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Tiruvambala Desikar Gnana Sambanda Pandarasannadhi Avargal and anr. Vs. Chinna Pandaram Alias Manikkavachaka Desikar (Died) and Two ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContract
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1917)ILR40Mad177
AppellantTiruvambala Desikar Gnana Sambanda Pandarasannadhi Avargal and anr.
RespondentChinna Pandaram Alias Manikkavachaka Desikar (Died) and Two ors.
Cases ReferredRaja Kumara Venkata Perumal Raja Bahadur v. Thatha Ramasamy Chetty I.L.R.
Excerpt:
mutt, head of - dharmapuram adhinam, pandarasannadhi of--junior pandarasannadhi, made of appointment of--nomination by will--ordination--abishegam, effect of--nature of the office--removal of junior from office, ground of--power of pandarasannadhi to remove junior, if at pleasure or for good cause--notice of charges, necessity for--dismissal without notice or opportunity for defence, validity of--compromise--decree, nature and effect of--suit for setting aside, necessity for--limitation for such suit--compromise, decree, partly illegal, effect of--decree, if void altogether. - - 86 of 1906 called in question the right of the defendant to be junior pandarasannadhi as well as his right to enjoyment of the mutt properties under the deed of relinquishment, and it was accordingly ruled at.....john wallis, c.j.1. this appeal relates to the headship of the wealthy mutt or adhinam of dharmapuram in the tanjore district, the affairs of which are unfortunately the subject of endless litigation before us. sivagnana who was for many years pandarasannadhi or head of the mutt filed original suit no. 86 of 1906 in the subordinate court of kumbakonam to set aside a deed of relinquishment, exhibit s, executed by him in 1903 in favour of manikkavachaka, the defendant in this suit, whom he had previously ordained and nominated as junior pandarasannadhi with the right of succession according to the custom of the institution. sivagnana died shortly after the institution of the suit and the present plaintiff sought to be brought on the records as his legal representative on the ground that the.....
Judgment:

John Wallis, C.J.

1. This appeal relates to the headship of the wealthy mutt or adhinam of Dharmapuram in the Tanjore district, the affairs of which are unfortunately the subject of endless litigation before us. Sivagnana who was for many years Pandarasannadhi or head of the mutt filed Original Suit No. 86 of 1906 in the Subordinate Court of Kumbakonam to set aside a deed of relinquishment, Exhibit S, executed by him in 1903 in favour of Manikkavachaka, the defendant in this suit, whom he had previously ordained and nominated as junior Pandarasannadhi with the right of succession according to the custom of the institution. Sivagnana died shortly after the institution of the suit and the present plaintiff sought to be brought on the records as his legal representative on the ground that the day before he died, Sivagnana had ordained him and executed a will in his favour. It was held by the Subordinate Court, and by this Court on appeal, that the plaint in Original Suit No. 86 of 1906 called in question the right of the defendant to be junior Pandarasannadhi as well as his right to enjoyment of the mutt properties under the deed of relinquishment, and it was accordingly ruled at the instance of the present plaintiff that the suit did not abate on Sivagnana's death, and under Section 367, Civil Procedure Code, the Court stayed the suit and left the plaintiff to bring the present suit against Manikkavachaka to establish that he is the legal representative of the deceased Pandarasannadhi and so entitled to continue Original Suit No. 86 of 1906.

2. This suit necessarily involves the question whether the defendant Manikkavachaka had been lawfully appointed junior Pandarasannadhi, and also the further question whether he was lawfully removed during the lifetime of Sivagnana, as, if not, he and not the plaintiff is the legal representative of the deceased. Accordingly the pleadings and issues in this case cover much the same ground as the principal suit. During the pendency of this suit the defendant Manikkavachaka has also died after nominating and ordaining a successor who has been brought on the record as his legal representative, so that the contest is now between the plaintiff claiming as nominee of Sivagnana and the present respondent claiming as the nominee of Manikkavachaka.

3. The Subordinate Judge has dismissed the plaintiff's suit on two grounds that Manikkavachaka must be taken to have been validly appointed and not to have been removed and that he was consequently Sivagnana's legal representative, and secondly on the ground that the plaintiff has failed to prove the will and ordination on which he relies to establish his character of legal representative. Either of these findings is sufficient to dispose of the present suit.

4. As pointed out by the Subordinate Judge in his very careful judgment, this case is the last stage in a long dispute between the defendant and an opposing faction in the mutt headed by one Somasundara Thambiran, who at one time belonged to the institution and subsequently became the head of the wealthy Tiruppanandal mutt. These opponents of the defendant endeavoured in the first instance to prevent his nomination as junior Pandarasannadhi and afterwards to get that nomination revoked. In the course of the dispute we find Sivagnana a weak and feeble old man embarrassed by the load of debts accumulated by his management acting under the influence first of one side and then of the other.

