1. A suit for a declaration of religious honours and privileges simplicities will not lie in a Civil Court.
2. But a suit to establish one’s right to an office in a temple, and to honours and privileges attached to the said office as its remuneration or perquistes is maintainable in a Civil Court.
3. The essential condition for the existence of an office is that the holder of the alleged office shall be under a legal obligation to discharge the duties attached to the said office and for the non-observance of which he may be visited with penalties.
4. So judged, there cannot be an independent office of theerthakar, for a theerthakar has no obligatory duties to perform; nor can there be an office of arulipad the said word only connotes that the names of the theerthakars are called out by the archaka in a certain order.
5. Even if theertham is given or other honours are shown in a particular order to a person holding an office, it does not necessarily follow that the said honours are part of the remuneration attached to the office; but it is a question of fact to be ascertained on the evidence whether the said honours are attached to the office as part of its perquisites in the sense that they have become an integral part of the ritual to be performed by the recipient as the office-holder or are only shown to him as a mark of respect on the occasion of his visit to the temple.
Source: M A Rashid, Supreme Court Guidelines and Precedents