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C.V. Purushotham Vs. Chinna Jeeyangar Mutt Tirupati - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLimitation
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetters Patent Appeal No. 73 of 1973
Judge
Reported inAIR1975AP153
ActsLimitation Act, 1963 - Sections 31 - Schedule - Article 96; Limitation Act, 1908 - Schedule - Article 134B
AppellantC.V. Purushotham
RespondentChinna Jeeyangar Mutt Tirupati
Appellant AdvocateT. Ananta Babu, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateAdv. General and ;E. Manohar, Adv.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Excerpt:
limitation - maintainability of suit - section 31 and article 96 of limitation act, 1963 and article 134-b of limitation act, 1908 - suit filed for setting aside alienation made by 'mathadhipathi' of endowed property - alienation not binding unless supported by necessity as per law of endowment - section 31 of new act provided new act would not apply to case whose limitation period prescribed by old act expired before commencement of new act - this to ensure suit barred under old act cannot take advantage of new act - held, suit barred by limitation. - - 5. sri ananta babu, learned counsel far the appellant contended that the suit is clearly barred by limitation this is the main question that has to be considered in this appeal......and for possession and mesne profits, past and future. according to the case of the plaintiff, the suit property belonged to the plaintiff mutt. one of the previous heads of the mutt executed a permanent lease in 1898 in favour of govindachari. the grandson of the lessee sold the suit property in 1920 to one ramaswamy chatty who in turn sold (it) in 1927 to katari narasimhulu reddv and another. both of them sold (it) again to pedda subba reddy in 1928. on 19-4-1940 the said pedda subba reddy sold the property to the father of defendants 1 to 4. in a partition between the members of the defendants' family it fell to the share of the first defendant. the plaintiff contended that the permanent lease constituted an alienation of the property and was not binding upon the mutt. the plaintiff.....
Judgment:

Alladi Kuppuswami, J.

1. Thefirst defendant in O. S. No. 81 of 1965 on the file of the Additional Subordinate Judge's Court Chittoor is the appellant. The plaintiff in the suit is a Mutt at Tirupathi represented by the present Matadhipathi. The suit was filed for a declaration that the permanent lease executed by the then Mathadhipathi on the 19th Chaitra of Vikari Corresponding to 1898 in favour of one, Govindachari and the subsequent alienation on 19-4-1940 in favour of C. V. Ramanujam, father of defendants 1 to 4 are void, inoperative and not binding on the plaintiff-mutt and for possession and mesne profits, past and future. According to the case of the plaintiff, the suit property belonged to the plaintiff mutt. One of the previous heads of the mutt executed a permanent lease in 1898 in favour of Govindachari. The grandson of the lessee sold the suit property in 1920 to one Ramaswamy Chatty who in turn sold (it) in 1927 to Katari Narasimhulu Reddv and another. Both of them sold (it) again to Pedda Subba Reddy in 1928. On 19-4-1940 the said Pedda Subba Reddy sold the property to the father of defendants 1 to 4. In a partition between the members of the defendants' family it fell to the share of the first defendant. The plaintiff contended that the permanent lease constituted an alienation of the property and was not binding upon the mutt. The plaintiff therefore claimed a declaration that the lease was not binding and forrecovery of possession of the property from the defendants.

2. The Mathadhipathi who granted the lease in 1898 died on 13-9-1906. There were number of Mathadhipathis who succeeded one after another. The last of them died on 21-9-1960 and the plaintiff was appointed on 16-5-1960.

3. The defendants contended that the lease was for necessity and was therefore binding on the mutt. They also contended that the suit was barred by limitation. The trial Court held that the permanent lease was supported by necessity end was binding on the mutt. It also held that the defendants had perfected their title to the suit property by adverse possession. In the result It dismissed the suit with costs. The plaintiff-mutt preferred A. S. No. 508/70 to this court. Our learned brother, Venkatarama Sastry, J., took the view that the suit was not barred by limitation. He also held that he could not agree with the finding of the lower court that, the permanent lease was supported by legal necessity. In the result, the judgment of the trial court was set aside and the appeal was allowed and the suit was decreed. A declaration was granted that the permanent lease WES not binding on the mutt and that the mutt was entitled to recover possession of the suit property, Jt was directed that the mesne profits both past and future should be enquired into in a separate application.

4. The first defendant has preferred this appeal against the judgment of Venkatarama Sastry, J.

5. Sri Ananta Babu, learned Counsel far the appellant contended that the suit is clearly barred by limitation This is the main question that has to be considered in this appeal.

6. Under Article 96 of the limitation Act a suit by the manager of a Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment to recover possession of moveable or immovable property comprised in the endowment which has been transferred by a previous manager for valuable consideration can be filed within twelve years from the date of death, resignation or removal of the transferor or the dale at appointment of the plaintiff as manager of the endowment, whichever is later. It was contended by the learned Advocate-General that as the suit has been filed within twelve years from the date of appointment of the plaintiff as manager, namely, 16-5-1960 the suit is within time. This contention was accepted by Venkutarama Sastry, J. It was however, argued by Sri T. Ananta Babu, learned Counsel for the appellant that Section 31 of the Act provides that nothing in this Act shell enable any suit, appeal or application to be instituted, preferred ormade, for which the period of limitation prescribed by the Indian Limitation Act. 1908 expired before the commencement of this Act. It, was submitted that the period of limitation prescribed by the Indian Limitation Act, 1908 for a suit to recover possession of immovable property comprised in the endowment which has been transferred by a previous manager for a valuable consideration, was twelve years from the date of death resignation or removal of the transferor. It cannot be denied the period of limitation for filing a suit under the aid Act, had expired long before coming into force of the new Act. It was therefore, submitted that Article 96 of the new ACT Has no application by reason of Section 31 of the ACT.

7. The learned Advocate-General did not and could not dispute that the period of limitation for the suit prescribed by the Indian Limitation Act of 1908 had expired before the commencement of the new Act. Even in the judgment appealed against, after discussing the provisions of law and decisions on the subject it was observed that a permanent lease being an alienation is not binding on the mutt if it was not for legal necessity. The cause of action which once accrues, continues. The right of the mutt would be extinguished in regard to that property at the end of the period prescribed by the law of limitation Each succeeding mahant does nor get a revival of the cause of action in his favour. The appointment of successor was never considered to give a fresh start of limitation under the law as it stood prior to 1963. Thus, it follows that as the suit had to be filed within twelve years from the date of death, resignation or removal of the transferor under Article 134-B of the Limitation Act, 1908, the period of limitation prescribed by that Act had expired before the commencement of the new Act. Hence, by reason of Section 31 of the Act nothing in the Act would enable any such suit to be Instituted We have therefore, no hesitation in holding that Article 96 has no application and the suit was barred.

8. The contention of the learned Counsel for the respondent that Article 96 applied and therefore the suit was not barred by limitation was accepted by our learned brother, Venkatarama Sastry, J., as he was of the view that Section 31 only speaks of suits which are instituted as per the period of limitation prescribed by the Indian Limitation Act 1908 and not to the types of suits which are provided for by the new limitation Act, hE proceeded to observe.

'Under the Limitation Act, 1908, the right to file a suit under Article 134-B would arise on the death, resignation or removal of the transferor. But under the new Limitation Act, a suit can also be filed within twelve years from the date of appointment of the plaintiff as the manager. The latter type of suits contemplated by the new Act are therefore a new variety of suits introduced by the new Act and not covered by the Indian Limitation Act of 1908. If the terminus quo was repeated as in the case of 1908 Act Section 31 would no doubt come into play, but when the terminus quo IN column 3, has been changed in the new Act it cannot be said that the new suit contemplated by Article 96 is the same suit for which the period of limitation was prescribed under the Indian Limitation Act. 1908.'

With great respect to the learned Judge we are unable to agree with this reasoning. In our view, it is not correct to say that the suits introduced by the new Act are a new variety of suits not covered by the Indian Limitation Act, 1908. As a matter of fact. Limitation Acts do not provide for the institution of a suit of any particular type or variety. An Act dealing with limitation provides only for the period of limitation in respect of different types of suits, which a party has the right to bring having regard to the substantive law. Under the law of endowments, as settled by the decisions of the Privy Council and the Supreme Court, alienation of endowed property by a mathadhipathi is not binding on the mutt unless it is supported by necessity and a permanent lease is considered to be of the same nature as an alienation. After the death, resignation or removal of the mathadhipathi the succeeding mathadhi-pathi is entitled to sue for a declaration that the alienation is not binding on the institution. This right is a right under the law governing the endowments and existed when the Indian Limitation Act 1908 was in force and continued to exist even after the new Act. As far as the right to institute such a suit is concerned, there is no change in the law and there cannot be any change by reason of the new Limitation Act. Whereas under the old Act the suit had to be instituted within twelve years after the death, resignation or removal of the transferor, under the new Act it can be instituted within twelve years after the appointment of the successor or within twelve years after the death, resignation or removal of the transferor whichever is later It is true that this change was made in view of the recommendation of the Law Commission in its third report relating to the Limitation Act. The law commission said that the Endowment Commissioner may find it necessary to challenge alienation by one of the previous managers after decades or there may be a gap of twelve years between the death, resignation or removal of one manager and the appointment of his successor In such a case it would be moreequitable to make the date of the plaintiff's appointment as manager the starting point for limitation. But there may be cases and circumstances where the existing provision may be more favourable to the institution. To provide for both contingencies, the later of the two dates should be taken as the starting point of limitation. Hence, Article 96 was enacted in the new Act in the present form. But at the same time it was provided in clear terms by Section 31, that the act will not apply to the case of any suit in respect of which the period of limitation prescribed by Indian Limitation Act, 1908. expired before the commencement of this Act. While making a change in the law, the legislature thought it necessary to provide that suits which have already been barred by limitation under the Limitation Act, 1908, should not be allowed to be instituted taking advantage of the provisions of the new Act. We are therefore, of the view that as the suit was barred under the old Act, the new Act does not enable any suit to be instituted.

9. We find that a similar view has been expressed in S. A. No. 109 of 1972 dated 11-12-1972 (Andh Pra) by Sambasiva Rao, J. We agree with that view.

10. As we have held that the suit is barred by limitation, the further question whether the alienation is supported by necessity or not, does not arise.

11. In the result, the appeal is allowed with costs throughout.


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