5. We first find him ordaining and nominating the defendant on 22nd April 1900 (Exhibit 23) in spite of the pendency of a suit subsequently dismissed--to prevent him from making the appointment, and then on 27th September 1900 giving a power of attorney to the defendant. On 19th June 1901 he cancelled the power by Exhibit MM which contained injurious charges against the defendant. The defendant on 2nd July 1901 by Exhibit UUUU surrendered the properties he had taken possession of under the power, and a few days later Sivagnana executed X by which' he withdrew the charges against the defendant contained in Exhibit MM. Two months later on 12th September 1901, he purported by Exhibit K to remove the defendant from the position of junior Pandarasannadhi on account of malversation and on vague charges of sexual immorality of which no particulars whatever were given. Thus challenged the defendant preferred a criminal complaint against him for defamation, and also filed a civil suit, Original Suit No. 74 of 1901, questioning his alleged dismissal. The next thing was that a compromise was arranged. The defamation case was withdrawn, and the suit was settled by a razinama (Exhibit P-2) in which it was recited that the defendant Sivagnana had on further inquiries ascertained that the accusations made against Manikkavachaka were groundless, and that there were no reasons for dismissing him, and by which his right was recognized and it was further agreed that certain properties belonging to the mutt should be handed over to him. On this a decree (Exhibit P-1) was passed on 2nd January 1902 declaring him to be the junior Pandarasannadhi and the deed of dismissal to be null and void, and restraining Sivagnana from appointing any one else as junior Pandarasannadhi.

6. Eighteen months later on 7th June 1903 Sivagnana executed a deed of relinquishment (Exhibit S) by which he retired in favour of the defendant, and some time afterwards made his way to Benares. He returned from Benares early in 1906 and went to stay with the defendant's enemy Somasundaram at the Tiruppanandal mutt whence he sent the defendant on 12th May 1906 a notice (Exhibit T) of his intention to file a suit for a declaration that Exhibit S was invalid and to recover the mutt properties. A suit was subsequently filed as Original Suit No. 86 of 1906 for that purpose. It has been contended before us that Exhibit T amounted to a fresh dismissal of the defendant from the office of junior Pandarasannadhi, but we do not so read it. There is however oral evidence that on two occasions after his return Sivagnana purported to dismiss the defendant from this office also. Sivagnana died on the morning of the 1st December 1906, as alleged by the plaintiff, or on the evening of the 30th of November, as alleged by the defendant. According to the plaintiff's case Sivagnana conferred abishegam upon him on the 30th and also executed a will (Exhibit W) nominating him as his successor, but the finding of the Subordinate Judge is that the alleged abishegam and will have not been proved. This is a brief statement of the facts which are more fully set out in the judgment of the Subordinate Judge.

7. The fifth and sixth issues dealt with the validity of the defendant's original appointment, and with the question whether Sivagnana was entitled to dismiss him, referring to the first dismissal under Exhibit K. It appears from a note made by the Subordinate Judge in his record of the evidence that it was arranged, probably at the suggestion of the defendant's pleaders, that evidence on these issues should be reserved until after the disposal of issues 7 and 8 as to the compromise decree in Original Suit No. 74 of 1901 which if found in favour of the defendant would make issues and 6 unnecessary.

8. It will be convenient to consider in the first place whether the compromise decree in Original Suit No. 74 of 1901 is valid and binding. As already stated it was entered into after Sivagnana had purported to dismiss the defendant by Exhibit K and the defendant had replied by filing a complaint for defamation and a suit to declare the alleged dismissal illegal. The Subordinate Judge has found that it was brought about after protracted negotiations and on the independent advice of persons who had the interests of the institution at heart, and not by means of any pressure or oppression on the part of the defendant. If Sivagnana was not in a position to justify the charges he had made against the defendant, it was eminently proper for him to withdraw them, instead of committing the mutt to further ruinous litigation. I do not however consider it necessary to pursue the matter further because in my opinion the consent decree in Original Suit No. 74 of 1901 was binding on Sivaguana and is also binding on the present plaintiff who claims through him, and even if there had been any grounds for setting it aside by suit, such a suit became barred during the lifetime of Sivagnana. A consent decree is binding on the parties to the suit until it is set aside just as much as if it had been passed after contest: Fateh Chand v. Narsing Das (1915) 22 C.L.J. 383 citing In re South American and Mexican Company; Ex parte Bank of England (1895) 1 Ch. 87. The effect of the consent decree in Original Suit No. 74 of 1901 is to establish as against Sivagnana and those who like the present plaintiff claim through him that the defendant had been duly appointed junior Pandarasannadhi and continued to hold that office at the date of the decree. Consequently, unless he was subsequently removed, he was junior Pandarasannadhi at the death of Sivagnana and then became his legal representative and entitled to succeed to his office.

