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Ponnuswami Udayar and anr. Vs. Santhappa Udayar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty;Civil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberA.A.O. No. 302 of 1959
Judge
Reported inAIR1963Mad171
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Order 20, Rules 12 and 18
AppellantPonnuswami Udayar and anr.
RespondentSanthappa Udayar and ors.
Appellant AdvocateT.V. Balakrishnan and ;N. Vanchinathan, Advs.;M. Sundaram, Amicus Curiae
Respondent AdvocateK.S. Narayana Iyer and N. Sivaram, Advs.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases ReferredK. Satyanarayana Sastrulu v. K. Mallikarjuna Sastrulu
Excerpt:
civil - future mesne profits - order 20 rules 12 and 18 of code of civil procedure, 1908 - dispute regarding entitlement of future mesne profits - whether future mesne profits can be allowed without specific prayer in plaint - application for ascertainment of future mesne profits can be filed so long as suit is pending and final decree has been passed even though plaint itself did not provide for such relief - in suit for partition mesne profit is part and parcel of corpus of property allotted to successful plaintiff - unjust and illegal to compel plaintiff to sue separately for future mesne profits. - - the preliminary decree determines only the moieties of the respective parties and there are other matters like the realisation of the common outstandings, the discharge of common..........under order 20 rules 12 and 18 civil procedure .code, for an enquiry and determination of the mesne profits payable to them by the defendants from the date of the institution of the suit till the delivery of possession, and to give a final decree after such assessment of mesne profits. this was opposed by defendants 1, 4, 6 and 7 in the suit. the fourth defendant was an alienee from defendants 1 to 3. defendants 6 and 7 claim to have purchased 3/4th share of the suit properties from the first and the fourth defendants in survey no. 107/3 and 108 of koneripatti village. these defendants contested the application for ascertainment of mesne profits and for the passing of a final decree for recovery of such profits on the ground that the application was not maintainable. thelearned.....
Judgment:

Jagadisan, J.

1. O. S. No. 459 of 1944 on the file of the Court of the District Munsif of Sankaridrug at Salem, was a suit for partition and separate possession of a share in the plaint mentioned properties. The second plaintiff died during the pendency of the suit. The trial court granted a decree in favour of plaintiffs 1 and 3 for 3/16ths share in item I of the suit properties, but dismissed the suit in regard to the other items. On appeal from the said decree in A. S. No. 33 of 1947, on the file of the Court of the Subordinate Judge, Salem, plaintiffs 1 and 3 were granted a preliminary decree for partition of one-tenth share in all the suit items of properties. In S. A. No. 1985 of 1958 this Court affirmed that decree. There were several defendants in the suit, some of whom were alienees of portions of the suit properties.

2. Plaintiffs 1 and 3 filed an application I. A. No. 783 of 1954 in the District Munsif Court, Sankaridrug under Order 20 Rules 12 and 18 Civil Procedure .Code, for an enquiry and determination of the mesne profits payable to them by the defendants from the date of the institution of the suit till the delivery of possession, and to give a final decree after such assessment of mesne profits. This was opposed by defendants 1, 4, 6 and 7 in the suit. The fourth defendant was an alienee from defendants 1 to 3. Defendants 6 and 7 claim to have purchased 3/4th share of the suit properties from the first and the fourth defendants in survey No. 107/3 and 108 of Koneripatti village. These defendants contested the application for ascertainment of mesne profits and for the passing of a final decree for recovery of such profits on the ground that the application was not maintainable. Thelearned District Munsif upheld the defendants' plea and dismissed the application. The aggrieved plaintiff challenged the correctness of that decision before the Sub Court, Salem in A. S. No. 59 of 1959. The learned Subordinate Judge held that the application was maintainable and remanded the proceedings to the trial Court for ascertainment of the proper quantum of mesne profits due to the plaintiffs. This order of remand is called in question in this appeal by defendants 1 and 4.

