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In the Matter of the Estate of the Late Potuwtla IndajotiTerunnanse, of Paiyagala, Deceased.
Sohaloka Terunnanse, Petitioner,
SomalAnkara Terunnanse st cil.. Respondent.
D. C., Kahitara. 206.
Administration—Estate of Buddhist priest—Pupil of Buddhist priest—Private property of deceased priest—Right of next of kin to adminis-ter such property—Pupillary succession to incumbency—CivilProcedure Code, ch. 38—Ordinance No. 15 of 1876, s. 15.
Per Lawrie, J.—The pupil of a Buddhist priest is not his heirand he has no right of succession ab intestato to the private propertyof the deceased over which he had disposing power at the’date ofhis death.
If a Buddhist priest be the incumbent of a vihara held bypupillary succession, the incumbency passes on his death to thepriest or priests who are next in the line of succession.
Prior to the passing of the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance, theendowments of a vihara passed to the pupil who succeeded to theincumbency ; now these are vested in a trustee, and the endowmentsdo not fall under the grant of administration ab intestato.
The pupils of a Buddhist priest never appear to have been recog-nized as his hen’s, to the exclusion of. or rank with, his next of kin.If there was any disposition to treat pupils as heirs, it was correctedby the Ordinance No. 15 of 1876, which limits the succession ofunmarried persons to their kinsmen.
HTHE petitioner, calling himself “ Dediawala Somaloka Terun-nanse,” applied for letters of administration to the estate ofthe late Potuwila Indajoti Terunnanse, averring in his affidavit
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that Potuwila died intestate, and that the petitioner and the tworespondents named in the petition were the pupils of the deceased,and as such entitled to one-third each of his estate and effects.
Upon this application the District Judge allowed an order nisito be entered, declaring that the petitioner was entitled to haveletters of administration issued to him, unless the respondentsshowed sufficient cause to the contrary. On the service of theorder nisi on the respondents, they appeared and showed causeas follows:—
No administration can be taken out in regard to the propertyof a deceased Buddhist priest, because he leaves nothing behind him.
Chapter 38 of the Civil Procedure Code refers only to theestate of persons leaving a will, or of intestates mentioned inOrdinance No. 11 of 1876.
Property held by a Buddhist priest is in the nature of afidei commissum, and letters of administration are not necessary.
The petitioner virtually admits the effect of the petitioner’spetition to be that the property sought to be administered is allsangika.
The District Judge, after hearing the respondents, made theorder nisi absolute by the following judgment:—
“ The main objection seems to be. that there is no necessity foradministration, as a Buddhist priest leaves naught behind him tobe administered. This would be a sound doctrine if the followersof Sakyamuni strictly adhered to the principles laid down by him,and faithfully kept the vows of poverty which they take at thetime of their entrance into the priesthood, but unfortunatelythey do not keep to their vows in this Island, and Buddhist priestsfrequently acquire large extent of lands and amass large sums ofmoney which they lend out at interest in exactly the same way asa Sinhalese layman.
“ Now, with regard to the deceased priest Potuwila Unnanse, itwill be seen from the inventory filed that he left behind him inthis mortal world not only landed property, but such articles asarrack, precious stones, medicinal oil, surgical instruments, bookson medicine, astrology, &c. Very few priests leave such things asthese, but it is well known in this district that the deceased wasmore a healer of bodily diseases than a curer of lost souls, hencehis possessing surgical instruments, medicated arrack, &c. Itcannot possibly be said (in fact, the opponents do not say it) thatthese things are sangika property. Therefore, if the other propertyeven be actually the common property of the priesthood, adminis-tration would be necessary for the distribution of these articlesalone, as they aggregate more than Rs. 1,000 in value (section 545).
