Skip to content


Seenuvasan Vs. The Executive Officer, Arulmigu Devanatha Swamy Tirukovil, Thiruvanthipuram and Another - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberS. A.Nos. 47 & 48 of 2011 & M.P.Nos. 1 & 1 of 2011
Judge
AppellantSeenuvasan
RespondentThe Executive Officer, Arulmigu Devanatha Swamy Tirukovil, Thiruvanthipuram and Another
Excerpt:
.....details, the case of the appellant seenuvasan in both matters are briefly stated as follows: the suit property belongs to the defendant temple. seenuvasan is the lessee of the suit property under the temple. according to seenuvasan, he being the lessee of the suit property, under the temple has planted casurinatrees in the year 1999 and also, paying lease to the temple regularly. as per the understanding between the lessee and the temple, while cultivating crops like casurina, the landlord temple used to sell the crops by putting the same in public auction and after deducting the necessary charges, the sale proceeds will be divided equally between the landlord and the lessee and accordingly, it is the case of seenuvasan that with reference to the casurina trees planted and harvested by.....
Judgment:

(Prayer: Second Appeal is filed under Section 100 of Civil Procedure Code, against the judgment and decree in A.S.Nos.67 of 2010 and 68 of 2010 respectively dated 17.09.2010 on the file of the Learned Principal District Judge, Villupuram, confirming the judgement and decree in O.S.Nos.214 of 2008 and 479 of 2008 respectively dated 24.02.2010 on the file of the Learned Additional District Munsif, Villupuram.)

S.A.No.47 of 2011

1. The second defendant Seenuvasan has impugned the judgment and decree dated 17.09.2010 made in A.S.No.67 of 2010 on the file of the Principal District Judge, Villupurm, confirming the Judgement and decree in O.S.No.214 of 2008 dated 24.02.2010 on the file of the Additional District Munsif, Villupuram, in this second appeal.

S.A.No.48 of 2011

The plaintiff Seenuvasan has impugned the Judgment and decree dated 17.09.2010 in A.S.No.68 of 2010 on the file of the Principal District Munsif, Judge, confirming the judgement and decree dated 24.02.2010 in O.S.No.479 of 2008 on the file of the Additional District Munsif, Villupuram, in this second appeal.

2. Both suits have been laid for recovery of money.

3. Shorn of unnecessary details, the case of the appellant Seenuvasan in both matters are briefly stated as follows:

The suit property belongs to the defendant temple. Seenuvasan is the lessee of the suit property under the temple. According to Seenuvasan, he being the lessee of the suit property, under the temple has planted Casurinatrees in the year 1999 and also, paying lease to the temple regularly. As per the understanding between the lessee and the temple, while cultivating crops like casurina, the landlord temple used to sell the crops by putting the same in public auction and after deducting the necessary charges, the sale proceeds will be divided equally between the landlord and the lessee and accordingly, it is the case of Seenuvasan that with reference to the casurina trees planted and harvested by him in the capacity of lessee of the suit property under the temple, the casurina plant was put in auction on 23.03.2007 and the same was sold for Rs.1,55,000/-. Therefore, as per the understanding between the landlord and lessee, Seenuvasan, as lessee, is entitled to receive half of the auctioned amount being Rs.77,500/- from the temple. However, though Seenuvasan has made several demands to the temple requesting them to pay the amount due to him, which was received as the sale proceeds of Casurina trees and also made representation to the higher authorities of the temple, the temple had not acceded to his request and on the other hand, according to the Seenuvasan, the temple had instigated his brother Naveethakannan to institute a false claim against the temple, as if, he is the lessee of the temple and accordingly, Navaneethakannan has also laid the suit in O.S.No.214 of 2008 claiming half of the auction amount from the temple. When the fact remains that Seenuvasan being lessee of the temple, he has raised casurina trees in the suit property in question, only Seenuvasan is entitled to get the half of the auction amount, inasmuch as the temple has failed to pay the amount due to Seenuvasan, he has been necessitated to file the suit.

4. The case of the temple through its Executive Officer is that the suit property belongs to the temple and that, the property was leased out to Thambusamy, the father of Seenuvasan and Naveneethakannan and later Seenuvasan become the lessee and the temple has also admitted that as per the custom, when the crop like casurina is raised, the landlord temple used to sell it in public auction and after deducting the necessary charges towards auction, the sale proceeds will be equally divided between the landlord and the tenant and likewise with reference to the casurina trees planted in the suit properties, the same was sold in public auction on 23.03.2007 for Rs.1,55,000/- and after deducting necessary charges, the lessee is entitled to get back half of the sale amount. In this Connection, though Seenuvasan made a claim for paying half of the amount of the sale proceeds, his brother Navaneethakannan has set up a rival claim demanding half of the sale proceeds and since rival claims have been made by Seenuvasan and his brother Navaneethakannan, the temple has kept the amount in the savings bank account of the temple and also directed both parties to appear before the temple for enquiry. Hence, the temple is prepared to pay the amount to the person declared as lessee, who raised the crop and entitled for the amount.

