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Jairamgurnami Vs. Shantagurnani - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revision Appeal No. 657 of 1975
Judge
Reported in15(1979)DLT8
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 - Order 32, Rule 2
AppellantJairamgurnami
RespondentShantagurnani
Advocates: S. Pappu and; J.R. Tandon, Advs
Cases ReferredP.P. Ar. Rm. Sp. Ramanathan Chettiar v. A.R.R.M. Somasundaram Chettiar Air
Excerpt:
.....for a notice to and hearing of the objections of the other party and that is what is meant by an inquiry. rule 15 also envisages an inquiry in the case of persons who though do not already stand adjudged as of unsound mind and yet, are by reason of unsoundness of mind, or mental infirmity incapable of protecting their interests in the litigation.; lastly, that the scope of court's inquiry under order 32 rule 15 was to find out whether the person instituting the proceeding was incapable of protecting his interest by reason of unsoundness of mind or mental infirmity. - - section 141 of the code clearly lays down that the procedure provided by it ahall be applied in all proceedings in a court of civil jurisdiction. that clearly is the consequence of sections 4 and 141 of the code. if..........for a notice to and hearing of the objections of the other party and that is what is meant by an inquiry. rule 15 also envisages an inquiry in the case of persons who though do not already stand adjudged as of unsound mind and yet, are by reason of unsoundness of mind, or mental infirmity incapable of protecting their interests in the litigation. in a. s. mohammad ibrahim ummal alias shahul hameed urnmal of unsound mind by next friend m.t.s. mohammad thambi v. shaik mohammad marakayar and another a.i.r. 1949 mad. 292, it was observed that when the question of unsoundness of mind of the plaintiff arose under order 32 rule 15, the court had ample jurisdiction to enquire into the question whether the plaintiff was really by reason of unsoundness of mind or mental infirmity incapable of.....
Judgment:

M.L. Jain, J.

(1) The parties have a son Babloo, who was born on April 26, 1974, and is in the custody of his mother, respondent Mrs. Shanta. The law is that the father is the natural guardian of his legitimate minor son and the mother ordinarily has the custody of a child who has not completed the age of five years. And yet the father Jairam Gurnani filed an application on June 7, 1975, for his appointment as a guardian of the child and for obtaining its custody from the mother. Respondent Mrs. Shanta moved an application under Order 32 Rules 3 read with Rule 15 and section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, that the petitioner was suffering from 'paranoia' and was of unsound mind and thereforee could not institute the application without the appointment of a next friend. The application was in fact under Rule 2 and not under Rule 3 which provides for such an application by a plaintiff or a petitioner against a defendant or a respon- dent. The petitioner contested the application. The learned Guardian Judge, Delhi, considering the allegations made and the documents produced by them, found it necessary to hold an inquiry into the matter, and on October 10, 1975, framed a preliminary issue: Whether the petitioner Jairam Gurnani is of unsound mind and is suffering from mental infirmity and is incapable of protecting his interest Hence, this revision.

(2) The learned counsel for the petitioner assailed the impugned order, firstly, on the ground that the Code of Civil Procedure docs not apply to the proceedings either under the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, or under the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890. She invited my attention to section 4 of the Code and contended that since the special law, namely, the Guardians and Wards Act provides its own procedure, the learned lower court committed an illegality in making Civil Procedure Code applicable to these proceedings. This contention has to be rejected because no such contention was made before the learned Guardian Judge and also because it has no merit. Section 141 of the Code clearly lays down that the procedure provided by it ahall be applied in all proceedings in a court of civil jurisdiction. The District Court while acting as a Guardian Judge is certainly a court of civil jurisdiction. It is true that the Guardians and Wards Act makes some provisions which arc procedural in character, but in all other matters on which it is silent, the procedure provided in the Code has to be followed. That clearly is the consequence of sections 4 and 141 of the Code. If any authority is required for this proposition, then one is available in Deokishan and others v. Asaram, Air 1933 Nas. 62(1 ).

(3) The second contention was that Order 32 of the Code applied when it is the next friend who brings an action on behalf of the minor or a person suffering from unsoundness of mind or mental infirmity who was not before the court and a binding result of the proceedings could not be obtained in his absence. In this case, since the petitioner himself was before the court, the respondent could not put him out of court by alleging that the petitioner was of unsound mind. To allow such a course would be to permit the respondent to make any sort of false allegations in order to deny to the petitioner his otherwise indefeasible right to bring an action. It is only when a person purporting to act as a next friend or a gardian institutes or defends proceedings that a question whether he can do so can be allowed to be raised. Such a question cannot be raised or inquired into when the person himself institutes or defends a proceeding. This argument if wholly devoid of substance. Construction of Order 32 such as is being sought, cannot be accepted. Rule 2 of Order 32 contemplates that the defendant is entitled to apply to have the plaint taken off the file where the plaintiff is either minor or of unsound mind and the pleader or any person presents it on his behalf. In a reverse case thereforee, the defendant can. where the plaintiff suffers from the aforesaid disability, insist that in order that the proceedings terminate in a binding result, they must be instituted and prosecuted by a next friend. No doubt, everyone having a cause has a right to bring an action but no such right is indefeasible. If the law provides that a right to sue or institute any proceeding can be exercised only in a prescribed manner, then it done otherwise, the suit or the proceeding, though not the right on which it is founded, can be defeated.

