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Sri Sri Maharaja Ram Narayan Singh Vs. Ram Saran Lal - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtMumbai
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1919)21BOMLR597
AppellantSri Sri Maharaja Ram Narayan Singh
RespondentRam Saran Lal
DispositionAppeal allowed
Excerpt:
.....although in bengali wills this limitation creates an estate of inheritance descendible even to female heirs of a female.;gulabdas jugjivandas v. collector of surat (1878) l.r. 6 i.a. 54 distinguished from dosibai v. ishwardas (1891) l.r. 18 i.a. 22.;ram lal mookerji v. secretary of state of india (1881) l.r. 8 i.a. 46, lalit mohan singh roy v. chukkun lal roy (1897) l.r. 24 i.a. 76, and perkash lal v. rameshwar nath singh (1904) i.l.r. 31 cal. 561. - - you, with your descendants, will continue to enjoy'the same. the defendants failed to prove that the grant of the jaigir had been made to raghu singh, and not, as the fact was, to his son kanai singh. having failed to prove that the original grant was made to their ancestor raghu singh the defendants then contended that the grant to..........nagpur the term putrapoutradi could not in a grant of a jaigir possibly include collateral or female heirs. a great deal of evidence, documentary and oral, was before the subordinate judge as to grants of jaigirs which had been made in raj ramgarh, and that evidence satisfied the subordinate judgo that all jaigirs granted in raj ramgarh were resumable on failure of male heirs in the male line of the original grantees. the subordinate judge in his judgment said :-i have before stated that in 31 calcutta, page 561 'alwal jaigirs' which is a term of much broader significance than putrajiontradi jaigir were held to be resumable on proof of a cuatom that jaigira generally were resumable on failure of male issue. also looking to 'hunter' there can not be any doubt that jaigirs of all sorts,.....
Judgment:

John Edge, J.

1 This is an appeal from a decree, dated the 16th June, 1914,. of the High Court at Calcutta which set aside a decree of the Subordinate Judge of Hazaribagh, dated the 12th August, 1910, and dismissed the suit.

2. The suit in which this appeal was brought was commenced by Maharaja Sri Sri Ram Narayan on the 4th February, 1909, for Khas possession of Mouzah Saiga in Raj Ramgarh in Chhota Nagpur and for mesne profits. Mouzah Saiga had been granted as jaigir in 1852 to Kanai Singh by Maharaja Sumbunath, ancestor of the plaintiff, who was the Zamindar, then possessed of the Mouzah. The original plaintiff has died and the appellant is his legal representative.

3. The grant of the jaigir as translated is as follows:-

3rd Falgun Sudi 1908 Sambat.

4. Pottah of agreement granted by order of His Highness Maharaja Sri Sri Sambhu Nath Singh Bahadur is as follows :-

The jaigir of Saiga, one village, in pergunnah Karanpura is granted to Kanai Singh, of which the jumma is Co's Rs. 300. Out of that, the landlord's 6 annas share is Rs. 112-8 from which a remission of Rs. 75 is made, the balance of landlord's share, Rs. 37-8, shall be paid by you year by year. You, with your descendants, will continue to enjoy'the same. The village is granted together with trees, wells, tinils, fish. This is granted by His Highness in the presence of Bakshi Joynandau Das, Bakshi Lochman Das, Mahca Bissambhar Das, Bakshi Bifawani Ram, Bakshi Bhawani Ram (sic) and Bakshi Bhagwan Das.

5. The vernacular word in the grant which has been translated as 'descendants' is putrapoutradi ; which, according to the plaintiff'3 case, meant in the grant male descendants in the male line. Kanai Singh died before suit, having had a son Sewbux, who predeceased him, and had died without issue, and one other son Bansi Lal, who survived him and died without issue before suit. The defendants are Ram Saran Lal, and his minor sons, and Shib Saran Lal and his minor sons. The defendants are not descended from Kanai Singh, the grantee, they are descended in the male line from Pyary Lal, who was a brother of Kanai Singh. The plaintiff's case was that on the death of Bansi Lal without male issue surviving him, Mouzah Saiga reverted to him, he being the legal representative of the grantor. The defendants put forward two different cases in defence to the suit, the first of which was that the jaigir had been originally granted to Raghu Singh, who was the father of Pyary Lal and Kanai Singh, and that as they are the male descendants in the male line of Raghu Singh the mouzah had not reverted and they are entitled to the possession of it under the grant alleged by them. The defendants failed to prove that the grant of the jaigir had been made to Raghu Singh, and not, as the fact was, to his son Kanai Singh. It may be observed that in setting up that defence the defendants were obviously adopting the plaintiff's construction of the vernacular word putrapoutradi, according to which it meant in the grant of a jaigir in Raj Ramgarh, male descendants in the mala line. Having failed to prove that the original grant was made to their ancestor Raghu Singh the defendants then contended that the grant to Kanai Singh and his pidrapoiotradi created an estate of inheritance which descended to them as collaterals.

