Skip to content


Muhammad Kaliba Rowther Vs. Muhammad Abdullah Rowther - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLimitation
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 401 of 1960
Judge
Reported inAIR1963Mad84; (1963)IMLJ41
ActsLimitation Act, 1908 - Schedule - Articles 142 and 144
AppellantMuhammad Kaliba Rowther
RespondentMuhammad Abdullah Rowther
Appellant AdvocateK.S. Naidu and ;R. Vijayam, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateT.V. Balakrishna, Adv.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases Referredand Subah Lal v. Fateh Mahomed
Excerpt:
.....act, 1908 - suit for possession filed by respondent beyond 12 years of purchase of some shares of suit property - suit property belonged to joint family - no proof of ouster from property by one co-sharer - appellant never denied title or right of respondent - possession of property in hands of appellant never became adverse to respondent - suit for possession in time. - - for the appellant the contention is that article 142 of the limitation act applies and that since the respondent failed to prove possession within 12 years of the suit, it was rightly dismissed by the trial court. it is well settled law, and we think no citation of authority is necessary that possession in the hands of a co-sharer of a property owned in common is possession on behalf of all the co-sharers. it is..........the suit filed by the respondent, beyond 12 years of his purchase of 17/24 shares out of the suit property from all but one co-sharer, for partition and separate possession of such shares is, in the absence of any proof of ouster by the co-sharer in possession of the entirety of the property, barred by limitation. the property originally belonged to one kadar mohideen rowther, who died in 1915 leaving his widow, two sons of whom the defendant who is the appellant in this court was one, and two daughters. it is common ground that the appellant is entitled to 7/24 shares. the respondent purchased the remaining 17/24 shares from the relative co-owners on 18th october 1945. he instituted the instant suit, out of which this second appeal arises on 20th january 1958. the suit was.....
Judgment:

Veeraswami, J.

1. The question in this second appeal is whether the suit filed by the respondent, beyond 12 years of his purchase of 17/24 shares out of the suit property from all but one co-sharer, for partition and separate possession of such shares is, in the absence of any proof of ouster by the co-sharer in possession of the entirety of the property, barred by limitation. The property originally belonged to one Kadar Mohideen Rowther, who died in 1915 leaving his widow, two sons of whom the defendant who is the appellant in this court was one, and two daughters. It is common ground that the appellant is entitled to 7/24 shares. The respondent purchased the remaining 17/24 shares from the relative co-owners on 18th October 1945. He instituted the instant suit, out of which this second appeal arises on 20th January 1958. The suit was resisted by the appellant on the main ground that it was out of time. On that question the courts below were disagreed, the lower appellate court expressing the view that the suit was within time. The appellant made a further plea claiming that he had since 18th October 1945, put up certain buildings on the suit property and had also effected repairs. Both the courts below have not accepted this claim except that in regard to repairs the first court found that the appellant was entitled to a sum of Rs. 194-14-0 on account of repairs effected at his expense. The lower appellate court did not specifically find on the point but had sufficiently expressed itself by stating that, if at all, the appellant had only effected certain repairs in the building that was already in existence at the time of his father's death. When the second appeal by the defendant-appellant came before Kailasam, J. the learned Judge felt that a difficult question of law arose for decision and it was desirable that it was posted Before a Division Bench.

