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Madras High Court
Vaidinatha Thambiran And Ors. vs Chandrasekara Dikshitar And Ors. on 12 April, 1905
Equivalent citations: (1905) 15 MLJ 469


1. The plaintiffs sue (on behalf of themselves and other Kattalaikars of the temple, under Section 30, C.P.C. for a declaration of the plaintiff’s right to celebrate the 7th day’s festival in the months of Ani (June) and Margali (January) of Chidambaram Sri Natarajaswami temple which they and other Kattalaikars have been celebrating long time since–without disturbance by the defendants and other Deekshitars.

2. The defendants (the Deekshitars) are the trustees of the temple and they alone can actually perform these festivals; but to do so, they have to depend upon such funds as they obtain either by voluntary subscription or in consequence of pressure brought to bear upon worshippers for that purpose. Prior to 1901, this particular festival appears to have been celebrated with funds obtained either voluntarily or in consequence of pressure, from Kattalaikars. Kattalaikars are worshippers who subscribe to the temple festivals, either this festival or others, and the plaintiff’s claim is that as they, the Kattalaikars, have for many years provided the funds necessary for the performance of this festival, they have the right alone to provide the necessary funds if they wish to do so, and the defendants have no right to get the funds from any one else for this festival. In 1901 the defendants, the Deekshitars, without consulting the Kattalaikars or giving them any opportunity of subscribing to this festival, arranged with a Chetty who was not a Kattalaikar, to celebrate the festival out of funds provided by him alone and did so. As peculiar religious merit is attached to persons who subscribe to this festival, the plaintiffs claim this declaration of their exclusive right to provide the funds for the performance of this festival. They also claimed damages for loss of reputation, &c.; but this latter claim they have abandoned.

3. The defendants contend that as trustees they are entitled to make whatever arrangements they think best for the performance of various festivals, but that they are not obliged to apply them to any particular festival, that for the performance of this particular festival there is no special endowments or any funds which they can count upon, that hitherto they have had to depend upon; what subscriptions they could get on each occasion for its performance, and that they have now arranged with the Chetty in question (as they were entitled to do and for the good of the temple) that he should in future subscribe the funds necessary, but they offered to apply any subscriptions the plaintiffs might wish to make in performing an additional festival at the temple on another day. Both Courts have dismissed the plaintiff’s suit.

4. The District Judge held that there was no legal right to compel the defendants to accept the subscriptions burdened with any condition; that a suit does not lie to compel the acceptance of voluntary contributions; that there could be no prescriptive right to make voluntary subscriptions; that the right claimed, if any, was an individual and not a collective right, that Section 30 of the Civil Procedure Code does not apply to the plaintiffs, and, therefore, that the suit was bad for misjoinder of causes of action.

5. We are of opinion that any worshipper is entitled to take part in the worship in a temple at any time or at any festival (see Vengamuthoo v. Pandaveswara I.L.R. 6 M. 151 and Elayalwar Reddiyar v. Namberumal Chettiyar I.L.R. 23 M. 298 and for that purpose to subscribe towards the funds necessary for the performance of the festival, and even though funds sufficient for the performance of the particular festival have already been subscribed, to require that his subscription may also be utilised for that purpose, but that no one and no special body of worshippers can claim the right to subscribe the funds necessary for a particular festival to the exclusion of other worshippers or subscribers. The trustees are perfectly justified in arranging with any worshipper to provide the funds necessary for the performance of any festival permanently, and if in addition to those funds other worshippers also wish to subscribe and do so, with the consequence that the trustees have more than sufficient for the performance of the festival, the festival can be performed on a larger scale. We think, however, that the plaintiffs’ suit was rightly dismissed, for their claim is that they, the Kattalaikars, alone to the exclusion of others, are entitled to the declaration asked for, or in other words, that they alone are entitled to subscribe to the performance of this festival to the exclusion of all other worshippers. We think Section 80, Civil Procedure Code, is applicable to the plaintiffs’ claim. The suit is on behalf of Kattalaikars (or persons who subscribe voluntarily to the temple), and their claim being, that, as Kattalaikars they alone are entitled to celebrate this festival as against every worshipper who is not a Kattalaikar, they ” have the same interest” in the suit so as to bring them within Section 30, Civil Procedure Code. Their claim is not an individual claim that as a worshipper each is entitled to take part in the festival, but it is that as Kattalaikars they and they alone are entitled to perform the festival by finding the necessary funds for the purpose. We are clearly of opinion that the plaintiffs have no such right.

6. We must, therefore, dismiss the appeal with costs.

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