1. This is a defendant's appeal against a judgment and decree of Mr. Behari Lal, Subordinate Judge 1st Class, dated 23-3-1948 decreeing the plaintiffs' suit for possession.
2. The parties belong to Sandhanwalia family and their relationship will be clear from the pedigree-table, Exh. D7 which is at page 124 of the paper book and the pedigree-table given at page 68 of the paper book which when combined is as follows:
S. AMIR SINGH
| | | |
S. Attarsingh S. Budhsingh S. Wasawa Singh S. Lehna Singh
| | (His descendants are owners in |
S. Kehr Singh S. Shamsher Singh Randhir Singh) |
| | |
Sardarni Har Kaur S. Bakhshish Singh adopted son |
S. Raghbir Singh |
| | | |
S. Partap Singh S. Thakar Singh S. Gurdit Singh S. Bakhshish Singh (adorted by
| | _________|___________ S. Shamsher Singh;
adopted son of the widows S. Narindar Singh | |
| S. Pritam Singh S. Sarop Singh
Sardarni Asil Kaur=S. Gurbachan Singh
Baldev Kaur (daughter) Karam Kaur (daughter)(Plaintiff 2)
Rajwant Singh (Plaintiff 1) Dhanraj Singh
Prithraj Singh (Defendant 12) Bawishraj Singh (Defendant 13)
3. On 16-8-1944 the plaintiffs brought a suit for possession of 6390 'kanals' 1 'marla' of land In 'mauza' Raja Sansi, 1653 kanals 9 'marlas' of land in Saidupura and one-sixth share in a 'bunga' and a 'tavela' situate in Amritsar town alleging that the property was non-ancestral and they as the daughter and daughter's sons of S. Gurbachan Singh and Sardarni Asil Kaur were preferential heirs of S. Gurbachan Singh and Sardarni Asil Kaur as against defendants 1 to 8 who were the collaterals. Defendants 9 to 11 are alleged to be alienees of some portions of the property in dispute from the collaterals and defendants 12 and 13 were the sons of Dhanraj Singh, a son of Baldev Kaur. On 9-2-1948 defendants 12 and 13 applied to be transposed as plaintiffs and this was allowed.
4. The defence was that the property was ancestral and the collaterals were therefore preferential heirs as against the daughters or their sons.
5. The issues which are relevant for the purposes of the appeal are: '1. Whether the suit is barred by time?
5A. Whether the property in suit belonged to S. Gurbachan Singh?
5B. If so, was it ancestral property? 5C. Had it become the full ownership of Sardarni Asil Kaur?
6. Are the plaintiffs rightful heirs of Sardarni Asil Kaur or S. Gurbachan Singh?'
6. The trial Court found that the suit was not barred by limitation, part of the propertyin dispute was held by S. Gurbachan Singh and part of it was inherited by his widow after the death of S. Gurbachan Singh by collateral succession on the death of Sardarni Har Kaur widow of S. Kehr Singh, that Sardarni Asil Kaur had not become the full owner of the property and the property in dispute was not ancestral and therefore the plaintiffs were better heirs than the defendants.
7. Two questions have been raised in this Court, one of limitation and the other of the ancestral nature of the property. According to the defendants, Sardarni Asil Kaur died on 16-8-1932 and according to plaintiffs on 17-8-1932. A copy of the death entry was produced by the plaintiffs which is Exh. P. 45 shows that this lady died on the 17th August. The learned Judge found that she died on the 17th August and the suit which was brought on 16-8-1944 was within time. The defendants have relied on Exh. P. 46 which is a copy of the mutation made on the death of Sardarni Asil Kaur. The learned Judge has rightly held that there is no presumption of correctness attached to a mutation as to the date of death of the last holder. But even if the date of death was the 16-8-1932 that will make no difference as the suit was brought on 16-8-1944 which would be within time.
8. The next question to be decided is as to whether the property is ancestral or otherwise. Exhibit p. 40 is the history of the foundation of the village which is printed at page 79 of the paper book. Therein it is stated that during the time that, Raja Hira Singh was the Wazirthe entire village was destroyed and demolished and later on in 'Sambat' 1901 i. e. year 1844, at the request of S. Shamsher Singh tne mother of Maharaja Dalip Singh under a writ of Maharaja Dalip Singh rpcalled S. Kehr Singh, S. Ranjodh Singh, S. Partap Singh and S. Thakar Singh who were then living across the Sutlej and the Sardars made the village 'abad' at the place where it was originally founded and
'where it exists now by spending lot of money. At that very time otner proprietors too came and settled in it. Since that time it has all along been 'abad' and known by the said very previous name.'
9. The Sandhanwalia Sardars Lehna Singh & his brothers were collaterals of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the fifth degree. 'Chiefs and Families of Note in the Punjab' by Sir Lepel Grirfin shows that this family in the time of the Maharaja attained a position of honour and respect. S. Amir Singli, the father of S. Lehna Singh accompanied the Maharaja in his Kasur campaign and when on the death of Raja Jai Singh of Jammu his territory was seised, a portion of it was made over to S. Amir Singh. Two years later S. Budh Singh a brother of S. Lehna Singli and the father of S. Shamsher Singh was introduced into the service of the Maharaja by his father S. Amir Singh and he was given the command of the army at Bahawalour and because of their distinguished services' to the Maharaja the family of S. Amir Singh received several 'ilaqas' worth Rs. 1,80,000/-. When S. Amir Singh died all the 'jagirs' amounting to over rupees six lacs were continued to S. Attar Singh, S. Lehna Singh, S. Basawa Singh and S. Shamsher Singh.
