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Sivaramalinga Dikshitar Vs. Sabharatna Dikshitar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty;Civil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported in51Ind.Cas.822
AppellantSivaramalinga Dikshitar
RespondentSabharatna Dikshitar and ors.
Cases ReferredRama Bat v. Hanumantha Row
Excerpt:
.....and for emoluments--plaintiff not entitled to possession at date of suit--joint possession of temple properties absence of prayer for, effect of--dismissal of suit--procedure. - - 1,600. the only objection the defendants took to the frame of the plaint in their written statement was that plaintiff should have asked for the possession of his office as well. , in thinking that a court should not throw out a suit on the ground that it is barred by the proviso to section 42, unless it is quite clear that the plaintiff ought to seek further relief which he has failed to claim. 7. the cases chiefly relied on by the lower court and by the learned vakil for the respondents are all clearly distinguishable, none of them dealt with a case of suspension of a dharmakarta or with circumstances,..........trustee who had been dismissed from his office and had actually been ousted from possession of the temple properties by the defendants; that ruling also is thus distinguishable from the present case. the case which seems to us to be nearest to the present case is the one in rama das v. hanumantha row 12 ind. cas. 449. the district judge distinguished it on the ground that the tenants in possession there were willing to recognise whomsoever was holding the office of dharmakarta, whereas he says we have here the determined opposition of the whole body of dikshadars. that opposition, however, was only to the order of suspension being cancelled as invalid and not to the giving of the custody of the properties, to the plaintiff in his proper turn, if the court set it aside as illegal or the.....
Judgment:

1. The lower Courts have dismissed the plaintiff's suit without any trial, holding that it was not maintainable under the Specific Relief Act without a prayer for the possession of the temple and its properties jointly with the defendants. Though a preliminary issue was framed on the point, no evidence was given or taken and the question was disposed of solely on the pleadings; we have, therefore, to decide the question on the same materials.

2. In his plaint the plaintiff states that he is one of the Dikshidars, who are holders of the combined offices of Archaka and Dharmakarta in the plaint temple, and that as such he is entitled, according to the usage of the temple, to the right of performing puja for 5 days once in every 9 months and along with 19 others to the custody of the idols, jewels and other valuables of the temple for 6 months by rotation (apparently once in 6 or 7 years). He states that in 1909 on account of a dispute as to the ownership of a certain plot of land, the body of Dikshidars passed a resolution directing him to deliver it up to the temple and inflicted a fine of Rs. 300 on him and suspended him from his office till he obeyed their orders. He complains that, as a result of this resolution, he has been obstructed in the exercise of the rights and duties of his office and prevented from enjoying the emoluments and privileges attached to it. He claims that the resolution is illegal and inoperative and prays for a declaration to that effect and also for an injunction restraining the defendants from interfering with him in the exercise of his office. He further claims damages for the loss of emoluments caused by the wrongful obstruction of the defendants and for the loss of his reputation, in all Rs. 1,600. The only objection the defendants took to the frame of the plaint in their written statement was that plaintiff should have asked for the possession of his office as well. The plaint was thereupon amended to add a prayer for the joint possession of the office. The above is a brief summary of the material allegations and prayers in the plaint with reference to the point we have to consider.

3. On this point the lower Courts have held that, as plaintiff was excluded by the defendants from the office of Dharmakarta, he ought to sue not only for a declaration that the defendants' act was wrongful but also for the possession of the temple and its properties as consequential relief flowing from the declaration; and relying mainly on the observations of Subramania Aiyar, J., in Vengan Poosari v. Patchamuthu 14 M.L.J. 290 and on the rulings in Abdulkadar v. Mahomed 15 M. 15 ; 5 Ind. Dec 360 and Rathnasabapathi Pillai v. Ramasami Aiyar 5 Ind. Cas. 630 ; (1910) M.W.N. 112 and distinguishing the case in Rama Das v. Hanumantha Row 12 Ind. Cas. 449 ; (1911) 2 M.W.N. 387 they have held the suit to be not maintainable under Section 42 of the Specific Relief Act without such a prayer. On the facts of this case we are unable to support that view.

4. We agree with Mookerjee, J., in thinking that a Court should not throw out a suit on the ground that it is barred by the proviso to Section 42, unless it is quite clear that the plaintiff ought to seek further relief which he has failed to claim. see Aisa Siddika v. Bidhu Sekhar 18 Ind. Cas. 633. The further relief the section speaks of is such relief as flows directly from the declaration sought for and such as a plaintiff will be able to claim in an ordinary suit by virtue of the title sought to be declared.

5. This is the view taken in Abdulkadar v. Mahomed 5 Ind. Dec 360 and we accept it. Such further relief will necessarily depend on the facts of each case.

