Present: H. N. G. Fernando, J., and L. B. de Silva, J.
RAMANATHA KURUKKAL and 2 others, Appellants, andS. RAMALINGAM and 4 others, Respondents
S. G. 595j59—D. C. Jaffna, 15/Trust
Hindu temple—Hereditary priest—Right oj entry into temple.
The trial Court, while upholding the claim of the plaintiffs to be Trustees andManagers of a Hindu temple, held also that the defendants were the hereditarypriests of that temple. The decree, however, provided for the ejectmentof the defendants from the temple.
Held, that the provision for the ejectment of the defendants should b*deleted because it was a denial of their rights as hereditary prie3ta.
-A.PPEAL from a judgment of the District Court, Jaffna.
V. Perera, Q.C., with S. Sharvananda and K. Palakidnar, for theDefendants-Appellants.
H. W. Jayewardene, Q.C., with V. Ratnasabapathy, for the Plaintiffa-Respondents.
Cur. adv. vult.
October 1,1963. H. N. G. Fernando, J.—
This appeal is from a decree of the District Court of Jaffna declaringthe Plaintiffs to be the Trustees and Managers of a Hindu Temple. Adispute arose prior to 1913 as to the rights tf management and as to theownership of the temporalities and it is much to be regretted that thedispute cannot even at this stage be satisfactorily settled. After hearingargument, we decided that the decree shoild be affirmed, subject toone modification to which I shall later refer.
The learned District Judge, while upholding the claim of the Plaintiffsto be Trustees and Managers, held also (and so pronounced in the decree)that the Defendants are the hereditary priests of the Temple, and wesee no reason to interfere with these findings. But it appeared desirablethat an attempt be made to define with some degree of precision whatrights of entry and/or residence should be accorded to the Defendantsfor the performance of their functions. We accordingly requested theAdditional District Judge to inquire and report upon this matter. Whenthat report was subsequently discussed in Court, it became apparentthat the recommendations of the Additional District Judge are un-acceptable to the parties, mainly because of the mutual distrust andanimosity which prevails between them. The recommendations wouldinvolve a voluntary surrender by the Plaintiffs of some degree of thecontrol which they have the right to exercise in their oapacity as Trusteesand Managers, and their reluctance to make such a surrender is notinexplicable. For myself, I can only hope that the parties will be ableto resolve their differences in the interests of the Temple and its wor-shippers. There is one matter, however, which is beyond dispute,namely that access to the Katpajcirakam, the Artha Mandapam, and theMaria, Mandapam, is permissible only to the Defendants. These precinctsof the Temple are marked Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the sketch which the Addi-tional District Judge has referred to as the sketch marked ‘ Y Asthere is no such mark on the sketch filed of record, it will now be marked‘ Y ’, by the Registrar of this Court. Access to these special preoinctsis gained only through one door of the room No. 3, to which there is akey. There can be no objection to the Defendants retaining custodyof that key.
The decree under appeal provides for the ejectment of the Defendantsfrom the Temple. The Plaintiffs could not press for their physicalejectment, since that would be in denial of their rights as hereditarypriests ; and the provision must be deleted.
I would affirm the decree of the District Court subject to thefollowing modifications :—
The provision for the ejectment of the Defendants will be deleted.
Provision will be added to the decree requiring the Defendants
to hand over to the Plaintiffs in the District Court all keys ofthe Temple premises except the key of the door to the roomNo. 3 in the sketch marked ' Y
In view of certain observations made by counsel, I would place onrecord the fact that at the stage when we made order referring certainmatters for report by the Additional District Judge, counsel for theDefendants did NOT consent to the appeal being dismissed.
Subjeot to the modificaticns of the deoree which are set out above,the appeal is dismissed with costs. There will be no order as to thecosts of the further proceedings which were taken by the AdditionalDistrict Judge at the request of this Court.
B. sb Silva, J.—I agree.
RAMANATHA KURUKKAL and 2 others, Appellants, and S. RAMALINGAM and 4 others, Res