1. The first respondent's (plaintiff's) suit was decreed by the learned District Judge on his finding that he (the plaintiff) was entitled by hereditary right to the office of Athikara Parapathyam in the Madura Meenatchi Temple. The final decree granted the following relief to the plaintiff:
(a) that the plaintiff do recover from defendants the plaint mentioned office together with the right to the honours and perquisites attached thereto.'
(b) that the defendants be restrained by an injunction from interfering with the plaintiff's discharge of the duties of the office and from enjoying the honours, etc.'
(c) that the defendants do pay plaintiff Rs. 100 for past profits and also subsequent profits at Its. 100 from the date of suit to the date of plaintiff's restoration,'
(d) that defendants pay Rs. 294-15-5 (proportionate costs) to plaintiff and bear their own costs.
2. The defendants Nos. 2 to 10 (the Stanika Bhattars of the temple and the person, 10th defendant, appointed by them in supersession of the plaintiff to the office) have filed two Appeals Nos. 269 of 1909 and 122 of 1910 (one against the preliminary decree which did not ascertain the mesne profits and the other against the final decree which mentioned the definite sum due to the plaintiff for mesne profits). The first defendant (who is the temple trustee and manager) has filed a separate third appeal (Appeal No. 262 of 1909) against the preliminary decree which made him liable along with the other defendants for the plaintiff's proportionate costs and for the mesne profits due to the plaintiff. The principal point for decision in the suit is whether the plaint office descended hereditarily to the plaintiff or whether it was an office to which the Stanikars (defendants Nos. 2 to 9) could appoint anybody they chose from time to time, removing their nominee at their pleasure.
3. Mr. T. Rangachariar for the Stanikars (defendants Nos. 2 to 9) discussed the judgment of the learned District Judge and the evidence in the case fully before us, but we see no sufficient reason to differ from the conclusion of the learned District Judge on the above question. We may not be prepared to agree with the learned District Judge in his rather wide observation that 'it is a matter of common knowledge that the old temple offices are by custom hereditary,' and one of us has in more than one case expressed a rather strong view that Courts should always hesitate to recognize hereditary rights in temple offices.
4. The learned District Judge might also have too readily accepted the plaintiff's story that Chokkappan or Chokkayyan who held the office in 1802 (Exhibit G) was the plaintiff's ancestor, having regard to the recitals in Exhibits I and III and the evidence of defence witness No. 3 who was a Dayadee of the plaintiff and whose branch never enjoyed any share in the office in dispute.
5. But there is sufficient evidence in this particular case to support the conclusion of the learned District Judge that the office itself descended by hereditary right. Taking it that the plaintiff's grandfather, Jevanthi Aiyar usurped the office, the descent from him seems to have followed the established rule of heredity and though the formal appointment of Javanthi Aiyer's descendants by the temple manager was prayed for from time to time, the documents (Exhibits I, III, K G series, M series and the Rajeenama Exhibit A) support the conclusion that the...tenure of the office descended by right of heredity and was not of the nature of a mere service, terminable at the will of the manager or the Stanikars. (See especially Exhibit M in 1895 where the plaintiff and the plaintiff's natural brother who was his cousin by adoption, said that they would be entitled to manage the office' by hereditary right).
6. In Appanami v. Nagappa 7. Ma. 409 it was no doubt held that the mere descent of a temple trusteeship from father to son does not create an hereditary right,' but it is conceded there that it is doubtless some evidence of an hereditary right,' though 'it is not conclusive evidence.' In that particular case Appasami v. Nagappa 7. M. 409, there were numerous circumstances which negatived the plaintiff's claim to hereditary right and hence on the facts of that particular case, it was found that ' the plaintiff's hereditary right was not established. In the present case, the learned District Judge has referred to corroborative evidence establishing the plaintiff's claim to an hereditary right in the office in question, and we are not prepared to dissent from his conclusion.
7. We, therefore, dismiss the two appeals filed by the Stanikars and their nominee defendants Nos. 2 to 10.
8. As regards the appeal by the Manager (the 1st defendant) his learned Vakil (Mr. C.S. Venkatachariar) contends that as he did not deny the plaintiff's claim or obstruct his enjoyment of the office he ought not to have been made liable to the plaintiff jointly with the other defendants either in respect of the injunction relief granted to the plaintiff or the relief relating to mesne profits and costs.
9. Though the 1st defendant's written statement is more carefully worded than the written statements of the other defendants, it also concludes with a prayer that the whole suit of the plaintiff may be dismissed. In the 9th and 10th grounds of the appeal memoraudam presanted by the 1st defendant even to this Court, he puts forward the contention that the plaintiff is 'a mere servant of the Stanikars' and that no preliminary decree ought to have been passed. We have very little doubt that the defendants Nos. 1 to 10 all acted together against the plaintiff's rights. The first defendant's appeal is, therefore, also dismissed.
10. The defendants Nos. 1 to 10 will bear their own costs in these appeals and pay one set of costs to the plaintiff's legal representative brought in as the additional respondent.