Skip to content


Murli Dhar Vs. Pitambar Lal and - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtAllahabad
Decided On
Judge
Reported in66Ind.Cas.372
AppellantMurli Dhar
RespondentPitambar Lal and ;manni Lal and ors.
Cases ReferredHanuman Prasad v. Muhammed Ishaq
Excerpt:
.....duty of- hindu law--joint family mortgage by karta, suit on--karta, whether proper guardian of minor member. - - if in such suit it was found that there had been irregularity in the appointment of the guardian, then, if the court was satisfied that the minor was prejudiced, the decree against the minor was void, [bait nath rai v. where the defendant is a minor, the court, on being satisfied of the fast of his minority, shall appoint a proper person to be guardian for the suit for such minor. he endorsed a note on the duplicate returned to court,in the mahajani character (which the court apparently could cot read), refusing to act as guardian. it made a sad mistake it is true, but a court has jurisdiction to decide wrong as well as right. 353, the requirements of..........and appointed him guardian without further enquiry. on the date fixed for the hearing of the suit ghazi din appeared and confessed judgment both on his own behalf and on behalf of the minor, and the mortgagees' suit was thereupon decreed. there was no irregularity in the procedure laid down in order xxxii, rule 3. but that procedure is only enacted to enable the court to appoint & proper person as a guardian. i think that if the nominated guardian does not appear, the court may assume that he consents to being appointed, but that does not absolve the court from acquiring into the question whether he is a proper person to represent the minor. in fact, where, as here, the mortgage was made by the karta of the joint property of himself and the minor, i think even if the karta.....
Judgment:

Ryves, J.

1. Ghazi Din and his first cousin, Pitamber, formed a joint Hindu family of which Ghazi Din was the Harta. Pitambar was a minor. On the 27th of Apr 1 1913 Ghazi Din made a mortgage of the joint family property in favour of Munni lal and Kashi Prasad. The mortgagees sued Ghazi Din and Pitambar, under the guardian ship of Ghazi Din, on foot of their mortgage. Ghazi Din confessed judgment and a preliminary decree was passed on the 3Oth of March 1916. This was duly made final and the property was attached and put up for sale, and the 6th of February 1918 was the date fixed for the sale. On that date Pitambar, still a minor, filed the suit out of which this appeal arises, against Kashi Prasad and the representatives of Munni lal, the mortgagees, and Ghazi Din for a declaration that the decree in the former suit was void and illegal as sgainst the plaintiff and that he is not bound by it and that in execution of the acid States the remaining half of the joint family property was not saleable. The property was sold and purchased by Murli Dbar, and the sale was confirmed on the 9th of March 1918. On the 22nd of March 1918 the plaint was amended, Murli Dbar was made a defendant, and an additional Clause was inserted in the plaint to the effect that in execution of the decree in the said suit the house was sold by auction on the 6th of February 918 and was purebased by defendant No, 4, that is, Murli Dhar, and an additional prayer was added for a declaration that the said salts was void and illegal. It was alleged in the plaint that the mortgagees, in spise of their having knowledge of the fast that the rights of Ghazi Din were adverse to those of the plaintiff, appointed him the guardian of the plaintiff, and collasion with him obtained a decree ; that in fact there was no lawful guardian of the plaintiff; that the whole proceedings were kept coneealed from the mother of the plaintiff who only got to know of the suit when execution was taken out ; that Ghazi Din had no power to execute the mortgage deed and that it was not for the benefit of the plaintiff.

2. The First Court found that the mortgage was not made for family necessity or for the benefit of the family. It also found, however, that there was no evidence to show collusion between Ghazi Din and the mortgagees, and that the plaintiff was properly represented in the former suit. It, nevertheless, dismissed the suit. On appeal the Court below upheld the finding that the mortgage was not executed for legal necessity or the benefit of the, minor and it further found that Ghazi Din wan not a proper person to be appointed guardian in the suit, and on this ground it allowed the appeal and decreed the suit

3. This appeal is by the auction-purchaser; The connected Appeal .No. 736 of 1920 is by the mortgagees.

4. It was argued vary strenuously by Dr. Katju for the appellant that Murli Dhar, being a stranger to the litigation, 'was justified in believing that the Court has done that whish by the direction of the Code it ought to do' [Malkarjun v. Narkari (1) '. He further argued, relying on the same case, that the only Court competent to decide who was a proper person to be the guardian of the minor was the Judge in whose Court the suit was Sled. He decided very naturally that Ghazi Din, the karta of the family, was a proper person and he had jurisdiction so to decide, and so, even if he decided wrongly, his decision is binding and the minor cannot re-open the question in the absence of fraud or collusion.

