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The Court of Wards and Sri Sri Veera Pratapa Rudra, Gajapati Narayana Deo, Maha Razulu Garu, and C. Vs. Sri Sri Gowra Chandra and C. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContract
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported in(1896)6MLJ31
AppellantThe Court of Wards and Sri Sri Veera Pratapa Rudra, Gajapati Narayana Deo, Maha Razulu Garu, and C.
RespondentSri Sri Gowra Chandra and C.
Cases ReferredGovernment v. Monohur Deo
Excerpt:
- - there is no doubt that but for the zemindar's position as a ward of the court of wards, the transfer would be perfectly good in law. a gift such as is evidenced by exhibit a from natural love and affection is expressly sanctioned by section 25, clause 1 of the indian contract act. the general principle, however, is that he will be bound by the act of his guardian when it is done bona fide and for his interest and when it is such as the ward might reasonably and prudently do for himself if he bad been sui juris. 4. having regard to his future prospects, there is little chance of his ceasing to be a ward of the court of wards during his life, and even if he ceases to be such, the act is precisely the one which an affectionate and prudent father might do if he was sui juris. as..........itself deal with the property of its ward and even alienate it for the necessity or benefit of its ward. the question here is, whether the transfer sought to be made by the zemindar is either necessary or likely to be beneficial to him. i do not think it can be held to be necessary, but it is contended that it will be beneficial to the zemindar by adding to the dignity of the family and placing it in its proper position [37] among other zemindars in the neighbourhood, with reference to whom it is now in a false position by reason of its head being treated as a person incapable of managing his own affairs. as pointed out by my learned colleague, it is not unusual among hindus for a father to relinquish all interest in property with a stipulation for the maintenance of himself and his wife.....
Judgment:

Muthusawmy Aiyer, J.

1. It is provided by Section 7 of Act IV of 1882 that every person competent to contract and entitled to transferable property is competent to transfer such property to the extent and in the manner allowed and prescribed by any law for the time being in force. It is further provided by Section 11 of the Indian Contract Act that every person is competent to contract who is of the age of majority according to the law to which he is subject. Section 12 declares that a person is of sound mind for the purpose of making a contract, if, at the time when he makes it, he is capable of understanding it, and of forming a rational judgment as to its effect upon his interests. With reference to these provisions of law the circumstances under which document A was executed raise for consideration two specific questions in connection with its validity; viz., (1).--Whether the present Zemindar was of sound mind at the [32] date of A within the meaning of Section 12 ; and (2).--Whether he was disqualified from contracting by any law to which he was subject within the meaning of Section 11 of the Indian Contract Act. (His Lordship found upon the 1st question that the Zemindar was of sound mind at the date of A, and on the 2nd question proceeded as follows). The next question for decision is whether at the date of document A, the Zemindar was disqualified from contracting by any law to which he was subject. There is no doubt that but for the Zemindar's position as a ward of the Court of Wards, the transfer would be perfectly good in law. A gift such as is evidenced by Exhibit A from natural love and affection is expressly sanctioned by Section 25, clause 1 of the Indian Contract Act. Again, the transaction is not unknown to Hindu Law, for in the case of ordinary partible property, a father who is sui juris may, and does often, renounce his interest in favour of his. sons or divide the property, between them reserving a reasonable provision for his own support and that of his wife. But the question on which our decision has to depend in this case is that of the zemindar's competency to execute document A with the sanction of the Court of Wards or rather of the competency of the Court to sanction a transfer of the description contained in document A. By Section 5, Regulatioiv V of 1804, a person succeeding to property by inheritance but incapacitated by natural infirmity is precluded from taking charge or administering the affairs of such property on his own behalf and the natural construction is, that the prohibition includes by implication any alienation by him of the property. It may be taken therefore, that any. alienation, by one who is a ward of the Court of Wards must be set aside unless it is made with the sanction of the Court of Wards. As regards the sanction of the Court it is expressly mentioned but in two sections 15 and 25. In the former, managers of the property of minors are prohibited from disposing of any part of the property without the permission of the Court of Wards in writing and although the section validates the alienation with such sanction when it becomes necessary in the ordinary course of management, it throws no light on the. limits within which sanction may generally be accorded. Again by section 25 disqualified landholders are permitted to adopt -children with the consent of the Court of Wards previously had in writing. It is also an act which a guardian may sanction when it is beneficial to the ward. As there is thus no specific provision as to the [33] extent to which the Court of Wards may generally sanction alienation of property by its ward, we have to look for a rule of decision to the general law relating to guardian and ward and to the principles which limit the power of the former to act for the latter.

