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Karri Venkayyamma Vs. Goluguri Tirapayya - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCommercial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 262 of 1950
Judge
Reported inAIR1955Mad32
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Order 41, Rule 22; Partnership Act, 1932 - Sections 48
AppellantKarri Venkayyamma
RespondentGoluguri Tirapayya
Appellant AdvocateB.V. Subramanian, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateA. Kuppuswami, Adv.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Cases ReferredMunisami Mudali v. Abbueddi
Excerpt:
commercial - rendition of accounts - section 48 of partnership act, 1932 - appellant were legal heir of one of partners - partner accused of misappropriation of accounts - suit for rendition of accounts and settlement of accounts - appeal on ground that legal heir not responsible for settlement of accounts - legal heir liable to settlement of accounts upto assets of pre-deceasor in hands of appellant. - - in exceptional cases, it may incidentally be also directed against other respondents......in o. s. no. 71 of 1944. the said suit was filed by the respondent for a declaration that the suit partnership became dissolved on 22-4-1944, or for a dissolution of the suit partnership by court as from the date of the suit for taking accounts of the partnership and to recover the plaintiff's share therein. the case of the plaintiff may be briefly stated.plaintiff and defendants 1 to 9 and another karri suryanarayana reddi husband of the 10th defendant and father of defendants 11 and 12 entered into a partnership, on or about 5-9-1930 at anaparti for the purpose of purchasing and selling plantain mango and other fruits and also doing commission, business in fruit and carried on business under the name and style of karrivirr reddi and co. at anaparti. they also opened a branch at.....
Judgment:

Subba Rao, J.

1. This is a second appeal by the 13th defendant, the legal representative of the second defendant, against the judgment and decree of the Court of the District Judge, East Godavari reversing that of the Additional Subordinate Judge of Rajahmundry in O. S. No. 71 of 1944. The said suit was filed by the respondent for a declaration that the suit partnership became dissolved on 22-4-1944, or for a dissolution of the suit partnership by Court as from the date of the suit for taking accounts of the partnership and to recover the plaintiff's share therein. The case of the plaintiff may be briefly stated.

Plaintiff and defendants 1 to 9 and another Karri Suryanarayana Reddi husband of the 10th defendant and father of defendants 11 and 12 entered into a partnership, on or about 5-9-1930 at Anaparti for the purpose of purchasing and selling plantain mango and other fruits and also doing commission, business in fruit and carried on business under the name and style of Karrivirr Reddi and Co. at Anaparti. They also opened a branch at Jambagh, Hyderabad and carried on business there from 5-9-1939. The head office of the suit partnership was managed by the second defendant and the other branch by she first and second defendants. Accounts for the business carried on for both the head and branch offices were kept by defendants 1 to 3.

One of the partners, Karri Suryanarayana Reddi died on 22-4-1944 and the suit partnership became dissolved by reason of his death from that date. Defendants 1 and 2, taking advantage of the fact that large moneys were lying with them were not settling the accounts. The suit was therefore filed for the aforesaid reliefs. The 13th defendant, the legal representative of the 2nd defendant filed a written statement denying most of the material allegations made in the plaint.

It was alleged that the original partnership business was dissolved in December 1939. A new firm was formed in December 1939 but it was dissolved in 1941 after settlement of accounts. In 1943-44 another firm was formed and the death of Karri Suryanarayana Reddi in April 1944 had the effect of dissolving that firm. She denied that the firm started at Hyderabad was the branch firm of the plaint firm and stated that the firm at Hyderabad was formed with defendants 1 and 2 as sole partners. She also denied that they were managing the partnership of Karri Virr Reddi and Co. at Anaparti. The first defendant adopted the written statement filed by the second defendant. On the aforesaid pleadings, the following issues were framed:

'I. Whether the suit partnership on 5-9-1939is true?

2. Who are the partners and what are its terms?

2(a). Are defendants 1 to 3 liable to account?

3. Was it dissolved by death on 22-4-1944? 3(a) If not, is the plaintiff entitled to dissolution from the date of suit?

4. What relief?'

Additional issues:

'1. Whether the suit partnership was dissolved on December 1939 and whether the suit is barred?

2. Whether the firm at Hyderabad is a branch of the suit partnership?

3. Whether this Court has jurisdiction in so far as the accounts of the Hyderabad business are concerned?'

The learned Subordinate Judge found on additional Issue 2, that the firm at Hyderabad was a separate and distinct firm though the partners and their shares were the same in both the firms. On Issue 2, he held that the plaintiff, defendants 1 to 9 and K, Suryanarayana Reddi were partners in the Hyderabad business, that the plaintiff and defendants 1 to 7 and K. Suryanarayana Reddi have got one share each and defendants 8 and 9 together have got one share and that the partners were entitled to share the profits and loss in that proportion. On issue 2(a), he expressed the opinion that the first defendant was the manager of the business at Hyderabad.

