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Present: Schneider J'. and Jayewardene A.J.
MABKA'N'DAN v. AYEB ef al.
20—V. ( Jaffna, 16,667
Hindu temple—Right. of officiating as priest—Alienation of right by priest■without consent ofmanager—Rightsofmanager—Hereditary
rights of officiating priests.
In case No. 12,525 a consent decree was entered to the effectthat the defendants as officiating priests were under the control,guidance, and supervision of the manager of the temple, and that theofficiating priests should not be dismissed without the interventionof a Court of law. The plaintiff, as manager, brought this actioufor the dismissal of the officiating priests (defendants), and alleged,as one of the grounds for dismissal, that the first defendant haddonated his right of officiating as priest to his nephew. The firstdefendant claimed a right to do so. The District Judge held thatthe hereditary right which the defendants claimed, if it existed atall, did not exist any more in view of the settlement in No. 12,525.
Held, on appeal, affirming the judgment of the District Judgethat the first defendant had no right to transfer the right of offi-ciating in the temple to another person.
PPEAL from a judgment of the District Judge of Jaffna (0. W.Woodhouse, Esq.):—
The plaintiff, respondent, who was duly elected manager of the Si vantemple, situated at Changanai in Jaffna, brought this action, prayingthat the defendants, appellants, be dismissed from their office as offi-ciating priests of the temple on the ground of disobedience, insuh-Jordination, and malpractices. He alleged further “ The first defendant hasceased to officiate as a regular priest in the temple, and he has donated hisright of officiating in the temple to his nephew Ramachandra. The first defendanthas no right in terms of the decree above referred to, to pass on his rights tohas no right in terms of the decree above referred to, to pass on his rights toRamachandra, who is a young man not fully qualified to perform the dutiesof an officiating priest of a Sivan temple.”
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The decree referred to in this'paragraph was entered of consent- in an actionbetween a former manager* Begnnatha, and the defendants, and was asfollows:—
It is ordered and decreed of consent that the plaintiff be and he ishereby declared to be the manager of the whole of the temple premisesin the land situated at Cbanganai
It is farther ordered that the defendants be and they are hereby declared theofficiating priests thereof* and that such priests bo not dismissed without theintervention of a Court of law:
It is farther ordered that the manager do, within one month from the date ofthe decree* pay to tire defendants Be. 600 in loll satisfaction of all their claimsto lot % and for compensation . . . –
It is farther ordered that the priests be under the control, guidance, and super-vision of the manager according to the custom prevailing in Hindu temples inJaffna:
The decree then went on to recite the duties of the manager andprieste as set oat in the following memorandum submitted by theSecretary:—
The manager shall be in charge of the buildings and property, movable as
well as immovable, belonging to the temple.
The manager shall keep all the buildings in proper repair.
All the income of the temple shall be left in the hands of the mauager,
except as provided below.
The priest shall give a receipt to the manager for all articles in the temple
and supplied by tbe manager for use inside the temple and the keysof the Holy of Holies and the apartments to which men of othercastes, except Brahmins, can have no access shall be in the bands of thepriest.
The priest shall perform poojas three times a day for the present*
and the managershallfind the wherewithalto carryonthe
poojas. The manager shall, however, have the discretion to increase thennmber of poojas when he can find the necessary funds.
For thepresent themanagershall furnish thefollowingforthe
purposeof carryingonthepoojas:—(a) 5 measures ofriceper
diem; (5) 10 measures of coconut oil per mensem; (c) 6 measures ofgingellyoil per mensem;(d)the necessary fruits,coconuts,camphor*
incense, betel, arecanuts, sandalwood, and other sundries required for tbepoojas, or Bs. 10 a month.
The emoluments of the priest are, according to the custom of the country,
the appropriation of all moneys given by the congregation forthe performance of Arichchanai and a portion of tbe Neivathiam or meal-offering, but the manager isnotwilling topermitsuch whole-
sale appropriation, as there arc no endowments ro the templeexcept a piece of land, andasthe incomeof thetemple will
be barely sufficient to carryonthe dailypoojaswhich will
cost about Bs. 75 per mensem. As the parties could not arrive at a.reasonable settlement in this matter, I would suggest that for thepresent the priest should forego a sum of Bs< 10 a month outof his emoluments for the benefit of the manager and as con-tribution for the pooja expenses.
