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Puthiyetath Mayan Vs. Amminikandi Krishnan Nayar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Property
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1945Mad248; (1945)1MLJ170
AppellantPuthiyetath Mayan
RespondentAmminikandi Krishnan Nayar
Excerpt:
- - 8. it is unfortunate that the legislature did not make its meaning clear, as it took pains to do in section 3(c), in section 14(5) and in section 20(5). the statute is in the english language, and unless there is some strong indication to be found in section 33 or elsewhere in the act, the word 'family' must be given the meaning which it has in the english language......the only question which arises in this appeal is with regard to the meaning to be given to the word 'family' in section 33 of the malabar tenancy act, 1929.2. on the nth june, 1931, the appellant granted a lease of the kudiyiruppu in suit to the respondent's father, his father's two brothers, and his father's sister, who constituted a tavazhi scetion 3(m)(1) of the act defines 'kudiyiruppu' as meaning and including the site of a residential building, the site or sites of other buildings appurtenant thereto, such other lands as are necessary for the convenient enjoyment of the residential building, and the easements attached thereto. in the year 1935 (the exact date has not been disclosed) the father purchased the interests of his two brothers in the lease. on the 6th july, 1936, he.....
Judgment:

Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, C.J.

1. The only question which arises in this appeal is with regard to the meaning to be given to the word 'family' in Section 33 of the Malabar Tenancy Act, 1929.

2. On the nth June, 1931, the appellant granted a lease of the kudiyiruppu in suit to the respondent's father, his father's two brothers, and his father's sister, who constituted a tavazhi Scetion 3(m)(1) of the Act defines 'kudiyiruppu' as meaning and including the site of a residential building, the site or sites of other buildings appurtenant thereto, such other lands as are necessary for the convenient enjoyment of the residential building, and the easements attached thereto. In the year 1935 (the exact date has not been disclosed) the father purchased the interests of his two brothers in the lease. On the 6th July, 1936, he assigned his interest therein to the respondent. Sometime in 1937, the respondent purchased his aunt's interest in the lease and thereby became the sole lessee. Admittedly he became the tenant of the kudiyiruppu within the meaning of the definition of 'tenant' given in Section 3(v).

3. In 1942, the appellant instituted a suit in the Court of the District Munsiff of Quilandi for the eviction of the respondent, who thereupon filed an application under Section 33. That section reads as follows :

In any suit for eviction relating wholly or in part to a kudiyiruppu, which has been in the continuous occupation of a tenant or the members of his family for ten years on the date of the institution of the said suit, such tenant shall be entitled to offer to purchase the rights in the kudiyiruppu, of the ' landlord who seeks to evict him, at the market price on the said date.

The respondent contended that he and his father were members of the same family within the meaning of the section and consequently he was entitled to the benefit of the section. For the appellant it was said that as the father and the son were governed by the Marumakkattayam law, the son could not be regarded as a member of his father's family and that the word 'family' must be construed in a restricted sense. The appellant's interpretation was accepted by the District Munsiff, but on appeal the District Judge of North Malabar held that here the word 'family' had a more comprehensive meaning and would include a father and a son, whether they were governed by the Marumakkattoyam law or the Mitakshara law. The appellant appealed to this Court. The appeal was heard by Mockett, J., who agreed with the District Judge. The present appeal has been filed under Clause 15 of the Letters Patent.

4. It is necessary to refer to the provisions of Sections 3(c), 14(5) and 20(5), because the word 'family' appears in all these sections. But before doing so, we would point out that the Act governs all tenancies in Malabar whether they are held by families governed by the Marumakkattayam law, or the Mitakshara law, or the Muhammadan law, or the general law. Its main object is to prevent unreasonable eviction of tenants and to give them the right of permanent occupation of land held by them.

5. Section 3(c) defines the word 'cultivate' with its grammatical variations as meaning cultivate either solely by one's own labour or with the help of the labour of the members of one's tarwad or family, or of hired labourers or both, or direct or supervise cultivation by such members or hired labourers, jointly or separately. A proviso is added, but it is unnecessary to refer to it. Here no difficulty can arise in the interpretation of the word 'family', because the word 'tarwad' is also used. Section 14 relates to grounds for eviction of cultivating verumpattamdars. It says that no suit for eviction of such a verumpattamdar from his holding shall lie at the instance of his landlord except on the grounds enumerated in the section. The fifth ground reads as follows:

that at the end of an agricultural year, the landlord requires the holding bonafide for his own cultivation or for that of any member of his family or tarwad or tavazhi who has a proprietary and beneficial interest therein.

The section concludes with an explanation which is in these words:

In the case of a landlord governed by a law other than the Marumakkattayam law, the wife or husband and the children of the landlord shall be deemed to be members of the landlord's family having a proprietary and beneficial interest in the holding.

6. It follows that the word 'family' is used in this section in a comprehensive sense. Section 20 relates to grounds for eviction of customary verumpattamdars, kuzhikanamdars or kanamdars, and its provisions are similar to those embodied in Section 14.

7. We now return to Section 33. Here the word 'family' stands alone. In these circumstances, did the Legislature intend that the word should be construed strictly in a particular case, namely, in the case of a tarwad as meaning only the persons who are recognised as members thereof by the Marumakkattayam law, and in the case of a joint family governed by the Mitakshara law as meaning merely such persons as the Mitakshara law recognises as members, or that it should be construed as meaning a group of persons consisting of the parents and their children? In the opinion of the District Judge the word 'family' would properly and naturally include a household or domestic circle of parents and children living together under the same roof, even though there was no community of property between all or some or any two of them; and he remanded the case to the trial Court for a decision whether the respondent and his father were members of one family in this sense. Mockett, J., substantially agreed. He considered that the word 'family' here should be given its ordinary meaning in the English language.

8. It is unfortunate that the Legislature did not make its meaning clear, as it took pains to do in Section 3(c), in Section 14(5) and in Section 20(5). The statute is in the English language, and unless there is some strong indication to be found in Section 33 or elsewhere in the Act, the word 'family' must be given the meaning which it has in the English language. Moreover it has to be remembered that the object of the section is to prevent a tenant who has been in possession of a kudiyiruppu for ten years from being evicted; and it would be a strange thing if the father's occupation could not be tacked on to the son's occupation when the son followed his father as the tenant. We agree with the District Judge and Mockett, J., that the word 'family' is not used in the restricted sense suggested by the appellant. To give it such a restricted meaning would in our opinion defeat the intention of the legislature. It may be added that a similar opinion is expressed by Mr. C. Govindan Nair in his work on the Malabar Tenancy Act.

9. For these reasons we dismiss the appeal with costs.


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