5. The case of the Navaneethakannan, shorn of unnecessary details, is as follows:

Thambusamy and his sons Seenuvasan, Navaneethakannan and Varadhaperumal constituted a Hindu Joint family and the suit property belongs to the temple and Thambusamy has been in possession and enjoyment of the suit property as lessee under the temple and later, the suit property was taken on lease in the name of the second defendant Seenuvasan, who is the eldest son of the family, for the benefit of joint family. It is only Navaneethakannan, who had cultivated the suit lands as well as the lands situated in Vadavambalam Village, whereas Seenuvasan and another brother Varadhaperumal had been looking after the cultivation of the lands in Kanisapakkam Village and it is only Navaneethakannan, who had raised casurina crop in the suit property and also, spent amount for manure and cultivation expenses. The father Thambusamy Kounder died on 03.06.2003 and after his death, there was a partition in the family under the registered partition deed dated 27.11.2003 and the lands at Vadavambalam Village was allotted to Navaneethakannan and the lands at Kanisapakkam Village were given to Seenuvasan and Varadhaperumal under the partition deed, it was also decided by Panchayatars, who conducted partition among the brothers that Navaneethakannan is entitled to cut down the standing casurina trees in the suit property and also, in the properties allotted to his share, whereas Seenuvasan and Varadhaperumal are entitled to cut down the casurina crops in the properties allotted to their share. Navaneethakannan had been paying Kist for the suit property. Accordingly, the casurina trees raised in the suit property having been raised by Navaneethakannan, on auction of the same, Navaneehakannan is entitled to receive half of the sale proceeds and accordingly, he has made a claim for the amount from the temple and inasmuch as the temple did not comply with his request, he has been forced to file the suit against the temple and his brother Seenuvasan.

6. Though separate suits had been laid by Navaneethakannan and Seenuvasan and also, separate trials were held in both suits, it could be seen that both the suits have been disposed of on the same day by the trial Court and Seenuvasan having lost in both the suits had preferred appeals before the first appellate Court and the appeals preferred by Seenuvasan were also dismissed by the first appellate Court on the same day by rendering separate judgments.

7. In so far as O.S.No.214 of 2008 is concerned, Navaneethkannan, the plaintiff therein, in support of his case, has examined PWs.1 to 3 and marked Exs.1 to 12 and the temple has examined Masilamani as DW1 and Seenuvasan has examined himself as DW2 and on behalf of the defendants, Exs.B1 to 9 were marked.

8. In O.S.No.479 of 2008, on behalf of Seenuvasan, the plaintiff therein, he has examined himself as PW1 and marked Exs.A1 to 19. The temple has examined DW1 Masilamani and marked Exs.B1 to 7.

9. In the suit filed by Seenuvasan i.e. O.S.No.479 of 2008, his brother Navaneethakannan has not been added as a party.

10. On a consideration of the oral and documentary evidence adduced by the respective parties, the trial Court was pleased to uphold the case of Navaneethakannan and dismissed the claim of Seenuvasan. The appeals preferred by Seenuvasan were also dismissed by the first appellate Court. As against the judgements and decrees of the first appellate Court, Seenuvasan has preferred these second appeals.

11. The suit property belongs to the defendant temple. Originally, Thambusamy, the father of Seenuvasan and Navaneethakannan, was the lessee of the suit property under the temple. There is a custom prevailing that whenever the crops like casurina is raised in the suit property, the same is sold in public auction by the defendant temple and after deducting the publication charges and other incidental expenses, the sale proceeds will be divided equally between the landlord and the lessee.

12. Thambusamy died on 03.06.2003 leaving behind Seenuvasan, Navaneethakanna, Varadhaperumal, his sons and his wife and also one daughter Poongothai as his legal representatives. After his death, there was a partition amongst the legal heirs of Thambusamy by means of a registered partition deed dated 27.11.2003. The copy of the above mentioned partition deed has been marked as Ex.A1 in O.S.No.214 of 2008. The defendant temple has auctioned the casurina trees raised in the suit property by way of public auction on 23.03.2007 and raised Rs.1,55,000/- and after deducting the necessary charges and other incidental expenses, it could be seen that the sale proceeds to be given to the lessee are lying in the account of the defendant temple. With reference to the above said facts, the parties are not at loggerheads.