5. With reference to certain rulings of this Court, which will be noticed later, his argument was, that the utmost length to which they went was, that where it was apparent that there had been an irregularity in the procedure adopted by the Court in the appointment of a guardian, then, and then only, could the Court enquire into the question whether the minor had been prejudiced, and if it found that the minor had not been prejudiced, the decree stood, even if in fact no guardian at all had been formally -'appointed Walian v. Banke Behari (sic) Singh (2) 30 C. 1021 at p. 1031 : 30 I. A. 182 : 7 C. W. N. 77'. : 5 Bom. L. R, 22 : 8 Sar. P. C J. 5 2 VP. C.) and Collector of Meerut v. nrao Singh (3).] In this case it is said there was no irregularity in the procedure are, and no fraud or collusion was found.

6. On behalf of the respondents it has been argued that, if the minor was not properly represented in the suit, the decree and every thing that followed from it, was, so far as the minor was concerned, a nullity. In order to ascertain whether he had been properly represented it was necessary to go into the facts, and that could only be done in most cases in a subsequent suit. If in such suit it was found that there had been irregularity in the appointment of the guardian, then, if the Court was satisfied that the minor was prejudiced, the decree against the minor was void, [Bait Nath Rai v. Dharam Deo Tewari (4) followed in Chatter Singh v. Ten Singh (5)] and, a fortiori, if it was found that the guardian appointed was not a proper person, that was a gross irregularity which inevitably avoided the decree. Before deading which of these arguments should be adopted, I propose to sat out the provisions of the Code applicable, and the fasts leading up to the appointment of Ghazi Din as guardian ad item to his minor cousin and his subsequent conduct. Order XXXII, Rule 3 (l) provides: Where the defendant is a minor, the Court, on being satisfied of the fast of his minority, shall appoint a proper person to be guardian for the suit for such minor.'

6. Sub-paragraph (3) 29 Ind; cas 2 '0 : 13 A. L. J. 437. of the rule provides that an application for the appointment of a guardian 'shall be supported by an affidavit verifying the fact that the proposed guardian has no interest in the matters in controverey in the suit adverse to that of the minor and that he is a fit person to be so appointed'

7. Sub-paragraph (4) 5 Ind Cas 707 : 38 A. 31 : 14 A. L. J. 353 directs that 'no order shall be made on any application under this rule except upon notice to the minor and to any guardian of the minor appointed or declared by an authority competent in that behalf, or, where there is no such guardian, upon notice to the father or other natural guardian, of the minor or, where there is no father or other natural guardian, to the person in whose are the minor is, and after hearing any objection which may be urged on behalf of any person served with notice under this sub rule'. Rule 4 of the same Order defines who is a proper person, namely, 'any person who is of sound mind and has attained majority may sot as the next friend of a minor or as his guardian for the suit, provided that the interest of such person is not adverse to that of the minor ' It is further directed that 'no person shall, without his consent, be appointed guardian for the suit.'

8. When the mortgagees filed their suit against Ghazi Din and the plaintiff, they stated that the latter was a minor and that he and Ghazi Din formed a joint Hindu family of which Ghazi Din was the karta. They filed an affidavit to this effect and stated therein that Ghazi Din had no adverse interest to the minor and was a fit person to be appointed his guardian. They did not state that the mother of the minor was alive.

