Skip to content


Sri Sri Sri Narayana Sooru Devu Garu Rajah of Tarla and anr. Vs. Guduru Rama Rao Pantulu Garu - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLimitation
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported in(1942)2MLJ242
AppellantSri Sri Sri Narayana Sooru Devu Garu Rajah of Tarla and anr.
RespondentGuduru Rama Rao Pantulu Garu
Cases ReferredLord St. John v. Boughton
Excerpt:
- - the estate is an impartible one within the meaning of the madras impartible estates act of 1904. on the 2nd december, 1937, the payee endorsed the instrument to the respondent......a family debt his acknowledgment of liability operates to extend the appellant's liability on. the instrument. the correctness of the respondent's assertion may be open to doubt, but it is not necessary to decide this question because on the evidence there can be no doubt that the father signed the statement on behalf of himself and as the agent of his son. the son prepared the document on behalf of himself and his father and left it to his father to verify the statement, which he did.10. for these reasons the appeal will be dismissed with costs.
Judgment:

Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, C.J.

1. The appellant is the Rajah of Tarla and he seeks to escape from liability in respect of a promissory note executed by himself and his father who is now dead. The appellant's case is entirely devoid of merits, but, notwithstanding this, he would be entitled to succeed on technical grounds if the legal arguments advanced on his behalf were sound. The Subordinate Judge of Chicacole, from whose decree this appeal has been preferred, found against the appellant on the facts and on the law and we concur in his findings. The attitude of the appellant towards his creditor is certainly one which does not commend itself to the Court.

2. On the 16th June, 1931, the appellant and his father executed a promissory note in favour of the Zamindar of Pata Tekkali for the sum of Rs. 6,000, which the payee had advanced to them in order that they might discharge in part a mortgage of the family estate. It is admitted that the mortgage had been created for family purposes. The estate is an impartible one within the meaning of the Madras Impartible Estates Act of 1904. On the 2nd December, 1937, the payee endorsed the instrument to the respondent. The appellant's father died in the month of May, 1938 and on the 14th December, of that year the respondent instituted the present suit to recover a sum of Rs. 9,896 which he claimed was then due on the promissory note. The appellant was sued personally and as representing his father's estate. He had been appointed to act as the receiver in a mortgage suit instituted by another creditor. Various defences were raised, but on appeal the appellant's case has been confined to these contentions: (1) the suit is time barred; (2) the acknowledgment of liability made by the appellant's father on which the respondent relies to save limitation, even if it amounts to an acknowledgment within the meaning of Section 19 of the Limitation Act, does not bind the appellant; and (3) the respondent cannot maintain the suit against the appellant because he is not the assignee of the debt, but merely the indorsee of the promissory note.

3. On the 15th May, 1934, a sum of Rs. 500 was paid towards principal and interest then due on the instrument. The fact of payment was indorsed on the promissory note and the indorsement signed by the appellant and his father. On the 15th May, 1935, a sum of Rs. 1,000 was paid in reduction of the debt and a similar acknowledgment indorsed on the promissory note. In this instance the father alone signed. The promissory note was indorsed to the plaintiff by the payee on the 2nd December, 1937. The indorsement is in these words:

The principal and interest due under this pro-note is Its. 9,100 (in words rupees nine thousand one hundred). As we have received the said sum from Gudur Rama Rao Garu, resident of Vizianagaram, endorsement of transfer has been made in favour of the said Rama Rao and the pro-note delivered. You alone should recover the principal and interest due under the said pro-note without our being liable.

4. Mr. K.V. Krishnaswami Aiyar on behalf of the appellant contends that this cannot be read as an assignment of the debt, but merely as an indorsement of the promissory note Mr. Somasundaram on behalf of the respondent does not dispute the correctness of this contention, and the case will proceed on the basis that the respondent is merely the holder of the instrument and not the assignee of the debt.

5. In the month of January, 1937, the appellant and his father were endeavouring to arrange for a loan of Rs. 3,00,000 to pay off the debts due by the estate; and in this connection a statement of the liabilities was drawn up. In this statement was included the amount due on the promissory note in suit and the statement was initialled by the father. The Subordinate Judge has found as a fact, and we agree with him, that the father remained the manager of the family up to the time of his death, notwithstanding that in the year 1930, he gave to his son a power of attorney. This power was executed in order that the son might help his father in the management of the estate. The statement of liabilities drawn up in January, 1937, was prepared under the appellant's directions, and that he checked it is shown by the fact that he made a correction in green ink.