13. Seenuvasan claims to be the lessee of the suit property under the defendant temple and also put-forth his case that it is he, as the lessee of the temple, who had raised the Casurina crops in the suit property, which had been put in public action by the defendant temple on 23.03.2007 and consequently, he is entitled to receive half of the auction amount from the defendant temple and hence, laid the suit in O.S.No.479 of 2008.

14. On the other hand, according to Navaneethakannan, Seenuvasan being the eldest son of the family took the suit property on lease, as Thambusamy became old, for the benefit of joint family and it is only Navaneethakannan, who had planted casurina crop in the suit property as well as in their lands at Vadavambalam village, whereas Seenuvasan and another brother Varadhaperumal had cultivated in Kanisapakkam Village lands. Therefore, according to Navaneethakannan, inasmuch as he had raised the casurina crop in the suit property and further, according to the Navaneethakannan, in the Panchayath held for effecting the partition among the legal heirs of Thambusamy under the partition dated 27.11.2003, it was agreed by allthat Navaneethakannan should cut the standing casurina crops in the suit property and accordingly, as Navaneethakannan had raised the casurina crop in question in the suit property, it is he, who is entitled to half of the sale proceeds fetched by way of public auction and therefore, claiming the amount, he has laid the suit in O.S.No.214 of 2008.

15. The defendant temple has stated that inasmuch as rival claims had been made by Seenuvasan and Navaneethakannan, the temple has kept the sale proceeds to which the lessee is entitled to in its savings bank account and it is prepared to pay the amount to the person, who is declared as lessee, who raised the crops and entitled to the amount, by the Court.

16. In the light of the above said rival claims, this Court will have to decide the issues involved in this matter. As adverted to earlier, originally Thambusamy was the lessee of the suit property under the temple. It could be seen from the evidence adduced by the contesting parties, later Seenuvasan had taken the suit property on lease and according to Navaneethakannan, inasmuch as Seenuvasan being the eldest member of the family, he had taken the lease of the suit property for the benefit of the joint family. That Seenuvasan is the eldest member of the family has not been controverted. That the legal heirs of Thambusamy had remained as joint family and that, the said joint family was managed by Seenuvasan, having been admitted by Seenuvasan in O.S.No.214 of 2008 and inasmuch as he has also admitted that as most of the properties had been purchased in his name, he being the eldest member of the family and no property was in particular purchased either in the name of Navaneethakannan or the other brother Varadhaperumal, the Courts below had presumed on the same lines, that as Thambusamy had become old, the suit property was taken on lease by Seenuvasan, as the eldest member of the family and also as Kartha for the benefit of the joint family.

17. In this situation, it could be seen that as rightly found by the Courts below the burden is upon Seenuvasan to establish that he, on his own, without any reference to the joint family, had taken the suit property on lease from the defendant temple. With reference to the same, no acceptable and reliable evidence is forthcoming on the side of the Seenuvasan.

18. No doubt, in the written statement filed by the defendant temple, it has been averred that later Seenuvasan became the lessee of the temple. Seenuvasan had been harping upon the above admission taken by the defendant temple in the written statement and therefore, wantsthis Court also to accept that Seenuvasan is the lessee of the suit property under the temple and inasmuch as the temple had accepted his status as lessee, he should be permitted to receive the half of the sale proceeds from the defendant temple. But the above contention of Seenuvasan cannot be accepted straightway. No doubt, the defendant temple in its written statement has averred that later Seenuvasan became the lessee of the temple. However on the same breadth, it has also averred that since rival claims were made by Seenuvasan and Navaneethakannan claiming the sale proceeds, it was unable to decide the issue, they being the brothers/sons of Thambusamy and therefore, left the matter to be decided by the Courts. Accordingly, it could be seen that Seenuvasan and Navaneethakannan have laid their respective claims for the said amount. If really Seenuvasan had taken the lease of the suit property under the temple of his own, as rightly contended by his brother Navaneethakannan, he would have produced the necessary lease deed executed by the defendant temple in that regard. However, no lease deed as such has been produced by Seenuvasan to hold that he had taken the lease of the suit property of his own from the defendant temple after his father. Therefore, considering the joint family status of the parties concerned and also, the undisputed fact that Seenuvasan is the manager of the family, it could be seen that after Thambusamy, Seenuvasan, who is the kartha of the joint family, had taken the lease of the suit property under the temple for the benefit of the joint family.