2. On this point it is urged on behalf of the Respondent that the statutory disability is a case of defective volition and that the defect may be supplied by the sanction of the Court of Wards. On the other hand, it is argued in support of the Appeal that the relation between the Court of Wards and the Zemindar being that of guardian and ward and an ordinary guardian not being competent to alienate the property of his ward except under necessity or for his own manifest benefit, the power of the Court to sanction an alienation by its ward must, except as specially exempted by Regulation V of 1804, be taken to be likewise limited. But the Judge held that a ward was competent to make contracts with the sanction of the Court of Wards, that in coming to a decision whether the Court can sanction the transfer, it may be guided by the consideration that the transfer will give the Zemindar a representative in the person of the next heir and it is not rigidly restricted to the consideration of the pecuniary interest of the ward in its strict legal sense. Ordinarily the act of a guardian binds the ward only when it is done under necessity or for his benefit. The general principle, however, is that he will be bound by the act of his guardian when it is done bona fide and for his interest and when it is such as the ward might reasonably and prudently do for himself if he Bad been sui juris. In the case of Thimmakkal v. Subbammal (1864) 2 M.H.C.R. 47 which was argued by eminent counsel on both sides, Holloway, J., said 'All' acts which a guardian does for his ward and which are such as the ward if sui juris might reasonably and prudently do for himself must be upheld.' In that case the question was whether the property claimed by a minor should be divided according to the rule of Patni-bhaga (number of wives of the late owner) or Putra-bhaga (according to number of sons) and the guardian of the minor referred it for the decision of certain arbitrators who made an award directing partition according to the rule of Patni-bhaga. It was contended that the minor could legally have no will and that he was not bound by the result of the reference made by his guardian but the Court disallowed the contention on the principle mentioned above and held that the reference was [34] reasonable and prudent. There is therefore reason to hold that as guardian the Court of Wards was entitled to look at all the circumstances of the case and to grant or withhold its sanction according as the transaction was or was not one which the ward, if sui juris, might reasonably and prudently conclude provided it was not plainly to his disadvantage. Testing the transfer by the principle mentioned above, I see no reason to say that the sanction accorded by the Court of Wards was not sufficient to validate it.

3. That it will give the family a recognized and natural represent-ative from among its members and thereby add to its importance and dignity according to the general notion current in joint Hindu families, there is no doubt. Nor is there any doubt that the installation of the 'eldest son as the zemindar and the transfer of the Estate to his management will afford special gratification to the present Zemindar and add to his happiness in his old age. Turning to its effect upon the pecuniary advantage which he now derives from the estate, the provision for payment of Rs. 5,000 per mensem for his support is a fair and reasonable equivalent to the allowance now made for the family by the Court of Wards.

4. Having regard to his future prospects, there is little chance of his ceasing to be a ward of the Court of Wards during his life, and even if he ceases to be such, the act is precisely the one which an affectionate and prudent father might do if he was sui juris. Nothing was suggested during the hearing of this appeal either against the conduct or capacity of the eldest son as affording a reasonable ground for the belief that the safety or 'prudent management of the estate would be imperilled by the transfer. The risk suggested by the appellant's pleader during the zemindar's cross-examination were not put forward as contingencies which either the known conduct of the respondent or any special circumstances of the family render probable.but they were referred to as general and remote possibilities which would not ordinarily deter a prudent father, acting with due regard to his interest and that of rest of the family, from making the transfer. As already observed, the analogies of the Hindu Law are in favor of the transaction when the father is old, and, as the next heir, the transferee has also a personal interest in preserving the estate and managing it [35] well. Under such circumstances, I am unable to hold that the Court of Wards was not warranted in sanctioning the transfer or that it was not entitled to look at all circumstances of the case in forming an opinion as to what is truly beneficial to the ward. As regards the suggestion that when there is a statutory disability, there must be a stautory emancipation before there can be a valid transfer, it would be entitled to weight if the Court of Wards did not sanction the transfer. Not only did the Court sanction but it is also a fact established by positive evidence including that of the Court's Agent that the present Zemindar has contractual capacity. Beading together Sections 2, 15, and 25 of Regulation V of 1804, the reasonable construction appears to be that the Court of Wards might sanction acts of the ward if they,, fall within the principle' laid down in Timmakkal v. Subbammal (1854) 2 M.H.C.R. 47. If there were a formal emancipation or a statutory determination of the disability there would then be no. necessity for any sanction. In the case reported in 2 Suth. W.E., it was observed by a Divisional Bench of the High Court at Calcutta that such a transfer would be valid if it were sanctioned, and although the observation was only an obiter dictum, it is not altogether without weight as illustrating the general principle that though a person under disability might not act for himself, he might act with the sanction of the guardian when it is accorded in conformity to the general law and when it is not. expressly prohibited by the particular enactment, if any, applicable to the case. The conclusion to which I 'come is that the sanction of the Court of Wards was in accordance with the principle already mentioned and therefore validated the transfer evidenced by Exhibit A.

