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Akkanna and anr. Vs. Venkiah and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported in(1902)12MLJ5
AppellantAkkanna and anr.
RespondentVenkiah and ors.
Cases ReferredIn Soudamini Dasi v. Administrator
Excerpt:
.....parvatamma. while laying down clearly in that case that a widow's savings from the income of her husband's estate are not her stridhanam, and that if she made no attempt to dispose of them in her lifetime, it is undisputed that they follow the estate from which they arose, it was held that it was a question to be decided upon the facts of each case, whether such savings form an accretion to the husband's estate as distinguished from income held in suspense in the widow's hands, as to which she has not determined whether or not she will spend it. these circumstances in their lordships' opinion clearly established 'accretion to the original estate,'and made the after-purchases inalienable by the widows for any purpose which would not justify alienation of the original estate. 387 the..........was acquired, and that therefore she acquired an absolute right to such property, not merely a widow's estate. it is unnecessary to consider the question of law raised in the last mentioned ground of appeal, as we fully concur with the district judge in his finding that bulli venkanna did not predecease his father. as regards the proof of the mortgage, the instrument is not forthcoming, but according to exhibit k it ought to be in the possession of the family of bamiah, and we think that exhibit k, which is a registered instrument, is sufficient evidence, at any rate, against the 3rd defendant, and there is also some oral evidence in proof of the mortgage. though the assignment, exhibit k, was in the name of rarniah alone, there is evidence that the lands, or, at any rate, the income.....
Judgment:

1. The main facts are sufficiently stated by the District Judge. This appeal is preferred by defendants 3 and 24 against so much of the decree as awards to the plaintiffs 5/9th share in certain inam lands, which are partly in possession of the 3rd defendant, and partly in possession of the 24th defendant. The District Judge decided the case on the footing that Parvatamma inherited certain property from her husband, and with the income thereof acquired the lands in question in 1864 on a usufructuary mortgage for 52 years from certain Mahomedans who were the owners thereof. The usufruct was to extinguish the debt at the end of the 52 years. The District Judge further held that Parvatamma assigned in 1877 under Exhibit K the unexpired portion of the term of the mortgage to Hannah, the brother of the 3rd defendant, and received a portion of the sum named therein, viz. Rs. 290, as consideration for the assignment.

2. The questions argued in support of the appeal are, (1) that there is no proof that the properties in question were acquired ii mortgage by Parvatamma or that she alienated, the same to the appellants; (2) that the appellants respectively purchased portions of the property in 1893 from the Mussalman owners from when they held leases of an earlier date; (3) that even if the property was so acquired by her and alienated to the appellants, the plaintiffs as reversionary heirs cannot impugn the alienation; and lastly, (4) that Parvatamma's husband Bulli Yenkanna predeceased his father, Venkatrayudu, and that therefore she was not entitled to inherit from her father-in-law the property from the income of which the mortgaged property was acquired, and that therefore she acquired an absolute right to such property, not merely a widow's estate. It is unnecessary to consider the question of law raised in the last mentioned ground of appeal, as we fully concur with the District Judge in his finding that Bulli Venkanna did not predecease his father. As regards the proof of the mortgage, the instrument is not forthcoming, but according to Exhibit K it ought to be in the possession of the family of Bamiah, and we think that Exhibit K, which is a registered instrument, is sufficient evidence, at any rate, against the 3rd defendant, and there is also some oral evidence in proof of the mortgage. Though the assignment, Exhibit K, was in the name of Rarniah alone, there is evidence that the lands, or, at any rate, the income thereof, was enjoyed in common by Ramiah and his younger brothers, the 2nd and 3rd defendants, the eldest brother, 1st defendant, having become divided from them prior to 1877. The 3rd defendant, no doubt, got a sale deed, Exhibit 4, for the property in his possession from the Mussalman owners in 1893. This sale would confer on him only the equity of redemption of the land, and it may be that his brothers have no right in such equity of redemption, but it is not inconsistent with the plaintiff's case that 3rd defendant was in possession of the' land as assignee of the mortgage in favour of Parvatamma. There is no proof of 3rd defendant's plea that his possession prior to 1893 was as lessee directly from the Mussalman owners and no cowle is produced in support of the plea. His possession, theref ore, must be traced to the alienation made by Parvatamma under Exhibit K, and if Parvatamma had no absolute power of disposal of the lands which she held as mortgaged, it is not contended or established that the alienation under Exhibit K was for a purpose binding on the reversioners. As regards the laud in the 24th defendant's possession, we find it difficult to concur with the District Judge either that it was comprised in the moiety of the mortgaged land in respect of which moiety alone Parvatamma's right was established in the suit referred to in Exhibit K, or that 24th defendant derived- his title thereto from the transferee under Exhibit K.

