had authority to inquire into the misconduct of his disciples and to punish them for caste offences 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 inquiry was held, it was because of appellant's contumacious conduct in refusing to attend such inquiry. 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 Belief 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 first 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 should abstain from intercourse with persons already excommunicated by his guru, are matters relating to the autonomy of caste with which, as the head of the caste, first respondent has jurisdiction to deal according to recognized case custom. It was held in The Queen v. Sankare I.L.R. 6 Mad. 381 and Murari v. Suba I.L.R. 6 Bom. 725 that a guru's jurisdiction extends over such matters. This being so, the facts found show that first respondent exercised his jurisdiction bona fide. It is found that the fee demanded was neither unreasonable nor extortionate. It is not denied that appellant did violable the duty which he owed to first 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 excommunication which, as ecclesiastical chief, first 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 inquiry, its absence is due to appellant's contumacious refusal to attend such inquiry. In 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 objections, and we dismiss this appeal with costs.


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