9. As regards the alleged illegality in the compromise decree in so far as it restrains the plaintiff from removing the defendant in case of future misconduct, I do not think that this would be any ground for setting aside the decree altogether in a suit by Sivagnana for that purpose, for it does not affect the consideration obtained by Sivagnana for entering into the compromise: see also Kearney v. Whitehaven Colliery Co. (1893) 1 Q.B. 700.

10. It is however found by the Subordinate Judge that after his return from Benares in 1906 Sivagnana purported to dismiss the defendant and it is contended that these dismissals were operative. To succeed in this contention it would be necessary for the plaintiff to get over the deed of relinquishment (Exhibit S) executed in 1903 by Sivagnana in favour of the defendant which is attacked among other grounds as having been procured by coercion and undue influence and so liable to be set aside in the present suit. It is however unnecessary to consider this question because, assuming that Sivagnana continued to hold the office of Pandarasannadhi after the execution of Exhibit S and that as such he was empowered to dismiss the defendant from the office of junior Pandarasannadhi, it is not shown that the defendant received any notice or was given any opportunity of answering the charges on which Sivagnana purported to dismiss him. It has been contended before us that the defendant only held office at the pleasure of the Pandarasannadhi and that consequently the latter was entitled to dismiss him without giving him any opportunity of being heard. The nomination and ordination of a Junior Pandarasannadhi is the customary manner of providing for the line of succession in mutts of this kind, and it is not shown that the Pandarasannadhi has any power of arbitrary dismissal, while on the other hand it has been held, in a previous suit relating to the institution that he may dismiss for good cause. In Vidyapurna Tirtha Swami v. Vidyanidhi Tirtha Swami I.L.R. (1904) Mad. 435 where the question was whether a Pandarasannadhi forfeited his position as such by reason of lunacy recourse was had to the analogies of the Canon Law, and applying those analogies to this case, the position of the junior Pandarasannadhi during the lifetime of the elder would appear to be that of a co-adjustor with the right of succession, a right of which he cannot be deprived except for grave cause. When an office is held at pleasure the incumbent may be removed even on charges of misconduct without any opportunity of being heard, because he is removeable at pleasure without any misconduct at all, but in all other cases 'the objection for want of notice 'in the language of an old case' can never be got over. The laws of God and man both give the party an opportunity to make his defence if he has any': Rex v. Chancellor and Master of the University of Cambridge (1723) 1 Str. 557 and Cooper v. The Wandsworth Board, Works of (1863) 14 C.B. 180. In Willis v. Gipps (1846) 5 Moo. 379, the principle was applied to the case of a Colonial Judge who held office at the pleasure of the Crown but was also amovable under a statute by the Governor and Council of the Colony for neglect of duty or other misbehaviour, and it was held by the Judicial Committee that this order of a motion was bad because made without notice. It is not suggested in the present case that any notice was given to the defendant by Sivagnana of the charges on which he purported to dismiss him after his return from Benares, and consequently such dismissal is wholly void and inoperative and the defendant, if he had not already succeeded by virtue of Exhibit S, remained the junior Pandarasannadhi and on Sivagnana's death was his legal representative and entitled to succeed him. This is sufficient to dispose of the present case, but as to the other part of the case I may say that after listening to the elaborate arguments which have been addressed to us I am not prepared to differ from the finding of the Subordinate Judge that the abishegam of the plaintiff and the alleged will of Sivagnana in his favour have not been proved. This appeal is dismissed with costs.

11. Appeal No. 22 of 1911 and Civil Revision Petition No. 25 of 1911 follow and are dismissed with costs.

Appeal No. 36 of 1911.

Seshagiri Ayyar, J.

12. In Original Suit No. 86 of 1906, Sivagnana Desika Gnanasambanda sued for a declaration that Manikkavachaka Desika was not the Pandarasannadhi of the Dharmapuram mutt and that the compromise entered into in Original Suit No. 74 of 1901 is not binding on him. Sivagnana died on the 1st of December 1906, while the original suit was pending. The present plaintiff claimed to have been nominated by Sivagnana as his successor and applied to be brought on the record as his legal representative to continue the suit against the defendant. Manikkavachaka, the defendant, pleaded that the suit abated with the death of Sivagnana and that plaintiff was not the legal representative of the deceased. On this application to be brought on the record, the High Court, agreeing with the Court of First Instance, directed the plaintiff to establish his claim as the legal representative in a regular suit. The present suit, Original Suit No. 53 of 1907, is the outcome of that order.

