Skip to content


P. Varahalamma Vs. Repeti Ramanna and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCommercial
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. Petn. No. 2027 of 1977
Judge
Reported inAIR1979AP25
ActsAndhra Pradesh Agricultural Indebtedness (Relief) Act, 1977 - Sections 3(1) and 4(2)
AppellantP. Varahalamma
RespondentRepeti Ramanna and ors.
Appellant AdvocateP. Kondaramayya, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateYellapragada Satyanarayana, Adv.
Excerpt:
commercial - small farmer - sections 3 (1) and 4 (2) of andhra pradesh agricultural indebtedness (relief) act, 1977 - petitioner filed application praying court to pass a final decree directing sale of mortgaged property - mortgage debt accrued by joint hindu family (jhf) - respondents are members of jhf and contended that they are entitled to benefit of act of 1977 - members of jhf constitute a person and should be considered as such for applicability of act of 1977 - holding of each member in jhf does not exceed one hectare of wet land - respondents are 'small farmers' within meaning of section 3 (t) of act - held, benefits of act should be granted to respondents. - .....focus of controversy in this case centers round the question as to whether a debt incurred by a joint hindu family is attracted or not by the provisions of the act the submission of the learned counsel is that the debt incurred by the joint hindu family is in divisible, that the liability created is joint and several and that the debts due from a joint family are not attracted by the provisions of the act, according to him the joint family in any case is the 'person who owed the debt and the entire property owned by the joint family should be taken into consideration for the purpose of the act and not the individual share of each member of the joint family as wrongly done by the court below. on the other hand, the learned counsel for the respondents, tries to uphold the finding of the.....
Judgment:

Chennakesav Reddy, J.

1. Varahalamma, the petitioner before us, obtained a preliminary decree in a suit brought on a mortgage against the respondents. She died an application under O. 34, R. 5, C. P. C. praying the Court to pass a final decree directing the sale of the mortgaged property for the realisation of the amount. The mortgage was executed by late Repeti Jaggamma and his sons, respondents 1 to 4. The mortgage schedule consisted of Ac. 4-76 cents of wet land in S.No.87 and Ac. 3-60 cents of wet land out of Ac. 9-28 cents Survey Nos. 226/2 and 226/4. The respondents who are the sans and daughters of mortgagee, Repeti Jaggamma opposed the petition contending that the debt was not binding on them and in any case the proceedings abated under S. 4 (2) of the Andhra Pradesh Ordinance 25 of 1976. The learned District Munsif held that the respondents had taken the plea in the suit itself that the debt was not binding on them, that preliminary decree was passed holding all of them liable to pay the debt, and therefore they cannot now question the validity of the preliminary decree. As regards the question whether the respondents are entitled to the benefit of the provisions of A. P. Ordinance 25/76, the learned District Munsif answered the question in the affirmative and dismissed the application of the petitioner. The learned District Munsif held that the respondents are all small farmers falling within the definition of 'small farmer' as defined under S. 3 (t) of the Ordinance 25 of 1976 and the proceedings consequently abated. It may be mentioned that the said ordinance has been repealed end replaced by Act No.7 of 1977 called the Andhra Pradesh Agricultural indebtedness (Relief) Act, 1977 to which we shah hereinafter refer to as 'the Act',

2. The central focus of controversy in this case centers round the question as to whether a debt incurred by a joint Hindu family is attracted or not by the provisions of the Act The submission of the learned counsel is that the debt incurred by the joint Hindu family is in divisible, that the liability created is joint and several and that the debts due from a joint family are not attracted by the provisions of the Act, According to him the joint family in any case is the 'person who owed the debt and the entire property owned by the joint family should be taken into consideration for the purpose of the Act and not the individual share of each member of the joint family as wrongly done by the Court below. On the other hand, the learned counsel for the respondents, tries to uphold the finding of the Court below that even though a loan has been obtained by a Hindu joint family, the provisions of the Act are attracted and the share of each major member has to be ascertained on the date when the Act came into force for the purpose of the Act.

3. The clue to this crucial question must be ascertained from the relevant provisions of the Act. For our purpose S. 3 (1), (p) and (t) which define 'family' 'person' and 'small farmer' respectively are relevant and read as follows:

'3 (1) 'family' in relation to a person, means the individual, the wife or husband, as the case may be, of such individual and their unmarried minor children'

Explanation:- For the purpose of this clause 'minor' means a person who has not completed his or her age of eighteen years;

(p) 'person' means an individual or a family:

(t) 'small farmer' means a person whose principal means of livelihood is income derived from agricultural land and who holds and personally cultivates. or who cultivates as tenant or share cropper or mortgagee with possession agricultural land which does not exceed extent:-

(i) in the case of persons other than the members of the Scheduled Tribes. one hectare, if it is wet or two hectares if it is dry:

(ii) in the ease of the members of the Scheduled Tribes, two hectares, if it is wet or four hectares if it is dry but does not include any person whose annual household income other than annual culture exceeds one thousand and two hundred rupees in any two years within three years Immediately preceding the commencement of this Act.

Explanation :- For the purpose of computing the extent of land under this clause one hectare of wet land shall be deemed to be equal to two hectares of dry land.'

