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Sir Joseph T. Hutchinson, Chief Justice, Mr. JusticeWendt, and Mr. Justice Middleton.
SAHAVANAMUTTU v. SINNAPPA AIYAR et al
D. C., Jaffna, 4,236.
Manager of Hindu temple-—Right to maintain action to be declared such—Injunction—Cancellation of appointment.
I’he duly appointed manager of a Hindu temple is entitled inlaw to maintain an action for a declaration of bis rights as -suchmanager, andfor an injunction restraininga third party from
interfering in the management of such temple.
HE plaintiff alleged that he was the sole manager, under deedNo. 99 dated 28th April, 1877, of the Hindu temple called
Kirupaharasivasupiramaniaswamy Kovil situate at Kokkuvil; thathe appointed the first and second defendants the officiating priestsof the temple; that they refused to account to him for the articlesentrusted to them, repudiating his right to manage the temple, andclaiming to hold office under the third defendant, who, they alleged,Was the manager of the temple. The plaintiff prayed that he maybe declared1 the manager of the said temple; that the first andsecond defendants be ejected therefrom; that the third defendantbe restrained by injunction from interfering with the plaintiff’smanagement of the temple; and that the defendants be ordered todeliver to him the articles mentioned in the schedule to the plaint.
The defendants denied that the plaintiff was ever the managerof the temple, and alleged that the third defendant was the manager,and that they held office under him.
Among the issues framed at the trial were: —
(1) Is the plaintiff or the third defendant the manager of thetemple ?
(2) In view of the deed of 1877, has not the plaintiff to seek hisremedy at the hands of the trustees ?
The District Judge held in favour of the plaintiff on both theissues.
The defendants appealed.
Walter Pereira, K.G., S.-G. (with him Hon. Mr. Kanagasabaiand Baht$ingham)y appeared for the appellants.
H. A. Jayewardene, for the plaintiff, respondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
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11th December, 1906. Hutchinson C.J.—iWiij.
The plaintiff claims to be the sole manager of a temple at1
Kokkuvil East by virtue of a deed dated 28th April, 1877, andto be entitled as such manager to the possession of all the propertyof the temple. He says that in 1877 he appointed the first andsecond defendants the officiating priests of the temple and entrustedthem with certain articles for use in the temple ceremonies, andthat they now refuse to deliver to him or account to him for thosearticles, and repudiate his right to manage the temple, and claim tohold office under the third defendant as- manager. He thereforeasks that he may be declared manager of the temple and may be putin possession of it, and that the first and second defendants may beejected from it, and the third defendant restrained from interferingwith its management, and that the defendants may be ordered todeliver to him such of the articles above mentioned as are in theirpossession.
The defendants replied that, according to the terms of the deedon which the' plaintiff relied, he ought to conform to customsmentioned in the deed; they denied that he is or ever was the'manager, and denied his right to call on them to account for theabove-mentioned articles, and they stated that the third defendantis the manager of the temple.
The only issues necessary to be now considered are: (1) “ Is theplaintiff or the third defendant the manager of the temple ? and(2) “ In view of the deed of 1877, has not the plaintiff to seek hisremedy at the hands of the trustees ? ”
At the trial the defendants produced evidence to show that theplaintiff had never in fact performed the duties of manager, and also'that his appointment had been cancelled by a notice which appearedin a local newspaper in 1892, and which purports to be signed bysome of the signatories to the deed of 1877. There was no proofthat that notice, was really signed by those persons, or that theyhad any authority to sign it, or that it was even communicated tothe plaintiff. The District Judge held that the plaintiff was dulyappointed manager by the deed of 1877, and that the newspapernotice of 1892 had not the effect of cancelling his appointment.