13. The plaintiffs case is that Sivagnana appointed him as his successor by a will executed on the 30th of November and that the necessary ceremony of abishegam was performed on that day. He impeaches the validity of Manikkavachaka's nomination by the will of Sivagnana dated the 22nd of April 1900 on various grounds. He says that the will was brought about in order to avoid a conviction for defamation and that it was cancelled by Exhibit K, dated the 12th September 1901 He further alleges that Manikkavachaka was unfit to be a Pandarasannadhi in consequence of immorality and that Sivagnana validly revoked the nomination. As regards the compromise in Original Suit No. 74 of 1901, the plea was that it is ultra vires in that it restrained Sivagnana, from making any further appointment and that it was beyond the power of a Pandarasannadhi to consent to the terms embodied in it. The relinquishment of the 7th June 1903 is attacked on the ground of undue influence. The plaintiff prays for a declaration that the defendant was not the lawful Pandarasannadhi of the Dharmapuram mutt and for the recognition of his right to succeed Sivagnana.

14. The defendant (who died pending the appeal after nominating his successor who is the present respondent) traversed all the allegations and maintained that his nomination was proper and valid, that the razinama was binding on Sivagnana and that the relinquishment clothed him with full rights even during the life time of Sivagnana.

15. Before discussing the various questions of law which have been very ably argued in the appeal, I shall deal with issues Nos. 3 and 3 (a) which relate to the plaintiff's nomination. The Subordinate Judge has dealt with this question at considerable length and although I am not prepared to agree with all the reasons given by him, 1 agree in the conclusion at which he has arrived.

16. [His Lordship then dealt with the evidence and then proceeded as follows:]

17. I agree with the findings of the lower Court on these two issues.

18. Even if the will be true, if the plaintiff did not go through the ceremony of abishegam, he has no locus standi; for it is by that ritual, the nominee acquires the right to be installed as Pandarasannadhi. There is a considerable body of evidence on this question, To my mind the non-mention of it in Exhibit W is fatal to this part of the case. The entry of the expenses in the mutt account does not carry the matter any further. I attach very little importance to what the Subordinate Judge considers to be developments in the story. For after the cross examination was directed to details, the plaintiff's legal adviser would naturally elicit those details in the examination-in-chief. I agree with the Subordinate Judge that the performance of abishegam has not been satisfactorily proved.

19. These findings would ordinarily be enough to dispose of the appeal but as the right of the defendant has been strenuously attacked on various grounds, it, is desirable to state our conclusions on the various points in controversy so that there may not be room for future litigation.

20. Mr. Srinivasa Ayyangar contended that in order to succeed in the suit all that need be shown by the plaintiff is that he acquired all the rights which Sivagnana was capable of conferring on his client, and that the rights of the defendant need not be gone into in this litigation. I do not think that this contention is well founded. The plaintiff as legal representative must show that he has stepped into the shoes of the deceased with all the attributes which he claimed. It is open to the defendant to prove that the deceased had no rights to transmit. The right of representation is claimed with reference to an office, and it is undoubtedly within the competency of the defendant to show that the office was full and that there was no room for a successor. The learned vakil's contention amounts to saying that the representation need only relate to all that the deceased was possessed of at the date of his death. This may or may not be the correct position to take where the deceased sued in his individual capacity. Probably in such cases, all that the applicant need show is that he is full heir to the party who is dead. But where the suit is brought in a representative capacity, the legal representative must show that the estate devolved on him. The estate in this connection is not the estate which the deceased had, but the estate which he represented, that is, the estate to which he laid claim. If there was no estate outstanding, there can be no legal representation. I realize that the effect of such a decision is to compel the person seeking to come in as a legal representative to prove the very matters in controversy in the main suit. I. do not see much hardship in this. To hold otherwise would be to expose the defendant to attacks from persons who could establish no claim to the trust of which he is in possession. In my opinion, the import of the words in Order XXII, Rule 3 (1): 'where a sole plaintiff dies and the right to sue survives', is that the applicant should be in a position to lay claim to the right which was agitated in the suit. Conversely the defendant can show that the person who seeks to continue the litigation had not acquired the right claimed because that right was vested in himself. I am therefore of opinion that this objection fails.

