Subbaraya Mudaliar And Ors. vs Vedantachariar And Ors. on 26 February, 1904

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Madras High Court
Subbaraya Mudaliar And Ors. vs Vedantachariar And Ors. on 26 February, 1904
Equivalent citations: (1904) 14 MLJ 171


1. On the question which we have first to consider, namely, whether this suit is cognizable by a Civil Court, we have no hesitation in deciding that it its not.

2. The explanation to Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure which governs the question runs as follows : ” A suit in which the right to property or to an office is contested is a suit of a civil nature notwithstanding that such right may depend entirely on the decision of questions as to religious rites or ceremonies.”

3. Now, here the subject of the plaintiffs claim was confined to rights in religious ceremonies, without a claim to any office or any emoluments. The plaintiffs did ask for damages on account of perquisites which they had been prevented from getting, but this was a mere fiction, apparently put in to clothe the Court with jurisdiction, for though both the Courts hare declared the plaintiffs’ rights in other respects, neither Court has declared the plaintiff’s rights to any office or to any emoluments. The Subordinate Judge has, it is true, made an addition to the Munsif’s decree by giving the plaintiffs Nos. 1 to 6 one anna as nominal damages between them, but this was quite unjustifiable and is as fictitious as the plaintiff’s claim itself for damages. The plaintiff’s claim was on behalf of all the members of the Vadagalai community wherever residing, numbering’ many untold thousands and it is obvious that the whole of an ill-defined community cannot be entitled to any particular office in a particular temple or to any emoluments or perquisites thereof. Hence there is no claim by the plaintiffs for an office and their claim for damages is purely imaginary. The decree of the Courts below after exercising the hypothetical damages granted by the Subordinate Judge is itself a confirmation of our view of what the plaintiffs’ claim really was, as it only declares the right of the plaintiffs’ community to recite certain sacred texts in the temple in question either after or apart from the Tengalai community. This is clearly a mere matter of ritual or ceremony in a religious matter with which a Civil Court can have nothing to do. The decree makes no declaration in respect to any ” right to property or to an office” or to any general right of the Vadagalais to worship in this temple which has never been disputed. The mere fact that the plaintiffs have claimed the declaration they seek in the alternative under the terms of a razinamah (Exhibit E) does not assist them, for this razinamah was entered into in May 1893 between the then heads of the rival sects of Vadagalais and Tengalais residing in Negapatam, to enable certain ceremonies to be performed in the temple in question. That this was only a temporary arrangement made with a view to prevent a breach of the peace appears from the order of the Head Assistant Magistrate of Exhibit XVI dated the 21st July 1893. This agreement cannot, therefore, be treated as a contract binding all the members of both communities wherever residing for all time. For these reasons, we allow these second appeals and dismiss the plaintiffs’ suit with costs throughout. The memoranda of objections that have been filed in the cases have not been argued by the plaintiff’s pleader.

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