3. It must be stated that in the plaint there is no claim for recovery of future mesne profits accruing due after the institution of the suit till the date of delivery of possession of the properties allotted to the share of the plaintiffs under the final decree. The claim is made for the first time in the application, out of which this appeal arises which is essentially an application for the passing of a final decree in a partition suit. In this application, the plaintiff estimates that their share of the net income of the properties would be not less than Rs. 100/- per annum. It is also common ground that no direction for an enquiry under Order 20 Rules 12 and 18 Civil Procedure Code regarding future mesne profits is contained in the preliminary decree in the suit. On these facts the question that arises for consideration is whether the application filed by the plaintiffs in the trial Court is maintainable in law.

4. The Full Bench of this Court in B. Basavayya v. B. Guravayya, : AIR1951Mad938 (FB) governs the present case. In the Full Bench case, the applications for the passing of a final decree after ascertaining the future mesne profits was filed though there was no specific prayer in the plaint asking for such a relief and though the preliminary decree itself did not expressly provide for it. The objection regarding the maintainability of such an application was overruled by the Full Bench. The view taken was that a suit for a partition does not get terminated by the passing of a preliminary decree but continues and subsists till the final decree is passed and that the equities between the parties should be adjusted and provided for only in the final decree, and that the claim for future mesne profits, namely, the profits arising and accruing after the date of the institution of the suit till the sharer is put in possession of the properties allotted to him or her is inherent on the very right to obtain the properties. The head-note in the Mad LJ report sets out the ratio of the decision as follows :-

'A partition suit in which a preliminary decree has been passed is still a pending suit and the rights of the parties have to be adjusted as on the date of the final decree. The preliminary decree determines only the moieties of the respective parties and there are other matters like the realisation of the common outstandings, the discharge of common liabilities, the distribution of the profits of the properties realised pending the suit etc., which have to be considered and decided before an equitable final partition can be effected. Even after the passing of the preliminary decree it is open to the Court to give appropriate directions regarding all or any of these matters suo motus or on the application of the parties. Order 20 Rule 18 Civil Procedure Code does not prohibit the Courtfrom issuing such directions after the stage of a preliminary decree.

The claim of a plaintiff suing for partition and his share of the profits accruing from the lands pending suit is not, properly speaking, a claim for 'mesne profits' and Order 20 Rule 12 Civil Procedure Code has no application to such a case.'

5. The Full Bench summed up the legal position in these terms : -

'If a preliminary decree awarding possession contains a direction for enquiry into future mesnet profits, the suit or that part of the suit relating to future mesne profits continues to be pending and the decree-holder might move the Court to hold an enquiry and pass a final decree awarding such profits without the necessity of filing an application within the period prescribed by Article 181 of the Limitation Act ............ Where a decreeawarding possession is silent with regard to an enquiry into future mesne profits and the decree has-not completely disposed of the suit which, for one reason or another, continues to be pending, there is nothing in the Civil Procedure Code prohibiting the decree-holder from applying to the Court during the pendency of such suit for an enquiry into future mesne profits or the Court from ordering such an enquiry. The Court may, in the exercise of its discretion, refuse an enquiry leaving the decree-holder to a fresh suit for such profits. If it does order an enquiry it is bound to incorporate the result in a final decree. ............... In any casean order directing an enquiry into future mesnet profits passed subsequent to the preliminary decree but during the pendency of the suit, cannot be said to be without jurisdiction. ............ Whenthe Legislature has expressly empowered the court to grant relief for future mesne profits, that is to say, in respect of a cause of action arising subsequent to the suit, there is no reason to circumscribe this power by importing a qualification that there must have been a specific prayer in the plaint for the recovery of such unascertainable and unpredictable profits. Future mesne profits could, we think, well be awarded as part of the general relief to which a plaintiff is entitled.'

After this clear and emphatic pronouncement by the Full Bench of this Court that an application for ascertainment of future mesne profits can be filed and maintained so long as the partition suit has not ended in a final decree, there cannot be any doubt that the application, out of which this appeal arises, is one which is completely laid. But in view of a subsequent decision of the Supreme Court in Md. Amin v. Vakil Ahmed, : [1952]1SCR1133 doubts have been cast on the correctness of the decision of the Full Bench of this Court.