21. In dealing with the right of the defendant, the first point on which Mr. Srinivasa Ayyangar laid great emphasis was that the position of a junior Pandarasannadhi is not a free-hold office but that it is a position held during the pleasure or will of the senior Pandarasannadhi, the appointer. I ana not inclined to hold that it is a free-hold office in the sense in which the Subordinate Judge designates it. But I feel no doubt that the appointee does not hold it at the will or pleasure of the appointer. Under the Hindu law the property of a hermit or an ascetic is inherited by the preceptor and after him by his disciple; Mitakshara, chapter II, Section 8: see also Yagnavalkya Smrithi, slokas 187, 188 and 191. In the case of mahants or heads of mutt, the same rule would apply, although the precedence given to the preceptor is open to question. It is now well established that the rule of succession among the matathipathis must be deduced from the usages of the mutt: see Greedharee Doss v. Nandokissore Doss Mohunt (1867) 11 M.I.A. 405 and Ramalingam Pillai v. Vythilingam Pillai (1893) 20 I.A. 150. In the first of these two cases, their Lordships of the Judicial Committee inclined to the view that the ordinary mode of succession in mutts is by appointment of the successor by the predecessor either by will or by word of mouth. That is the practice in all the important mutts in this Presidency. Now, the question is whether this power of appointment carries with it the absolute power of dismissal as was strenuously contended for by Mr. Srinivasa Ayyangar, or whether by the appointment a status is acquired by the appointee which is not lost unless removed for good cause. After listening to the very able argument of the learned vakil for the appellant, I feel no hesitation in holding that the appointer has not the absolute power to dismiss which is claimed for him. Before dealing with the cases cited, I shall refer to what takes place on the nomination of a successor in this mutt. Exhibit C, the plaint in Original Suit No. 21 of 1900, mentions in paragraph 4, the ceremonies that have to be gone through in selecting a successor and also those which the person selected has to undergo. The most important of these is the abishegam The rites to be observed on this occasion are described by the plaintiff as his thirty-third witness. This may be taken to represent correctly what happens when a junior Pandarasannadhi is anointed. It is also in evidence that the senior Pandarasannadhi himself offers puja to the junior, because by the abishegam the junior attains Godhead. The abishegam enables the junior to initiate disciples himself. He performs separate puja to Gods Vigneswara and Subrahmanya. He is called the Sadhaka Acharya, or co-adjustor with the senior. These being the attributes with which the junior is invested, I am unable to accede to the suggestion that he acquires no status and his position is dependent on the goodwill of the senior. To my mind, by these ceremonies, the senior is instituting an heir to himself. It may be that the analogy of the adopted son would not apply in all particulars. I am willing to concede that the right of removing the junior for proved misconduct inheres in the senior. Otherwise a person once anointed must be retained even if he has proved himself utterly unfit to hold the religious office. But the grounds of removal must be such as would disentitle the senior himself to continue in office. Subject to this reservation, I am of opinion that the person appointed under a will and to whom abishegam has been performed, becomes the heir presumptive entitled to succeed to the headship on the happening of a vacancy. Mr. Srinivasa Ayyangar relied strongly upon Sita Pershad v. Thakur Dass (1879) 6 C.L.R. 73. In that case, the right of appointment vested in the incumbent in possession. The mutt was a mourasi mutt, an incident of which was the right of selecting a successor vested in the mahant for the time being. The report does not show that after the process of selection any ceremony was gone through by which the nominee became sanctified and competent to initiate disciples. Moreover, it was found in that case that the successor was found guilty of immoral conduct which led to his supersession. Mr. Justice Princep lays down, too broadly in my opinion, that the appointee holds his position, 'until the appointment has been declared to be a bad appointment and invalid.' The learned Judge would give this right of declaration absolutely to the appointer. The facts of the case before the learned Judge might have justified that view. But I am not prepared to accept it as a general rule of law governing succession in similar institutions. Reference is made among the cases cited in argument to a decision of Glover and Romesh Chunder Mitter, JJ., to the effect that the appointment cannot be cancelled. The decision has not been reported and is not available for reference. Samarendra Chandra Deb v. Birendra Kishore Deb I.L.R. (1908) Calc. 777 was next relied on. In that case it was found that the Tipperah Raj was entitled to nominate his successor as Job Raj from among the members of the family. It was not denied that the person so nominated would succeed the Raja if he survived him. But it was contended that as the right of succession was contingent upon the plaintiff surviving the reigning prince, a suit for declaration would not lie. There were other important questions raised in the case. The Full Bench after deciding that the Calcutta Courts had no jurisdiction held that the plaintiff was not entitled to a declaration. It is doubtful whether this decision is correct, having regard to the ruling of the Court of Appeal in England in Guarantee Trust Company of New York v. Hannay Company (1915) L.R. 2 K.B.D. 536 and to the illustrations to Section 42 of Specific Relief Act. The Calcutta High Court accepted the principle of the previous decision in Beer Chunder Manikhya v. Raj Coomar Nobodeep Chunder Deb Burmono I.L.R. (1883) Calc. 535. However that may be, these decisions are not authorities for the position that a junior Pandarasannadhi has not a recognized status which he can protect when that status is denied. Sellappaswamy v. Manikkaswami (1911) M.W.N. 359 was disposed of on the failure to plead the proper cause of action and is not a considered authority binding on us. The English decisions to which our attention was drawn by the learned vakil only lay down that the power to appoint carries with it the power to dismiss. That position is not denied here. The power no doubt can be exercised for good cause shown; and especially in religious institutions where the appointment carries with it a certain dignity and is construed by worshippers as implying sanctity of the person, it would lead to disastrous results to hold that the appointee is dependent for his position on the will of the appointer. The attempt to show that the usage of the institution warrants the arrogation of such extraordinary powers has not been successful. The observations of the Subordinate Judge in Exhibit MMM do not find support in the appellate judgment (Exhibit A). Exhibit SSSS series only show that the junior Pandaram subordinate to the Pandarasannadhi. I am clear that the usage of the institution does not justify the claim made on behalf of the appellant. On the other hand, there are numerous instances in this Presidency of the junior being regarded as the unquestionable successor to the office. The consciousness of the people is entirely opposed to the contention advanced in this behalf. This being my view I do not consider it necessary to examine at any length the English decisions quoted by the appellant. In Marquis of Abergavenny v. Bishop of Llandaff (1888) 20 Q.B.D. 460, there was an absolute discretion given to the appointer. In The Queen v. Manchester, etc. Railway Company (1854) 119 E.R. 35, the appointment was to be during the pleasure of the person appointing. On the other hand, it was held in Wright v. Zetland (Marquis) (1908) 1 K.B. 63 that appointees who held office during pleasure should not be removed without good faith. In a very elaborate judgment Bhashyam Ayyangar, J., compares the position of the head of the mutt to a corporation sole and says that 'as in the case of a bishopric perpetual succession in a mutt is secured by the provision for nomination of a successor': Vidyapurna Tirtha Swami v. Vidyanidhi Tirtha Swami I.L.R. (1904) Mad. 435. Doubts have been cast upon certain dicta, in this decision in relation to the rights of property possessed by the head of the mutt, but I do not think the principle which is enunciated in this sentence has ever been taken exception to. My conclusions on this point of the case are: (a) that the head of the mutt is entitled to appoint a junior Pandarasannadhi, (b) that this junior has a recognized status, (c) that he is entitled to succeed to the headship, if he survives the appointer, (d) that for good cause shown he can be removed, (e) that the tenure of his position is not dependent upon the good-will of the appointer and (f) that it is not open to the head of the mutt to dismiss him arbitrarily.