6. The first contention raised in connection with the plea of limitation is that this statement does not amount to an acknowledgment of liability. This contention is entirely devoid of substance. The document is headed 'Tarla Estate. Statement of Liabilities.' The particulars of the debts are set out in six columns. In the first column is given the date, in the second column the name of the creditor, in the third the nature of the debt, whether on a mortgage or on a promissory note, in the fourth the amount borrowed, in the fifth the payments made in reduction of the debt and in the sixth column the rate of interest. This obviously is a statement of liabilities and, as already indicated, it is initialled by the appellant's father as an acknowledgment of its correctness.

7. It is then said that the statement does not fulfil the requirements of Section 19 of the Limitation Act, because the appellant's father merely initialled it, whereas he should have signed his name in full. This argument is based on two decisions of this Court. The first case is Lakshmanacharyulu v. Venkataramanujacharyulu : AIR1926Mad827 . That case was decided by Odgers,. J., who held that initials were not equivalent to a signature and therefore initials wore not sufficient for a valid acknowledgment under Section 19. If this judgment is to be followed, it means that the appeal must be allowed; but we are not prepared to follow it. We consider that it does not express a correct statement of the law. We shall return to this question in a moment. The second case is Velivalli Brahmaiah : (1930)59MLJ674 . In re, which was decided by Sundaram Chetti, J., also sitting alone. The question there was whether a Magistrate who initialled a judgment could be deemed to have signed it. The learned Judge held that the Code of Criminal Procedure required the signature in full. That case merely concerned the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure and it has no application here, where we are merely concerned with what is meant by the word 'signed' in Section 19 of the Limitation Act.

8. In Tavudu v. Venkataratnam : AIR1935Mad555 , Venkatasubba Rao, J., held that the initialling of an acknowledgment was equivalent to having signed. He pointed out that on principle there was no reason for holding that the word 'signed' should be construed as meaning 'signed in full'. It was immaterial whether the statement was initialled or signed so long as there was a writing underneath which verified the acknowledgment. The learned Judge considered the judgments of Odgers, J., and Sundaram Chetti, J., in the two cases, I have mentioned, and he regarded, as I do, the decision in Lakshmanacharyulu v. Venkataramanujacharyulu : AIR1926Mad827 as being erroneous. Here we have a statement of liabilities and at the foot of it. the appellant's father has written his initials in acknowledgment of the correctness of the statement. I have no hesitation in holding that this constitutes full compliance with the requirements of Section 10. It may be mentioned that in Lord St. John v. Boughton (1938) 9 Sim. 219 : 59 E.R. 342, it was held that initials were sufficient. In that case the person who gave the acknowledgment was not able to write himself owing to an attack of gout and the document was initialled by his daughter on his behalf, his name appearing above the initials.

9. The main question is whether the initialling of the statement of liabilities by the father operates to extend the liability against the son. Sub-section (2) of Section 21 says that nothing in Sections 19 and 20 renders one of several joint contractors chargeable by reason only of a written acknowledgment signed or of a payment made by or by the agent of, any other or others of them. Clause (b) of Sub-section (3) states, however, that for the purposes of Sections 19 and 20, where a liability has been incurred by, or on behalf of, a Hindu undivided family as such, an acknowledgment or payment made by, or by the duly authorised agent of the manager of the family for the time being shall be deemed to have been made on behalf of the whole family. For the appellant it is said that this clause does not help the respondent. It is acknowledged that it would help him if he were suing on the debt, but he is not and. therefore it is said that Sub-section (2) governs the situation. On behalf of the respondent, it is said that as the father was the manager of the family and as it was a family debt his acknowledgment of liability operates to extend the appellant's liability on. the instrument. The correctness of the respondent's assertion may be open to doubt, but it is not necessary to decide this question because on the evidence there can be no doubt that the father signed the statement on behalf of himself and as the agent of his son. The son prepared the document on behalf of himself and his father and left it to his father to verify the statement, which he did.

10. For these reasons the appeal will be dismissed with costs.


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