Govinda Menon, J.
1. The petitioners, five in number, purporting to represent the Muslim members of the Sunnath Jamath of Podanur, applied to the lower Court for leave under Order 1, Rule 8 of the Civil Procedure Code to file a suit against the defendants who are said to be the representatives of a society styled ' the Podanur Sunnath Jamath ' registered under the Societies' Registration Act (Act XXI of 1860). The allegations are that the defendants have no legal status and that the rules and the agreement of the said society are therefore invalid and without any legal effect. On this application, the defendants filed a counter, stating among other matters that the petitioners did not represent the general body of the Muslims of Podanur and that the fifth petitioner who was an important individual in the locality was engineering the whole business. During the course of the hearing of this application, the petitioners filed 134 affidavits, each one of the deponents of those affidavits stating that the petitioners have got such representative status; on the other hand, the respondents filed 97 affidavits, disputing the representative character of the petitioners to file the suit.
2. In this state of affidavit evidence before the lower Court, the learned District Munsiff held that the plaintiffs, and their supporters could only be permitted to sue in their individual capacity and not as representing any common interest of the community; and he therefore refused leave to the petitioners to file the suit on behalf of the community.
3. In this revision petition, Mr. S. Thyagaraja Aiyar, the learned advocate for the petitioners, contends that the learned District Munsiff acted illegally and with material irregularity in the exercise of his jurisdiction in not considering the question from the proper legal standpoint. The position of law enunciated by the learned District Munsiff is, it is contended, contrary to the rulings of this Court : and he invited my attention to a number of decisions of this Court as well as a judgment of Jessel, M.R., in the Chanchery Division in England. The law is well settled, as stated by the Master of the Rolls in Commissioners of Sewers of the City of London v. Gellatly (1876) 3 Ch.D. 610, that where one multitude of persons were interested in a right and another multitude of persons interested in contesting that right and that right was a general right--and it was utterly impossible to try the question of the existence of the right between the two multitudes on account of their number--some individuals out of one multitude might be selected to represent one set of claimants, and another set of persons to represent the parties resisting the claim and the right might be finally decided as between all parties in a suit. I do not wish at this stage to discuss in any detail all the decisions, to which my attention has been drawn; suffice it for the present purpose to refer to the judgment of Ananthakrishna Aiyar, J., in Abdul Ghani v. Subramania : AIR1929Mad44 , wherein the learned Judge discusses the earlier decisions on the point and holds that the Court should not refuse leave to file a suit simply because there are, in opposition, quite a number of people contesting the plaintiffs' claim. It is not possible, even in an ideal society, to get unanimity of opinion on many matters and therefore the learned District Munsiff, in this case, ought to have considered the question regarding the bona fide nature of the plaintiffs' claim to file a suit. The decisions in Periyava Nadar v. Velumuruga Nadar (1920) 30 M.L.T. 47 and Rangaswami v. Natesa : AIR1935Mad542 relate to instances, where the dispute was among the members of a certain multitude of individuals and not between one group against a third party. Even in such cases, it has been held that it is the duty of the Court to grant leave to the plaintiffs to sue on behalf of the particular group of persons if it was a bona fide request, and in such cases what the Court ought to do is to define a group of individuals among the defendants also, who can represent the opposite group.
4. The learned District Munsiff in this ease has not gone into the question as to whether the plaintiffs' claim is bona fide and whether the plaintiffs are agitating a proper claim. Without deciding this question, he should not have, for the simple reason that the parties are equally balanced as it were, 134 on the one side and 97 on the other, refused the claim of the plaintiffs. In these circumstances, the order of the learned District Munsiff refusing permission to sue is set aside; and the lower Court is directed to hear the matter afresh and decide whether the plaintiffs' claim is bona fide; if the plaintiffs are acting bona fide, then leave should be granted for them to file the suit.
5. Each of the parties will bear its own costs in this Court.