22. The next branch of Mr. Srinivasa Ayyangar's argument was directed to showing that the appointer is the sole judge for ascertaining whether the appointee is guilty of conduct which disentitles him from continuing to hold on, and that Courts are not competent to scrutinize his reasons or to question his discretion. There have, no doubt, been cases where it has been held that the sufficiency of the reasons is not for the Court to decide on Mayman v. Governors of Rugby School (1874) 18 Eq. 28 and Hilly. The Queen (1854) 14 E.R. 63. In another class of cases it was held that where a club or association is proprietary, dismissal from it need not be after enquiry: Baird v. Wells (1890) 44 Ch. D. 661. It was contended that this mutt was a voluntary association and that consequently the head of the association had plenary powers to expel a member including the junior Pandarasannadhi. I do not grant the premises, The origin of these mutts has been explained elaborately by Sir Arthur Collins and Muttuswami Ayyar, JJ., in Giyana Sambandha Pandarasannadhi v. Kandasami Tambiran I.L.R. (1887) Mad. 375. It is enough to state for the purpose of this case that they are not voluntary brotherhoods. They owed their existence in most cases to the piety of the ancient Rajas who founded mutts to impart religious instruction. In some cases, the special sanctity of individuals was availed of by disciples to endow property to the institution founded in his name and honour. The fact that the Pandarasannadhi has a synod of Tambirans from whom he selects his successor does not make the mutt a voluntary association. They are not proprietary clubs in the sense in which Sterling, J., uses the term in Baird v. Wells (1890) 44 Ch. D. 661. Green v. Howell (1910) 1 Ch. 495 only construes the articles of the association as conferring unrestricted powers of expulsion. On the other hand in Willis v. Gipps (1846) 5 Moo. 379, the dismissal of a Judge without enquiry by the Colonial Governor although the Judge held office only during the pleasure of the Queen was held invalid by the Judicial Committee. The general principle is well established that no one who has a recognized status or office can be removed for misconduct without giving him an opportunity to show cause against his removal. I am therefore of opinion that the cancellation of the appointment is of no effect by itself. In this connection I cannot help expressing my regret that the Subordinate Judge should have declined to receive evidence on two of the issues in the case. In a case of such magnitude which engaged the attention of the Court for over six months, every part of the case should have been heard and adjudicated upon. However I agree with the learned Chief Justice that this case can be disposed of on the materials on the record.

