Saranajothi Thera- V. Dharmarama Thera
1959Present: Basnayake, C.J., and Pulle, J.
SARAHAJOTHI THERA, Appellant, and DHARMARAMA THERA
S. G. 615—D. C. Balapitiya, 482jL
Buddhist ecclesiastical law—Incumbency of a temple—Proof of robing and ordinationof incumbent—Documentary evidence not essential—Buddhist TemporalitiesOrdinance, s. 41.
In this action instituted by the plaintiff for a declaration that he, and not thedefendant, was the lawful Viharadhipathi of a temple which was governed bythe rule of Sisyanu Sisya Paramparawa—
Meld, that the mere fact that the Upasampada Register and the registermaintained under section 41 of the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance were notproduced did not afford sufficient ground for rejecting the evidence of theplaintiff’s witnesses that the plaintiff was duly robed and ordained.
“ The Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance does not declare that the registermaintained thereunder is the only evidence of the robing or ordination of abhiklthu, nor does the fact that an Upasampada Register is maintained by aNikaya exclude the proof, by other evidence, of the fact that a bhikkhu obtainedthe higher ordination. The failure to produce documentary evidence of therobing or Upasampada of a bhikkhu does not render oral evidence of any ofthose events liable to be rejected on that ground alone. ”
/ APPEAL from a judgment of the District Court, Balapitiya.
N. E. Weerasooria, Q.C., with B. S. G. Batwatte and W. Wimala-
chandra, for Plaintiff-Appellant.
Sir Lolita BajapaTcse, Q.G., with K. Herat, G. G. Weeramantry and
Lc. I. Obeyesek&ra, for Defendant-Respondent.
BA5NAYAEE, C.J.—Saranajothi Thereby. Dharmarama Thera
May 13, 1959. Bas^ayakt;, C.J.—
This is an action by Pitigala Saranajothi Thera against Parutota Dhar-marama Thera for a declaration that the plaintiff is the lawful Viharadhi-pathi of the temple called Indipalegoda Sri Visudharamaya and that hebe restored to the possession of the incumbency of the Vihare, and thatthe defendant be ejected therefrom. The plaintiff’s case is that KonwewoRatanamoli Thera was the founder of the Vihare and was its chief incum-bent up to the time of his death in 1940. On Ratanamoli’s death hisonly pupil Walagedera Jinalankara Thera succeeded to the incumbencyof the temple and exercised his rights as Viharadhipathi up to the timeof his death on 14th October 1952. On the death of Walagedera Jina-lankara, the plaintiff succeeded to the office of Viharadhipathi as his solesurviving pupil. His rgiht to the office he claimed was confirmed by theMahn. Sangha Sabha on 11th November 1952. The plaintiff also aversthat the succession to the temple was governed by the rule of SisyartuSisya Paramparawa.
The defendant denied the averments in the plaint and set up a case insupport of histo the Vihare, and asked that the plaintiff’s action
be dismissed. His case is as follows :—Konwewe Ratanamoli Therawho was the absolute owner of the premises referred to in the plaint byright of long and prescriptive possession and planting conveyed thepremises by deed No. 996 of 24th May 1933 (P5) to Walagedera Jina-lankara Thera and Sri Raiana Tissa Thera whereby they became theowners of the Vihare, and Walagedera Jinalankara Thera by deed No. 1557of 1st January 1948 (Dl) conveyed the Vihare to the defendant wherebyhe became the owner. He denied that the plaintiff was the owner ofthe Vihare or that he had any right to it.
At the trial, before the issues were framed, learned counsel for thedefendant stated that he did not deny the fact that the premises inquestion were Sanghika property. The plaintiff’s counsel then suggestedthe following issues :—
Was Konwewe Ratanamoli the Viharadhipathi of Sri Visudha-
Was the said Ratanamoli succeeded by his pupil Walagedera Jina-
lankara as Viharadhipathi of the said temple ?
Did the plaintiff as a pupil of the said Jinalankara succeed to
the Viharadhipathiship of the temple ?
At this stage learned counsel for the defendant made an admission thatthe temple was governed by the rule of Sisyanu Sisya Paramparawa,and thereupon learned counsel for the plaintiff suggested the furtherissue :
Has the defendant any right or title to the Viharadhipathiship of
this temple 1
The only issue suggested by the defendant’s counsel is—
(1) Is the plaintiff a pupil of Jinalankara Thera ?
-J. N. K 5017 (10/50).
