ACHAMMA THOMAS Vs. ALIYAMMA THOMAS
LAWS(KER)-1967-8-8
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
Decided on August 30,1967

ACHAMMA THOMAS Appellant
VERSUS
ALIYAMMA THOMAS Respondents

JUDGEMENT

- (1.) Plaintiffs 1 to 3 are the appellants and the appeal arises out of a suit for partition and recovery of their share in the plaint schedule items. The plaint items belonged to Koruthu Idicula and after his death they devolved on his son Idicula Thomas. The first plaintiff is the sister of Idicula Thomas. Besides the first plaintiff, Idicula Thomas had two other sisters whose children are plaintiffs 2 and 3. Idicula Thomas had a son Jayadevan who predeceased the father. The defendant is the widow of Idicula Thomas. Idicula Thomas died intestate and the plaintiffs claim one half share in the assets left behind by Idicula Thomas under the provisions of the Travancore Christian Succession Act (Act II of 1092). The Defendant resisted the suit contending that Koruthu. Idicula and Idicula Thomas were members of Yuyomayam community, they are not Christians and are not governed by the provisions of the Travancore Christian Succession Act, hey are governed by the tenets of Yuyomayam religion under which the defendant is the sole heir entitled to claim the properties of Idicula Thomas. The suits was dismissed by the courts below holding that Idicula Thomas was a follower of Yuyomayam religion and the Christian Succession Act of 1092 is not applicable and the plaintiffs are not therefore entitled to any share in the assets of Idicula Thomas.
(2.) The only question that arises for consideration is whether Idicula Thomas was a Christian governed by the provisions of the Travancore Christian Succession Act (Act II of 1092). It is agreed between the parties that the plaint properties were obtained by Koruthu Idicula under Ext. P 3 partition deed dated 11-4-1913. The parties to Ext. P 3 are described as Syrian Christians. The plea of the defendant is also that Koruthu Idicula was a Christian and subsequently he became a member of Yuyomayam sect, members of the .Yuyomayam sect are not Christians and they form, a separate religion. In the Census Report of India Vol XXVI, Part I, Chapter III, page 111 Para.94, there is a description of the Yuyomayam sect and it will be useful to extract the same for the purpose of this case: "This interesting sect of Christianity is of recent origin and owes its establishment to a Brahmin convert to Protestantism. It is said that, about two centuries ago, a Brahmin from the adjoining District of Tinnevelly migrated to Travancore with his wife and children and settled down in the Kunnattur Taluk in central Travancore. One of the descendants of this Brahmin embraced Christianity with his wife and six sons, who were all baptised in the Protestant Church at Mavelikkara in the year 1861. The eldest of the sons was Justus Joseph, the founder of the Yuyomayam sect. In 1863, the father died and the sons continued as members of the Protestant Church till 1875. In that year, Vidvan Kutti (the young Pandit), as Justus Joseph was called, announced to the world that the millennium mentioned in the 20th Chapter of the Revelation was at hand and that Satan would be bound, and Christ would reign on earth in person with all his saints from the 1st October 1881. He addressed letters about the expected event to the Lord Bishop of Madras, to the Patriarch of Antioch and to the Syrian Metropolitan and the several Missionaries in Travancore. None of these ecclesiastics, however, seems to have attached any value to his prophecy. As his teaching was not accepted by the Protestant Church to which he belonged he seceded from it and began to preach his new faith in the world at large. He succeeded in persuading numerous Jacobites and Church Mission Christians to believe that that the Messiah would be soon coming, formed a congregation of his own under the name of the 'Regeneration Society' (Unaryu Sabha) and finally proclaimed its organisation on the 16th October, 1875. This body was also known as the 'Six years' Party signifying the belief in the advent of the Messiah after six years. Anxious to include themselves in the category of believers in the coming of the Messiah and naturally eager to derive all the benefits they could by unquestioning faith in the announced event Christians flocked in numbers to the new creed and the followers of Vidvan Kutti soon, swelled to about 10,000. The labours of the Missionaries received a check from the Six years' movement. The 'revival' Syrians, Joined the Six years' people to the number of at least three or four thousand, giving up their property and in several instances forsaking their wives' and children to follow Justus Joseph and Thomman, the march of the new faith however, was soon arrested. The year 1881 came and passed by; but the eagerly expected Messiah did not come. Vidvan Kutti, however, was equal to