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Kadirvelu Chetty Alias Manappa Chetty and anr. Vs. Nanjundaiyar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported in35Ind.Cas.88
AppellantKadirvelu Chetty Alias Manappa Chetty and anr.
RespondentNanjundaiyar and ors.
Cases ReferredSyed Amin Sahib v. Ibram Sahib
Excerpt:
civil procedure code (act v of 1908), sections 9, 92, 115 - preliminary issue regarding maintainability of suit--revision--civil suits, what are--ubhayakar's right, if civil in nature--dharmakarta, if can impose conditions on ubhayakar--religious endowments act (xx of 1803), sections 14, 18--suits, to enforce privileges to worship--sanction, if necessary for institution. - - i am doubtful as to whether the position taken in that case can be regarded as good law having regard to the fact that prasadams like thulasi and the right to be served with holy water first in a vishnu temple, have been regarded as civil rights. 450. in that case the plaintiffs complained that the defendants were interfering with their right to receive crown and water at a certain festival......two questions which have been argued; first, whether the right claimed by the plaintiffs is a civil right, and secondly, whether, supposing it is a civil right, the sanction of the district court should have been obtained under religious endowments act before the institution of the suit. upon the first of these questions there have bees conflicting views to some extent, but upon certain essential points there is no difference of opinion. if the right litigated is a right to worship, it is a civil right, and nobody can prevent the worshipper from proceeding to the temple and worshipping the deity. see vengamuthu v. pandaveswara 6 m.p 151. where the claim is made to an office emoluments, however insignificant the emoluments may be, the plaintiff is entitled to seek the aid of the.....
Judgment:

Seshagiri Aiyar, J.

1. This is a suit by the plaintiffs against the petitioners, who are the trustees of a Vishnu temple, for a declaration that the plaintiffs are entitled to perform a festival which they had been doing for a long time, without hindrance on the part of the trustees.

2. A preliminary issue was taken at the suggestion of the trustees as to whether this suit falls under the Religious Endowments Act, and as such, is not maintainable without: the sanction of the District Court, or of the Advocate-General. The Munsif earner to the conclusion that the suit was maintainable. Against his decision on the preliminary issue Mr. Seshachariar has preferred this Civil Revision Petition. The first question that suggests itself is whether Section 115 warrants interference by this Court with a ruling on a preliminary issue, although it goes to the maintainability of the suit. I do not think it necessary to express any opinion on that question because on the merits I am of opinion that the decision of the District Munsif is right.

3. There are really two questions which have been argued; first, whether the right claimed by the plaintiffs is a civil right, and secondly, whether, supposing it is a civil right, the sanction of the District Court should have been obtained under Religious Endowments Act before the institution of the suit. Upon the first of these questions there have bees conflicting views to some extent, but upon certain essential points there is no difference of opinion. If the right litigated is a right to worship, it is a civil right, and nobody can prevent the worshipper from proceeding to the temple and worshipping the deity. See Vengamuthu v. Pandaveswara 6 M.P 151. Where the claim is made to an office emoluments, however insignificant the emoluments may be, the plaintiff is entitled to seek the aid of the Court to have his right established. There are numerous cases on the point. A third class of cases arises where a right has been acquired or exercised hereditarily for performing certain festivals in the temple and where such right is negatived by the Dharmdkarta, In such cases, the person, whose rights have been infringed, is entitled to ask the Court to have that right declared in his favour. It was pointed out in a very recent case, Channu Dat Vyas v. Babu Nandan 6 Ind. Cas. 223 : 23 A.P 527 : 7 A.L.J. 529 that the right to perform festival in a temple will be regarded as a civil right, although, if it is unconnected with a temple, Courts will not entertain the claim. This is also the view taken in this Court in Tholappala Charlu v. Venkata Charlu 19 M.P 62 : 5 M.L.J. 209. There it was pointed out by the learned Judges of this Court that if the right is connected with a temple no question of emolument arises, and it is a civil right which can be enforced in a Court of Law.

4. Mr. Seshachariar has drawn my attention to Subbaraya Mudaliar v. Vedantachariar 28 M.P 23 : 14 M.L.J. 171 The suit in that case was to enforce a right unconnected with any office in the temple and was not connected with the performance of any festival. The learned Judges held that such a suit is not a suit of a civil nature. As regards Karuppa Goundan v. Kolanthayan 7 M.K 91 it is enough to say that that also was a case where there was no right to any office in the temple, nor were emoluments claimed from the temple. I am doubtful as to whether the position taken in that case can be regarded as good law having regard to the fact that prasadams like thulasi and the right to be served with holy water first in a Vishnu temple, have been regarded as civil rights. I doubt whether the right to receive sacred ashes and the claim to precedence to receive betel-nut do not stand on the same footing. However that may be, the case of Karuppa Goundan v. Kolanthayan 7 M.P 91 does not affect the present case.

5. On the other hand in Vengamuthu v. Pandaveswara 6 M.L 151 where a dancing girl claimed a right to worship the deity and she was denied that right, it was held that she could maintain a suit. A case very much in point is Srinivasa v. Tiruvengada 11 M. 450. In that case the plaintiffs complained that the defendants were interfering with their right to receive crown and water at a certain festival. Collins, C.J., and Parker, J., came to the conclusion, after a review of the earlier authorities, that that was a civil right. There was no question of office or emoluments in that case. It was regarded purely as a civil right which the parties are entitled to enforce in a Civil Court.

6. For these reasons, I am of opinion that the right claimed is a civil right.

7. The question whether the Dharmakartas can impose certain conditions or not, is a question to be gone into on the merits. Notwithstanding that the plaintiffs are entitled to bring this suit, it may be that the Dharmakartas can insist upon the observance of certain conditions: For example, one of the conditions may be that it is open to the Dharmakartas to receive contributions from others to perform the festival on a grander scale than the plaintiffs are really able to do. That is not a matter with which I am concerned at present. I, therefore, agree with the District Munsif on this point.

8. Upon the second question also I agree with him. Mr. Seshachariar argues that the reliefs claimed in the suit are covered by Sections 14 and 18 of the Religious Endowments Act and as the sanction of the District Court was not obtained prior to the institution of the suit, the suit should be dismissed. There are three classes of cases which concern rights to enforce certain privileges in a temple. The object of a suit may be to secure to the trust certain advantages: any two persons with the sanction of the Advocate-General, or the Collector of the District concerned, can institute a suit in that behalf. The Religious Endowments Act empowers persons who have an interest in the temple to go to a Court of Law for a declaration that the trustee is bound to carry out certain duties. There is a third class of cases where individuals can claim rights, either as citizens, or as having a hereditary right, to worship in a temple, or perform certain festivals. It is really a direction that the officer in charge of the trust should perform the duties according to mamool, and such a right as this does not require the sanction either of the Advocate-General or of the District Judge for its institution. This is the view taken in Krishnaswami lyenger v. Rangasawmy Iyengar 5 Ind. Cas. 76 : 19 M.L.J. 743 : 7 M.L.T. 248 That was also the view taken in Subbaraya Mudaliar v. Vedantachariar 28 M.P 23 : 14 M.L.J. 171 The District Munsif draws attention to an earlier case in this Court in Syed Amin Sahib v. Ibram Sahib 4 M.H.C.R. 112 All these cases make it clear that where an individual right is to be enforced, neither Section 92 of the Civil Procedure Code, nor Sections 14 and 18 of the Religious Endowments Act, will apply.

9. The decision of the District Munsif is right for all these reasons. I, therefore, dismiss this petition with costs.


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