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Parvathy Antherjanam Vs. Life Insurance Corporation of India - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberA.S. No. 13 of 1977
Judge
Reported inAIR1982Ker366; [1984]56CompCas306(Ker)
ActsInsurance Act, 1938 - Sections 38
AppellantParvathy Antherjanam
RespondentLife Insurance Corporation of India
Appellant Advocate T.R. Govinda Warrier,; K. Ramakumar and; Sebastian Devis
Respondent Advocate S. Eswara Iyer, C. Sankara Menon,; E. Subramonian,; K.K.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases ReferredM.N. Aryamurthi v. M. L. Subbaraya Setty (dead
Excerpt:
- - ' it is well settled that law on this point in this country is also the same. 1289) which was relied on by him, the supreme court reiterated the well settled proposition that where one co-tenant in possession of the entire property acquires other properties with the rents and profits of the co-ownership property, he does not hold the acquired property on behalf of the other co-tenants and that such property would not be co-ownership property, such co-tenant's liability being only to account for the rents and profits received by him from the co-ownership property......the dispute between the plaintiff on the one hand and defendants 2 and 3 on the other concerns the life insurance policy, which subramonian namboodiri was holding at the time of his death. the said fife insurance policy was for a sum of rs. 20,000/- with double accident benefit and e. d. b. it is common case that the amount secured by the policy and payable by the first defendant-corporation totals a sum of rs. 41,408/-- the plaintiff claims that she is entitled to a 1/3 thereof. the suit is for a declaration that the plaintiff is so entitled to a 1/3 of the amount of rs. 41,408/- in the hands of the first defendant and to restrain the first defendant from paying to the second defendant and the second defendant from receiving the same from the first defendant.2. the lower court held that.....
Judgment:

1. The plaintiff is the appellant. Her son, Subramonian Namboodiri, died on 28-5-1974. The second defendant is his widow and the 3rd defendant is his daughter. The first defendant is the Life Insurance Corporation of India and has beea impleaded for the reason that the dispute between the plaintiff on the one hand and defendants 2 and 3 on the other concerns the life insurance policy, which Subramonian Namboodiri was holding at the time of his death. The said fife insurance policy was for a sum of Rs. 20,000/- with double accident benefit and E. D. B. It is common case that the amount secured by the policy and payable by the first defendant-Corporation totals a sum of Rs. 41,408/-- The plaintiff claims that she is entitled to a 1/3 thereof. The suit is for a declaration that the plaintiff is so entitled to a 1/3 of the amount of Rs. 41,408/- in the hands of the first defendant and to restrain the first defendant from paying to the second defendant and the second defendant from receiving the same from the first defendant.

2. The lower Court held that the amount covered by the policy belonged to Subra-monian Namboodiri and the second defendant jointly and equally. On that basis the lower Court held that the plaintiff's share will be only 1/3 of the half amount covered by the policy, that is to say, 1/6 of the amount of Rs. 41,408/-. The lower Court granted a declaration to that effect. Since the first defendant had by the time the suit was decided deposited in Court the sum covered by the policy and since defendants 2 and 3 had withdrawn the undisputed portion of the said amount, namely, 2/3 thereof, that Court decreed that the plaintiff will get a half of the remaining 1/3 in deposit and that defendants 2 and 3 will be entitled to the other half of the remaining 1/3. The plaintiff has come up in appeal. She claims that she is entitled to 1/3 of the whole of the amount covered by the life insurance policy.

3. Relying on Exts. B-3 to B-5 savings bank accounts in the names of Subramonian Namboodiri and his wife, the 2nd defendant, the lower Court held that the premiums payable for the policy in question had been paid out of these joint accounts. In that connection the lower Court also relied on the evidence furnished by the 2nd defendant as DW 1 to the effect that she was also employed and that the premiums were paid from the said joint accounts. The lower Court also acted upon the evidence of DW 1 to the effect that her earnings also had been deposited in the joint accounts, though she cannot definitely say as to how much the sum is looking into the passbooks. The lower Court, therefore, took the view that the source or the fund for payment of the premiums belonged to both Subramonian Namboodiri and his wife, the 2nd defendant. It is on that basis that the lower Court held that the benefit of the insurance policy and the sum covered thereby belonged to Subramonian Namboodiri and the 2nd defendant equally. In so doing the lower Court relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in Parbati Kuer v. Sarang-dhar Sinna (AIR 1960 SC 403) and on Mahadeo Nath v. Smt. Meena Devi (AIR 1976 All 64). Relying on these decisions the lower Court took the view that when two persons jointly pay the premiums due under a policy of insurance in the name of one of them, then the policy would belong to both of them together and that therefore the benefit of the life insurance policy in dispute belonged to the plaintiff and the 2nd defendant together. The correctness of this is challenged before us.