23. Closely connected with the argument that the defendant could have been removed by Sivagnana without notice was the contention that the defendant forfeited his rights by the various acts of misconduct alleged against him in Exhibit K. I am in agreement with Mr. Srinivasa Ayyangar that if the head of the mutt or the junior is proved to be living an immoral life, he is liable to be removed. There can be no condonation of such an offence as in the case of breach of trust by trustees where it has sometimes been held that the full leech should be given an opportunity to mend his ways before bringing in an empty leech to feed on the trust resources. Celibacy and a scrupulous avoidance of sexual indulgences are of the essence of the position held by these persons. Devotees of both sexes resort for initiation to them and it would cut at the root of the whole system if the heads of the mutts are permitted to live profligate lives. In the Narada Smrithi it is stated. This power possessed by the King is delegated to the Courts; and when a clear case is made out that a religious ascetic who ought to set an example of sexual purity is leading an immoral life, the Courts will find no difficulty in dismissing him from office. But it does not follow that suspected immorality entails forfeiture. This would lead to complications and would encourage baseless insinuations. Until the accusation is openly made and found, the incumbent should not be disturbed from his office. The learned vakil has quoted no authority for the extreme contention that a forfeiture is incurred by an ascetic's immoral conduct.

24. I agree with the Subordinate Judge that the relinquishment by Sivagnana did not deprive him of his religious office. I understand Exhibit S in the same way as he does. Moreover I am not satisfied that Sivagnana was a free agent at the time of the release.

25. The real point on which the defendant's right rests is the compromise evidenced by Exhibits P-1 and P-2. The facts leading up to the compromise are fully stated by the Subordinate Judge. The learned Judge in one place seems to suggest that the pendency of the criminal prosecution for defamation against Sivagnana was one of the factors which led to the compromise. The evidence of Mr. Krishnaswami Ayyangar, which I see no reason to disbelieve, makes it clear that Sivagnana was harassed in all ways, that he was an imprudent manager, and had incurred heavy debts, found it impossible to carry on his religious and secular duties owing to the number of claims made against him and that he sought relief from all this worry by making the defendant the virtual manager of the institution. He had competent advisers and influential adherents. I do not believe that the defamation case in any way affected the compromise. After all it was a compoundable criminal offence. I do not agree with the contention that the compromise was vitiated by any agreement to stifle prosecution. The next contention of Mr. Srinivasa Ayyangar is, that as the compromise-decree included an injunction restraining Sivagnana from making an appointment of a junior Pandarasannadhi under all conceivable circumstances, the decree is invalid altogether. It is true that the last clause is bad. As I have said already, the defendant was liable to be removed for good cause shown against him or he might die in the lifetime of the head of the mutt. Therefore it was not competent to the Subordinate Judge to grant an injunction permanently depriving Sivagnana of the exercise of his power of making a fresh appointment. But, in my opinion, this portion of the decree is severable from the anterior portion. The first part of it confers a right on the defendant, the second part enforces an illegal disability. The two are not so mixed up as to be inseparable. The true principle applicable to mixed stipulations of this nature has been thus stated by Lord Esher in Kearney v. Whitehaven Colliery Co. (1893) 1 Q.B.700 to which Mr. Sadagopachariyar drew our attention: 'If the consideration or any part of it is illegal, then every promise contained in the agreement becomes illegal also,' because in such a case every part of the consideration is consideration for the promise. But suppose there is nothing illegal in the consideration; then upon that valid consideration may be several promises or liabilities. If any one of those be in itself illegal, then it cannot stand, not because the consideration becomes illegal, but because the promise itself is illegal. It is a bad promise which cannot be supported by the consideration. But the other promises which are good and legal in themselves remain, and can be supported by the good consideration. This rule of law has long been acted upon and it was applied by the House of Lords in the Netherseal Case, Bourne v. Netherseal Colliery Co. (1888) 20 Q.B.D. 606: see also Newman v. Newman (1815) 4 MS 66, Section 24 of the Contract Act is not against this view. I am therefore of opinion that the portion of the decree enjoining Sivagnana not to make any appointment at all can be severed from that portion of it which recognizes the defendant's appointment.