On Issue 3, he gave the finding that the firm at Hyderabad was dissolved by the death of Suryanarayana Reddi on 22-4-1944.

In regard to the Anaparthi business he held that the partnership entered into in the year 1939 was dissolved in December 1939 but the partnership business that was entered in the year 1939, and carried on business under the name and style of gatti Veereddi, Karri Ganireddi and Co. was dissolved on 22-4-1944 by the death of one of the partners, K. Suryanarayana Reddi. In the result he gave a decree in favour of the plaintiff declaring that the Hyderabad firm stood dissolved on 22-4-1944 and for rendition of accounts of the Hyderabad business. The first defendant was made liable to account. The first defendant preferred an appeal against the decree of the learned Subordinate Judge, being A. S. No. 76 of 1947 on the file of the District Judge, East Godavari,

In the grounds of appeal he questioned all the findings given by the first Court. The plaintiff filed a memorandum of objections claiming that the second defendant also should be made liable to account to the plaintiff. The appeal was heard by the learned District Judge of East Godavari. In the memorandum of objections he held that the second defendant was also liable to account to the plaintiff along with the appellant for the assets of the partnership business at Hyderabad. In the result he dismissed the appeal and allowed the memorandum of cross-objections making the assets of the second defendant in the hands of the thirteenth defendant also liable for the suit claim. The 13th defendant preferred the above appeal.

2. Mr. Subramaniam, the learned counsel for the appellant, raised before us three points:

1. The memorandum of objections filed 'by the plaintiff claiming that the second defendant also Was liable to render accounts to him was not maintainable as it was only directed against the co-respondent.

2. The legal representative of a deceased partner cannot be made liable to render accounts to the other partners.

3. Accounts should be taken on the basis that the second defendant was not in the management of the Hyderabad business.

3. The first contention was based upon a decision of the Pull Bench in -- 'Venkateswarlu v. Ramanna', : AIR1950Mad379 (A). The facts there were: The defendants 1 to 3 in O. S. No. 54 of 1945 in the court of the Subordinate Judge of Guntur preferred an appeal against a preliminary decree for partition passed in favour of the plaintiffs who were respondents 1 and 2 in the appeal. The plaintiffs filed an application to implead defendants 5 and 6 as respondents 5 and 6 to a memorandum of cross-objections. Defendants 5 and 6 were made parties to the suit, because it was alleged by the plaintiffs that they were in possession of properties belonging to the joint family consisting of them and defendants 1 to 3.

5th defendant was made a party to the suit on the allegation that item 24 of schedule A of the plaint was family property, whereas the fifth defendant claimed that the said item was his own. The plaintiff's claim was disallowed in an appeal filed by defendants 1 to 3 against a preliminary decree for partition of the family properties, the dispute between the plaintiff and the fifth defendant was sought to be agitated by a memorandum of objections. The learned Judges held that the memorandum of objections was not maintainable. The reason for the decision has been summarised by the learned Chief Justice at page 385 as follows:

'In my opinion, such an objection should, as a general rule, be primarily against the appellant. In exceptional cases, it may incidentally be also directed against other respondents.'

The learned Judges accepted the opinion expressed by the other High Courts in preference to the view stated in the earlier Pull Bench decision in -- 'Munisami Mudali v. Abbueddi', AIR 1915 Mad 648 (B) the view expressed therein is that as a general rule, the right of a respondent to urge an objection should be limited to his urging it only against the appellant; but there may be exceptions to' the general rule when the appeal opens up questions which cannot be disposed of completely without matters being allowed to be opened up as between co-respondents. As the Pull Bench decision finally and authoritatively stated the law on the subject, it is neither necessary nor fruitful to consider the other cases cited at the Bar.

The question therefore is whether the memorandum of objections filed by the respondent was primarily aimed against the appellant, of whether the question raised between the respondents was necessary for disposing of the appeal completely. In the instant case the decree was for dissolution of partnership, for rendition of accounts by the first defendant and for the allotment of the moneys to. the various partners. The first defendant alone preferred an appeal to the District Court. The memorandum of grounds filed by him disclosed his contention that the Hyderabad business was not a partnership business, that the suit was liable to be dismissed as the main partnership was dissolved and that the suit was barred by limitation. If he succeeded in any one of those contentions, the entire suit against the first and second defendants should be dismissed.