BASNAYAKE, C.J.—SaranajotTii Thera v. Dharmarama Thera
A volume of evidence was led by the plaintiff in support of his claimthat he was a pupil of Jinalankara and that Ratanamoli was Jinalankara’stutor. Among his witnesses were Welitara Uttamagnana Thera, theAnu Nayaka of the Chula Ganti Nikaya, and Welitara GnanawimalaThera, the Maha. Nayaka of the Amarapura "Chula Ganti Nikaya. Thesewitnesses, who are persons of standing in the Sangha, deposed to the factthat they were present at the robing and ordination of the plaintiff,who was robed by Jinalankara. The defendant in his examination-in-chief admitted that Jinalankara whom he knew even before 1947 was theYiharadhipathi of this temple when he first came there in that year onhis invitation, but he denied that the plaintiff was the pupil of Jinalankara*He also admitted that Ratanamoli was Jinalankara’s tutor and theYiharadhipathi of this temple and that he obtained bia nlaira to theownership of this temple on the deeds P5 and Dl. In cross-examinationhe stated “ In my answer there is only one deed in my favour. I don’thope to claim on that deed. I don’t claim this temple on that deed now.I cannot remember whether my Proctor explained the answer to me.I cannot remember whether my Proctor explained it to me or notWhen he was asked to explain his claim he said “ I cannot say how inparagraph 4 (b) of my answer it is stated that the premises in questionis not Sanghika property. The Proctor has made that error. I knowMr. R. Piyadasa de Silva. He is one of the most senior Proctors of this.Court.” He further said “ I claimed these premises on a particular deedI claimed these premises on a number of deeds in my answer. I havenot only claimed these premises on some deeds, but on some other factsalso. ”
” Q. What are the other facts on which you claimed these premisesin your answer ?
“ A. I cannot understand what the other fa ets are, apart from thedeeds. ”
The learned District Judge appears to have been carried away by thefailure of the plaintiff to produce the Upasampada Register and theregistration under the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance, and he hasdisbelieved the evidence of Gnanawimala, the Maha Nayaka Thera,and that of Uttamagnana, the Anu Nayaka Thera, who deposed to thefact that they were present at the robing and ordination of the plaintiff.Apart from the evidence of the Nayaka Theras there was the evidenceof three other witnesses who claimed to he present at the robing and ordi-nation ceremony of the plaintiff. We are unable to find any justificationfor the rejection by the learned District Judge of the evidence of the AnuNayaka and the Maha Nayaka Theras and the other witnesses, and for his• conclusion that the plaintiff is not the pupil of Jinalankara. The merefact that the Upasampada Register and the register maintained undersection 41 of the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance have not been pro-duced does not afford sufficient ground for rejecting the evidence of theplaintiff’s witnesses.
BASNAYAKE, C.J.—Saranajothi Thera v. Dharmarama Thera
The Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance does not declare that the re-gister maintained thereunder is the only evidence of the robing or ordina-tion of a bhikkhu, nor does the fact that an Upasampada Register ismaintained by a Nikaya exclude the proof, by other evidence, of the factthat a bhikkhu obtained the higher ordination. The failure to producedocumentary evidence of the robing or Upasampada of a bhikkhu doesnot render oral evidence of any of those events liable to be rejected onthat ground alone.
It is not at all clear why the learned District Judge gave a negativeanswer to issue No. 1, viz., that Konwewe Ratanamoli was not the Viha-radhipathi of Sri Visudharamaya, in the teeth of the defendant’s admis-sion that he was the Yiharadhipatbi. The learned Judge holds thatJinalankara was the pupil of Ratanamoli but he holds that the plaintiffdid not succeed Jinalankara. We are unable to reconcile this findingwith the evidence in the case and we therefore think that the judgment•of the learned District Judge cannot be sustained.
The learned District Judge seems to have been influenced by manyirrelevant matters that were introduced into the case. They relate tothe previous history of the temple and the Chula G-anti Nikaya. Theywere not the subject matters of the pleadings, nor were there any issuesin regard to them. Under our system of Civil Procedure it is well estab-lished that what the Court has to determine is the case set up by the plead-ings of the parties. The learned Judge has proceeded to decide an en-tirely different case without amending the pleadings. The plaintiffclaimed that he was entitled to the temple by virtue of pupillary succession,and the defendant claimed it by virtue of ownership. Thedefendant admits that both Ratanamoli and Jinalankara were owners.P5 recites that Ratanamoli Tissa Maha Thera was the Viharadhipathi ofSri Visudharamaya and in D1 Jinalankara Nayaka Thera describeshimself as “ of Sri Visudharamaya Temple in Indipalegoda in Pitigala”.On the entire evidence in the case including the admissions of the defen-dant the conclusion that Ratanamoli Thera was the Viharadhipathi of thetemple, that Jinalankara was his successor, and that the plaintiff as thepupil of Jinalankara was entitled to the incumbency, is inescapable.
There is a further aspect of this matter. The defendant came to theVihare in dispute with the leave and licence of Jinalankara, the personin possession of it, and the law does not permit him to deny that Jina-lankara his invitor had a title to such possession at the time when he wasinvited, (s. 116 Evidence Ordinance).
We therefore allow the appeal with costs both here and in the Courtbelow, and declare that the plaintiff is the lawful incumbent of theVihare known as Indipalegoda Sii Visudharamaya, and order that he berestored to possession thereof and that the defendant be ejected therefrom.
PunitE, J.—I agree.
SARANAJOTHI THERO , Appellant , and DHARMARAMA THERA, Respondent