2. As we mentioned at the outset, the sole point is whether the suit was barred by limitation. For the appellant the contention is that Article 142 of the Limitation Act applies and that since the respondent failed to prove possession within 12 years of the suit, it was rightly dismissed by the trial court. We have no hesitation in rejecting the contention. Article 142 contemplates a suit in which the claimant alleges possession and dispossession. Obviously this is not such a suit. It is nobody's case that the respondent, pursuant to his purchase in 1945, took possession of the undivided shares conveyed to him and he was dispossessed of the same subsequently. If that Article is ruled out as being inapplicable, can it be said that Article 144 governs the suit? The Article contemplates a suit for possession of immoveable property or any interest therein not otherwise specifically provided for. The starting point of limitation for the purpose of this Article is the date when possession of the defendant becomes adverse to the plaintiff. The suit in this case was not one for possession simpliciter but for partition and separate possession of the fractional shares which the plaintiff had purchased. None of the Articles of the Limitation Act seems to directly take within it a suit of that nature. It is, however, obvious that the suit is also in a sense for recovery of immoveable property, though in order to grant that relief something has to precede that, It is only when the relief of partition is granted that it will be possible to divide the shares by metes and bounds and the shares conveyed to the plaintiff could be delivered to him. In asmuch as the prayers for partition and separate possession of an undivided share are composite in nature, we should confess that we would have felt some hesitation in holding that Article 144 would apply to the suit had it not been for Thani Chetti v. Dakshinamurthi Mudaliar, : AIR1955Mad288 . That was a case arising out of a suit instituted by a purchaser of a share of some of the coparceners of a Hindu Joint family claiming to be put in possession of a definite piece of the family property. One of the questions was what was the proper article applicable to such a suit. Rajamannar, C. J. and Rajagopala Aiyangar, J. were of the view that it was wrong to consider such a suit as one for mere partition and that the essence of the claim was for actual delivery of possession which of course would follow a division. In that sense they held that Article 144 would govern the suit. On a careful consideration of the question, with respect, we find ourselves in agreement with this view, and the principle of the decision, in our opinion, will with equal force apply to this suit. We shall presently deal with the question as to what will be the starting point of limitation and what will constitute adverse possession in a suit of the character such as in question here. So far as the applicability of the proper Article to the suit is concerned, we can find no distinction between the nature of a suit as in : AIR1955Mad288 and the instant suit.

3. If Article 144 is the proper Article applicable, as we hold it is, the question then arises as to whether under that Article the suit is out of time. It is well settled law, and we think no citation of authority is necessary that possession in the hands of a co-sharer of a property owned in common is possession on behalf of all the co-sharers. Implicit in this proposition is the further position in law that mere non-participation in the receipts from such immoveable property or mere inaction in respect of it for any length of time on the part of one or more of the co-sharers is not regarded as amounting to ouster or as investing the possession in the hands of one of the co-sharers with an adverse character so as to enable him to prescribe against the other co-sharers. It is only when acts are clearly proved on the part of the co-sharer in possession which would be inconsistent with any other co-sharer being entitled to any possession of interest in any part of the property, it can be said that any question of ouster of the co-sharers not in possession can arise. In the absence of such ouster there will be no room for adverse possession or prescription in favour of the co-sharer in possession. The contention for the appellant, however, is that these principles applicable to a co-sharer cannot extend to his alienee. Sri K. S. Naidu for the appellant urges that the alienee does not by reason of his purchase of a share become a co-sharer or a tenant-in-common along with the other sharers of co-tenants. According to the learned counsel, the cause of action for an alienee to recover possession commences at the moment of his purchase and possession in the hands of the other co-sharers ofthe share purchased by him should be regarded as adverse from that time onwards. We are unable to uphold the contention. It seems to us that, neither on principle nor on authority can an alienee from a co-sharer, more especially when he is a Mohammadan, be regarded as standing on a special footing different from the position of his alienor. It is clear that what the co-sharer conveyed to his alienee is his right, title and interest in his share which will take with it also the right to sue for partition and recover separate possession of such share. If the co-sharer who was the alienor is not barred by time because for over 12 years he took no action either to share possession of the property or income therefrom or sue for partition we fail to see any principle or reason why his alienee should be placed on a different, footing. In our opinion, in the absence of the defendant establishing ouster of the plaintiff, the defendant's plea that the suit was barred by limitation cannot be accepted. It is not disputed that the defendant neither pleaded ouster nor directed any evidence on the question. In such circumstances, we are not prepared to hold that the mere fact of alienation to the plaintiff of the interest of the alienor-co-sharer will amount to either ouster or impress possession of the defendant with the character of adverse possession.