(4) The third submission made on behalf of the petitioner was that the petitioner had stood 2nd in B.A. (Arch.) and held a diploma from the University of London and had currently been holding permanently the post of the Executive Engineer, in D.E.S.U., and had also produced a certificate of Dr. Kirpal Singh, a well-known Psychiatrist of Delhi, saying that he had examined the petitioner on four separate days of September, 1975, and found that the petitioner was not suffering from any mental disorder. In the face of these circumstances and the certificate, it was the duty of the 'earned court below to call the petitioner personally in order to satisfy for itself whether the application made by the respondent was not simply false, mischievous and frivolous and designed to gain time. Reliance in this connection was placed upon certain decisions under the Indian Lunacy Act, 1912. It is true that the High Courts had held that before starting an inquiry under the Lunacy Act, the court must first prima facie satisfy itself by personal examination of the person concerned whether to proceed with the inquiry regarding the lunacy of the person or not, but those decisions have no relevance to an application under Order 32 Rule 15. I may agree that the court can reject the application for appointment of a next friend or a guardian ad-litem where it is patently absurd, frivolous or vexatious, yet where the court chooses not do so without holding an inquiry, it cannot be said that it has acted without jurisdiction or committed any irregularity or illegality in the exercise thereof. Apart from the decisions to which I shall presently refer, subrule (2) of Rule 2 provides for a notice to and hearing of the objections of the other party and that is what is meant by an inquiry. Rule 15 also envisages an inquiry in the case of persons who though do not already stand adjudged as of unsound mind and yet, are by reason of unsoundness of mind, or mental infirmity incapable of protecting their interests in the litigation. In A. S. Mohammad Ibrahim Ummal alias Shahul Hameed Urnmal of unsound mind by next friend M.T.S. Mohammad Thambi v. Shaik Mohammad Marakayar and another A.I.R. 1949 Mad. 292, it was observed that when the question of unsoundness of mind of the plaintiff arose under Order 32 Rule 15, the Court had ample jurisdiction to enquire into the question whether the plaintiff was really by reason of unsoundness of mind or mental infirmity incapable of protecting his/her interests or not. For this purpose, it was open to it to seek medical assistance, but it was not for the doctors to decide this question, although the court must have the evidence of experts in the medical profession who could indicate the meaning of symptoms and give some general ideas of the mental deterioration which took place in the cases of this kind. The question, depended on the weighing of their evidence and the materiality of facts that came before them. In Duwuri Papi Reddi and others v. Duwuri Rami Reddi, : AIR1969AP362 , it was specifically indicated that such a question must be tried as a preliminary issue before any other matter was considered or disposed of. Earlier in Duwuri Rami Reddi v. Duvvurdu Papi Reddi and others, : AIR1963AP160 , it had been said that the decision under Order 32 Rule 15 was one fraught with serious consequences, as it resulted in the rights of a party to conduct his own litigation being taken away, and the guardianship of an other forced upon him, and if the inquiry contemplated by Order 32 Rule 15 Civil Procedure Code was not complied with, the court acts with material irregularity and illegality in the exercise of its jurisdiction. In that case the court had initially held that a full- fledged inquiry was required to be made in order to decide the question. However, on a subsequent hearing, the plaintiff was present in the court and it observed that 'except that he has unshaven beard kept for the purpose of the Court today, he does not otherwise appear to be an idiot or infirm, or a person not capable of managing his own affairs'. He answered all the questions which the court put to him regarding his welfare avocation, relationships, and they were answered by him like any normal person. The lower court then, directed that there was no more any need to hold an inquiry. The High Court of Andhra Pradesh held that the Judge had acted with material irregularity and illegality. In in the matter of B.B. Khanna v. K.N. Khanna 1977 Raj. L.R. 431, it was observed that before the court proceeded with a suit or other proceedings in which one of the parties was either a minor or otherwise incapable of protecting his interest, the court was bound to hold a preliminary inquiry and, if satisfied that the conditions of the relevant rules were attracted, to make appropriate directions with regard to the proper representation of such persons. In such a case it would not be open to the court to consider the suit or other proceedings before complying with these mandatory requirements. So inspire of the high qualifications and post held by the petitioner supported by a medical certificate, a person may still be incapable of protecting his interests and the court was well within its jurisdiction to make an inquiry. May be, the application of the respondent has caused delay in the decision of the main proceedings. But, then three years have been occupied by this fruitless revision filed by the petitioner. It was next pointed out that the only allegation of any consequence made against the petitioner was that he was suffering from paranoia, but that allegation did not mean that the petitioner was of unsound mind or otherwise mentally infirm so aa to call for an inquiry. According to Ranjit Kumar Ghose v. Secretary, Indian Psycho-Analytical Society and others. : AIR1963Cal261 , Schizophrenia of Paranoid type could be detected even in almost all normal healthy individuals, and a person did not become a lunatic under the Lunacy Act on the debatable niceties of psychological and psychiatric theories. It will be noticed, however, that what the Guardian Court was doing was not to find out whether the petitioner deserved to declared a lunatic. The scope of its inquiry under Order 32 Rule 15 was to find out whether the person instituting the proceeding was incapable of protecting his interest by reason of unsoundnesa of mind or mental infirmity. An inquiry under the Lunacy Act is aimed at something more. The scope of the two provisions being different, the aforesaid case cannot be pressed into service. It is not possible for me to hold, at this stage, whether in the facts and circumstances of the case, the type of paranoia from which the petitioner is said to be suffering is or is not of a type which disables him to protect his interests. As held in P.P. Ar. Rm. Sp. Ramanathan Chettiar v. A.R.R.M. Somasundaram Chettiar Air 1941 Mad 505, it depends upon the degree of weakness of mind whether the person concerned can be said to be incapable or not of protecting his interests. This argument, thereforee, must fail. Consequently, I find no force in this revision petition. It is hereby dismissed. No costs.


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