Rev. Dharmatilleka Thero v. Rev. Buddharakkita Them
REV. DHARMATILLEKA THERO
v.REV. BUDDHARAKKITA THERO
G. P. S. DE SILVA, C.J.,
AMERASINGHE, J. ANDRAMANATHAN, J.
SC NO. 9/90.
SC Spl. LA 15/90.
DC KALUTARA 2496/L.
DECEMBER 18th, 1992.
FEBRUARY 11th, 17th AND 18th, 1993.
AND MARCH 09th, 1993.
Buddhist Ecclesiastical Law – Pupillary succession to Viharadhipathyship – Primafacie evidence identifying robing tutor – Samanera Declaration – UpasampadaDeclaration.
While the Samanera Declaration constitutes prima facie evidence of what iscontained, the particulars contained in the Upasampada Declaration made withreference to the Upasampada ceremony which is a formal and solemn ceremonycan be used to displace the prima facie evidence contained in the SamaneraDeclaration. On this basis the common robing tutor of both plaintiff and defendantcan be identified. The robing date determines the seniority.
Case referred to :
Jinawansa Thero v. Piyaratna Thero (1982) 1 Sri LR 273, 278, 279.
APPEAL from judgment of Court of Appeal.
Sri Lanka Law Reports
 1 Sri LB.
S. Amerasinghe P.C. with M. B. Peramuna and Harsha Amerasekera forplaintiff – appellant.
A. C. Goonaratne Q.C. with P. A. D. Samarasekera P.C., B. Rajapakse and C.J.Ladduwahetty for the defendant – respondent.
Cur. adv. wit.
April 29, 1993.
G. P. S. DE SILVA, C.J.
Arama Dhammatilake Thera instituted these proceedings againstBatuwanhena Buddharakkita Thera for a declaration that he is thelawful Viharadhipathi of the temple called Kettarama Kande Vihareat Kaluwamodera in Aluthgama in the Kalutara District; he also askedthat he be restored to possession of the temple and its temporalities.In his plaint he averred that at one time Saranatissa Thera was theViharadhipathi and upon his death he was succeeded by JinaramaThera who died on 3rd September, 1976. It was the claim of theplaintiff that upon the death of Jinarama Thera on 3rd September,1976, it was he who was entitled to the Viharadhipathiship of thetemple, as the senior pupil of Jinarama Thera. The defendant in hisanswer, while denying the claim of the plaintiff, pleaded that it washe who was the senior pupil of Jinarama Thero.
At the hearing before the District Court and the Court of Appealit was common ground that –
the applicable rule of succession to the Viharadhipathishipis that which is known as the Sisyanu Sisya Paramparawa rule;
that both the plaintiff and the defendant claim successionto the Viharadhipathiship through Jinarama Thero who was theundisputed last Viharadhipathi ;
the plaintiff was robed as a Samanera on 30thSeptember, 1952, and his robing tutors were Saranatissa Theroand Jinarama Thero ;
Rev. Dhaimatilleka Thero v. Rev. Buddharakkita Them
(G. P. S. de Silva, C.J.)
the defendant was robed on 2nd November, 1951, andhis robing tutor was Saranatissa Thero ;
the plaintiff and the defendant were each presented forordination by both Saranatissa Thero and Jinarama Thero, andthey were both ordained on 15th June, 1961.
In brief, the case for the plaintiff was that when he was robedon 30th September, 1952, Jinarama Thero was one of his robingtutors but when the defendant was robed on 2nd November, 1951,Jinarama Thero was not one of the robing tutors of the defendant.The plaintiff therefore claimed that he alone was robed by JinaramaThero and that in law he succeeded to the Viharadhipathiship underthe Sisyanu Sisya Paramparawa rule of succession. On the otherhand, the defendant's case was that Jinarama Thero was one of hisrobing tutors and since he was robed on a date prior to the robingof the plaintiff, he became the senior pupil of Jinarama Thero.
Thus it is seen that the only question that arises for decision onthis appeal is whether Jinarama Thero was also a robing tutor ofthe defendant. Both the District Court and the Court of Appeal heldthat Jinarama Thero was also a robing tutor of the defendant anddismissed the plaintiffs action. The Plaintiff has now appealed to thisCourt.
No questions of Buddhist Ecclesiastical Law arise on this appeal.The appeal turns purely on the evaluation of the evidence placedbefore the District Court.
The case for the plaintiff rests very largely on the document P3which is a certified copy of the Samanera declaration of the defendant.P3 is in Form B in the Schedule to the Buddhist TemporalitiesOrdinance and is prepared in terms of section 41 (2) (a) (ii) of theOrdinance. Mr. Amerasinghe for the plaintiff-appellant relied verystrongly on the contents of cage 7 of P3 which gives the name ofSaranatissa Thero alone as the robing tutor of the defendant. Whatis more, P3 has been signed by Saranatissa Thero as the robingtutor and the signature of the defendant too appears on P3.Mr. Amerasinghe rightly emphasised the fact that the contents ofP3 are " prima facie evidence of the facts contained therein in allcourts and for all purposes". (Section 41 (6) of the Ordinance)
Sri Lanka Law Reports
There is no doubt that P3 is prima facie evidence of the fact thatthe robing tutor of the defendant was Saranatissa Thero. The meaningof the expression " prima facie evidence “ in s. 41 (6) was consideredby Samarakoon C. J. in Jinawansa Thero vs. Piyaratna Thero(1). Thisexpression does not mean conclusive evidence. It is evidence whichcould be rebutted by other evidence, direct or circumstantial, oral ordocumentary. * Oral evidence may be led to disprove entries therein“ per Samarakoon C.J. in Jinawansa Thero vs. Piyaratne Thero(supra). In short, the statement in P3 that Saranatissa Thero wasthe robing tutor of the defendant will prevail unless displaced by otheradmissible evidence.
It was the contention of Mr. A. C. Gooneratne for the defendant-respondent that the entry in cage 7 of P3 was incomplete for thereason that Saranatissa Thero was only one of the robing tutors ofthe defendant and that the other was Jinarama Thero. In supportof his submission, Mr. Gooneratne placed strong reliance on P10which is a certified copy of the Upasampada Declaration of thedefendant which is in form A of the Schedule to the BuddhistTemporalities Ordinance (s. 41 (2) (a) (i) of the Ordinance). Cage7 of P10 gives the names of the robing tutors of the defendant asSaranatissa Thero and Jinarama Thero.
On the other hand, Mr. Amerasinghe strenuously contended thatP10 was not a document which could possibly displace the statutorilyrecognized evidentiary value of P3. Counsel emphasized that P3related to and was contemporaneous with the event which is relevantto this case, namely the robing of the defendant. P10, on the otherhand, came into existence 10 years later and related not to the robingbut to the ordination of the defendant.
It seems to me, however, that the evidentiary value of P10 cannotbe lightly dismissed in that way. In the first place, P10 has beensigned not only by Saranatissa Thero but also by Jinarama Thero,both certifying to the correctness of the particulars contained in P10.Secondly, there is the intensely relevant evidence of the plaintiffhimself of what actually took place on the occasion when thedefendant was presented for ordination at the Malwatta Maha Viharain Kandy. It is to be noted that the plaintiff too was presented forordination on the same occasion by Saranatissa Thero and JinaramaThero. The testimony of the plaintiff reads thus
SCRev. Dharvnatitteka Them v. Rev. Buddharakkita Them
(G. P. S. de Silva, C.J.)409
©CsfesOcsO 8®dc5d® woggdjeOj cd® ad-e&Bda
®d§£($ieOcf OjScaa. © <3^?r>® 83cddtstdsy sScdsS. ©a®SJ
e&Qq ®®«» axsg Sod <po® S© ©® S9©d. ®® S©0d ®d© ®»«£tsxsg ad-e&Sda am 8undo® asy ®D§S©t©d[ SO. Ssffissod ©DggdjeOcfSod 83od ®®-®£q>(5j woggd^eOj s^zsfex) fijnSostee SznodD®
a® soD^Se ade&Bda Sod.
9:© e^saoc<*>^58©!*©gsssDeao iseg
g:© s^eeae©ca ©jd?8Sod S8e© ®j®j.
g:© s^sooeSgfflzsfaa©qOdCoe9^ SSStsod ®D§g«5j0©cf
®w«5 sseg © <3^s>® Sod.
(Jinarama Thero and Saranatissa Thero came for the Upasampadaceremony. Both of them were present at the time of the Upasampadawa.
I was told that there I will be asked " who robed you ", I said I
was robed by Saranatissa Thero and Jinarama Thero The
defendant priest said the robing tutors were Heenatiyagala JinaramaThero and Pothuwila Saranatissa Thero.
Q. That statement was made before those two priests?
Q. Those two priests didn't say that it was wrong?
Q. Those two priests at that stage accepted that they robed thedefendant priest ?
The evidence in the case shows that the ordination or Upasampadaceremony is a formal and solemn ceremony which takes place beforean august assembly of monks and in the presence of the Mahanayakeof the Malwatta Chapter. The evidence clearly establishes that it wason an occasion such as this and in the very presence of JinaramaThero that the defendant had publicly declared that Jinarama Therowas also one of his robing tutors. In my view, the evidence of theplaintiff set out above constitutes strong confirmation of the correct-ness and the truth of the statement in cage 7 of P10.
Mr. Amerasinghe pointed out that P10 contains an incorrectstatement. The incorrect statement is with reference to cage 21 whichreads “ Serial number in Samanera Register, if any The answer
Sri Lanka Law Reports
given is "* (No). This is not a correct statement because the
defendant did have his Samanera Declaration, P3. However, thedefendant in his evidence stated that it was not he who entered theparticulars in P10. It seems to me that this incorrect statement doesnot in any material way detract from the evidentiary value of P10.
As submitted by Mr. Gooneratne, P10 does not really contradictP3 ; it rather supplements the statement in cage 7 of P3. The factthat P3 constitutes " prima facie ” evidence of the facts containedtherein is not a bar to evidence being admitted to supplement thestatements found in P3. I accordingly hold that P10 displaces theprima facie evidence of P3, and that Jinarama Thero was also oneof the robing tutors of the defendant.
Before I conclude it is right to add that the Upasampada Sittu(V3) and the invitation to the Upasampada ceremony (P5) relied onby Mr. Gooneratne are documents of an equivocal nature and donot tend to rebut the prima facie evidence in P3. The oral evidenceof Loolbaddawe Uparatana, which was somewhat discredited by theletter V8, makes no significant impact on the plaintiff’s case.
In the result, the appeal fails and is dismissed with costs.AMERASINGHE, J. – I agree.
RAMANATHAN, J. – I agree.