Indeed under Order 41, Rule 4, Civil P. C. where there are more defendants than one in a suit, and the decree appealed from proceeds on any ground common to all the defendants, any one of the defendants may appeal from the whole decree, and thereupon the appellate Court may reverse or vary the decree in favour of all the defendants. As the first defendant preferred the appeal setting up the common defence which he had along with the second defendant to the plaintiff's suit, the second defendant would be entitled under the aforesaid rule to get the benefit of the decision of the appellate Court in the first defendant's favour. In effect and substance, the appeal filed on those circumstances was also for the benefit of the second defendant. Prom this perspective it would be obvious that the memorandum of objection was really aimed against the appellant who was also fighting the cause of the second defendant. Further the disputes specifically raised in the memorandum Of objections between the plaintiff and the second defendant, if decided in a particular way, would have repurcussions on the extent of the appellant's liability.

To Illustrate, under the first court decree, the first defendant was liable to render accounts on the basis that he was in actual management of the Hyderabad business. It the memorandum of objections were allowed, the second defendant also would be liable on the same basis. In any accounting that may be taken on the footing that both of them were in management of the bust-ness, and therefore liable to render accounts, under certain circumstances the liability for mismanagement or misappropriation may be apportioned between the two defendants, in which case the liability of the first defendant may be less than that for which he might be liable if he was solely bound to render accounts.

In that contingency the decision on the dispute between the respondents would be necessary to completely adjudicate the rights of the appellant. What Is more, in a partnership action, in almost every case, all the parties would be in the position of the plaintiffs, and then rights would be so interconnected that the right of one cannot be disposed of without reference to the other. In this case after the accounts are taken and after the amounts due to the partnership are ascertained, they would be divided between the partners according to their shares. The amounts due to the partnership could be ascertained only after the persons liable to render accounts discharge their duty.

The liability of the second defendant to render accounts is as necessary as that of the first defendant to do so. The appellant would equally be entitled to share along with the other partners in any additional amount that might be found due to the partnership by reason of the second defendant's liability to render accounts. To put It shortly, the rights and liabilities of the appellant cannot be finally and completely disposed of without at the same time fixing the liability of the other partners to render account or otherwise. From whatever angle it is looked at, it is obvious that the appellant is primarily Interested in the disposal of the question raised in the memorandum of objections. We therefore hold that the memorandum of objections filed in the court below was maintainable.

4. It is then contended that the lower court was wrong in directing the 13th defendant to render accounts to the plaintiff. It is settled law that the legal representative of a partner is not liable to render accounts to the other partners. The other partners must allege and establish the liability of the deceased partner, and the amounts so ascertained could be recovered from the assets of the deceased in the hands of his legal representative. The learned District Judge, in our opinion, kept the aforesaid principle in view when he held that the assets of the second defendant in the hands of the 13th defendant would be liable for the plaintiff's claim. He did not either expressly or by necessary implication direct the 13th defendant to render accounts to the plaintiff.

His observation in paragraph 7 to the effect that the second defendant who was admittedly in charge of that business also was liable to account to the plaintiff along with the appellant, is unexceptionable, for if both of them were in management of the business, they would certainly be liable to account. But in the next sentence he confined the liability of the 13th defendant for the suit claim only to the assets of the second defendant in her hands. Even in the decree no liability to render account on the part of the 13th defendant is found.

5. Even so, it is contended that though the 13th defendant was not liable to render accounts, the basis for taking accounts against the second defendant would affect the liability of the 13th defendant. To put it differently if the extent of the second defendant's liability was ascertained on the footing that he was in management of the business, the amounts that might be found due from him might be larger than his liability as an ordinary partner. It may be so. But the learned Judge found that the second defendant, who was admittedly in charge of the Hyderabad .business was also liable to account to the plaintiff along with the first defendant. Being a second appeal, it is not ordinarily permissible to question that finding. But it is contended that the finding is not based upon any evidence in the case and indeed it is contrary to the entire evidence adduced. We cannot agree. (His Lordship considered the evidence and concluded): Though there is some ambiguity in the evidence and though the first appellate court may have come to a different conclusion, we cannot say in second appeal that there was no evidence supporting the finding of the court below. We therefore accept the finding of the court below.

6. We may make it clear that his findingcannot make the 13th defendant liable for rendition of accounts. The plaintiff must prove beforefastening the liability on the 13th defendant, theperiods during which the second defendant wasin management, his acts of management andalso the amounts for which he would be liableon the basis of the mismanagement or mis-application of funds. The amounts so fixed couldbe recovered from the assets of the seconddefendant, if any, in the hands of the 13th defendant.

7. In the result the appeal fails and is dismissed, with costs.


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