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.(8) The priestshall beunder the control,guidance,and supervision ofthe
– manageraccordingto the custom prevailingin Hindu templesin
The defendant* admitted that first defendant had transferred his rightsto Bamachandmand thesecond defendant,but maintained that they were
hereditary priests of the temple, and. that they were entitled to appointqualified priestsas theirsuccessors, subjectonly to the control ofthe
manager according to the custom prevailing in Hindu temples in -Jaffna.
The District Judge held as follows:—'
" In the result I find that none of the charges are proved against thedefendants, except perhaps the one against the first defendant of ceasing toofficiate withoutpermission.The plaintiffshould have called uponhim
to resign, and,if he resigned, acceptedthe resignation. Then itwas
open to the manager to call a meeting and appoint another priest inhi* place.*'
*' I hold thatit is notcompetent forfirst defendant to appointany
one without the consent and approval of tike manager. The hereditary' right which thedefendantsclaim, if itexisted at all, does notexist
any more. The right of appointment and dismissal 'ire in the manager, who, ofcourse,1 can only dismiss with the approval of (he Court.**
Decree was entered dismissing the action as against the second defen-dant, with costs, and giving judgment for the plaintiff as against thefirst defendant.*
The defendant appealed.
if. J. C. Pereira, It.(7. (with him J. Joseph), for appellants.
Balasingham, for respondent
July 28, 1924. Schneider J.—
This is an appeal by the two defendants, who are the* officiatingpriests of the Sivan temple at Changapai, for whose dismissal fromoffice the plaintiff sued on the ground of certain acts of disobedienceand neglect which are set out in the plaint. One of the nets allegedagainst the first defendant is that he had ceased to officiate as aregular priest in the temple, and has donated his right of officiatingto his nephew Ramachandra. In the plaint the plaintiff also allegedthat he was seeking the intervention of the Court for the purposementioned in his plaint* in pursuanoe of the decree in action No. 12,525of the District Court of Jaffna. It is proved that in that action aconsent decree was entered to the effect .that the defendants.* asofficiating priests, are under the control, guidance, and supervision ofthe manager, and that the officiating priests should not be dismissedwithout the intervention of a Court of law. The defendants deniedthe acts alleged against them. They denied that they had. renderedthemselves disqualified from further continuing in the office ofofficiating priest^. They admitted that the first- defendant haddonated his right of officiating as priest in the temple as' alleged in
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the plaint, and stated that the first defendant had a right to do so.It would appeal* from the proceedings that this right was claimedon the ground that succession to the priesthood was hereditary.The learned Judge showing a full appreciation of the position betweenthe parties in liis judgment holds that the defendants were not guiltyof any of the acts alleged in the plaint, except the admitted factof the first defendant appointing his nephew to officiate. It wasurged by counsel for the appellant that the firfct defendant havingbeen convicted of being in possession of ganja had been compelledto undergo a term of imprisonment owing to his failure to pay thefine imposed, and that this imprisonment disqualified him fromofficiating as a priest, and that he had, therefore, appointed hisnephew to act as officiating priest. He contended that the actionas against the first defendant was superfluous, as the first .defendanthad dismissed himself from office before the institution of the action.He urged on us to make some declaration as to the person who wasentitled to appoint priests to this temple. I am unable to complywith that request, because that question was not raised or tried.The learned District Judge dismissed the action as against thesecond defendant, with costs, and directed that decree be enteredfor the plaintiff as against the first defendant with costs, for the reasonthat he had ceased to act as priest without the permission of theplaintiff who is the manager of the temple. It seems to me thatthere is absolutely nothing to urge against the decision of the learnedDistrict Judge which is eminently just and in accordance with thefacts proved at the trial. The learned District Judge held that thehereditary right which the defendant claimed, if it existed at all,did not exist any more in view of the settlement arrived at in D.C.Jaffna, No. 12,525. He also expressed the opinion that “the rightof appointment and dismissal are in the manager, who, of course,can only dismiss with the approved of Court.” The second defend-ant appears to have joined in the appeal of the first defendant with aview to obtaining a variation of the judgment of the District Judgeby a finding in appeal that the office of priesthood is hereditary andalienable. I see no reason whatever to disturb the holding of thelearned District Judge on the second issue that the first defendanthad no right to transfer the right of officiating in the temple toanother person. In regard to the contention in support of the firstdefendant’s appeal that there was no reason for bringing this actionagainst him, I am of opinion that the action was necessary, in viewof the decree in D.C. Jaffna, 12,525.
The appeal of both defendants is dismissed, with costs.
Jayewardene A.J.—I agree.
MARKANDAN v. AYER et al