9. Thereupon notices were issued to the minor and to Ghent Din. The notice to the minor was affixed to the doer of his house. Ghazi Din was served personally. He endorsed a note on the duplicate returned to Court,in the Mahajani character (which the Court apparently could cot read), refusing to act as guardian. The attention of the Court was not drawn to this endorsement either by the serving peon or by anybody else. I do not think, however, that anything turns on this circumstance. It was the duty of GLazi Din to appear in obedience to the notice and object, if so advised. He did not appear, and the Court, not unnaturally, concluded from his abstention that he consented, and appointed him guardian without further enquiry. On the date fixed for the hearing of the suit Ghazi Din appeared and confessed judgment both on his own behalf and on behalf of the minor, and the mortgagees' suit was thereupon decreed. There was no irregularity in the procedure laid down in Order XXXII, Rule 3. But that procedure is only enacted to enable the Court to appoint & proper person as a guardian. I think that if the nominated guardian does not appear, the Court may assume that he consents to being appointed, but that does not absolve the Court from acquiring into the question whether he is a proper person to represent the minor. In fact, where, as here, the mortgage was made by the karta of the joint property of himself and the minor, I think even if the karta consented to be guardian, a duty was cast on the Court to consider whether the karta, who could not repudiate his own mortgage, was at all a proper person to represent the minor. It is quite clear that the Court could only appoint a proper person as defined in Rule 4. If it appoints a person disqualified under that rule it seems to me it commits an illegality rather than a mere irregularity. Suppose, for instance. the Court, merely relying on a false affidavit of a plaintiff, appointed a lunatic to be the gurdian ad litem of a minor defend. ant, could it possibly be maintained that the minor was properly represented, and that, even if no steps were taken to defend the minor's interests, nevertheless the minor could never challenge the decree pasted against him

10. I think it only necessary to give this instance to show that Dr, Katju's main argument is far too breadly stated. In the present case, however, he points cut that the person appointed was the kartc, the natural person to be the guardian and whose interest would not necessarily be adverse to the minor's, and h is therefore suggested that the Court was right in appointing him.

11. The case in Malkarjun v. Narhari 25 B. 337 : 5 C. W. N. 10 : 2 Bom. L. R. 927 : 27 I. A. 216 : 10 M. L. J. 368 : 7 Sar, P. C. J. 739 (P. C.), was considered by their lordships of the Privy Council in Khiaramal V. Daim 2 A. L. J. 71 : 33 C. 206: 9 C. W. N. 201 : 7 Bom. L. R. 1 : 1 C. L. J. 581 : 32 I. A. 23 : 8 Sar, P. C. J. 731 (P. C.), Lord Davey there said (at page 76 of the Law Journal Report); ''Their Lordships agree that; the sales cannot be treated as void or now be avoided on the grounds of any mareirregularities of procedure in obtaining the decrees or in the execution of them. But, on the other hand, the Court had no jurisdiction to sell the property of persons who were not parties to the proceedings or properly represented on the record. As against such parsons, the decrees and sales purporting to be made would be a nullity and might be disregarded without any proceeding to set them aside.'

12. And, later on, after giving the facts of the Bombay case, went on to say at Page 78, 'In so doing the Court was exercising its jurisdiction. It made a sad mistake it is true, but a Court has jurisdiction to decide wrong as well as right. If it decides wrong, the wronged party can only take the course prescribed for setting matters right, and if that course is not taken, the decision, however- wrong, cannot he disturbed'' and proaseded: ' Their Lordships think that these observations do not apply to the case now before them. In suits Nos, 372 of 1879 and No, 164 of 1878 the Judge s(sic)eoms to have accepted without question the statement on the record that Amir Baksh was legal representative of Nauraz and Alahnawaz was, his guardian, and never applied his mind to the matter. Doubtless, he would have done no if the suits had proceeded in the ordinary course, but in the former case the proceedings were cut short by the agreement for reference, and in the latter case it was in effect a consent decree. It was not, therefore, the case of an erroneous decision, ruling or exercise of discretion of the Judge in a matter in which the Court had jurisdiction. Their Lordships think that the estate of Nauriz was not represented in law or in fact in either of the suits, and the sale of his property was, therefore, without jurisdiction and null and void,' I think that these remarks exactly apply bore. The Court did not apply its mind to the question whether Ghazi Din was a proper person having regard to the provied to Rule 4. If it had only read the mortgage-deed, it must have been put on enquiry.

13. I think the matter is really concluded by the decision of this Court in Baij Nath Rai v. Dharam Deo Tewari 25 Ind Cas 280 : 13 A. L. J. 437, which was followed in Chhatter Singh v. Tej Singh 59 Ind. Cas 671 : 43 A. 104 : 18 A. L. J. 956 : 2 U. P. L. R. (A.) 384, It may be noted that the same argument was raised in that case. Mr. Agarwala is reported to have argued [Bait Nath Bat v. Dharam Deo Tewari 25 Ind. Cas. 707 : 38 A. 31*** : 14 A. L. J. 353, 'The requirements of Section 456 of the old Code having been complied with, and the Court having once passed an order appointing Bhondu Tewari as guardian adlitem, there is an absolute presumption that the Court had satisfied itself on the materials before it that he was a fit and proper person to be so appointed and that he had no interest adverse to that of the minors. Throughout the course of the proceedings in the former suit there was nothing to indicate that he was not such a person or that he had any adverse interest. No exception was taken to the appointment either by Bhondu Tewari himself or by his adult son who was a defendant in that suit and whose interest, at nil events, would be identical with that of his minor brothers. When a guardian ad litem has been appointed of a minor defendant in a suit, then, unless the minor shows that the guardian anted fraudulently and in collusion with the plaintiffs, the minor is bound by the decree passed in that suit.'

