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Madras High Court
M. Coopoosami Chetty vs A.T. Duraisamy Chetty And Ors. on 23 October, 1912
Equivalent citations: 17 Ind Cas 527
Bench: R Benson, Offg., S Nair


1. The plaintiff gave his daughter in marriage to Mr. Venugopaul Chetty, a High Court Vakil. Both of them belong to the Vaisya caste but are members of different divisions of that caste. As might be expected, some members of the sub-caste to which the plaintiff belongs disapproved the marriage on the ground that it was opposed to custom with the result that on occasions of marriages, funeral ceremonies etc in their families, the plaintiff and those who took his side were not invited and they also refused the invitations of the plaintiff and his friends to attend at similar functions in their houses. The defendants are among those who disapproved the marriage. They and their friends form a separate faction; some members of the plaintiffs faction were admitted by the defendants into their faction only on the performance of certain expiatory ceremonies required on account of their association with the plaintiff and his friends in social and religious functions.

2. It is the plaintiff’s case that the defendants have proclaimed him to be an outcaste and that these expiatory ceremonies were intended to show that he was an outcaste. The defendants denied that they ever called the plaintiff and those who agreed with him outcastes. They further denied that the plaintiff was an outcaste and alleged that the nature of the ceremonies was not such as to show that the plaintiff was one. The Judge first held that the suit was not maintainable as the plaint did not disclose a cause of action. We reversed his judgment on the ground that if the defendants said anything which was capable of being understood to imply that the plaintiff was an outcaste or if as a condition for admission into religious and social communion, he insisted on the performance of any ceremonies which implied that the plaintiff was an outcaste, the plaintiff would have a good cause of action. The Judge has now found that there is no evidence to prove that the defendants called the plaintiff an outcaste. He also finds that the plaintiff’s evidence to prove that the defendants used certain words which, according to him, implied that the plaintiff was an outcaste, is totally unreliable, and in appeal reliance is not placed upon that evidence. The main question, that was argued, is that the defendants insisted upon the plaintiff and those who are associated with him performing certain ceremonies which are performed only by those persons who have lost their caste when they seek re-admission into it. With reference to this contention, the Judge finds that according to the evidence adduced in this case there are two kinds of prayaschittams performed. Those who leave their caste by imprisonment and those who have gone beyond the seas have to undergo a prayaschittam in which ‘homam’ is performed. For instance, the plaintiff’s 4th witness sates that he was in Jail for 3 days and for taking the food prepared in Jail, though cooked by Brahmins, he performed a prayaschittam which consisted of changing his sacred thread, and performing homam and punyahavachinam. There is another prayaschittam according to the witnesses in which the homam is omitted. This is performed, according to the uncontradicted evidence in the case, even by those who remain in caste on certain occasions. The plaintiff’s 3rd witness, who was doing the duties of a Purohit to the caste to which the parties belong, during the absence of his brother, says that punyahavachanam is performed and panchagavayam is given on sradha days, on the day when a woman takes a bath after her confinement and on the 17th day after the death of a person.

3. The evidence in this case is quite clear that all that the defendants insisted upon was not performance of ceremonies which should be performed in the case of re-admission of a person who has lost his caste but only the minor ceremonies which have to be performed for purification after pollution of the kinds described above.

4. Refusal to invite the plaintiff and his friends to marriage would not in itself give the plaintiff a cause of action. The fact, therefore, that the plaintiff and his friends were not invited to religious and social functions at the defendant’s houses is immaterial. It does not show that the plaintiff and his friends are outcastes any more than any refusal on their part to invite the defendants and their friends to similar functions in their houses would show the defendants are not in caste. It is admitted by the plaintiff that he has not been obstructed in the enjoyment of any right which he has as a member of his caste. He admits that he is attending temple worship and that nobody objects to his going to temples We are, therefore, of opinion that the Judge is right and dismiss the appeal with costs.

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