3. The 24th defendant is not a member of Ramiah's family, and there is evidence that the land had been previously in the enjoyment of his father-in-law. The only evidence is that the land is part of the Mussalman's inam land, but there is nothing to show that it is included in the moiety adjudged to Parvatamma. On this ground, if on no other, it would be necessary to allow the appeal so far as this land is concerned. As regards the third contention, we are unable to uphold the finding of the District Judge that the property acquired by Parvatamma, on a usufructuary mortgage for a long term of years, by means of the income derived by her from the jiroyati lands inherited from her husband should be held to form an accretion to her husband's estate and that her alienation of the same does not bind her reversioners. The District Judge relying upon the decisions of the Privy Council, reported in Isri Dutt Koer v. Hansbutti Koerain I.L.R. 10 C. 337 and Sheolochun Singh v. Sahab Singh I.L.R. 14 C. 387 holds that it was really Parvatamma's intention to treat the mortgage as an accretion to her husband's property, and that there is nothing to show that she made any distinction between the lands acquired by her on mortgage and the jiroyati lands inherited by her from her husband? He considers that the recitals made in the transfer deed Exhibit K that her occupation was 'living on her husband's property' and that she alienated the property for the purpose of discharging her debts, show that she treated the property acquired on mortgage as accretion to her husband's property. The property comprised in the transfer deed is only the mortgage property and there is no recital as to the nature of the debt. The occupation of the executant is generally mentioned in documents as required by the rules of the Registration Department, and the statement in the document that Parvatamma was living on her husband's property cannot possibly warrant an inference that it was her intention that the mortgaged property should form an accretion to the husband's estate. In our opinion, there is no evidence on the record either to show that Parvatamma intended thus to incorporate her property, or to show that she did not intend so to do. The question as to the power of disposition which a Hindu widow has over property acquired by her out of the income from her husband's estate, or out of savings from such income, has to be determined solely with reference to general principles and judicial decisions, there being no texts of Hindu law bearing upon it. Mr. Mayne gives a summary of these decisions in paras 626-630 of his treatise on Hindu Law and Usage (6th edition), and it is unnecessary to refer here to any of the decisions on the subject prior to the decision of the Privy Council in Isri Dutt Koer v. Hansbutti Koerain I.L.R. 10 C. 337 L.R. 10 IndAp 150 in which all the earlier decisions are reviewed and considered. While laying down clearly in that case that a widow's savings from the income of her husband's estate are not her stridhanam, and that if she made no attempt to dispose of them in her lifetime, it is undisputed that they follow the estate from which they arose, it was held that it was a question to be decided upon the facts of each case, whether such savings form an accretion to the husband's estate as distinguished from income held in suspense in the widow's hands, as to which she has not determined whether or not she will spend it. In that case the properties consisted of certain shares of land in which the husband was a shareholder to a large extent, and the purchase was made by the widows out of their savings within a short time after his death in 1857, and they made no attempt to alienate hem till 1873, and even then the object of the alienation was not the need or the personal benefit of the widows, but a desire to change the succession and give the inheritance to the heirs of one of themselves in preference to their husband's heirs. This was carried out by conveying to such heir part of the property inherited from the husband and part of the property subsequently acquired by the widows. These circumstances in their Lordships' opinion clearly established 'accretion to the original estate,' and made the after-purchases inalienable by the widows for any purpose which would not justify alienation of the original estate. In Sheolochun Singh v. Saheb Singh I.L.R. 14 C. 387 the above decision was followed, and it was held that the purchased properties were dealt with by the widows as accretions to their husband's estate, and that the original properties and such accretions were treated by the widows precisely alike in the deed of gift which they executed in favour of the alleged adopted son. In this case, no doubt, their Lordships observe that 'where a widow comes into possession of the property of the husband and receives the income and does not spend it but invests it in the purchase of other property,' it must be taken prima facie to be the intention of the widow to keep the estate of the husband as an entire estate, and the property purchased as an accretion to that estate. This was only a dictum which must be understood with reference to the facts and circumstances of the case, which, it was held, indicated that it was the intention of the widows to keep the estate entire, and that the same should descend in one line of succession. In Soudamini Dasi v. Administrator-General of Bengal I.L.R. 20 C. 433 the latest decision of the Privy Council on the subject, the income which accrued on the estate of the husband for a period of about 8 years subsequent to his death and which was not disposed of by his will) came to his widow as his heir-at-law, and she invested the same in Government securities exceeding two lacs of rupees in value; and after the lapse of about 20 years she disposed of the same as her own. It was held that the money so invested by her belonged to her as income derived from her widow's estate, and was subject to her disposition. With reference to the contention raised in that case that the savings of a Hindu widow must be presumed to have been made for the benefit of her husband's estate, their Lordships observed as follows:

Without examining the precise result of the decisions, it is sufficient to say that in this case there is no room for any such presumption, for the corpus of the estate never came to the widow but was taken by Shamacharan Mullick under the will, and the income to which the widow succeeded was separated from it, and became, and was dealt with as, an entirely separate fund * * * * She did nothing to indicate an intention to make the fund received or the interest on it, part of her husband's estate which was in other hands, or to justify the inference that she wished it to revert to her husband's heirs. It was said she had placed it in investments of a permanent nature-Had she done so, it does not appear to their Lordships that this circumstance alone would have added the fund to the estate devolving on her husband's heirs * * * * The fund in question was not in any sense received by Padmakumari (the widow) as capital or capitalized income of her husband's estate, but was received as income which, under the arrangement with Shamacharan Mullick, was her own absolute property, and she never indicated any intention to make the same part of her husband's estate for the benefit of his heirs.

4. In the present case, as already stated, there is no evidence that Parvatamma ever indicated any intention to make the mortgaged property part of her husband's estate for the benefit of his heirs. The acquisition made by her out of the income of her husband's estate was not in the nature of an enlargement of that estate or of redeeming the same from an incumbrance or charge or in the nature of an appurtenance thereto; it was simply an investment, on a usufructuary mortgage, of her small savings over which she had absolute power of disposal, and it is difficult to see on what principle it is to be presumed that she thereby intended to part with her power of disposition for the benefit of her reversionary heirs. The acquirer of property presumably intends to retain dominion over it, and in the case of a Hindu widow the presumption is none the less so when the fund with which the property is acquired is one which, though derived from her husband's property, was at her absolute disposal. In the case of property inherited from the husband, it is not by reason of her intention, but by reason of the limited nature of a widow's estate under the Hindu Law, that she has only a limited power of disposition but her absolute power of disposition over the income derived from such limited estate being now fully recognized, it is only reasonable that, in the absence of an indication of her intention to the contrary, she must be presumed to retain the same control over the investment of such income. The mere fact that properties thus acquired by her are managed and enjoyed by her without any distinction, along with properties inherited, from her husband, can in no way affect this presumption. She is the sole and separate owner of the two sets of properties so long as she enjoys the same, and is absolutely entitled to the income derived from both sets of properties. She cannot but manage and enjoy both sets of properties alike. The case, therefore, is not analogous to that of an undivided member of a Hindu family possessing joint family property, who, by throwing into the common stock, the income he delivers from his separate or self-acquired property, manifests his intention to impress such self-acquired property with the character of joint family property. Purchasers, from a Hindu widow, of property acquired by her from the income derived from her husband's estate, can be expected to deal with her only on the presumption that she has not parted with her control, for the benefit of the reversionary heirs, and it will be subjecting such bona fide purchasers to serious hardship to throw upon them the onus of establishing, after the death of the widow, and it may be, as in this very case, many years after the transaction, that when the widow originally acquired the property she did not intend it to be an accretion to the husband's estate.

5. We must, therefore, allow the appeal and dismiss the suit as against the appellants with costs (one set) throughout.


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