6. I shall now refer to the decision of the Supreme Court. In that case, the suit was for partition and separate possession by certain Mohamedan co-sharers. The plaintiffs impugned a settlement deed and claimed a share. The trial court dismissed the suit, but on appeal the Allahabad High Court granted a preliminary decree for partition. The appeal before the Supreme Court was against the preliminary decree. The Supreme Court held that the plaintiffs were entitled to a preliminary decree declaring their shares in the plaint mentioned estate, but denied the plaintiffs'rights to claim mesne profits. The contention on behalf of the appellants before the Supreme Court, taking exception to the award of mesne profits wasdealt with as follows at page 1144 (of SCR ) : (at p. 362 of AIR):

'It was however pointed out by Sri S. P. Sinha that the High Court erred in awarding to the plaintiffs mesne profits even though there was no demand for the same in the plaint. The learned Solicitor General appearing for the plaintiffs conceded that there was no demand for mesne profits as such but urged that the claim for mesne profits would be included within the expression 'awarding possession and occupation of the property aforesaid together with all the rights appertaining thereto'. We are afraid that the claim for mesne profits cannot be included within this expression and the High Court was in error in awarding to the plaintiffs mesne profits though they had not been claimed in the plaint. The provision in regard to the mesne profits will therefore have to be deleted from the decree.'

7. It is not clear from this passage whether the claim for mesne profits in that case was for past profits prior to the institution of the suit or one for future profits accruing after the suit. The Full Bench decision of this Court has not been referred to by the Supreme Court, and I cannot say that the necessary implication of the view of the Supreme Court is to lay down a rule of law contrary to that decided by the Full Bench.

8. In Arunachala Mudali v. Maragathammal, : AIR1955Mad527 Rajagopala Aiyangar, J., seems to be inclined to take the view that the principle laid down by the Supreme Court regarding the ascertainment of mesne profits without a specific prayer for it in the plaint is opposed to the Full Bench decision of this Court and that to that extent the value of the Full Bench decision as precedent is undermined. Rajagopala Aiyangar, J., considered the maintainbility of an application for ascertainment of mesne profits in an action, which was pure and simple, one for recovery of possession and not for partition and separate possession. The suit ended in a decree and it was only thereafter that the successful plaintiffs moved the trial Court to hold an enquiry under Order 20 Rule 12 Civil Procedure Code. The learned Judge held that such an application was misconceived and not maintainable as Order 20 Rule 12 Civil Procedure Code cannot be invoked to revive and continue a suit, which had ended. The basis of the decision is that the final termination of the suit without a provision in the decree directing enquiry into future mesne profits from the date of filing of the suit giving the quietus to the lis, so far as that suit is concerned and that the successful party can only execute the decree passed and he cannot have a supplemental decree in recognition of rights, however implicit and intertwined they may be in relation to the decree already obtained by him. The observation of the learned Judge that the absence of a specific prayer in the plaint claiming future mesne profits would be fatal to the maintainability of an application under Order 20 Rule 12 Civil Procedure Code was obiter. The learned Judge observed at page 701 (of Mad LJ) : (at p. 531 of AIR) :

'But in the present case it is unnecessary to pursue the point because the decree in the suit did not award to the plaintiff a relief for future profits.'

I do not think that this decision applies to the present case, which is concerned with the maintainability of an application preferred after the proceedings for the preliminary decree, but before the final decree, in a partition action.