4. For the word 'family' a restricted definition has been given in the Act it self. According to the definition 'family' includes only the individual, the wife or husband, as the case may be, of such individual and their unmarried minor children. It does not include major children. Therefore, the incidents of joint Hindu family or coparcenary property as understood under the Hindu Law cannot be imported in interpreting the provisions of this Act. The contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner rooted in the basic principles of Hindu Law that every coparcener has joint interest and joint possession in the coparcenary property and no coparcener is entitled to any exclusive possession of any part of the joint family property, must, therefore, be rejected. The object and the purpose of the Act is to provide relief from indebtedness to agricultural labourers, artisans and small farmers in the State. The Legislation is apparently actuated with the State policy to wipe out the indebtedness of small farmers. It is a crusade against oppression and harassment of the weaker sections at the hands of the creditors. The import of the incidents of a Hindu joint family at could be gleaned from the texts of Hindu Law in the interpretation of this special beneficial enactment would frustrate the very object and purpose of the act. Reason and spirit of the statue relentlessly pursued compels one to the conclusion that a debt of joint Hindu family is attracted by the provisions oil the Act and the share of each major member at the joint family has to be nationally computed for ascertaining whether he is a 'small farmer' within the provisions of the Act,

5. The learned counsel also invited our attention to the definition of a 'person' in the General Clauses Act, 1987, and the Andhra Pradesh Land Reforms (Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings) Act, 1973 and submitted that the debts incurred by a joint Hindu family is indivisible and the entire holding of the family should be the basis for the purpose of the provisions of the Act. No doubt, the word 'person' has been defined by S. 3(42) of the General Clause, Act, 1897. to 'include any company or association or body of individuals, whether incorporated or not But the words 'person' and 'family' have been defined in the Act and normally these definitions Should govern when these words are used in the body of the statute. There is nothing as already noticed in the subject or contest to exclude the applicability of these definitions. The word 'debt' defined under S. 3(i) also includes any liability owing to a creditor in cash or Kind ,whether secured or unsecured payable under a decree or order of Civil Court or otherwise and subsisting at the commencement of this Act. The definition while excluding certain other debts does not exclude the liability owed to a creditor by a joint family. The word 'debtor' has been defined to mean an agricultural labourer, a rural artisan or a small farmer who had borrowed or incurred any debt before the commencement of this Act. Under sub-sec. (2) (b) of S. 4, there is a bar enacted against entertainment of any suit or proceeding against any debtor for recovery of any amount or debt owed by an agricultural labourer, rural artisan or small farmer to a creditor. There is nothing either in the definition the 'debt' or in the definition of 'family' under the Act which expressly by necessary implication excludes the applicability of the provisions of Act to a debt incurred by a joint Hindu family consisting of two or more coparceners. Our view is shared in two unreported decisions of this Court in A.S. No. 346 of 1975 (AP) our learned brother Ramachandra Raju, J., held that though the debt was incurred by the joint family, the Act was applicable and that the holding or interest of each coparcener an the date of the commencement of the Act must be nationally ascertained. for the purpose of determining whether each me of the coparceners is a 'small farmer' within the meaning of the Act, This decision was followed by our learned brother Jeevan Reddy, J. in C.R.P. No. 2149 of 1977 D/- 6-3-1978 (AP). The learned counsel however, invited our attention to another decision of this Court in C.R.P. No.2103 of 1975, D/-26-2- 1976 (AP). In that case, Madhusudan Rao. J., held that the coparceners constituting a joint Hindu family cannot have any definite and specified shares in the property of the joint family. Therefore, all the coparceners of the joint family constitute a person as defined in S. 3(p) of the Act. As already observed, in view of the definition of 'family' in the Act itself the incidents of Hindu joint family as understood under the Hindu Law cannot be imported for construing the provisions of this special beneficial statute, It is one of the cardinal principles of construction of statutes that statutes adopted or intended to cure an existing evil should be construed as to advance the remedy and remove the evil

6. It was next contended that the daughters of the mortgagor were not parties to the mortagage that the daughter cannot inherit any interest in the mortgage security, and therefore, the ascertainment of the shares of daughters in the property is wholly relevant. But after the death of mortgagor. Jaggamma, the petitioner included the daughters also as the legal representatives of the deceased mortgage liable for the debt. Therefore, they are 'debtors' within the meaning of the Act and their share has to be ascertained for the purpose of determining whether they are 'small farmers'.

7. Now, turning to the factual findings in the case, the learned District Munsif held that respondents 1, 3 and 4 are having Ac. 1-88 cents of wet land for each of their shares and respondents 5 to 8 are having Ac. 0-21 cents of wet land for each of their share. The holding of each in extent does not exceed one hectare of wet land. Therefore, they are Small farmers' within the meaning of the definition under S. 3 (t) of the Act, It is also contended, that the second respondent is in possession of more than one hectare of wet land, and therefore he is not a small farmer. But the Court below on a consideration of the evidence held that the second respondent is having less than one hectare of wet land, We find no flaw in this finding.

8. In the result, the revision petition fails and it is accordingly dismissed No costs.

9. Revision dismissed


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