10. After Maharaja Nautiihal Singh was killed whether by accident or design, the claims of his mother Maharani Chsnd Kaur the widow of Maharaja Kharak Singh were supported by the Sandhanwalia party and Prince Sher Singh was favoured by the party of Raja Dhian Singh and others of Jammu. Thus there arose the bitterest enmity between the Sandhanwalias and Raja Dhian Singh's party.
11. On 15-9-1843 S. Ajit Singh, nephew Of S. Lehna Singh, assassinated Maharaja Sher Singh and S. Lehna Singh assassinated Prince Partap Singh, the son of Maharaja Sher Singh and then Raja Dhian Singh was shot by tne same audacious chief 'who had just imbrued his hands in the blood of their common master' (Cunningham's History of the Sikhs, page 370). Raja Hira Singh succeeded his father Raja Dhian Singh. S. Lehna Singh was slain and S. Ajit Singh while attempting to escape fell from the lofty walls of the fort and died. Dalip Singh was then proclaimed as the Maharaja and Raja. Hira Singh was raised to the high and 'fatal' office of Wazir. During this period the 'jagirs' and chief and the properties of S. Lehna Singh and S. Ajit Singh and other Sindhanwalias were confiscated.
12. In Cunningham's History of the Sikhs published in 1849 at page 271 it is stated: 'Dhuleep Singh was then proclaimed Maharaja and Heera Sineh was raised to the high and fatal office of Vuzeer; but he was all powerful for the moment; the Sindhanwala possessions were confiscated, and their dwelling razed to the ground.'
13. In Latifs History of the Punjab, 1916 edition, at page 416 tqe statement is as follows: 'The possessions and 'jagirs' of the Sindhan-walas in Raja Sansi and elsewhere were confiscated, and tneir houses razed to the ground.'
14. In Griffin's Chiefs and Families of Note in the Punjab, Vol. I, it is stated at pages 407 and 408:
'Raja Hira Singh, on obtaining power, confiscated all the 'jagirs' of the Sindhanwalia family except those of Sardar Shamshor Singh, who was at Peshawar & had not joined in the conspiracy. He destroyed Raja Sansi, the family seat, ploughed up the ground on which their palace had stood, and hunted down all their friends and adherents.'
The surviving members of the Sandhanwalia family with S. Attar Singh fled across the Sutlej.
15. After Raja Hira Singh was himself assassinated, S. Jawahar Singh, a brother of Rani Jind Kaur, became the Wazir and he called Sandhanwalias from exile and promised to restore all their 'jagirs'. In March 1845 they received out of the old estate jagir to the value of Rs. 1,76,000/-. It is clear from this that the properties of S. Lehna Singh and S. Ajit Singh were confiscated when Raja Hira Singh came into power. The acquisition of the properties was therefore by S. Kehr Singh and others who were recalled by Rani Jind Kaxir and the pro-perty would therefore be non-ancestral in the hands of the descendants of S. Kehr Singh and others as it came to Kehr Singh and others by grant and not succession.
16. Although the property in that appeal was different but there has been a decision in regard to the properties of this family in a previous case in which the parties were the same as in the present suit. This judgment is Ex. P-32 which is printed at page 119 of the paper book and is a decision of a Division Bench (Daiip Singh and Bhide, JJ.). The dispute there arose between the daughters and collaterals because of a gift made by Sardarni Asil Kaur in favour of Bibi Baldev Kaur who brought a suit for possession. At page 120 of the paper book the learned Judges said as follows:
'In the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh this family rose to great influence and Sardar Budh Singh was ons of the famous Generals of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. After the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh during the time of Maharaja Sher Singh the family fell out of favour and Sardar Lehna Singh the common ancestor of Sardar Gurbachan Singh and the present defendants, had his 'jagirs' confiscated. It is not clear on this record whether the ancestral land in Raja Sansi village itself was also confiscated by Maharaja Sher Singh. This happened some time in 'sambat' 1898 corresponding to 1841 of the Christian era. The Sardar, however, was recalled by Maharaja Sher Singh and then Sardar Lehna Singh and his nephew Sardar Ajit Singh were concerned in a much more serious political turmoil which culminated in the deaths of Maharaja Sher Singh, his son Raja Partap Singh and in the death of Sardar Lehna Singh and Ajit Singh. In this turmoil Raja Dhian Singh, the then Minister of Maharaia Sher Singh, had also been killed by the followers of Sardar Lehna Singh and Sardar Ajit Singh. The son of Raja Dhian Singhknown as Raja Hira Singh became the Minister of the minor Maharaja Dalip Singh. To revenge his father's death the properties of S. Lehna Singh, etc. were confiscated and Raja Sansi, the ancestral village, was ordered to be ploughed up and was actually so ploughed up. The entire village was demolished and the adherents of the Sandhanwalia Sardars and the other proprietors of the village were all driven away and fled in different directions. All these facts are shown in the 'kali-flat deh' printed at page 118 of the printed paper book and Griffin's book of Punjab Chiefs pages 401 to 411.'
There also the property was held to be non-ancestral.
17. With regard to the 'bunga' and the tavela' there is no evidence to show that they are ancestral.
18. Thus the evidence on the record shows that the whole of the property in dispute is non-ancestral & therefore the daughters & their sons are preferential heirs as against the collaterals. The suit has therefore been rightly decreed.
19. On the date of hearing in this Court an application was made by Mr. Gandhi on behalf of three persons, Dhaiiraj Kaur, Bhagwant Kaur and Gursharan Kaur, who are all descendants of a daughter of S. Gurcharan Singh but as they were never parties to these proceedings before, we refused to make them parties particularly when they had come at such a late stage and the dispute between them and the collaterals and even the plaintiffs might raise different questions of fact and law.
20. In the result this appeal fails and is dismissed with costs throughout.
21. I agree.