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Dodda Subba Reddi Vs. Gunturu Govinda Reddi - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Property
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetters Patent Appeal No. 5 of 1954
Judge
Reported inAIR1961AP430
ActsHindu Law
AppellantDodda Subba Reddi
RespondentGunturu Govinda Reddi
Appellant AdvocateK. Kotayya, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateG. Chandra Sekhara Sastri, Adv.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Excerpt:
.....to widow and her daughters - plaintiff never claimed any right while property transferred by widow - assisted widow during transfer of disputed property - acted as witness before registrar - stayed with widow at time of transfer - plaintiff remained silent for 40 years - could be taken as his deemed consent to transaction - held, plaintiff not entitled to claimed property. - - from the year 1906, subbamma enjoyed the properties. from now onwards and' enjoy the property from son to grand-son with powers of sale, gift, mortgage and exchange neither myself nor my heirs will question neither yourself nor your heirs (sic). when you demand, i am prepared to relinquish the patta in my name and transfer it to your name. under the dakhal deed, she was clothed with the power to enjoy..........but, as mere possession, did not confer title, it became necessary that she should get a title deed from the person representing the estate at that time. as the widow represented the estate, she took the dakhal deed from her for the express purpose of securing title to the property that was in her pos-session. under the dakhal deed, she was clothed with the power to enjoy the property absolutely with all powers of alienation from son to grandson.the donor also undertook to clear the title at her expense if anybody obstructed her. the document, though not artistically drafted in effect and substance had purported to convey an absolute interest by the widow representing the estate at the time in favour of her daughter subbamma. it is true that the widow had no title to convey.....
Judgment:

Subba Rao, C.J.

1. This is a Letters Patent Appeal against the judgment of our learned brother Umamaheswaram J. In Second Appeal No. 574 of 1950.

2. The facts relevant to the question raised may be briefly stated. The plaint schedule land originally belonged to one Bhavanam Venkatareddi, who died intestate in 1902. He left behind him his widow Konamma and five daughters. It appears that, after the death of Venkatareddi, his daughters and his widow got into possession of different extents of land belonging to him. On 14-10-1906 Konamma executed a document styled dakhal deed in favour of one of her daughters Subbamma, whereunder she purported to confer title on her in respect of the plaint schedule items.

That dakhal deed, which is marked as Ex. B. 7 in the case, was attested by the plaintiff. It further shows that he was identifying witness also before the Registrar. The stamps affixed to the document disclose that they were purchased by him. It is also in evidence that he was staying with her at the time the document was executed. From the year 1906, Subbamma enjoyed the properties. On 3-4-1930, she made a gift of the same to her son to enable him to get married. The son, in his turn, gifted the said property to the defendant. It may, therefore, be accepted as an established fact that from 1906 upto the date when the suit was filed i.e., 1948, for a period of 42 years, this property was treated as the absolute property of Subbamma and her successor-in-interest.

The plaintiff filed O. S. No. 230 of 1948 on the file of the Court of the District Munsif, Tenali, for recovering the said property on the ground that, after the death of the widow Konamma and her five daughters, he, being the nearest reversioner, succeeded to it as the heir of the last male holder. It is not necessary to particularise the various defences raised in the courts below as nothing turns upon them. The only question with which we are now concerned is whether on the aforesaid facts, the plaintiff is estopped from claiming title to the said property.

3. The learned District Munsif, and, on appeal, the learned Subordinate Judge, without giving any consideration to the facts aforesaid, disposed of the plea with observation that no question of estoppel arises in the case. When the matter came before our learned brother Umamaheswaram J. learned counsel for the respondent raised various pleas, one of them being that the decision of the Full Bench in Ramakotayya v. Viraraghavayya, ILR 52 Mad 556: (AIR 1929 Mad 502) was wrongly decided.

By that time, as the Full Bench decision of this court in Subbarayudu v. The State, : AIR1955AP87 holding that the decisions of the Madras High Court delivered before 5-7-1954 would be binding on the Andhra High Court as they would be binding on the Madras High Court was not given, the learned Judge thought that it was open to him to ignore the decision of the Full Bench. The learned Judge held that the decision in ILR 52 Mad 556 : (AIR 1929 Mad 502) was not binding on him as it was wrongly decided.

Further the learned Judge also held that, under the aforesaid document, the widow did not purport to convey any title to Subbamma and than the acts attributed to the plaintiff did not amount to any unequivocal and definite act of consent on his part. On those findings, he dismissed the appeal and presumably because the learned Judge refused to follow the Full Bench decision of the Madras High Court, he gave leave to file an appeal.

