Das Gupta, J.
1. The petitioners are two of the persons who filed on 31-8-1935 a suit under Section 92, C. P. C. for removal of Triloke Chan-dra Giri from the 'Mohuntship of the Bhotbagan and Amdanga 'Maths,' for appointment of a fit and proper person as 'Mohunt' of these 'Maths', for the framing of a scheme for the proper management of the 'Maths' and for several other reliefs. A decree was passed in that suit on 30-9-1942 by which Triloke Giri was removed from the 'Mohuntship' and two new 'mohunts for the two 'Maths' were ordered to be appointed in subsequent proceedings. This decree having been since confirmed by this Court, in appeal the learned District Judge took up the matter of selection of persons for appointment as 'mohunt' on 10-12-1951 and passed the following order:
'The custom of selection of the 'Mohanta' of the 'Maths' concerned by the brotherhood of the Tarakeswar 'Mandali' appears to have been recognised by the Hon'ble High Court in its appellate judgment and the plaintiffs suggest that to be followed in making such appointments. I also think it proper that the brotherhood of the Tarakeswar 'Mandali' should be consulted in making such selection in accordance with the custom, So notice be issued to the members of the 'Mandali' as named in the plaintiffs' petition filed on 20-4-51 for appearance in my Court for the purpose on 28-1-52'.
Four 'mohunts' of the Tarakeswar 'Mandali' were present on that date, the fifth being absent. The learned District Judge explained to the 'mohunts' the custom regarding the succession to the 'mo-huntship' of Bhotbagan and Amdanga 'Maths' each and asked them to be guided by their conscience in making their selection. Three 'mohunts' Dandiswami Narahari Asram, Kshitish Chandra Puri and Khagendrananda Asram recommended the names of Dadiswami Dibyasram, a 'Sannyasi', for appointment as 'mohunt' of Bhotbagan 'Math'. The fourth, 'Mohunt' Jnanananda Saraswati who had offered himself as a candidate did not join in the nomination, but had nothing to say against the nominee. The three 'mohunts' mentioned1 above namely, Dandiswami Narahari Asram, Kshitish Chandra Puri and Khagendrananda Asram also recommended Dandiswami Aschyutashram, a 'Sannyasi', for appointment as mohunt of the Amdanga 'Math'. 'Mohunt' Jnanananda Saraswati expressed that he had no objection to the appointment of Dandiswami Achyutashram as a 'mohunt' of the Amdanga 'Math'.
2. The nominees expressed their Willingness to act as 'mohunts' of the two 'maths' in writing.
3. The learned District Judge however instead of accepting the nomination straight-off decided to publish the names of nominees in newspapers and invited objections. Several objections were received and the learned District Judge considered all of them. One objection was that the nominees were set up by the machination of one Sri Kamalakhya Choudhury, Private Secretary to the 'Mohunt' Maharaj of Tarakeswar. Another objector contended that the correct procedure had not been followed. A third objection was that the nominee Dandiswami Dibyashram was not a 'Sannyasi' of the Dashnami sect and being still a 'dandi' was not qualified as a 'mohunt' of the 'Math'.
4. All the objections were overruled by the learned District Judge. He however came to the conclusion that the nominees were not fit and eligible for 'mohuntship', on grounds riot taken in the objections. The nominee for the Amdanga 'Math' was consecrated as a 'sannyasi' only a few months before the date of nomination. The learned District Judge said that as such the nomination was not free from suspicion as regards 'bona fides'. He further thought that at any rate he was
'too young as a 'Sannyasi' to command respect and to be eligible for all the spiritual services and obligations.'
5. As regards the nominee for the Bhotbagan 'Math' also, the learned District Judge pointed out that his consecration as 'sannyasi' took place after the High Court's judgment in appeal and he observed:
'That may naturally raise some suspicion as to his 'bona fides', when we see that the other nominee Aschyutashram was similarly consecrated after that judgment, in 'Ashar' last year.'
'There is thus room for suspicion raised specially from the time of consecration, But even if that is not entertained in all respect for the religious head, the nominee is, undoubtedly too young a 'Sannyasi' to command much respect and be fit for all spiritual services and obligations incidental to the post.'
6. It appears clear therefore that the learned District Judge had no reason to think that the two nominees were not fit and proper persons in view of their past character or lack of erudition or their religious experiences but thought that they were first, too young as 'sannyasis' and secondly that the fact that they had been consecrated, after the High Court judgment raised grounds for suspicion about their 'bona fides'.