4. In Sarojini Amma v Neelakdnta Pillai, 1960 Ker LT 1319 : (AIR 1961 Ker 126) a Full Bench of this Court said that a nominee in respect of a policy of insurance does not become the owner of the money payable to him under the policy and that a nomination by itself confers no right on the nominee, but only gives a right to collect the policy money on his death. The Full Bench relied on the decision in In re. A Policy No. 6402 of the Scottish Equitable Life Assurance Society, (1902) 1 Ch D 282, and the passage quoted there by Joyce, J. from Garrick v. Taylor, (1860) 29 Beav 79, 83, affirmed in Garrick v. Taylor, (1861) 31 LJ Ch 68. Quoting the following passage from Garrick v. Taylor, (1860) 29 Beav 79, 83, affirmed in Garrick v. Taylor, (1861) 31 LJ Ch 68,

'If a purchase be made in the name of another, the presumption is that the latter is a trustee for the person who pays the money, unless the parties stand in the relation of parent and child'.

the Full Bench went on to extract the following passage from In re. A. Policy No. 6402 of the Scottish Equitable Life Assurance Society, (1902) 1 Ch D 282.

'Now, in the present case a policy was taken out by Mr. Sanderson a great many years ago, and the name of Miss Stiles appears in the policy as the person to whom the money is to be paid. The policy was never handed to her, and she is now dead, and the premiums were always paid, and were paid for many years after her death, by Sanderson. That, really is a case of a man taking the policy out in the name of another, that other person being a sister of his wife, and therefore, not standing in any relation to him, 'that would meet the presumption', as Lord Eldon expressed it. It comes really to this : a purchase by one in the name of another with no other circumstances at all proved. Therefore, in my opinion, although the legal personal representative of the lady in this case would be the person entitled to receive the money at law and to give a receipt for it, in equity the money belongs to the legal personal representatives of Mr. Sanderson, who took out the policy.'

5. The principle applied by Joyce, J. in re. A Policy No. 6402 of the Scottish Equitable Life Assurance Society, (1902) 1 Ch D 282, and by this Court in Sarojini Amma v. Neelakanta Pillai, i960 Ker LT 1319 : (AIR 1961 Ker 126) (FB) is that stated by Eyre C B. in Dyer v. Dyer, (1788) 2 Cox Eq Cat 92, 93, namely, (as extracted in In re. A Policy No. 6402 of the Scottish EquitableLife Assurance Society, (1902) 1 Ch D 282) :--

'The clear result of all the cases, without a single exception, is that the trust of a legal estate, whether freehold, copyhold, or leasehold; whether taken in the names of the purchasers and others jointly, or in the name of others without that of the purchaser; whether in one name or several; whether jointly or successive, results to the man who advanced the purchase-money.'

As stated by Joyce. J. in the same case relying on Lewin on Trusts :--

'Not only real estate, but personality also, is governed by these principles, as if a man take a bond, or purchase an annuity, stock, or other chattel interest, in the name of a stranger, the equitable ownership results to the person from whom the consideration moved.'

It is well settled that law on this point in this country is also the same.

6. Therefore, on the finding of fact entered by the lower Court that premiums were paid from out of the joint funds of the 2nd defendant and her husband, the lower Court rightly held that the insurance amount belongs to both of them jointly. We have not been persuaded to differ on the finding of fact catered by the lower Court as regards the nature of the funds out of which the premiums were paid. The evidence and the attendant circumstances revealed by suchevidence, do support the said finding. In the absence of any material (and there is none) to establish the exact proportion in which each of them contributed towards the joint funds, it has to be presumed that both of them would be entitled to the same equally and that the insurance policy subscribed out of such fund also would belong to both of them equally.

7. We do not think that the decision inM.N. Aryamurthi v. M. L. Subbaraya Setty (dead), AIR 1972 SC 1279 cited by the learned counsel for the appellant has any bearing on the question that falls to be decided in this case. That case arose out of a suit for partition of the family properties. In paragraph 17 of the judgment (at p. 1289) which was relied on by him, the Supreme Court reiterated the well settled proposition that where one co-tenant in possession of the entire property acquires other properties with the rents and profits of the co-ownership property, he does not hold the acquired property on behalf of the other co-tenants and that such property would not be co-ownership property, such co-tenant's liability being only to account for the rents and profits received by him from the co-ownership property.

In the result this appeal fails. We dismiss it with costs.


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