6. Is it clear then that, in the present case, on the declaration asked for being granted the plaintiff will become thereby entitled to the joint possession of the temple and its properties and that he should be compelled to ask that relief and pay Court fees on their value which is said to be about Rs. 35 lakhs? We do not think so. Plaintiff's right to the trusteeship is not denied and he is not seeking to establish it in the present case. He sues to declare the invalidity of a conditional order of suspension against him, under which he had been excluded from the performance of the duties of his office and from the enjoyment of its perquisites till he paid a fine of Rs. 300 and delivered over a plot of land to the temple. The direct result of the declaration will be that plaintiff will be entitled to recover the office and the emoluments that he has lost in consequence of the wrong order and to prevent interference with him in the future in the discharge of his duties. He has prayed for all these consequential relief's. It is not at all clear that the setting aside of the order of suspension will in any way affect the possession of the temple and its properties. There is no allegation in the plaint or in the written statement about the lands belonging to the temple; they are said to be in the possession of persons who look after the lighting of the temple, in turn. The temple building and the jewels and valuables were, on the date of suit, according to the usage of the temple in the custody of a body of 20 persons of whom plaintiff was not one. The declaration, therefore, will not give plaintiff any right to the present possession of the temple or its properties. As to plaintiff's right to possession when his turn comes, the declaration by itself will be sufficient relief as the persons in possession must be taken to be holding the properties on behalf of all the rightful trustees. In considering this question the District Judge says that this view ignores plaintiff's right to the subsidiary offerings when he is not doing his morai or turn of worship and does not take account of his right to vote on the question, whether the bids for the leases of the offerings should be accepted or not. These are dearly irrelevant considerations on the question of possession of the temple and its properties. The injunction and damages plaintiff asks for are the proper reliefs to secure such rights. We mast, therefore, hold that, in the circumstances of this case, plaintiff is not bound to ask for joint possession ; indeed he is not entitled to it and the dismissal of his suit for not asking for such relief is erroneous.

7. The cases chiefly relied on by the lower Court and by the learned Vakil for the respondents are all clearly distinguishable, None of them dealt with a case of suspension of a Dharmakarta or with circumstances, such as we have here, of the possession of the temple and its properties being held not by all the trustees but by a few of them at a time in rotation, plaintiff not being entitled to it at the time of the suit. In the case of Vengan Poosari v. Patchamuthu 14 M.L.J. 290 it appears that the plaintiff was entitled to the joint possession of the temple but the defendant prevented him from having access to it by keeping it under look and key. In Abdulkadar v. Mahomed 5 Ind. Dec 360 defendant was in possession of the properties which possession, if plaintiff's case was established, would be that of a trespasser. The case most relied on by the respondents is the one in Rathnasabapathi Pillai v. Ramatami Aiyar 5 Ind. Cas. 630 ; (1910) M.W.N. 112 but that was a case of a trustee who had been dismissed from his office and had actually been ousted from possession of the temple properties by the defendants; that ruling also is thus distinguishable from the present case. The case which seems to us to be nearest to the present case is the one in Rama Das v. Hanumantha Row 12 Ind. Cas. 449. The District Judge distinguished it on the ground that the tenants in possession there were willing to recognise whomsoever was holding the office of Dharmakarta, whereas he says we have here the determined opposition of the whole body of Dikshadars. That opposition, however, was only to the order of suspension being cancelled as invalid and not to the giving of the custody of the properties, to the plaintiff in his proper turn, if the Court set it aside as illegal or the plaintiff complied with the condition. The distinction drawn is, therefore, not valid, as here also the persons in actual possession were holding on behalf of all the rightful trustees. In this case as in that, a substantial value has been put on the injunction. If, as the defendants contend, the prayer for the recovery of the office has not been properly valued it will be for the trial Court to consider it but it does not affect the question before us, That case, therefore, supports the view that the present suit is maintainable without a prayer for possession.

8. The learned Vakil for the respondent! also cited to us the case of Appu Pillay V, Perumal Pillay 16 Ind. Cas. 630 and contended that it was an authority for holding that the fact that the Court was not in a position to place the plaintiff in possession of the property at the date of the hearing, on account of an arrangement as to management under which the defendant was to remain in possession, was not material in considering the applicability of the proviso to Section 42. We do not think that any such general proposition has been laid down by that case. As a matter of fact the question there was whether a declaration alone could be asked for in second appeal because the right to possession had ceased by then, whereas both in the suit and in the appeal possession had been asked for. It was held that it could not be, but there is no discussion of the reasons. The prayer in second appeal must ordinarily have reference to the prayer in the suit and the circumstances that existed then. It is probably for this reason the bare declaration was disallowed in second appeal. The case certainly cannot be treated as an authority for the respondents' contention before us. If, on the declaration being given, a plaintiff is not entitled to possession he is not bound to ask for symbolical possession under Section 42.

9. The appellant's Vakil relied on the ruling in Kunj Bihari v. Keshavlal Hiralal 6 Bom. L.R. 475 in which it was held that a person suing to get himself declared the proper trustee of a religious institution need not ask for the possession of the trust properties but it was sufficient for him to ask for an injunction against the defendant. This view has been dissented from in Eathnasabapathi Pillai v. Ramasami Aiyar 5 Ind. Cas. 630 ; (1910) M.W.N. 112 but we observe that the late Chief Justice has, in his judgment in Rama Bat v. Hanumantha Row 12 Ind. Cas. 449 ; (1911) 2 M.W.N. 387 accepted the view that the ownership of the trust property is in the idol as a juridical person and not in the trustee and it may, therefore, be a question whether, when the person in possession of the property holds it on behalf of the idol and the plaintiff does not dispute his right to do so a prayer for joint possession should be insisted upon. But in this case we need not express any opinion on that question.

10. The lower Court's decree must be set aside and the suit remanded to the first Court far disposal according to law. Defendants will pay plaintiff's costs here and in the lower Appellate Court; costs in the first Court to abide and follow the result.


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