That finding, I think, was right. With regard to the fifth issue, bythe deed of 1877 a “ committee of five " and a number of other,signatories appointed the plaintiff to conduct the affairs of thetemple property and regularly to collect subscriptions jand spendthem for building works, upayam, &c. He should annually submitaccounts of income and expenditure to the said committee of fivepersons; he was to recover sums.due for temple ceremonies and to-
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1906. notify and attend meetings; and it was agreed that* if any faultDecember 11. should be found in the ceremonies, the conduct thereof, or theHutchinson articles, or the committee of five, or the manager’s accounts, orC.J. with any of the signatories, “ and if any one makes complaint to thecommittee in writing, the complaint will be inquired into and theperson found fault with should be punished. ” If there is any pointwhich could not be properly decided by the said committee, he shallabide by “ the decision of four leading men of other temples and bythe decision of one who is conversant with the Sivite rules. ”
The present dispute does not seem to be one which is contem-plated by this agreement, and if plaintiff is still the manager underthis deed, as I have held that he is, he is not precluded by the termsof the deed from invoking the aid of the Courts of law to settle thedispute. He is trying to enforce his rights as manager againstpersons who deny his rights. His powers as manager are notclearly or fully defined in the deed, but they must include the rightto the custody of the temple property. There is no evidence thathe has ever been removed, or has voluntarily withdrawn from hisoffice; possibly he may be removable; but it is not shown that hehas been removed. He has on three previous occasions, viz.,in 1881, 1882, and 1898, enforced his rights as manager in a Courtof law; and he was returned as the manager of this temple in theOfficial Register of Temples in 1892. In my opinion he is entitledto a declaration that he' is the manager, and to an injunction torestrain the defendant from interfering with his management, and toan order for delivery to him of the articles specified in the plaint.The decree appealed from should be amended bv omitting theorder to eject the first and second defendants. In other respects itshould be affirmed, and the appellants should pay the costs of theappeal.
I agree, and do not think it necessary to add anything.
This was an action brought by the plaintiff, claiming to be solemanager of Kirupaharasivasupiramaniaswamy Kovil or templeby. virtue of a deed No. 99 dated 28th April, 1877, to be declared'manager of the temple, to obtain possession, to eject the first andsecond defepdants, to restrain the third defendant from interferencein the mahagement, for the delivery up to the plaintiff of certainmovables specified in a schedule to fhe plaint, and for damages and
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The first aad second defendants are the priests of the temple, 1906.and the third defendant is a maternal grandson of one Sammugam December 11„Murugesar, who was formerly manager of the temple, and who Middletonsigned the deed No. 99 appointing the plaintiff manager.J*
The defendants denied that the plaintiff was duly appointedmanager, but they did not plead in their joint answer that suchappointment had been cancelled by the notice in the “ HinduOrgan, ” which two of the defendants' witnesses who had signeddeed No. 99 admitted that they had with twenty-two otherspublished with that view.
The object of referring this case to the Full Court was to obtain .an authoritative decision as to the mode of appointment of a managerof a Hindu temple.
The facts of the case as proved, however, do not enable this Courtto lay down in . what way such a manager should be appointed,and I agree that we must assume from the existence of deed No. 99and the proceedings in case Na. 9,210 that the plaintiff was con-sidered to be duly appointed, and was appointed by those who arenow contending that he. was not.
The third defendant, it is true, was not a party to deed No. 99.but he admits that his grandfather was, and that this same grand-father, who was the first signatoj^ of deed No. 99 and formermanager, submitted to judgment conceding the plaintiff's appoint-ment to be a lawful one.
The fact that a notice purporting to cancel the appointmenthas beeh published in the ** Hindu Organ " by the survivors ofthose who made the original appointment, two of whom are defend-ants' witnesses, shows that it was deemed by them to- be a lawfulappointment.
There has been no evidence led by the defendants to show thatsuch appointment^ was not duly made in accordance with the usageand practice observed in such matters, and I would therefore hold,not on the ground of estoppel, but on the evidence led, that theplaintiff was lawfully appointed manager under deed No. 99.
There is no evidence that the publication of the notice purportingto cancel that appointment ever came to the plaintiff's knowledge,and I fail to see that the mere publication in a newspaper is sufficientnotice to determine any arrangement made solemnly in the templein the form of a deed notarially attested.
I presume that the plaintiff could hardly question that thosewho have the authority to appoint have also the power to remove,and that his removal might be brought about if carried out inaccordance with the usage and practice customary in such matters.
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1906. As regards the fifth issue, I agree that the terms of his appoint-December li. ment under the deed do not debar the plaintiff from resort to theMiddleton Courts to enforce his rights, where those rights must necessarilyJ. include a claim to the custody or possession of temporal propertyinvolve in the vindication of his religious status.
It is not necessary to consider the other issues, and I agree thatthe appeal should be dismissed with costs, and the judgment of thelearned District Judge affirmed with the amendments proposed bymy Lord.
Judgment- affirmed: decree varied.
SARAVANAMUTTU v. SINNAPPA AIYAR et al