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1899.“ Counsel for opponents contended that ohapter 38 of the Code
September2S. does not apply to the property of Buddhist priests, but I can seeno distinction drawn in the various sections of that chapter•between the property of such priest and the property of a layman.Section 542 requires that when any person shall die withoutleaving a will, it shall be the duty of the widow, widower, or nextof kin of such person, within one month of the date of death, toreport such death to the Court a.nd to make affidavit inter alia wbatproperty the intestate has left; and, again, in section 544 it isenacted that in any case where a person is reported to have diedintestate, any person interested in having the estate of suchintestate administered may apply to the Court for grant to himself,&c. So that the petitioner as one of the deceased priest’s sacerdotalheirs, in other words his next of kin, is quite within hisright in applying for administration.
“ I may also quote as applicable to the contention raised by theopponent’s counsel the dictum of that eminent Judge Sir J. B.Phear, C.J., in D. C., Kandy, 74,378 ( – £. C. C. 27):—‘ It is import-‘ ant to remember that the incumbent of a vihara or pan*‘ sala in this Island is not a body corporate with perpetual succes-‘ sion, as is the case with the parson (‘persona) of an English parish,‘ where though the individual changes, yet so far as concerns‘ the property of the corporation, the parson never ceases
‘ to be, and continues for ever,’ &c ‘In this Island, on
‘ the other hand, the property dedicated to the vihara or pansala‘ appears to be the property of the individual priest, who is the‘ incumbent of the foundation, for the purposes of his office, includ-‘ ing his own support and the maintenance of the temple‘ and its services, and on his death it passes by inheritance to an‘ heir, who is ascertained by a peculiar rule of succession or special‘ law of inheritance, and is not generally the person who would‘ be by general law the deceased priest’s heir in respect to secular‘ property.’ I believe this dictum has been followed in all laterdecisions on the same subject, and it clearly shows that a Buddhistpriest can leave behind him at his death property which requiresto be administered in the same way as the property of any otherperson dying within this Island. I therefore overrule all theobjections taken and make the rule entered on 18th November,1898, absolute.
“ The opponent will pay to the applicant all costs incurred byhim with regard to their opposition.”
Against the above order the respondents appealed.
Wendt, for appellant.
Domhorst, for respondent.Cur. adv. vult.
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28th September, 1899. Lawbie, A.C.J.—
The appointment of the petitioner as administrator of the estateof the deceased Potuwila Indajoti Unnanse was premature.
It must be recalled, and the case remitted to the District Courtto make inquiry whether there be any next of kin of the deceased,and, if there are, to cause them to be made respondents to thepetition.
If there be no next of kin, or if none of them be willing to takeout letters of administration, the District Judge may appoint thispetitioner as administrator on being satisfied that he is a fit andproper person for the office.
It is necessary to correct an error into which the District Judgeand the parties have fallen. By our law the pupils of a Buddhistpriest are not his heirs, they have no right of succession ab intestatoto the private property of the deceased over which he had disposingpower at the date of his death.
If a Buddhist priest be the incumbent of a vihara held by pupillarysuccession, the incumbency on his death passes by law to the priestor priests who are next in the line of succession.
Prior to the passing of the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinancethe endowments of a vihara passed to the pupil who succeeded tothe incumbency ; now these are vested in a trustee, and the endow-ments do not fall under the grant of administration ab intestato.
So far as I know, the pupils of a Buddhist priest were netferrecognized as his heirs to the exclusion of, or rank with, his nextof kin; if there was any disposition to treat pupils as his heirs, itwas corrected by the Ordinance No. 15 of 1876, which limits thesuccession of unmarried persons to their kinsmen ; and if there beno heirs, the estate escheats to the Crown.
In this case it may be difficult to separate the property whichthe deceased held as incumbent of the vihara which passed to thetrustee from the property which he held as an individual. Landsto which he succeeded, and lands and books and medicine whichhe bought with his own money, go to his next of kin ; while landsand other property bought and paid for out of the income of thevihara should go to the trustee for the use of the incumbents of thevihara.
It seems in this case very probable that there is some privateproperty to administer, and it is right that a responsible personshould be appointed.
I remit for further proceedings.
Browne, A.J.—I agree.
SOMALOKA TERUNNANSE ,Petitioner vs.SOMALANKARA TERUNNANSE et al Respondent
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