1. The plaintiff contended that the suit property was originally a blacksmith inam, which was resumed about 70 years ago and had been in possession of the plaintiff and his predecessors throughout the whole of that period. The defendant, who purchased the land in 1936, claimed that it was a blacksmith inam and that his vendor was the blacksmith entitled to this property. The first Court held that the plaintiff had not proved his case that he had title to the property; and it did not seem to think that the plaintiff's evidence with regard to possession was of very much value. It moreover held that as the plaintiff had already failed in a summary suit under Section 9 of the Specific Relief Act, he could not be given a decree on the basis of his possession; and it therefore dismissed the suit. At the same time, the Court did not consider that the defendant had proved that he had title to the property, but thought that immaterial in view of the fact that the plaintiff had failed to prove his title. In appeal, the learned Subordinate Judge, relying on Karuppannan Ambalam v. Sundararaja Iyer I.L.R.(1899)Mad. 134, a decision of Patanjali Sastri, J., held that the fact that the plaintiff had failed to prove his original title did not prevent him from putting forward his title by virtue of long possession. He held that as the plaintiff had proved that he was in possession at least from 1929, he was entitled to a decree, the defendant having failed to prove that his vendor had title.
2. Two contentions have been raised in second appeal. The first is that in view of the wording of Section 9 of the Specific Relief Act, the plaintiff could only succeed on the question of title and not on the question of possession. The second argument is that as the plaintiff chose to base his suit on title, he cannot be allowed to succeed merely because of his long possession.
3. The passage in Section 9 relied on by the learned advocate for the appellant is this : ' Nothing in this section shall bar any person from suing to establish his title to such property and to recover possession thereof.' It is argued from this that the plaintiff cannot establish what is commonly known as possessory title. I do not consider that title proved by virtue of long possession is inferior to title proved in any other way. The original title of the predecessors of the plaintiff was almost impossible to prove after such a long lapse of time; but evidence of long-possession is evidence of title; so that if the plaintiff can prove that he has been in possession of the land for over a long period, his title may be presumed. When it has not been proved that the title to the property was formerly in some other person or that some other person had originally possession of the land, Section 9 of the Specific Relief Act does not preclude a party to a suit under that section from subsequently proving his title by long possession only. The failure of the plaintiff in that suit is conclusive that he was not in possession within six months of the suit, but nothing more. The only issue discussed by the Court in the earlier suit was whether the plaintiff had been in possession within six months of the suit; and it was held that he was not That finding is the only part of the judgment in that suit that can be relied on in this suit.
4. Patanjali Sastri, J., in Karuppannan Ambalam v. Sundararaja Aiyar I.L.R.(1899)Mad. 134, referring to earlier cases, pointed out that it had never been held that in no circumstances could a plaintiff be given any relief on a possessory title if he had failed to establish the title set up by him in the plaint and that if the parties to the suit had let in evidence with regard to possession and the defendant had not been prejudiced by the finding with regard to possession, then the plaintiff could be given a decree on the basis of his long possession. As the learned Subordinate Judge has pointed out, the question of possession was very much in the forefront in the trial Court. An issue had been framed whether the plaintiff's suit was barred by limitation and by adverse possession; and there can be no doubt from the evidence let in that both the parties were attempting to prove that they or their predecessors had been in possession for twelve years or more prior to suit. It cannot therefore be said that the defendant has been in any way prejudiced by a finding that the plaintiff had proved his title by long possession. As the acquisition of title referred to in the plaint was seventy years ago, it could hardly be expected that the plaintiff would be able to adduce any evidence of value on that point. He asserted in his plaint that since the acquisition of title to the land by his predecessors seventy years ago, he and his predecessors had been in continuous possession of the land.
5. On both the points the appeal fails and is dismissed with costs.