Venkatasubba Rao, Offg. C.J.
1. The same question arises in the three appeals, namely, is Dr. Iswarayya to be treated as having died a Christian or a Hindu? He was originally a Hindu and a Brahmin by birth and became a convert to Christianity. What is now alleged by his Brahmin brother Ramayya is, that Dr. Iswarayya changed his religion again in 1926 and became a Hindu by re-conversion. A definite case was put forward in the trial Court, namely, that the deceased underwent a formal ceremony of expiation and re-conversion. This case the trial Judge has found to be utterly false, and we must without hesitation affirm the finding. Ananthakrishna Ayyar, J. seems to have thought that without undergoing a formal ceremony, a convert to Christianity cannot again become a Hindu. For this purpose he relies upon the following observations in Ratansi D. Morarji v. Administrator General Madras AIR 1928 Mad 1279:
A European does not become a Hindu merely because he professes a theoretical allegiance to the Hindu faith, or is an ardent admirer and advocate of Hinduism and its practices; but if he resides long in India, abdicates his religion by a clear act of renunciation and adopt Hinduism by undergoing formal conversion, gives up along with Christianity his Christian name and deliberately assumes a Hindu name, marries in accordance with Hindu religious rites a person who is a Hindu by race and religion, and cuts himself off from his old environments and takes to the Hindu mode of life, in such a case the Court may justly come to the conclusion that he has become a Hindu within the meaning of the Succession Act. These tests are satisfied in the present case and I therefore hold that Mena Renda otherwise called Sulochana was a Hindu at her death.
2. This passage is clearly no authority for the position that a formal conversion is a pre-requisite to a person becoming a Hindu. As Varadachariar, J. points in Guruswami Nadar v. Irulappa Konar : AIR1934Mad630 , this passage does not lay down that every one of the tests mentioned there should be fulfilled where conversion to Hinduism is alleged; all that was laid down was that each of the tests enumerated in the passage having been fulfilled, there was conclusive evidence in favour of the alleged conversion. It is unnecessary to pursue the matter further. Assuming, without deciding, that in a case of this sort a formal conversion is unnecessary, we must hold that the evidence adduced here falls far short of what is required to show that there was a reconversion to Hinduism. The appellants rely upon two facts, first, that in the Service Register the entry 'Indian Christian' was changed into 'Hindu Brahmin,' against the deceased's name at his request and secondly, that in two affidavits filed by the deceased he described himself as a Hindu. The positive case put forward by the appellants that there was a formal ceremony, hopelessly failed. Again, the attempts made to show that Dr. Iswarayya took to the Hindu mode of life proved equally futile. We quite recognize that it is unnecessary to show that Dr. Iswarayya who was a convert to Christianity, became by re-conversion not only a Hindu but a Brahmin. Indeed, it seems to have been assumed throughout, that the conversion, if in fact it did take place, had the effect of restoring him to his original caste. But this is a matter which we need not further pursue, as we are satisfied that the evidence adduced to prove that the deceased adopted the ways of a Hindu and observed the Hindu mode of life, is hopelessly discrepant. We are quite clear that the mere fact that a person makes a declaration that he has become a re-convert to Hinduism, is totally inadequate to make him a Hindu. We must therefore hold that at the time of his death, Dr. Iswarayya was a Christian and affirm Ananthakrishna Ayyar, J.'s finding on this point, though upon grounds slightly different from those adopted by the learned Judge.
3. That being so the question does not arise whether the legacy in favour of Mrs. Josephine Elizabeth is valid or not; in other words, whether she possesses the character of a legatee Under Section 234, Succession Act. Mrs. Josephine Elizabeth does not claim to be a residuary legatee, all that she alleges being that there are specific bequests in her favour. Under Section 234 as between a legatee and the intestate heirs, the latter are preferentially entitled to administration. The deceased having died a Christian, it follows that his widow is entitled to the grant. The finding of the trial Judge therefore that the legacy in favour of Mrs. Josephine Elizabeth is invalid, is an unnecessary finding and our direction is that it shall be vacated. It remains to observe that granting Dr. Iswarayya became by reconversion a Hindu, the question would still arise, namely as between the Hindu brother on the one hand and the Christian wife and children on the other, who would be entitled to succeed? It seems to have been tacitly assumed by the appellants that if the re-conversion was proved, the Hindu brother would be the deceased's heir. This matter Ananthakrishna Ayyar, J. did not deal with, nor is it necessary for us to go into it in view of our findings.
4. Lastly, we must deal with the question of costs. In the circumstances we think the proper order to make is that in O.S.A. No. 2 of 1935 Ramayya shall pay the costs of the respondent, Mrs. Swarnam Iswarayya, whom we authorize to take her costs out of the estate in the first instance. When the costs are recovered from Ramayya, they will become a part of the estate. As to Mrs. Josephine Elizabeth, she will get her costs in O.S.A. No. 3 of 1935, which we fix at Rs. 250 out of the estate to be paid to her by the administratrix. In O.S.A. 56 of 1933 we make no order as to costs.