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Present: Lyall Grant J. and Maartensz A.J.DEWANDRA UNNANSE v. SUMANGALA TERUNNAKSE
471—D. Ct Kurtmegala, 10,989.
Buddhist vihare—Co-incumbent—Alternate years.
The incumbency of a Buddhist temple may be held by twopriests, officiating in alternate years.
^ PPEAL from a judgment of the District Judge of Kurunegala.
N.E. Weerasooria (with Rajapakse and Sri Nissanlca)* forplaintiff, appellant.
H. V. Perera (with Batuwantudawa), for defendant, respondent.
October 3, 1927. Lyall Grant J.—
The plaintiff inthiscase, who is aBuddhist priest,sued the
defendant, who isalsoa Buddhist priest, and askedto be declared
sole incumbent of Makulana Vihare.
The defendant did not deny the plaintiff's claim to a half of theincumbency, andthelearned DistrictJudge hasheldthat the
defendant has proved his right by prescription to be a co-sharerin the incumbency with the plaintiff.
The District Judgehas accordinglyallowed tothedefendant
a half share in the produce of the temple property and the right toofficiate in alternate years.
Against that part of the judgment which concerns the right toofficiate as incumbent this appeal is taken. It is not very clearwhether an appeal is also taken against that part of the judgmentwhich refers to a half share of the profits.
In support of the appeal it is argued that the incumbency of aBuddhist temple is not capable of division, and that the arrangementalleged by the defendant in this case is contrary to the practice ofthe Buddhist religion.
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■ LtaixGrant J.
So far as the evidence in the present case goes, there is. nothing*.$oshow that such a practice is unknown to Buddhism. The defendant,alleges that for a considerable number of years he has held the kreysand acted as incumbent every alternate year. This statement issupported by the Korala of Aranpola, who says he knows this.vihare.well and that for the last thirty-five years it has been possessedalternately by each priest every year, but that the temple lanceshave been held in common.
He refers by name to two other temples which to his knowledgeare possessed in a similar mannar.
The plaintiff has led no evidence but refers to the case of Saranan-kara Unnanse v. Indajoti Unnanse.1
In that case Bertram C.J. expressed the opinion that the officeof an incumbent is a single office and cannot be held jointly andthat consequently a claim to a share of an incumbency cannot besustained. Apparently this view was the personal opinion of thelearned Chief Justice and was gathered from his study of theBuddhist writings.
As 'was remarked by de Sampayo J. in that case, the question ofthe law governing a religious body is to a Civil Court a question offact to be gathered from evidence, and if I may say so, I agree withhim that the most valuable evidence in cases of this sort is tkatwhich learned priests may be able to give from their experience andknowledge with regard to the actual custom in force.
cannot find that in the case of Saranankara Unnanse v. IndajotiUnnanse (supra) any evidence was led on the question of whetherif was possible for the incumbency of a temple to be held by twopriests in alternate years.
Reference was made to evidence which had been taken in aprevious case, Dammaratna Unnanse v. Sumangala Unnanse, 2where the evidence of a number of leading Buddhist priests wastaken in regard to certain points of practice.
The point now in question was not however one of those soreferred.
It is clear from the evidence in the present case, and also fromsome of the evidence referred to by the Chief Justice in the case ofSaranankara Unnanse v. Indajoti Unnanse (,supra), that the practiceof vihares being held in common is by no means unknown, and in theabsence of conclusive evidence that this practice is inconsistentwith the principles of the Buddhist religion, I see no reason to differfrom the conclusion arrived at by the learned District Judge.
The appeal is dismissed, with costs.
Maartesz A.J.—I agree.
20 N. L. R. 385.
14 N. L. R. 400.
DEWANDRA UNNANSE v. SUMANGALA TERUNNANSE