14. The Court, however, overruled this argument.

15. From all these authorities, which have already been sited, it is abundantly clear that in all such eases where a minor subsequently sues to set aside a decree as against him on the ground that he was not properly represented, the merits have to be gone into. Indeed in the case relied on by Dr. Katju, viz., Collector of Meerut v. Umrao Singh 29 Ind Cas. 280 13 A. L. J. 437, the decision of the Court seems to have' bean that it was necessary first of all to enquire whether the minor had bean prejudiced by the appointment of the guardian, because, if it found that he had not been prejudiced, then it was unnecessary to go into any other question.

16. Now, it seems to follow that there must, first of all, be an investigation into the merits. In this case it has been found that Ghezi Din was only 21 years of age when be executed the mortgage. It was stated in the mortgage deed that the money was borrowed 'for home expenses and also for the improvement of the theka business in the Sheoghar market'. There were no details given of these 'home expenses,' and it was found by both Courls, quite definitely, that the mortgagees' allegations that the money was required for the marriage of a daughter and the payment of certain debts were false, and that the theka business in the market was a private speculation of Ghazi Din's and, that the minor was in no way concerned in it and got no benefit from it Having come to this finding, the lower Appellate Court held that the Trial Court having found that the mortgage was invalid against the minor could not consistently find that the minor was properly represented. He said: 'I think that both findings cannot go together. If you once say that the elder consin mortgaged the property of the minor without proper grounds for the tansfer, how can yon say that the man who threw away, so to say, the property of the minor wag a right and fit person to have been appointed guardian, for the purpose of contesting the very transfer which ought to have been contested in the interest of the minor.'

17. Now, the real facts were known of course to the mortgagees. They knew, therefore, that the interest of Ghazi Din was adverse to the minor and they deceived the Court by their affidavit that he was a proper guardian. I think it is only necessary to cite one more case which, although not mentioned at the Bar, if, I think, very mush in point. It is Hanuman Prasad v. Muhammed Ishaq 28 A, 137 : 2 A. L. J. 615; A. W. N. (1905) 229, in that case also the auction purchaser was a stranger to the mortgage suit, Stanley, C. J., and Burkitt, J., said: 'Now the provisions of Section 443 (of the old Code) are imperative.' Section 433 of the old Code is' the same in substance as Order XXXII, Rule 3 25 B. 337 : 5 C. W. N. 10 : 2 Bom L. R. 927 : 27 I. A. 216 : 10 M. L. J. 368 : 7 Sar. P. C. J. 739 (P. C.), of the Present Code. They direst that where ft defendant is a miror, direst the Court shall appoint a proper person to be guardian for the suit for such minor to put in a defence and generally to act on his behalf in the conduct of the case. It is abundantly clear in this case that Munna Das was not a proper person whom the Court, if it had been made aware of the facts, would have appointed as guardian. In the first place, he was the mortgagor who purported to mortgage as his own, the property which be afterwards alleged was the property of his ward. He, therefore, had a conf***icting interest-an interest which should have precluded any Court from appointing him as guardian ad litem in a suit brought by the mortgagees of Munna' Das. it is perfectly clear that the Court had not the fasts before if; and it alto appears to us to be clear that the Court was never sailed upon by the plaintiff, whose duty it was to see that a proper person was appointed guardian ad litem, to appoint such a guardian. The fast is, that Hanuman Prasad was not properly represented as a party to that suit, and, therefore, any decree whish was passed against him, was a mere nullity.' For the masons given above, having regard to the various decisions which have bean sited, I think the decree of the Court below was right and would dismiss the appeal with costs.

Lisisay J.

18. I agree.

19. The appeal is dismissed with costs including in this Court fees, if any, on the higher ssale.


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