19. Further, Navaneethakannan had also examined Lakshmi Narayanan, who had attested the partition deed Ex.A1, as PW2. PW2 in his evidence has deposed about the Panchayat made with reference to the partition and also about the attestation made by him in Ex.A1 and has also testified that in the Panchayat it was decided that Navaneethakannan should cut the casurina tree in the suit property. Accordingly, it could be seen from the evidence of PW2 that inasmuch as Navaneethakannan has raised the casurina crop in the suit property, which is in question, he had been permitted to cut the same. Similarly, Navaneethakannan has also examined his mother Pattammal as PW3 and PW3 also in her evidence, has deposed that there was a Panchayat in the joint family with regard to the partition and in the said Panchayat, the casurina trees raised in the suit property was allowed to be cut by Navaneethakannan. Therefore, as rightly found by the Courts below, Pattammal, who is the mother of Seenuvasan and Navaneethakannan, has no axe to grind in particular to depose in favour of Navaneethakannan. Therefore, the Courts below had believed the version of PW3 with reference to the panchayat in connection with the partition, in which it has been orally agreed that Navaneethakannan should be allowed to cut the casurina trees and enjoy the proceeds thereof. Since the suit property belongs to the temple, it could be gathered that the same has not been specifically incorporated in the partition deed Ex.A1. That apart, nothing has been elucidated from the mouth of PWs2 and 3, by Seenuvasan in support of his case or to discredit and disbelieve their version. Therefore, it can be concluded, as also found by the Courts below, that on the basis of the evidence of Pws2 and 3, that inasmuch as it is Navaneethakannan, who had raised the casurina crop in the suit property,he had been permitted to take the sale proceeds of the same at the Panchayat and accordingly, it could be seen that he has made his claim for the same with the defendant temple.

20. If Navaneethakannan had no nexus whatsoever with the suit property, there would have been no necessity on his part to produce the kist receipts for the suit property, which have been marked as Exs.A2 to 6, as has also been found by the Courts below. No doubt, Seenuvasan has also filed Exs.A8 to 15 in O.S.No.479 of 2008, lease receipts and on that basis, it is contended by him that the Court should uphold his case as being the lessee of the suit property under the defendant temple. However, as found earlier, when Seenuvasan was found to have taken the lease of the suit property as the eldest member of the family, i.e. the manager, merely because certain lease receipts have been filed on his behalf, it could not be presumed or held that as lessee of the suit property of his own, he had paid the lease amount. Further, as found by the Courts below, there is nothing to indicate in Exs.A8 to A15 marked in O.S.N.479 of 2008 that Seenuvasan had paid the lease amount on his own without any reference to the joint family. Therefore, on account of Exs.A8 to 15 above mentioned, it would not be safe to come to the conclusion that Seenuvasan had been the lessee of the suit property under the defendant temple.

21. No doubt, though Seenuvasan has taken a plea in his evidence that he had taken the lease of the suit property on his own and although pleaded that no panchayat had taken place, however, he has admitted that the suit property had been allotted to him orally. Therefore, the Courts below had found that inasmuch as the suit property was also the subject matter of the joint family and also, considered in the panchayat, it could be seen that it has been allotted to Navaneethakannan. If as testified by Seenuvasan that the suit property had been allotted to him in the Panchayat, to substantiate the case of Seenuvasan, he had not taken any steps to examine any independent witness to buttress his case, even though Seenuvasan had feigned ignorance about PW2.

22. Considering the fact that PW2 has signed in the partition deed, as rightly found by the Courts below, Seenuvasan, for the purpose of the case had falsely deposed that he is not aware of PW2 Lakshmi Narayanan. Further, if really Seenuvasan had raised the casurina crop in the suit property as put forth by him, nothing prevented him from examining any independent witness to sustain his claim. On the other hand, inasmuch as the casurina tree in the property had been raised by Navaneethakannan, in the panchayat made with reference to the family partition, it has been allotted to Navaneethakannan and accordingly, as seen earlier PW2, Lakshmi Narayanam and the mother PW3 Pattammal have testified about the same.

23. In the light of the above reasons, it could be seen that Seenuvasan had been making a mountain out of a molehill, merely on the premise that the defendant temple had recognised him as lessee in the written statement. However, considering the above facts, it could be seen that from the above averment made by the defendant temple in the written statement alone it would not be proper and sufficient to confer the status of lessee on Seenuvasan. On the other hand, the evidence adduced by the parties in this matter would only go to indicate by preponderance of probabilities that it is only Navaneethakannan, who had raised the casurina crop in the suit property and accordingly, the same has been allotted to him in the family Panchayat convened and therefore, it could be seen that as found by the Courts below, Navaneethakannan has established that he is entitled to receive the sale proceeds from the defendant temple.

At the end, both second appeals are devoid of merits as no substantial question of law is involved in both second appeals. Accordingly, both second appeals are dismissed. No costs. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petitions are closed.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //