Skip to content


Kisheera Ramalingeswaraswamy Vs. Nandula Buchi Ramayya and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetter Patent Appeal Nos. 134 and 176 of 1975 and C.M.P. No. 9449 of 1975
Judge
Reported inAIR1977AP160
ActsAndhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1966 - Sections 103; Madras Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1951 - Sections 94
AppellantKisheera Ramalingeswaraswamy
RespondentNandula Buchi Ramayya and ors.
Advocates:P.P. Surya Rao and ;T. Veerabhadrayya, Advs.
Excerpt:
.....years after that date, is clearly barred by time. by virtue of the sale deed dated 16-6-1948 the property vested in the second defendant at least in possession and it could be defeated only by filing a suit within 12 years. he pointed out that the trial court as well as the learned single judge found that the trust deed in respect of both the items of the property, as evidenced by ex. it can as well be vesting of possession. if no prescriptive rights under the law of limitation can be acquired subsequent to the act, it must be taken that the legislature has intended the same meaning by using the words 'which had not vested in such person or his predecessor-in-title before the commencement of this act'.it is not only reasonable and harmonious to construe the word 'vest' which occurs in..........of item 1, also.20. the other defences set up by the second defendant and his legal representatives have been found to be untenable. it is trust property and the alienation in favour of the second defendant was found to be unlawful. in fact sri veerabhadraiah does not challenge this finding before us. it must follow from this that the plaintiff is entitled to a decree in respect of item 1 of the suit property. there is no appeal before us challenging the exclusion of the relief of accounting made by our learned brother madhava reddy, j.21. in the result, l. p. a. 176 of 1975 is also dismissed and the decree of madhava reddy, j. in a. s. 485 of 1972 is confirmed. having regard to the circumstances we direct the parties to bear their own costs in this l. p. a. also.22. c. m. p. no......
Judgment:

Sambasiva Rao, J.

1. These two L. P. As arise out of the same appeal A. S. No. 485 of 1972 which was allowed with costs by Madhava Reddy, J. Another appeal A. S. No. 436 of 1971 was also considered along with this appeal by the learned Judge, but that was dismissed and there was no appeal against it. So the matter in so far as that is concerned has become final. The plaintiff to the extent that he felt aggrieved by the decision of our learned brother in A. S. No. 485 of 1972, has preferred L. P. A. 134 of 1975, the Legal Representatives of the Second defendant have preferred L. P. A. No. 176 of 1975 to the extent the decision went against them.

2. The suit out of which these appeals arise was filed by the Executive Officer of a temple for recovery of possession of two items of land, for accounting and for profits. His case is that under a trust deed, Ex. A-4 of the year 1932, two items of land, which are of a total extent of Ac. 2.76 cents, were endowed in the name of the temple. The first defendant's father was constituted as the trustee of the temple. However the first defendant's father, himself being the trustee, got conveyed the same properties in his name in the year 1946 under a deed of settlement. The donor Venkata Subbamma died on 18-5-1946. Under Ex. B. 41 dated 16-6-1948, first defendant's father purported to have sold item 1, of an extent of Ac. 1-58 cents to the second defendant for Rs. 3,000/-. On 1-2-1951 the first defendants father died. Thereafter the first defendant continued as the trustee of the temple. The suit was filed on 17-2-1967 for the reliefs above-mentioned.

3. In the plaint it is alleged that the settlement deed in favour of the father of the first defendant, Ex. A-5 is invalid, because the property is trust property and the temple is entitled to it. Since the defendants have been in enjoyment of these properties, they are liable to deliver the property to the temple after accounting for its profits and also future profits.

4. The trial Court found that the trust evidenced by Ex. A-4 was a valid one and it vested the two items of property in the temple. The first defendant's father was a trustee. In regard to item 2, the trial Court held that Section 10 of Limitation Act applied to the case because it was in the possession of the first defendant and so there was no bar of limitation to the suit in so far as that item was concerned. Consequently it decreed the suit for that item. In regard to item 1, however it found that since the property was in the enjoyment of the second defendant , there was no application of Section 10 of the Limitation Act to this item. Since the suit was filed more than 12 years after the death of the first defendants father, it was barred by limitation in so far as item 1 is concerned.

5. The first defendant filed A. S. No. 436 of 1971 in respect of item 2. As we have already pointed out, Madhava Reddy, J. dismissed it and there was no appeal against that judgment. So the decision of the trial Court decreeing item 2 in favour of the temple has become final.

6. The Executive Officer of the temple has preferred A. S. No. 485 of 1972 in respect of item 1. Madhva Reddy, j. held that even in respect of item 1, there is no bar of limitation, though Section 10 of the Limitation Act did not apply to this item. The view of the learned Judge is that Section 103 of Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act 1966 (hereinafter referred to as the New Act) which corresponds to Section 94 of the Madras Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act 1951 (hereinafter referred to as the old Act) applies to the case and saves the claim of the temple from the bar of limitation and therefore the claim of the temple for this item also is in time. Since the learned Judge agreed that the Trust Deed Ex. A-4 was a valid trust and that the settlement deed, in favour of first defendant father Ex. A-5 was invalid, there was no other valid defence to the plaintiffs claim. In that view he decreed the plaintiffs suit in respect of item 1 as well, excepting as regards the relief of accounting against the legal representatives of the second defendant.

7. On behalf of the temple L. P. A. 134 of 1975 has been filed, being under the misapprehension that the learned Judge refused to grant the future mesne profits. But that apprehension does not appear to be correct. Though the learned Judge did not specifically refer to the claim of mesne profits, the Judgment clearly says that A. S. 485 of 1972 is allowed, except as regards the relief of accounting against the legal representatives of second defendant. That clearly means that the learned Judge has granted the relief of future mesne profits, which the plaintiff has claimed in the plaint. That was why in the decree, provision was made for ascertainment of future profits. The L. P. A. 134 of 1975 is therefore unnecessary. Consequently it is dismissed as unnecessary. There will be no order as to costs.

8. L. P. A. 176 of 1975, brought by the legal representatives of the second defendant is the more important of the two L. P. As. It is strenuously urged by Sri T. Veerabhadraiah, learned counsel, that the claim of the plaintiff in respect of item 1 is barred by limitation. He pointed out that the sale in favour of the second defendant by the first defendants father was dated 16-6-1948 and the suit was filed on 17-2-1967. The first defendants father died on 1-12-1951. Therefore Article 134-B of the old Limitation Act of 1908 prescribes a period of 12 years for a suit by the Manager of a Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist religious or charitable endowment to recover its immoveable property, which has been transferred by a previous Manager for a valuable consideration and the period of 12 years will have to be reckoned from the date of the death, resignation or removal of the Transferor. According to the learned counsel, the transferor in this case i.e., the father of the first defendant , died on 1-2-1951. Therefore the present suit, which has been filed more than 12 years after that date, is clearly barred by time.

9. Sri Veerabhadriah further contends that the learned Judge is wrong in relying upon Section 103 of the Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act 1966, which corresponds to Section 94 of the Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act 1951. Whichever provision applies, so the learned counsel argues, the safeguard that is provided in these provisions is available only in case, where the property belonging to religious institutions was not vested in a person or his predecessor in title before the commencement of the 1951 Act, viz. 30-9-1951. Here the property vested in the second defendant by virtue of the sale deed executed by the father of the first defendant on 16-6-1948. The vesting, according to the learned counsel, need not necessarily mean vesting in title. The word 'vesting' has very many meanings, including vesting in possession. By virtue of the sale deed dated 16-6-1948 the property vested in the second defendant at least in possession and it could be defeated only by filing a suit within 12 years. That does not take away from the fact that the property had vested in the second defendant under the sale deed dated 16-6-1948. Therefore the present suit and the claim therein are not saved by Section 103 of the new Act and Section 94 of the old Act.

10. However Sri Madhava Reddy, J. held that there was no vesting in the second defendant of these properties before the commencement of 1951 Act. The learned Judge, understood vesting used in the section for the second time, as vesting by expiry of the prescriptive period. To put it in other words, in the view of the learned Judge, the property must have vested before the commencement of that Act by way of prescriptive right. It is only then the person in whom the property of the religious institution had vested is saved from the operation of Section 94 of the old Act or Section 103 of the new Act. This is, what is pressed before us by Sri Surya Rao, learned counsel for the plaintiff temple. He also maintains that the sale deed executed by the first defendant father in favour of the second defendant is a void document, as a consequence of which there was no vesting of the property, in the purchaser. He pointed out that the trial Court as well as the learned Single Judge found that the trust deed in respect of both the items of the property, as evidenced by Ex. A/4, was a true and valid endowment. It was also found that the so-called settlement deed, which the first defendant father got executed in his favour in respect of the property in the year 1946 was an invalid one. The father, and after his death, the first defendant were the trustees of the plaintiff temple. first defendant father had no manner of right to sell the trust property. When they had no right in the property, they could not have conveyed any to the alienee. Therefore, nothing vested in the second defendant under this void document dated 16-6-1948. There is considerable force in this argument. This sale deed in favour of the second defendant is a void document. So there is no vesting of the property in the second defendant , so that he can escape from the operation of Section 103 of the new Act or Section 94 of the old Act.

11. However Mr. T. Veerabhadriah forcefully urges that the sale in favour of the second defendant on 16-6-1948 was a voidable transaction and subsequently the manager or any person interested in the trust can challenge a transaction and get it avoided. That is why the old Limitation Act provided in Article. 134-B a limitation period of 12 years for such suits.

12. Further the word 'vesting' is capable of very many meanings and is not confined to vesting of title alone. It can as well be vesting of possession. Therefore the learned counsel urges that vesting of some nature did take place under the sale deed dated 16-6-1948 and therefore Madhava Reddy, J. is not right in holding that Section 94 of the old Act and Section 103 of the new Act would save the present suit from the bar of limitation.

13. We are unable to accept this argument of the learned counsel. Even supposing that Ex. B. 41 dated 16-6-1948 is a voidable transaction, what is the right that was created in the second defendant under it? It was only a defeasible right, even according to Sri Veerabhadriah's contention, because it can be avoided by some person interested in the trust by filling a suit. It is also true, as Sri Veerabhadriah contends, that the word 'vesting' is capable of more than one meaning and that is not necessarily limited to the right of title. But then since the word 'vesting' is capable of more than one meaning, it is necessary and incumbent to find out in what meaning and in what connotation that expression is used in particular provision of the enactment. That must necessarily be so because all the meanings cannot be imported to the word, which occurs in a particular section. Consequently it becomes necessary to find out the true intendment of the Legislature in using the word 'vest' in this particular provision, i.e., Section 94 of the old Act and Section 103 of the new Act.

14. We are supported in this view by the decision of the Supreme Court in F. and V. Merchants Union v. Improvement Trust, Delhi, : [1957]1SCR1 . At page 353 this is what Sinha J. speaking for the Court observed:

'It would thus appear that the word 'vest' has not got a fixed connotation, meaning in all cases that the property is owned by the person or the authority in whom it vests. It may vest in title, or it may vest in possession, or it may vest in a limited sense, as indicated in the context in which it may have been used in a particular piece of legislation.'

15. Now, in what context Section 94 of the old Act and Section 103 of the new Act occur and with what meaning and with what connotation the word 'vest' has been used by the Legislature in them Section 103 of the new Act bear this marginal note.

'Property of charitable or religious institution or endowment to vest under the law of limitation after commencement of this Act.'

16. But the true import and meaning of the Legislature will have to be gathered from the provision itself. Section 94 of the old Act reads thus:

'Nothing contained in any law of limitation for the time being in force shall be deemed to vest in any person the property or funds of any religious institution which had not vested in such person or his predecessor-title before the commencement of this Act.'

17. Section 103 of the new Act in relevant portion, is identical with this.

18. It is to be seen that the word 'vest' is used twice in this section. It is first used in the nonobstante clause, which says that nothing contained in any law of limitation for the time being in force shall be deemed to vest in any person, the property or funds of any religious institution. Patently and unambiguously the word 'vest' when read in the context of any law of limitation would mean vesting with absolute and full rights by way of prescription. By introducing this non obstante clause the legislature wanted to safeguard the interest of trusts and their properties from being acquired by prescriptive rights by other people after the commencement of 1951 Act. The purpose for which the provision is made is clear from the fact that it is to safeguard the trust properties from being acquired by others by prescriptive rights under the law of limitation. It is from the perspective of the same purpose, the latter limb of the same section shall be read and understood. If no prescriptive rights under the law of limitation can be acquired subsequent to the Act, it must be taken that the Legislature has intended the same meaning by using the words 'which had not vested in such person or his predecessor-in-title before the commencement of this Act'. It is not only reasonable and harmonious to construe the word 'vest' which occurs in the latter limb, like the word 'vest' which occurs in the earlier part of the same section, but also essential that the same meaning should be given. One thing to be borne in mind is that the object of the provision is to safeguard the trust properties from being acquired by other persons by taking recourse to the provisions of the Limitation Act. The word 'vest' should be given the same meaning in both the places when it occurs in the same Section. It is common experience the trust properties are generally neglected and strangers acquire and set up some sort of rights. Persons in charge of the trust properties do not take prompt action to recover the properties from the hands of the other people. When action is finally taken, then who are in possession raise contentions on the basis of laws of limitation. This is exactly what is sought to be prevented by the legislature in making these provisions. Therefore, the word 'vest' occurring in both the places in these Section must have the same meaning, which is vesting with rights by virtue of the laws of limitation. It may be reasonable to say that the vesting should be with full rights by virtue of the provisions of the laws of limitation.

19. We have no hesitation in giving such a meaning to the word 'vest' that occurs in the latter limb of the two Sections. Such being the meaning of the two provisions, it cannot be said that the properties had vested in the second defendant before the commencement of 1951 Act. It was only a defeasible right, which can be defeated by any person by filing a suit questioning the transaction. In any case, he had not acquired any prescriptive right by the time 1951 Act commenced. Consequently there is no bar of limitation to the claim made in respect of item 1, also.

20. The other defences set up by the second defendant and his legal representatives have been found to be untenable. It is trust property and the alienation in favour of the second defendant was found to be unlawful. In fact Sri Veerabhadraiah does not challenge this finding before us. It must follow from this that the plaintiff is entitled to a decree in respect of item 1 of the suit property. There is no appeal before us challenging the exclusion of the relief of accounting made by our learned brother Madhava Reddy, J.

21. In the result, L. P. A. 176 of 1975 is also dismissed and the decree of Madhava Reddy, J. in A. S. 485 of 1972 is confirmed. Having regard to the circumstances we direct the parties to bear their own costs in this L. P. A. also.

22. C. M. P. No. 9449 of 1975: Since the main LPA is disposed of the stay petition is dismissed as unnecessary.

23. Order accordingly.


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