26. We have next to see whether as contended before us, Sivagnana was not competent to enter into this compromise. The objection is based on the ground that as the head of the mutt sues or is sued on behalf of the trust, he has no power to accept a compromise to the prejudice of the institution. Before dealing with the law bearing on the subject, it may be stated that in my view the compromise did not affect the usages of the institution in any way. By the compromise, Sivagnana was only recognizing the right of a person who was entitled to succeed had there been no aspersions on his character Sivagnana in the compromise withdrew from the position of antagonism which he had taken up against the defendant. He was apparently advised that there was no justification for his attitude towards the defendant, and the compromise decree was only an act of reparation.

27. In Giyana Sambandha Pandara Sannadhi v. Kandasami Tambiran I.L.R. (1887) Mad. 375, a compromise regulating the course of succession to the mutt was recognized, as it was in consonance with the usages of the institution. Mr. Sadagopachariyar also quoted Nilkandhen Nambudripad v. Padmanabha Revi Varma I.L.R. (1895) Mad. 1 in support of this position. In Sankaralinga Nadan v. Rajeswara Dorai (Komati Case) I.L.R. (1908) Mad. 236 the compromise by the Raja of Ramnad was distinctly against the usage of the institution and in the teeth of the decree recognizing the usage. There are no English cases directly in point. It was held in Attorney-General v. Lauderfield (1736) 9 Mad. 286, that an agreement between the next of kin and the governor of the charity to share the estate, in a particular proportion should be given effect to by the Court. In Tudor's Charitable Trusts, numerous authorities are cited for the position that questions relating to the interests of a charity may be compromised (see page 378). In all such cases the matter will be brought to the notice of the Court and its sanction will be obtained for the compromise. I do not see why the same principle should not be applied to the present case. It was said that the mere acceptance of a compromise by the Court is not proof of its sanction, and the case of minors was instanced. In the case of infants there is a statutory prohibition and a direction to observe certain formalities. It is not analogous to this case. Reliance was mainly placed upon the authorities which lay down that a trustee should not transfer his office to persons in the immediate line of succession, In Madras although there is a course of decisions sounding that way, Mr. Justice Bhashyam Ayyangar in Ramanathan Chetty v. Murugappa Chatty I.L.R. (1904) Mad. 192 was not prepared to regard it as settled law. The Bombay High Court has taken a different view. It is not necessary in this case to express any opinion on this question as I am of opinion that those cases afford us no guidance. The alienation of the office of trustee in most of the cases quoted before us was vitiated by considerations personal to the parties concerned. But where the object of the agreement is to recognize the usage of the institution and to accept the validity of an appointment which but for the conduct of Sivagnana would have in the ordinary course of events given the defendant the right which was secured to him by the decree. I see no reason for holding that the decree based on such an agreement is illegal. I do not therefore think it necessary to examine the cases quoted by Mr. Srinivasa Ayyangar. Mr. Sadagopachariyar argued that the compromise was binding on the parties until it was set aside and as Sivagnana died before that happened, his client's rights were unaffected by the suit. It was held in Great North-West Central Railway v. Charlebois (1899) A.C. 114that a decree based on a compromise was of no greater validity than the contract. If the observations in Raja Kumara Venkata Perumal Raja Bahadur v. Thatha Ramasamy Chetty I.L.R. (1912) Mad. 75 are against this view, I am not prepared to follow them. At the same time it is well settled that until the decree based on the compromise is recalled, it is binding on the parties to the suit. Lord Esher in The Bellcairn (1885) 10 Pr.D 161 says: 'I agree with Butt, J., that when, at a trial, the Court gives judgment by the consent of the parties, it is a binding judgment of the Court and cannot be set aside by a subsequent agreement between the solicitors.' I take the reason of the rule to be that although the force of a consent decree is derived from the consensus ad idem of the parties, it, having received additional vitality by being accepted by the Court, cannot be set aside by the consent of the parties as any other contract could have been, but can only be vacated by the Court by a proper proceeding in that behalf. The Court of Appeal in In re South American and Mexican Company Ex-parte Bank of England (1895) 1 Ch. 37 affirmed the principle stated in The Bellcairn (1885) 10 Pr.D 161. It follows therefore that until and unless the compromise decree was set aside Sivagnana was bound by it and the defendant was entitled to the benefit secured to him under it. I agree with the Subordinate Judge in holding that the compromise is binding on Sivagnana.

28. The result of the above conclusions is that at the time that Sivagnana made the will and had abishegam performed On the plaintiff, the position of the junior Pandarasannadhi was not vacant and consequently he had no power to appoint the plaintiff to it. I have of course assumed that the will was made and that the ahishegam was performed. I have given my reasons already for not believing the story in that behalf. The plaintiff is not therefore the legal representative of Sivagnana. The appeal fails and must be dismissed with costs.

29. Appeal No. 22 of 1911 and Civil Revision Petition No. 25 of 1911, follow.


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