4. Learned counsel for the appellant referred us to Udi v. Maru Mal, AIR 1924 Lah 682, where a single learned Judge of the Lahore High Court was of the opinion, that in the circumstances such as in this case, a suit filed by an alienee beyond 12 years of his purchase would be out of time. The co-sharers there, as here, were Muslims. Dealing with the question the reasoning of the learned Judge was this:

'It is true that in the case of co-sharers the possession of one co-sharer is the possession of all and that if one of them sets up a prescriptive title against the others, he must prove that his possession was openly hostile and that it could not be lawfully referred to a legal title as co-sharer; but I fail to understand how a transferee or an assignee can, by the mere fact of transfer or assignment, become a co-sharer if his rights as such are denied by the other co-sharers. It is beyond doubt that, if the assignor has not transferred possession of the property assigned to his assignee the latter in order to succeed in a suit for possession must sue within 12 years from the date of his assignment and that a suit against his assignor would be barred if he comes into court after that period.'

We are unable to see on what principle the learned Judge differentiated, for purposes of limitation, the case of an alienee from his alienor co-sharer. In fact on similar facts another learned Judge of that court took a contrary view in Fateh Md. v. Ghulam Md., AIR 1928 Lah 957. Tek Chand, J. gave his reason:

'Now as stated above Hayat and Allah Dad were two brothers, who jointly owned the house, and they being co-sharers Hayat's exclusive possession of it could not, without any overt act, have extinguished the rights of Allah Dad. Therefore, if Allah Dad had been alive he, or if he were dead and his share had descended to his legal heirs, they would still be co-sharers in the house and inthe absence of any denial of their title at a time beyond twelve years from the suit, their rights would not have become barred. If this be so, I fail to see how the position of a transferee for valuable consideration of Allah Dad's undivided half share should in the circumstances disclosed on the record be different. From the moment of the sale he stood in the shoes of his transferor and became a co-sharer in the house with Hayat.'

It was held that the suit filed by the alienee beyond 12 years in the absence of proof of ouster was in time. In our opinion, if we may say so with respect, the correct view to take is that expressed by Tek Chand, J. and we are in entire agreement with him. We do not understand Subah Lal v. Fateh Mahomed : AIR1932All393 as expressing a different view.

5. Sri K. S. Naidu pressed upon us that in view of : AIR1955Mad288 , we should hold that limitation should not be approached from the standpoint of ouster by the appellant but on the basis of absence of acknowledgment of the right of the alienee or participation in the enjoyment of the property owned in common by the alienee. Learned counsel says that absence of those facts would point to adverse possession of the property on the part of the appellant. It is true that in that case the learned Judges held that in the case of an alienation by a coparcener of a Hindu joint family of his undivided interest, so to speak, in the coparcenary, possession of the non-alienating coparceners would be adverse to the alienee from the date on which he became entitled to sue for general partition and possession of his alienor's share on the view that coparcenary being a peculiar concept, so different from the concept of a tenancy-in-common, the alienee of such a share cannot possibly be regarded as coparcener or co-sharer and in such peculiar circumstances absence of a clear acknowledgment of the right of the alienee or participation in the enjoyment of the family property by the alienee would point to the nature of the possession of the non-alienating coparceners to be adverse. We are unable to see how that principle has application to the alienee from a Muslim co-sharer of his share in a tenancy-in common. A coparcenary and the concept of the nature of the interest in a coparcenary bear no analogy whatever to a tenancy-in-common and a co-sharer in respect thereto, especially when the co-sharers are Muslims, who, when they inherit immoveable property, own the same not as joint tenants but as tenants-in-common.

6. The appellant having at no time denied the alienee's title to or his right to sue for partition and recover separate possession of his share, and having also not pleaded or attempted to prove ouster of the respondent, we must hold that possession of the property in the hands of the appellant never became adverse to the respondent. On this view it follows that the suit was in time. That was the view which the lower appellate court rightly took and we accept it.

7. As regards the expenses for repairs, inasmuch as the lower appellate court has not disturbed the finding of the trial court, to wit, the defendant had incurred an expense of Rs. 195-14-0, the lowerappellate court have directed the respondent to paythe appellant his proportionate share of liability,which amounts to Rs. 142. We direct the respondent to pay this amount to the appellant withinterest at six per cent per annum from today. Therespondent will have one month to pay the amount.

8. In the result, except for the said direction,the second appeal fails and is dismissed, but, in thecircumstances, without costs.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //