1. First appeals Nos. 489 of 1924 and 141 of 1925. arise out of two distinct suits which were tried together. The plaintiff in both the suits claimed to be the disciple and the spiritual successor of the late Goshain Rup Puri, who was the mahant of the mutt of Sawdhari Puri. His case is that the deceased under two sale-deeds, dated 21st October 1919, and 13th January 1922, transferred the property in dispute in these cases to the contesting defendant and his wife in order to pay off certain amounts due to previous mortgagees; that these properties were part of the mutt property and there was no legal necessity for their transfer. The defendant contested the claim by denying that the plaintiff was the chela of the deceased and denying that the property was trust property. There was also a plea that there was legal necessity for the alienation. The learned Subordinate Judge has found most of the issues in favour of the plaintiff. He has held that it has been proved that the plaintiff is the lawful chela of the deceased Goshain; that the sale was for consideration and without any legal necessity, and that there was no force in the defendant's plea that the suit was barred by Section 42, Specific Relief Act. He has, however, held that it is not shown that the property belonged to the mutt or appertained to it and that it was the trust property which the deceased could not transfer. On these finding he has dismissed both the suits.
2. The main point before us is whether the properties covered by the sale-deeds were part of the trust property belonging to the mutt. There was some oral evidence led in the Court below, consisting of statements of witnesses based mainly on hearsay to the effect that these properties belonged to the mutt. The first witness was plaintiff Sheo Ghulam Puri himself who was an interested party. The second witness, Ram Subhag Singh, was a person of ordinary status, cultivator in the village, whose deposition did not show that he had any intimate knowledge of the previous history of this estate. Similarly Debi Dayal Tewari's statement also appears to have been based on what he might have heard in the village about the origin of these properties. The same remarks apply to the evidence of Dipa Singh, another cultivator. One of the defendant's witnesses Jagannath Misir was a previous mortgagee of some of the properties and those properties have to be taken out of his possession by redemption. His statement also appears to have been based on a mere opinion. The learned Subordinate Judge who heard these witnesses did not believe that their evidence satisfactorily established that the properties were trust properties. Having examined that evidence we agree that it is not possible to place implicit reliance on the evidence of these witnesses and hold that by their statements they have established that these were trust properties. The learned advocate for the appellant has next contended that, having regard to the fact that these properties have descended from guru to chela for several generations and that it is found that there is some nucleus of trust property, it should be presumed that the succession in the spiritual line took place because these properties were trust properties.
3. The mahants of this mutt are Puris and belong to one of the Dasnami Goshains, an order founded by the famous Shankaracharya. As pointed out in the case of Ramdhan Puri v. Dalmir Puri  14 C.W.N. 191, before a person is taken into this order finally a number of ceremonies are performed, e.g., the taking off of janeo, the cutting off of his chotia (tuft of hair) and his performing his own sradh. All these indicate that his connexion with his natural family and the secular life is altogether severed, and he belongs completely to this order. This would suggest that after he has been taken into the order finally no tie of relationship remains between him and his natural relations, and neither can succeed to the private property of the other. No authority has been cited before us to show that the private property which a mahant of this order might acquire can descend to his natural relations in preference to his spiritual chelas. Prima facie one would imagine that the devolution of both the trust property and the private property would be in the spiritual life. It cannot be doubted that the rules of succession and devolution prevailing in a particular mutt are governed by particular customs applicable to it. It cannot be denied that a mahant might acquire private property with his own money, but such property also could not be inherited by the members of his natural family. In view of the matter there is no significance attached to the mere circumstance that the devolution of these properties has for several generations been in the spiritual line.
4. Great reliance has been placed by Dr. San on the case of Inder Singh v. Fateh Singh  1 Lah. 540. But it was assumed in that case that there could be devolution on the natural heirs and it was then held that when it was shown that property had descended from one mahant to another to the exclusion of the natural heirs there was a presumption that the property was trust property. In this particular case we are unable to hold either on the evidence or on any authority that even the private property of any mahant could have bean inherited by his natural heirs. On the one hand we have the circumstance that these properties were in the possession of persons who were the mahants of this mutt; on the other we have the undoubted fact that between the years 1874 and 1922 there had been various transfers in the form of usufructuary mortgages made by the spiritual great-grandfather, grandfather and the father of the present plaintiff. These mahants had been treating these properties as their own properties as if over it they had full disposing power. In the sale-deeds which are disputed in this case, Rup Puri asserted that these properties belonged to him and he was competent to transfer them. We have, therefore, the assertions of private ownership made by these mahants for so long a period, and we also have their course of conduct during all this time. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary it must be assumed that they were dealing with properties which belonged to them as owners. There is no presumption that they were trust properties and the plaintiff has, therefore, failed to prove that they were part of the trust properties belonging to the mutt. We accordingly dismiss these appeals with costs.