9. Can the Court direct an inquiry into future mesne profits under Order 20 Rule 12 Civil Procedure Code in a simple suit for recovery of possession of immoveable properties without a proper prayer in the plaint is a question which is not free from difficulty. The language of Order 20 Rule 12 describes the suit as one for recovery of possession of immovable property and for rent or mesne profits. In : AIR1955Mad527 referred to already Rajagopala Aiyangar, J., has laid considerable stress on the words of this provision. A strict and literal interpretation of this provision would exclude a suit for recovery of possession alone from its ambit. The plaintiff in a suit for ejectment would be disentitled to claim past mesne profits prior to the institution of the suit if he does not pray for such a relief. It is just possible that he has waived that relief. But the question of future profits wears a different aspect. When the plaintiff succeeds in the action and obtains a decree for recovery of possession, he should not be deprived of the profits accruing from the property after the date of the suit, as he is not to be blamed or held responsible for the duration or pendency of the suit. It seems to me that the words in Order 20 Rule 12 Civil Procedure Code are not so rigid as to prohibit the Court from awarding future profits to the successful plaintiff by the accident of an omission of a specific prayer to that effect in the plaint. Undoubtedly, the Court has got discretion in the matter to negative such a relief to the plaintiff and may direct him to file a separate suit to obtain the relief. But, I am unable to say that the Court is powerless or has no jurisdiction in the matter to award future profits in his suit in which the very prayer of the plaintiff is for recovery of possession. It cannot be said that the defendants will be prejudiced by allowing the plaintiff to recover future profits. The very fact that the plaintiff is held entitled to recover possession only emphasises the wrongful possession of the contesting defendants. The revenue is n6t deprived of court-fee and the plaintiff will be compelled to pay the court-fee at the ad valorem rate after the ascertainment of the quantum of mesne profits.

10. The Andhra High Court has discussed the question of the maintainability of an application for future profits in a case where the relief was not prayed for expressly in the plaint. That is the decision reported in Rachepalli Achamma v. Yerragunta Rami Reddi, AIR 1958 AP 517. The application under Order 20 Rule 12 was filed in that Court after the passing of the decree for recovery of possession. One of the grounds on which the maintainability of the application was challenged was that there was no provision in the decree directing an enquiry into future mesne profits. A Division Bench consisting of Subba Rao,C. J., as he then was, and Jaganmohan Reddy, J., held that where a decree awarding possession is silent with regard to an enquiry into future mesne profits and the decree did not completely dispose of the suit, which, for one reason or another, was pending, the Civil Procedure Code does not prohibit the decree-holder from applying to the Court during the pendency of such suit for such an enquiry. The Andhra High Court referred also to the decision of Rajagopala Aiyangar, J., in : AIR1955Mad527 and agreed with that decision holding that no application can be filed after the termination of the suit in a final decree.

11. There is also a recent decision of the Andhra High Court reported in K. Satyanarayana Sastrulu v. K. Mallikarjuna Sastrulu, : AIR1960AP45 dealing with an application under Order 20 Rules 12 and 18 Civil Procedure Code in a partition suit. It is significant to note that the Andhra High Court was of the opinion that the Full Bench decision of this Court cited above has not in any way been shaken or impaired by the decision of the Supreme Court in : [1952]1SCR1133 . The learned Judge observed thus at page 49 :

'From the above observations contained in the decision of the Full Bench in : AIR1951Mad938 which two Bench decisions of this Court have affirmed to be good law and unaffected by anything contained in the decision of the Supreme Court in Md. Amin's case, : [1952]1SCR1133 , we are of opinion that the application filed by the plaintiffs is entitled to be considered on merits and not to be rejected on the ground that ascertainment of profits since suit has not been asked for in the plaint.'

12. I am clearly of opinion that in a partition suit, an application for ascertainment of future mesne profits can be filed so long as the suit is pending and so long as no final decree has been passed even though the plaint does not specifically pray for the granting of such relief and the preliminary decree does not provide for it. The mesne profits accruing from the properties forming the subject-matter of the division and referable to the properties which are eventually allotted to the share of the successful plaintiff, form part and parcel of the corpus itself and are as much in the hotchpot as the lands themselves. It would be most inequitable and unjust to compel the plaintiff to sue separately for future mesne profits, and it is certainly not the policy of the law to encourage multiplicity of proceedings.

13 In the result the appeal fails and is dismissed with costs.


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