4. In : AIR1955AP87 the Full Bench of this Court held that the decisions of the Madras High Court prior to 5th July, 1954 are binding on die High Court of Andhra. We are bound by the judgment of the Full Bench of the Madras High Court. Further, we are of the opinion that the Full Bench of the Madras High Court have correctly and authoritatively laid down the principles ofequity applicable to the case, of presumptive reversioners as early as 1929. It has stood the test of time and in innumerable decisions, not reported, the learned Judges of the Madras High Court have followed that decision. One of us (The Chief Justice) in Seetharamayya v. Chandrayyar. 1954-2 Mad LJ (Andhra) 162 at p. 167 : ((S) AIR 1953 Andhra 68 at pp 72-73) summarised the law on the subject as follows :

'During the lifetime of the widow, a presumptive reversioner has only a spes successionis in the estate of the last male holder and he cannot, therefore, purport to convey the said interest or otherwise deal with it. His rights in the property would be crystallised only after succession opens. But after succession opens Or even during the widow's lifetime he may elect to stand by the transaction entered into by the widow or otherwise ratify it, in which case he would be precluded from questioning the transaction. In this connection, the cases have dealt with three different aspects on the principle of estoppel (i) that. which is embodied in Section 115 of the Evidence Act (ii) election in the strict sense of the term whereby the person electing takes a benefit under the transaction and (iii) ratification i.e., agreeing to abide by the transaction. A presumptive reversioner, coming under any one of the aforesaid categories, is precluded from questioning the transaction when succession opens and when he becomes the actual reversioner'.

We adopt the aforesaid summary of law laid down in ILR 52 Mad 556 ; (AIR 1929 Mad 502) (FB) and the subsequent decisions following it

5. Even so, it is contended that, on the facts, there is no scope for the application of the doctrine of election laid down in the aforesaid decisions. It is said that, under the dakhal deed, the widow did not purport to confer absolute interest on Subbamma. The relevant portion of the document reads as follows :

'Dakhal deed executed by Bhavanam Ventata Reddi's wife Konamma in favour of Dodda Subbamma wife of Appireddi Garu, resident of Kothareddipalem, Guntur District.

The seri wet land of the value of Rs. 300/-descrihed in the schedule hereunder mentioned situated in the village of Pathareddipalem belonged originally to Bhavanam Venkata Reddi, who was your father and my husband. Subsequently, it fell to your share and has been in your rightful possession but the patta stands in the name of myself and others. The land fell to your share and came into your possession immediately after your father's death and as you do not have any public document you wanted me now to execute a gift deed. So, if you go on paying Government cist etc. from now onwards and' enjoy the property from son to grand-son with powers of sale, gift, mortgage and exchange neither myself nor my heirs will question neither yourself nor your heirs (sic). When you demand, I am prepared to relinquish the patta in my name and transfer it to your name. If any dispute' should arise with reference to this gift deed from gnatis, samantas and others I am prepared to spend my own money and have the gift deed affirmed'.

It is true that this document shows that, on the death of Venkatareddi, the suit property came into the possession of Subbanima, But, as mere possession, did not confer title, it became necessary that she should get a title deed from the person representing the estate at that time. As the widow represented the estate, she took the dakhal deed from her for the express purpose of securing title to the property that was in her pos-session. Under the dakhal deed, she was clothed with the power to enjoy the property absolutely with all powers of alienation from son to grandson.

The donor also undertook to clear the title at her expense if anybody obstructed her. The document, though not artistically drafted in effect and substance had purported to convey an absolute interest by the widow representing the estate at the time in favour of her daughter Subbamma. It is true that the widow had no title to convey absolute interest in favour of Subbanima. But the question of estoppel necessarily assumes that the person, who made the gift, had no title. We cannot, therefore, agree with the learned Judge that, under this document, no title was intended or indeed, as a matter of fact, conferred, upon the daughter.

6. The next question is whether there is sufficient evidence in this case to hold that the plaintiff agreed to abide by the act of the widow. From the aforesaid facts, if is seen that the transaction is 40 years old. People, who could give direct evidence, have passed away. Necessarily, the factum of consent can only be inferred from the conduct of the parties and the other contemporaneous circumstances. The plaintiff is the son of a sister of Subbanima. He was living in the house of his grand-mother. He purchased the stamps, attested the document and identified his grand-mother at the Registrar's office. Is it likely that the plaintiff, who was assisting his grand-mother in bringing about this document did not know the contents of the document?

Indeed, the circumstances amply disclose that the plaintiff brought about this document by taking all the preliminary and necessary steps and also by attesting the document after it was executed. Subsequently, all these years he never questioned the validity of the transaction and Subbamma, who took an absolute interest under the document, exercised her absolute rights by conveying the property to others, who, in their turn, conveyed it to the defendant. On these facts, we have no hesitation to hold that the plaintiff agreed to abide by the act of the widow in conferring an absolute interest under Ex. B. 7 to Subbamma. As the plaintiff agreed to the conveyance under Ex. B. 7 in law he is precluded from questioning its validity.

7. In the result, the judgment of the learned Judge is set aside and the appeal is allowed with, costs throughout.


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