6. The Subordinate Judgo considered that a grant of a jaigir to a man and his putrapoutradi was a grant to him and his,5 lineal male descendants, and that in Chhota Nagpur the term putrapoutradi could not in a grant of a jaigir possibly include collateral or female heirs. A great deal of evidence, documentary and oral, was before the Subordinate Judge as to grants of jaigirs which had been made in Raj Ramgarh, and that evidence satisfied the Subordinate Judgo that all jaigirs granted in Raj Ramgarh were resumable on failure of male heirs in the male line of the original grantees. The Subordinate Judge in his judgment said :-

I have before stated that in 31 Calcutta, page 561 'Alwal jaigirs' which is a term of much broader significance than putrajiontradi jaigir were held to be resumable on proof of a cuatom that jaigira generally were resumable on failure of male issue. Also looking to 'Hunter' there can not be any doubt that jaigirs of all sorts, without any exception, were resumable. The language of the Sanad is ambiguous, the word pntrapoutradi does not clearly mean an absolute estate of inheritance, and jaigirs generally are proved, both by oral and documentary evidence, to be resumable. No instances of pntrapoxdradi jaigir not being resumed and that females and collateral heirs are still holding them. It is for the defendants, therefore, to prove the exception in the case of jaigirs containing word pntrapoulradi. Nothing has been done in this connection. It ia not established that Ramgarh Raj used to grant both two distinct sorts of jaigirs-one reaumable on failure of male issue, and another, absolute eatate of inheritance not reaumable with word pntrapoulradi containing in the Sanad. On the contrary, the evidence ia that all jaigira, by whatever name called, condition or no condition attached, were primarily life-tenures and which by efflux of time became permanent and resumable and liable to resumption only on failure of male heirs of the original grantees. In the face of the strong documentary evidence of the custom alleged by the plaintiff, it is needlesa to comment at length on the oral evidence that was also given to prove custom. The Raja'a old servants all deposed to the existence of the custom and they stated specific cases of the resumption of some jaigir villages that wore within their knowledge and time, in addition to the cases to which the judgments filed relate. The case reported in 31 Cal. ia also a case of Chota Nagpur and is a much stronger case than the present. Thus the custom being fully established, all the ambiguity in the word putrapoutradi is removed, and it must be taken to mean lineal male descendants only.