7. The learned District Judge has himself observed in. his order dated 10-12-1951 that the High Court in its appellate judgment has recognised the custom prevalent for selection of a 'mohunt' for these 'maths'. The appellate judgment held that the custom as found by the District Judge had been, proved. The learned District Judge himself relied on the decisions in two previous cases to show what the custom was. It is useful to turn therefore to the decision of the Subordinate Judge Hooghly in Title Suit No. 17 of 1906 in which the case put forward by Triloke Giri, defendant in the present case, as regards the rule of succession was accepted. The learned Judge recorded his conclusion in these words:
'Considering the evidence, I am of opinion that in all Dasnami 'Maths' of this part of the. Province the custom regulating succession to the office of a 'Mohunt' is the same and that elective system prevails in such 'Maths' in the matter of appointment of a 'Mohunt', the rule being that on the occasion of the death of a 'Mohunt', the other Dasnami 'Mohunts' of the brotherhood forming a 'Mandali' or some of them assemble to elect a successor either out of the disciples of the deceased or from those of another 'Mohunt', or when necessity arises to make a qualified Brahmin boy a 'Chela' of the deceased and then to elect him as a successor and that in the case of a deceased 'Mohunt' leaving a single 'Chela', his succession depends upon their confirmation, and I hold that the said rule governs the succession to the 'Gadi' of the 'Math' in suit.'
In view of the decision of this Court in appeal in the present litigation we must proceed on the basis that the custom as indicated above in the 1908 suit is the custom still prevalent.
8. As Mr. Bakshi has pointed out, the custom permits the election of a very young 'Sannyasi' as 'mohunt' and the fact that consecration takes place in view of the prospective appointment is no objection to succession to 'Mohuntship.
9. The learned District Judge followed the correct procedure in asking for nomination by the several 'mohunts' of Dashnami 'Maths' who were available. The question is whether he acted rightly in the exercise of his jurisdiction in rejecting that nomination and in calling for applications for appointment of 'mohunts' by advertisement in the papers.
10. I may say at once that the procedure of i calling for applications for appointment is wholly unsuitable for filling the office of an important religious institution. It is more than likely that really suitable persons would not agree to come forward as candidates; they would consider it undignified and indeed improper to ask for 'Mohunt: ship' and would be averse to make an application, for which 'tadbir' in a Court of law would be thought necessary.
11. The system of selection by the 'Mandali' which on the finding of this Court must be held to be prevalent to regulate the succession to these two 'maths' is clearly eminently suitable. If there was any reason to think that the nominees of the 'Mandali' were not fit to be appointed, the proper course would be to ask the 'Mandali' for fresh nomination and not to by-pass the 'Mandali' altogether and to call for applications by advertisement in the papers. The extreme step of rejecting the 'Mandali' as a competent body to select 'raohunts' should not be lightly taken.
12. It is equally clear in my opinion that i1 would be wrong to reject the nominations of the 'Mandali' without strong reason. In making appointments for purposes of religious institutions, it is fit and proper that the Court should have respect for the faiths and beliefs of worshippers of such institutions and should not substitute its own ideas however modern they may seem, for those faiths and beliefs. When these religious institutions have for over a century followed a particular custom as regards appointment of 'mo-hunts' this should be held to be in consonance with the religious faiths and beliefs of worshippers and indeed in the best interest of the institution, very much more so than any other system.
13. While I am not prepared to say that the learned District Judge is bound to accept the nomination of these 'mohunts' of Dashnami 'Maths' forming the 'Mandali', I am clearly of opinion that the learned District Judge should not reject their nomination without compelling reasons. His view that the nominees were too young as 'sannya-sis' is not, in my opinion, a good or sufficient reason for rejecting the nominations. It is, in my opinion, equally clear that the suspicion he had in his mind as regards their 'bona fides' is unjustified. It is more than likely that because these persons were thought suitable for selection as 'mohunts' that persons who were interested in the welfare of these 'Maths' took the step of inducing them to become 'sannyasis'. The fact that the step of consecration took place after the High Court's decree is therefore not a good reason for regarding the conduct of these nominees or those who nominated them with suspicion.
14. I have, therefore, come to the conclusion that the learned District Judge acted irregularly in the exercise of his jurisdiction in rejecting the nominations made by the three 'mohunts' mentioned above, to which as I have already indicated. 'Mohunt' Jnanananda Saraswati who was himself a candidate for appointment of 'Mohunt' of Bhotbagan Math, did not raise any objection.
15. I would, therefore, set aside the order of the learned District Judge calling for nominations and direct the District Judge to appoint Dandi-swami Dibyashram as 'Mohunt' of Bhotbagan and Dandiswami Achyutashram as 'Mohunt of Amdanga 'Maths' in accordance with the nominations of the Tarakeswar 'Mandali'.
16. The Rule is thus made absolute.
17. There will be no order as to costs.
18. Let the records be sent down as early as possible.
Guha Ray, J.
19. I agree.