1. The suit out of which this second appeal arises was brought by the plaintiff (Respondent) to recover the office of Archakar of a certain temple for 4 days in each month. The post was held by the plaintiff's mother up to her death in 1901, partly in virtue of a demise (Exhibit III) executed by her husband in 1877 shortly before his death, and partly in virtue of the decree of this Court, Exhibit VIII(b) in Second Appeal No. 1185 of 1896, declaring her right to succeed to that portion of the office (2 days monthly) which the plaintiff had succeeded to on his father's death and which he resigned in 1894.
2. The correctness of the present decree in so far as it relates to the first portion is not questioned in the coarse of the hearing in this court, but the plaintiff's right to succeed to the 2 days' office which he formerly held and resigned is impugned on two grounds : - (1) that he became permanently incapable of holding the office in 1894 by reason of misconduct with a Sudra woman; (2) that in accordance with the ordinary rules of Hindu inheritance, not the plaintiff, but the plaintiff's heirs are entitled to succeed on the death of his mother Rathamma.
3. As regards the first objection, the District Munsiff has unmistakeably found that the misconduct charged (adultery and taking meals with a Sudra woman) was not established. The Subordinate Judge's conclusion has not been very clearly set forth in paragraph 11 of his judgment; but we understand him to mean that there is not sufficient evidence to establish misconduct of such a nature as to entail disqualification for holding the post of Archakar. Looking to the distant period at which the misconduct is said to have occurred, and to the fact that it does not appear to have been followed by any definite action of the plaintiff's castemen, we consider that the lower courts were right in requiring very strong evidence of misconduct, and their findings are justified.
4. As regards the second point it is admitted that if, instead of his mother, a son of the plaintiff's had succeeded to the office after his (the plaintiff's) registration in 1894, then in the absence of a nearer heir, the plaintiff would be entitled to succeed as heir to his son on the latter's death, in the absence, of course, of any personal disqualification by misconduct. But it is argued that on the death of Rathamma, the office passed in accordance with the ordinary rule of inheritance to the heirs of the last male holder; that is, to the heirs of the plaintiff himself. The plaintiff' cannot, it is said, be his own heir, and therefore cannot succeed, and is not entitled to sue.
5. This argument appears to us to be an attempt to stretch the ordinary rules of inheritance so as to apply them to cases which they can only govern in a modified form. It is impossible to treat an office in this respect as if it were an ordinary piece of property like a house or a field. In the case of the latter there is no process analogous to the resignation of an office by an officeholder. All arguments based on the fiction that the person who resigns is civilly dead, so far as that particular office is concerned are fallacious; for admittedly, if the plaintiff's successor had been his son, instead of his mother, the plaintiff would be treated as alive and competent to succeed to his son on the latter's death. All that can be said in such a case as the present is, that on Rathamma's death the office reverted to the family of her husband (and certainly not to her own relatives) and the plaintiff being alive and not disqualified, is the proper person to succeed.
6. The appeal is dismissed with costs.