7. The case in I. L. R. 31 Cal 561, to which the Subordinate Judge referred, was that of Parkash Lal v. Rameshwar Nath Singh I.L.R.(1904). Cal. 561. In that case a proprietor of a Chhota Nagpur Raj in a deed of gift had granted to a Brahmin and his al aulad a Mouzah in pergunnah Kanda, and it was held by the High Court at Calcutta that although the words al aulad etymologically include female as well as male descendants, yet according to a custom which was proved to have prevailed at the time of the grant, and subsequently in that part of the country, the words al aulad must be interpreted to mean lineal male descendants only. The learned Judges who decided that case in the High Court at Calcutta in 1904 referred in their judgment to a case in which the Deputy Commissioner of Chhota Nagpur had decided in 1845 that a grant to a man and his putrapoutradi did not convey an estate of inheritance, and that the grantor was entitled to resume the lands granted on the death without issue of the grantee. The reference in the Subordinate Judge's judgment to 'Hunter' was without doubt a reference to Sir William Hunter's statistical account of the districts of Hazaribagh and Lohardaga, which was printed in 1877. When he wrote that account he was Mr. W. W. Hunter, Director-General in India of Statistics, and at pages 121 and 122 of that work he gave a historical account of jaigirs in Ramagarh. The Subordinate Judge gave to the plaintiff' a decree for possession and for mesne profits to be subsequently ascertained. From that decree the defendants appealed to the High Court at Calcutta. The learned Judges of the High Court who heard the appeal as to the evidence said : 'There is evidence which may be summarised by saying that it shows that jaigirs granted by the Raj were terminable on the death of male heirs, though there is no case to show that this was so when the words putrapoutradi were used.' They rightly held that the grant of a jaigir without any words to show that it was not for life only would be a grant only for the life of the grantee, but they considered that the addition of putrapoutradi extended the estate for life. They said: 'The words literally translated are, as we understand, putra =son, poutra = grandson, and adi = others, but the expression must, of course, be construed, in the first place, according to any construction that has been legally recognised.' As the Board had decided in Ram Lal Mookerjee v. Secretary of State for India , that the words putrapoutradi Krame, which occurred in a devise in a Bengali will, though importing the male sex in their primary signification, apply also to the female heirs of a female where by law the estate would descend to such heirs, and were apt words for conferring an estate of inheritance upon either male or female, the learned Judges of the High Court considered that the term putrapoutradi in this jaigir grant must be construed as conveying an estate of inheritance which would descend to collaterals of the grantee. They also referred to another decision of the Board in Lalit Mohun Singh Roy v. Chukkun Lal Roy (1897) L. R. 24 I. A. 76. which also was a case of a devise in a Bengali will, and they allowed the appeal and dismissed the suit. From that decree of the High Court this appeal has been brought.

8. There can be no doubt that a jaigir must be taken prima facie to be an estate only for life, although it may possibly be granted in such terms as to make it hereditary. That was so decided by the Board in Gulabdas Jugjivandas v. Collector of Surat (1878) L R. 6 1. A. 54, which was an appeal from the High Court at Bombay. But the terms which will make the grant of a jaigir a grant of an estate of inheritance must, if they are to be considered alone, be terms which are not ambiguous, and must clearly show whether it was intended by the grantor that the right of inheritance should be general or should be confined to a particular class of heirs. In Dosibai v. Ishwardas Jagjiwandas (1891) L. R. 181. A. 22, there was no ambiguity in the terms of the grant. In that case the Governor of Bombay in Council by a sanad in English, which was not ambiguous, had granted to Ardesar Bahadur 'and his heirs for ever as jaigir' four villages, and the Board held that 'where there is a grant to a man and his heirs, and nothing to control the ordinary meaning of the words, the grantee takes an absolute interest.' In this case, now before this Board, the term putrapoutradi standing by itself, and without any evidence to show whether in Raj Ramgarh collaterals or females succeeded to jaigirs, is ambiguous. But the evidence shows that in Raj Ramgarh those who have succeeded to jaigirs have been always males in the male line of the grantee.

9. The cases of Ram Lal Mookerjee v. The Secretary of State for India in Council and Gulabdas Jugjivandas v. Collector of Surat wore not cases of grants of jaigirs ; they were cases of the construction of vernacular words in devises in Bengali wills and it was obvious that the testators in employing terms which usually in Bengal were understood as apt to pass an estate of inheritance did employ them to pass such an estate. It may well be that in a grant of a jaigir in Bengal by a Bengali similar words in the grant would imply that an estate of inheritance had been granted to the grantee if there was nothing to show a contrary intention. But there is nothing here to prove or even to suggest that the term putrapoutradi has ever been understood in Chhota Nagpur or in Raj Ramgarh as including heirs collateral, and there is no evidence that any one of the many jaigirs which have been granted in Raj Ramgarh has over descended to a collateral heir of the grantee. So much impressed was the Subordinate Judge by evidence documentary and oral, that he came to the conclusion that there is a custom in Raj Ramgarh that jaigirs are resumable on a failure of heirs male in the male line of the grantee.

10. In their Lordships' opinion the Subordinate Judge was justified in making the decree which he made in this case, and it should not have been set aside. They will accordingly humbly advise His Majesty that the decree of the High Court should be set aside with costs, and that the decree of the Subordinate Judge should be restored. The respondents must pay the costs of this appeal.


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