the occasion. He interpreted his prophecy differently and said that the absence of faith in God is the darkness he preached against and that the establishment of his sect denoted the dawn of spiritual light. He proclaimed that Jesus Christ bad revealed Himself to him and had commanded him to propagate this teaching. This interpretation, ingenious no doubt, did not take the desired effect. Many of his once devoted followers soon fell off in great disappointment. But the few that remained continue and believe in the reign of the millennium. Justus Joseph guided and directed the congregation that stuck to him with zeal and energy for six years more, when be died. His place is now taken by his brother Justus Jacob. The name Yuyomayam by which this faith is known is made up of ya, ye, yo and yo. the initial letters of the Malayalam equivalents for Jehovah (Yahova), Uesus (Yesu), Joseph (Yosep) and John (Yohannan), The adherents of the sect hold in equal respect the Old and the New Testaments. They seek no proselytes and believe that, in the end, there will be but one religion in the world, i. e. their own. They owe no allegiance to any other Christian Church. A complete scheme of ecclesiastical organisation has been worked out by the founder. The hierarchy seems to be well arranged, the High Priest being of the family of Justus Joseph himself. For the maintenance of the church functionaries, a contribution is levied to the extent of one tenth of every person's income. The yuyomayam Christians have no churches. Prayer is conducted in houses. The mode of praying is as follows: Bread and water are placed on a table. The people stand round and pray in silence for a few minutes. Prayer is then said and Hallelujah is sung. After this, portions from the Old and the New Testaments are read, and the song is recited once more. With the pronouncement of the benediction by the priest, the prayer is brought to a close, and with the distribution of the consecrated bread and water among the persons present, the worship ends. Occasionally, short sermons are also delivered by the priest. The rituals and doctrines of this sect seem to be of an eclectic character. Their religious literature is deeply tinged with Sanskrit phraseology. Their invocations are adaptations of those of the Brahmins, suited to the religion of the converts. The founder has inaugurated a special era -- the 'Yuyomayam' era -- which dates from the 1st October, 1881. The Christian era is called the 'Janaka' era of the era of the Father. New names are given to the twelve months of the year and to the seven days of the week. A new sacerdotal language has been elaborated out of Sanskrit, Hebrew and Syriac, of which the first predominates. The social life of the community is equally interesting. They have their exogamous divisions or gotras like the Brahmins and are grouped into gramams (villages). Their women wear coloured cloths and a small petticoat or bodice after the fashion of caste Hindus. Neither men nor women are permitted to wear any ornaments. Marriage takes place in the presence of the priest and is registered. Animal food is entirely forbidden. They dispose of the dead in their own premises like the Malabar Hindus but do not cremate them." There is a note about the sect of Christians known as 'Yuyomayams' in Nagam Aiya's Travancore State Manual Vol. II, pages 130 to 134 on almost identical terms. It is therefore clear that members of Yuyomayam sect are Christians. Further in the case before us it is admitted that Koruthu Idicula the original owner of the property was a Christian. Idicula Thomas his son must be presumed to have his father's religion. It is the case of the defendant that Koruthu Idicula and Idicula Thomas ceased to be Christians by becoming members of the Yuyomayam sect. The onus is upon the defendant to establish that both the father and son ceased to be Christians. There is no evidence to prove the same. There is no basis to support the contention of the defendant that members of the Yuyomayam sect form a separate religious class. All the records filed in the case prove that they are considered as a sect among Christians, If so, the Christian Succession Act of Travancore which is applicable to the Christians must govern them. Under the said Act the plaintiffs are entitled to claim one half share in the assets of Idicula Thomas. We therefore set aside the judgment and decree of the court below and: pass a preliminary decree declaring the right of the plaintiffs to one half of the plaint schedule properties. The Trial Court will pass a final decree dividing the properties by metes and bounds. The plaintiffs will be entitled to profits due in respect of their share from the date of the institution of the suit. The parties will bear their cost till now. Future costs will be provided for in the final decree to be passed.;


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