262- DE KRETSER A.J.—Piyatissa Terunnanse v. Saranapala Terunnanse.
1938Present :■ Soertsz J. and de Kretser A.J.
PIYATISSA TERUNNANSE v. SARANAPALA TERUNNANSE.
331—D. C. Colombo, 244.
Buddhist ecclesiastical lato—Right of incumbent to nominate his successor—.Appointment by deed or will not essential.
The incumbent of a Buddhist temple is entitled to nominate hissuccessor from among his pupils. There is no requirement that suchnomination should be by will or deed only.
■^^PPEAL from a judgment of the District Judge of Colombo.
H. V. Perera, K.C. (with him Rajapakse), for defendant, appellant.
Hayley, K.C. (with him Wikremanayaka), for plaintiff, respondent.;March 17, 1938. de Kretser A.J.—
This is an action regarding the incumbency of a Buddhist temple.The facts are as follows : —
The incumbent prior to 1919 was Piyaratana Terunnanse. He hadthree pupils, viz., Uduwela Sumana, Saranapala, the plaintiff, andPiyatissa, the defendant.
Of these, Uduwela was publicly “ disowned ” by his tutor, did notattend his tutor’s funeral, and came to this temple only after a disputearose in 1929 between plaintiff and defendant.
• Piyatissa was appointed incumbent, or to use the correct expression,Adikari by D 16 in 1919.
The plaintiff resided in the temple and is still there and he attended toreligious ceremonies in the temple. There is some evidence that he keptthe key of the shrine room, which used to be closed each night. Thedefendant attended to the temporalities, in conjunction with the trustees.
In 1929 plaintiff attempted to prove his right to the incumbencyand obtained D 25 from the Maha Nayake of their sect. The defendantpromptly informed the Maha' Nayake of the existence of D 16 and theMaha Nayake promptly revoked his earlier decision, which had beengiven purely on the evidence then before him, viz., that the plaintiffwas the senior pupil of Piyaratana.
The plaintiff is the uncle of the defendant.
The succession to the incumbency is governed by the rules of SisyanaSisya Paramparawa.
There are other facts in dispute which are not necessary for the decisionof this case.^
The learned District Judge held that Uduwela Sumana had lost hisrights and that plaintiff thus became the senior priest and as regards D 16he held that it was only a temporary appointment and that, even if it wasnot that, it was ineffective as a tutor could appoint one of his pupilsto be his successor only by means of a deed or by a last will. He heldthat plaintiff’s claim was not prescribed as he had continued to residein the temple and “ his right to perform the religious services and toattend to other matters connected with the services at the temple wereat no time denied by the defendant ”.
DE KHETSER AJ.—Piyatissa Terunnanse,_v. Saranapala Terunnanse. 263
As I understand the law a priest alv^iys-has the "right to nominate hissuccessor from among his pupils. I need hardly quote all the caseson this point.
Prior to the time when trustees were appointed under the provisionsof the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance the Adikari was vested withthe control of the temporalities and it therefore was common for a priestto convey to his successor these temporalities by deed or will, but theappointment to the incumbency rested on the selection or nominationand not on the form in which that selection or nomination was expressed.The authorities quoted by the learned Judge do not lay down that theappointment can be made by deed or will only. In those cases theappointment had been so made.
In. Henapolle Pansalla Samanyala Unnanse 'v. Henapolle PansallaSubita Unnanse * Dias J. said “ The right of an incumbent last inpossession to select one or more of his pupils to succeed him in the templehas been repeatedly upheld ”. Clarence expressed himself in language ofsimilar import.
In K. A. Terunnanse v. M. G. Terunnanse3 the question was whethera priest could select his successor from any but his pupils and even onthis point the case is of little assistance.
The other cases cited do not establish the rule invoked by the District *Judge.
The law on the point is recited in Gunanande Unnanse v. DewarakkitaUnnanse This case dealt with another point but all the authorities arecollected together in it. The cases only insist on “ nomination ”. Indeedthis must be so for notarial documents would have been unknown in thetimes of the Sinhalese kings. The opinion expressed by Schneider A.J.in Rewata Unnanse v. Ratanajoti Unnanse * commends itself to me and Ihave always understood the law to be that a priest may nominate hissuccessor from among his pupils. The more solemn the form in which he -nominates the easier will be the proof of the nomination, but there is noparticular form of nomination.
The learned Judge’s opinion that D 16 was a temporary appointmentis, in my opinion, erroneous. He gives no reason for his opinion but onemay infer that he was influenced by the recital in D 16 that Piyaratanawas ill and unable to look after the affairs of the temple. Illness wasthe reason for the appointment (as in Gunaratana Unnanse v.Dharmananda Unnanse !) but there is nothing limiting* the appointmentto Pivaratana’s illness or to any period whatever. On the contraryPiyatissa is invested “ hereafter ” with all the powers vested in Piyaratana,and his rights are not limited to mere management. The best evidenceas to what Piyaratana intended was furnished by himself in D 1 inwhich he refers to Piyatissa as Adikari. There is further the interpreta-tion which the Maha Nayake placed on it when he revoked his earlieropinion that plaintiff was entitled to succeed.
The defendant is in my opinion the incumbent of the temple andplaintiff’s action must be dismissed with costs.
*5 S. C. C. 235.
– Matara Cases 23$.
* 22 N. L. ft, 27G.
3 2$ .V. L. ft… 207.<3 C. W. ft. 193.
264 DE KRETSER AX—Piyatissa Terunrumse v. Saranapala Terutmanse.
It is unnecessary to deal with the other points raised on the appealbut I shall touch on them briefly. It is doubtful whether Piyaratanacould “ disown ” Sumana except by appointing Piyatissa (vide alsoGunaratana Unnanse v. Dharmanande) but Sumana may have lost rightsby deserting his tutor and the temple (Dammaratane Unnanse v. Suman-gala Unnanse et al. ’).
There is little doubt that plaintiff knew in 1922 that defendant claimedto be and was the Adikari and at least in 1929 he was well aware of thedenial of his rights.
One of his witnesses Alpinis Dias, went so far as to say “ the plaintiffceased to be incumbent 4 or 5 years ago. When plaintiff ceased to beincumbent defendant became incumbent ”. Plaintiff’s cause of actionarose then and plaintiff’s claim seems to be prescribed. It is not correctto argue that he resided in the temple and performed certain religiousduties and therefore did not lose his rights. As a pupil of Piyaratanahe had the right to do these things. He knew his claim to the office ofAdikari was challenged and it was being challenged in the most effectiveway possible.
I allow the appeal with costs.
Soertsz J.—I agree.
PIYATISSA TERUNNANSE v. SARANAPALA TERUNNANSE