1. This is an appeal by a defendant, Raja Ram, against a decision of the learned Civil Judge of Meerut. The plaintiff, Joti Prasad, brought a suit alleging that he was the adopted son of Munshi Lal and claimed the property detailed in the plaint of which admittedly Munshi Lal was the last male owner. Munshi Lal died leaving two widows, Mt. Chhajia and Mt. Jagni and the plaintiff alleged that Munshi Lal had executed a written authority which is Ex. 9, to the widows to adopt him Joti Prasad. He alleged that he had actually been adopted by the widows. The learned Civil Judge decreed the suit and the appellant's counsel has repeated what was stated in the written statement, namely, that the document purporting to be authority to adopt is a forgery and that consequently the widows had no authority and in any case they did not adopt the plaintiff; and finally if they did so the adoption was invalid because adoption by two widows together is not permitted by Hindu law. The defendant alleged: that there was a gift in his favour made by one widow, Mt. Chhajia, but this is immaterial because if the plaintiff was validly adopted the gift was invalid and if the plaintiff cannot establish his adoption it is immaterial whether the appellant obtained title by this deed of gift or not. The plaintiff brought this suit because after the execution of the deed of gift in the year 1933 the defendant-appellant obtained possession. Admittedly Munshi Lal, the last owner of the property in suit, died on 10th November 1918. The document purporting to confer authority on the widows to adopt is dated 27th October 1918.
2. There are four attesting witnesses, Rama Datta Patwari, Rup Ram Agarwala, by profession trader, Mora Jat, lambardar, and Bhikka Brahmin, all of Sarurpur where Munshi Lal resided. No question has been put in cross-examination suggesting that any of these witnesses have any reason to give false evidence in support of the case of the plaintiff or to defeat the defendant-appellant of his rights. It has been urged that the signature of Rama Dutta Patwari on this deed is shaky and a Qanungo has been produced by the defendant-appellant to state that it was not till some six years after this deed was executed that the Patwari's writing became shaky. The suggestion is, therefore, that this deed was prepared shortly before this case was instituted and for the purposes of this case. Two documents bearing signatures of the same Patwari have been produced for purposes of comparison. One is of the year 1920 and the other is of the year 1928. It may be that the signature in the deed of the year 1928 is more shaky than the signature in the deed of 1920 but we are satisfied by examining these documents that both the signatures are shaky. The Qanungo who gave evidence for the appellant says that he cannot say from looking at writings whether they are shaky or not and he noticed Ram Dutta Patwari's hand shake in the year 1924. This was not an occasion when the Patwari wrote anything and it would appear, therefore, that in the year 1924 the hand of the Patwari was very shaky. This does not disprove the fact that it could have been shaky though possibly to a lesser degree in the year 1918 when this power of adoption was executed. We may further note that the other two documents containing the signatures of this patwari are stamp sheets of smooth paper while this authority to adopt is rough Badami thin paper on which the signature of a man with a somewhat shaky hand would be more shaky than if he had written on smooth white paper. We consider that this shakiness of Ram Dutta Patwari's signature is in itself quite insufficient to cast doubt on his evidence or the evidence of the other three attesting witnesses who are persons of different castes and who have no reason to favour the plaintiff.
3. The defendant-appellant has also produced a hand-writing expert who had only started practice for a year when he gave evidence before the Court. His remarks are somewhat general and he has given insufficient details for one to be able to rely on what he says. He had after all only one disputed signature of Munshi Lal compared with three other signatures written at different times, again on smooth white paper. The expert says that the signature on the power of adoption is in the form of a drawing, that is to say, slow writing but it must be remembered that if this deed is genuine Munshi Lal executed it 13 days before he died and when he was suffering from fever. If his signature should differ from other signatures of his this is not to be wondered at. We do not think that it would be safe to rely in any way on the evidence of the expert. As regards the actual adoption of the plaintiff, apart from his evidence there is the evidence of Mt. Jagni, a pro forma defendant and one of the two widows of Munshi Lal as well as the evidence of Niadar, brother of the other widow Mt. Chhajia who had died, Nannu, the pandit of the family of Munshi Lal who claims to have officiated at the adoption, and one Raghubir Saran of the same community as the deceased, Munshi Lal, a person of some status in the village as he pays Rupees 800 Government revenue.
4. Apart from the statements of these witnesses, there is documentary evidence to the effect that from the year 1922 Joti Prasad was described as the adopted son of the two widows of Munshi Lal, for instance, receipts for profits given him by the lambardar of the year 1922 described the plaintiff as the adopted son of Mt. Chhajia and Jagni and this description also appears in a sale deed executed by one Shri Chand of the village in favour of Joti Prasad. There is, it is true, a document executed in the same year as the sale deed by a vendor in favour of Mt. Jagni, widow of Munshi Lal, Joti Prasad and Mulchand, sons of Lakhi Ram, but we do not think that this description of Joti Prasad whose name appears directly before that of his natural brother, is of any great value in view of all the other documents in which he has been described as the adopted son of the two widows of Munshi Lal. We see no reason, therefore, to differ from the opinion of the learned Civil Judge that this document containing the power of adoption is genuine and that the two widows adopted the plaintiff.
5. Learned Counsel for the appellant had then argued that authority to two widows jointly to adopt a son is invalid on the ground that two widows cannot adopt one boy as it is impossible for both of them to become the adopted mother of the boy. This deed conferring the power of adoption authorised both the wives to adopt the plaintiff and if either of them was not willing to adopt him then the other was at liberty to do so. The widows, therefore, both jointly and severally were empowered to adopt the plaintiff. In support of his contention learned Counsel for the appellant has referred us to Narasimha Appa Row v. Parthasarathy Appa Row ('13) 37 Mad. 199 (at page 218) a decision of their Lordships of the Privy Council. This contention was raised before their Lordships but they did not decide the point as it was unnecessary to do so in that ease. Their Lordships did say that there would be considerable confusion in the case of inheritance from the parents of the widows of the last male owner. It would appear to us that the real intention of Munshi Lal in this case was to give each of the wives primarily the power to adopt with the consent of the other and secondarily, if this consent was not received, to adopt even against the will of the other. It appears from the evidence in the case that the actual adoption was carried out by Mt. Chhajia and Mt. Jagni was present and approved of it but did not take the same part in the ceremony as Mt. Chhajia. There is no authority to the effect that such authority is invalid and we, therefore, hold that the adoption of the plaintiff Joti Prasad was valid. We, therefore, dismiss the appeal with costs.