1. The only question in this suit which calls for our consideration is that embodied in the 6th issue whether the suit is barred by limitation.
2. Article 124 and 144 of Schedule I of the Limitation Act and that it is therefore within time. This view is not supported in argument before us and we have no hesitation in dissenting from it. The plaint starts with the assertion that the plaintiffs are the members of the Kudligi Taluq Devastanam Committee appointed under Act XX of 1863 : and they pray (1) for a declaration that the suit temple is subject to the control of the committee (2) for an injunction directing defendant to produce for their (plaintiffs') inspection all the temple properties and accounts.
3. It cannot be said that this is a suit 'for possession of a hereditary office'. The office of a member of a Devastanam Committee under Act XX of 1863 is not hereditary. Nor do Plaintiffs seek to obtain possession of it. On the contrary they allege possession of it: and ask for a declaration of right claimed in respect of it, that is, the right to control (i.e., supervise the management of) the suit temple.
4. There is no rival claimant to the office sued as defendant, the defendants being the Darmakarthas who deny the existence of the office. It follows therefore that the argument pressed on Section 28 must also fail and that the cases where this section was applied to suits to recover possession of an office have no application to the present case.
5. Nor can Article 144 be applied. For there is no prayer for the possession of any immoveable property or any interest therein. It is obvious and not disputed that the property which is asked to be produced for inspection (not, be it noted, for any transfer of possession) is moveable property.
6. The Privy Council decision in Balvant Row v. Puran Mal I.L.R. (1883) A. 1 (the case relied on by the learned District Judge) arose out of a suit of a totally different nature. The plaintiff therein asked 'to be recognised as Chief Manager' (by virtue of his hereditary descent from the original grantor) 'with power to dismiss and appoint a Sub-Manager and to obtain possession of the temple property by ejectment of the defendants'.
7. It is clear therefore that the extremely guarded opinion of their Lordships of the Privy Council in that case as to the Articles applicable has no bearing on the case before us; and in default of Article 124 and 144, it would seem that the suit must fall under the residuary article. (No. 120) in which case it is admittedly time barred, in the absence of any applicable saving clause in the body of the Act.
8. The learned Vakil for the Respondents has however sought to support the District Judge's finding as regards limitation on other grounds which we shall proceed to consider. He relies on Article 131 of Schedule I to the Limitation Act and on Section 23 in the body of the Act and he contends that even under Article 120 the suit is not barred in so far as it is one for production of accounts for the period of 6 years immediately preceding the suit.
9. All these arguments are only applicable in so far as the suit is one for production of accounts. It is the right to require the production of these accounts once a year (conferred by Section 13 of Act XX of 1863) which is the ' periodically recurring right ' that is sought to be brought under Article 131; and it is the refusal to produce these accounts that is the 'continuing wrong' relied on for the purpose of Section 23. That is to say, it is suggested to save limitation the suit should be treated as one brought only for a portion of the second prayer in the plaint.
10. We do not think this can be done. The suit was brought primarily to declare the Devastanam Committee's right of supervision over the management of the temple by Defendants : and secondly to enforce by injunction the exercise of two powers incidental to that right. It is not suggested that Plaintiffs can enforce the production of accounts for inspection, unless the right to do so is inherent in them as members of the Committee : and it seems to us impossible to maintain that their right of supervision still survives although they have not been exercising it and although any suit to declare it is barred by limitation.. Respondents rely on the judgment in Rajah of Venkatagirl v. Isakapalli Subbiah I.L.R. (1902) M. 410 to support the contrary view : but the cases do not seem to us on all fours. That case had reference to land which had been attached by a Magistrate under Section 148, Criminal Procedure Code and remained under attachment at the time of suit: and this peculiar feature of the case really determined its decision. The learned Judges are at pains to point out that the actual possession of the Magistrate, however long continued, was on behalf of the true owner, whose title was unaffected thereby although a suit for declaration thereof might be barred. In the present case it cannot be said by any stretch of reasoning that Plaintiffs were in possession of the office of supervisor of the temple management and there is no real analogy between the two cases.
11. The right to enforce production of accounts cannot be severed from the supervisorship vested in the Committee and we can see no ground for holding that the supervisorship survives in a Committee which has failed to exercise it and who are precluded by limitation from suing for a declaration of it.
12. We allow the appeal and dismiss the suit with costs throughout.