Best, J.

5. (Upon the 2nd question His Lordship said as follows):--The next issue is the one that has been argued at the heaping, and the question raised thereby is whether the circumstance of the zamindar being a ward of the Court of Wards precludes him from making a transfer such as that evidenced by A, even with the sanction of the Court of Wards. If the ward were incapable of understanding the nature and effect of the document executed by him I should say at once that the mere sanction of his guardians would not be sufficient to validate the transfer in question. But it is found that the Zemindar understands the nature and effect; of A and is of sufficiently sound mind to be able to contract as defined in Section [36] 12 of the Contract Act. Under these circumstances is not the sanction of the Court of Wards sufficient to validate A?

6. At the time when the present Zemindar succeeded to the Zemindari in question, it was included in the tracts of the country in which the ordinary rules for the administration of Civil and Criminal Justice, as also those for the collection of revenue, had ceased to have operation and for which special rules were prescribed under Act XXIV of 1839. Hence the recommendation in B that the estate should be continued to be administered by the Agent ' in his capacity of Court of Wards ' and the order of Government, Exhibit, IV that it be continued ' as heretofore, under charge of the Agent according to No. XI of the Agency Rules.' [This rule XI as printed in Board's Circular 6rderSj page 565, is, I find, the same as that which appears in No. 8 in Mr. Sloan's Code, page 546.] In 1863, however, Parla Kimidi, except the Malaya portions of it, appears to have been removed from the operation of Act XXIV of 1839 and re-subjected to the ordinary 'rules of administration.' Consequently, since then, it has been subject to the Board of Revenue as Court of Wards so continued by Regulation V of 1804.

7. That an incapacitated person, whose property is under charge of the Court of Wards, cannot make a valid disposition of such property without the sanction of that Court, there can be no doubt (Cf. Balakrishna v. Masuma Bibi (1882) L.R. 9 IndAp 182 : S.C.I.L.R. 5 A. 142, and also Government v. Monohur Deo (1864) W.R. Supp. 39.) In this last case it was held that a ward, whose estate was under the management of the Court of Wards, could not, without the consent of such Court, give up her assets in favour of the next heir. The question whether she could have done so with such consent did not then arise and. therefore the opinion then expressed that she could do so is a mere obiter dictum. There can be no doubt that the Court of Wards can itself deal with the property of its ward and even alienate it for the necessity or benefit of its ward. The question here is, whether the transfer sought to be made by the Zemindar is either necessary or likely to be beneficial to him. I do not think it can be held to be necessary, but it is contended that it will be beneficial to the Zemindar by adding to the dignity of the family and placing it in its proper position [37] among other Zemindars in the neighbourhood, with reference to whom it is now in a false position by reason of its head being treated as a person incapable of managing his own affairs. As pointed out by my learned colleague, it is not unusual among Hindus for a father to relinquish all interest in property with a stipulation for the maintenance of himself and his wife (if any), and in the present case the Zemindar has taken care to make such stipulation. As he is found to be a man possessing contractual capacity, and as the transfer is in favour of the next heir to the estate, and not only desired by the present Zemindar but likely to be beneficial to the whole family by enhancing its importance among its neighbours, I concur with my learned colleague that in the circumstances of this ease the sanction of the Court of Wards is sufficient to validate the transfer evidenced by A.


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