Karuppa Goundan vs Kolanthayan And Ors. on 8 August, 1883

Madras High Court
Karuppa Goundan vs Kolanthayan And Ors. on 8 August, 1883
Equivalent citations: (1883) ILR 7 Mad 91
Bench: Kindersley, M Ayyar


Kindersley and Muttusami Ayyar, JJ.

1. The plaintiff and defendants in this suit are Vellalas; and the plaintiff stated that he and his ancestors had been enjoying, for more than 300 years, the honours of the Vellalas receiving sacred ashes, sandal, betel and nut, flowers, etc., before they were served out to others, on festival and other days at the seven devasthanams mentioned in the plaint; and that from time immemorial, the defendants 4 to 8 had never received the first honours. He therefore sued to establish his right to receive the above offerings or honours before others of the same caste in the said devasthanams, and for an injunction restraining the defendants from preventing his so receiving them.

2. The District Munsif dismissed the suit on the ground that the claim was not of a civil nature; and, on appeal, his decision was confirmed by the District Court. The plaintiff makes this second appeal on the ground that the suit is maintainable in a Civil Court; and whether it is so or not is the only question for determination.

3. If this had been a suit for an office, or to establish a right to which the plaintiff was entitled as a citizen, and as a member of the caste to which he belongs, he would, according to the decided cases, have had a right of suit. But, although, to give the appearance of commercial value, a price has been set upon the ashes, sandal, betel and nut, and flowers, yet it is admitted that the plaintiff would not be satisfied by a decree for the trifling market value of such articles; because, that which the plaintiff seeks is the honour and dignity, which, he says, has been enjoyed by him in succession to his ancestors, of receiving such offerings in the temples in question, and of receiving them before they are offered to any other members of the caste. It is really a question of precedence on the occasions on which such offerings are received by the caste. The commercial value of the offerings would be the same, if the plaintiff received them after other members of the caste; but he claims the honour of being the first to receive them. It is not a suit for an office or for a money value, but for an honour.

4. We are not aware of any case in which it has been decided that a suit will lie for a mere honour or dignity not conferred by the Queen; and it has been doubted in the several cases. In a Bombay case, Sangapa v. Gungapa I.L.R. 2 Bom. 476, it was decided that a suit would not lie for a mere dignity unconnected with any fees, profits, or emoluments, and, in that decision, the learned Chief Justice referred to Sri Sankar Bharti Swami v. Sidha Lingaya Charanti see I.L.R. 2 Bom. 473, in which the same point had been determined.

5. Therefore, we cannot say that the Courts below were wrong in dismissing the suit on the ground that it was not of a civil nature. We dismiss this second appeal with costs.

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