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Ramacharya Venkatramanacharya Vs. Shrinivasacharya Venkatramanacharya - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLimitation
CourtMumbai
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 927 of 1916
Judge
Reported inAIR1918Bom183; (1918)20BOMLR441
AppellantRamacharya Venkatramanacharya
RespondentShrinivasacharya Venkatramanacharya
DispositionAppeal allowed
Excerpt:
limitation act (ix of 1908), section 10, article 134-temple properly-gift of temple properly for valuable consideration-consideration consisting in performance of religious service at the temple-suit to recover the property-limitation.;the predecessors-in-title of the plaintiffs, who were managers of a temple, made a gift of a portion of the temple property to the defendants' predecessors in 1868 in consideration of the latter performing certain religious services at the temple. in 1913, the plaintiffs, averring that they were no longer willing to accept the services of the defendants in connection with the temple, sued to recover possession of the land from the defendants. a question having arisen whether the suit was governed by section 10 or article 134 of the limitation act:-;(1) that..........of immoveable property conveyed in trust, and afterwards transferred by the trustee for a valuable consideration.' those terms describe with precision the exact character of this suit. so that primarily i should say that the suit falls under this article.4. the only possible question raised upon the application of the article turned upon the phrase ' for a valuable consideration,' and there i am clear that the condition required by the article is in this case satisfied. the transfer to the defendant's predecessors is expressed to have been in consideration that they shall accept the responsibility, and discharge the duty of performing these recurrent religious ceremonies, which are regarded among hindus as matters of transcendent importance. that being so, i am of opinion that.....
Judgment:

Stanley Batchelor, Kt., Acting C.J.

1. In this case the plaintiffs alleging that the lands in suit were the Inam lands of Shri Venkatesh of Munavalli, constituting an endowment for the worship of that idol, sued to recover possession of them from the defendants on the ground that a gift of the lands made by the plaintiffs' predecessors to the defendants' predecessors was of no effect in law. The plaintiffs, averring that they were no longer willing to accept the services of the 1st defendant in connection with this temple, claimed to be entitled to recover the lands. The only issue raised in the lower Courts, which is now material, is the issue of limitation, the choice before the Courts lying between Section 10 and Art. 134 of the Indian Limitation Act. The learned trial Judge, applying Art. 134, held that the suit was out of time, and consequently dismissed it. Admittedly it is out of time if Art. 134 is to be applied. In the lower Court of appeal the learned Assistant Judge was of opinion that time was saved by reason of Section 10 of the Indian Limitation Act, He accordingly reversed the trial Court's decree, and made a decree giving possession of the lands to the plaintiffs.

2. From that decree the 1st defendant brings the present appeal. The only question which we have to decide is whether the suit is governed by Art. 134 of the Indian Limitation Act or by Section 10, and that question arises for decision in these facts. Originally the plaintiffs' predecessors-in-title were constituted trustees of these lands for the purpose of carrying out certain religious services. But at some time, over half a century ago, they transferred the lands to the 1st defendant's predecessors-in-title under a deed which vested possession in the defendant's predecessors on consideration that they continued to perform the essential religious exercises. As I have indicated, the precise date of this transfer is not now ascertainable. We do, however, know that since 186S possession has been with the defendants on the terms stated, and we know that their title-deed of 1868 was not an original grant, but was merely a renewal of some former grant of unknown antiquity.

3. Mr. Nilkant for the respondent is no doubt right in his contention that Section 10 and Art. 134 of the Indian Limitation Act must be read together. Beginning with Art. 134, it will be noticed that the present suit falls accurately and precisely within the express terms of this Article, which are 'to recover possession of immoveable property conveyed in trust, and afterwards transferred by the trustee for a valuable consideration.' Those terms describe with precision the exact character of this suit. So that primarily I should say that the suit falls under this Article.

4. The only possible question raised upon the application of the Article turned upon the phrase ' for a valuable consideration,' and there I am clear that the condition required by the Article is in this case satisfied. The transfer to the defendant's predecessors is expressed to have been in consideration that they shall accept the responsibility, and discharge the duty of performing these recurrent religious ceremonies, which are regarded among Hindus as matters of transcendent importance. That being so, I am of opinion that the consideration is a valuable consideration within the meaning of that phrase as recognised by the law. This meaning is explained in Currie v. Misa (1875) L.R. 10 Exch 153 where Mr. Justice Lush in delivering the judgment of the Court says :-' A valuable consideration, in the sense of the law, may consist either in some right, interest, profit, or benefit accruing to the one party, or some forbearance, detriment, loss, or responsibility, given, suffered, or undertaken by the other.' I cannot doubt that in this case the consideration recited by the deed of transfer falls well within this comprehensive description.

5. As to the decision of their Lordships of the Privy Council in Abhiram Goswami v. Shyama Charan Nandi I.L.R. (1909) Cal 1003 upon which Mr. Nilkant sought to base an argument, it is sufficient to observe that that decision is grounded upon the word 'purchased' which, occurring in the corresponding Article of the Act of 1877, does not occur, but is replaced by the word 'transferred' in the Article of the present Statute. I conclude, therefore, that in terms Art. 134 precisely describes the character of this suit.

6. Must it, then, be taken out of the reach of this Article ay reason of the provisions of Section 10 In my opinion the answer is in the negative, for I do not regard this as a suit to which Section 10 is properly applicable. Section 10, as I understand it, is, in the main, designed to meet a suit brought for the purpose of following misapplied trust funds for the benefit of the trust. This is not such a suit, and there is no allegation, far less is there any proof, that the management in the hands of the defendants has resulted in any form of breach of trust, or in any misapplication of trust funds.

7. So much for the general provisions of the section. Then from the section are expressly excluded defendants who are assigns for valuable consideration from a person in whom property has become vested in trust for any specific purpose. It has been held consistently in India that the ' trust for any specific purpose' means the same thing as the ' express trust' in English law. The section, therefore, does not apply to assigns for valuable consideration from express trustees. It is admitted that the plaintiffs' predecessors-in-title were express trustees, and that in my opinion is incontestable. It seems to me equally clear that the defendants' predecessors were their assigns for valuable consideration. The deed, Exh. 68, is a deed of assignment of these lands to the defendant's predecessors, and as I have already stated, the consideration expressed in that deed must, I think, be accepted as valuable consideration within the meaning of the section. The case indeed seems to me to be governed by the same principle which was applied in Dattagiri v. Dattatraya I.L.R. (1902) Bom. 363 : 4 Bom. L.R. 743. There the manager of a math who held certain property of the math as trustee sold it for valuable consideration to the defendant in 1871. More than twelve years later his successor sought to recover it, contending that the vendor had no power to make the alienation. Sir Lawrence Jenkins C.J. and Mr. Justice Batty applied Art. 134 of the Indian Limitation Act, and concluded that the suit was barred by time. The only difference between that case and this is that in that case there was an actual sale for a price, whereas here there was an assignment and a transfer for valuable consideration. That difference, however, is, in my view, immaterial for the purpose of the applicability of Art. 134. On these grounds, I am of opinion that this Article applies, that the learned trial Court's decree is right and the decree under appeal is wrong. I would, therefore, allow the appeal, restore the trial Court's decree with costs throughout, reversing the decree of the District Court.

Kemp, J.

8. I agree that the period of limitation provided by Art. 134 should apply to this case. I think that Section 10 of the Indian Limitation Act does not apply, because the defendant's ancestors were assigns for valuable consideration. I, therefore, agree with the order of my Lord allowing the appeal.


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