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T.G. Annamalai Chettiar and ors. Vs. Kuttigan Alias Muniyappa Naidu and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1947Mad189; (1946)2MLJ268
AppellantT.G. Annamalai Chettiar and ors.
RespondentKuttigan Alias Muniyappa Naidu and ors.
Excerpt:
.....keep the tank in good repair, so that the ayacut under it might be properly irrigated. it is true that section 140 speaks of the obligation of the holder of a dasabandam inam to maintain the irrigation work in good repair, but the provisions of this section will get attracted only on the fulfilment of the requisites or the conditions laid down in the previous sections, particularly 136 (c), 136 (d) and 138. the jurisdiction of the civil court is ousted only as regards any dispute or matter in respect of which suits or applications might be brought or made of the nature specified in parts a and b of the schedule to the act. their legal duty is to maintain the tank in good condition of repair to serve the purposes for which it came into existence, and they cannot be called upon to..........and holding that the repairs which the plaintiffs effected were really repairs that the dasabandam inamdars were under an obligation to carry out.4. on appeal, the district judge of north arcot reversed this decision and dismissed the plaintiffs' suit. he took the view that the civil court had no jurisdiction and that as regards the repairs themselves, they were in the nature of extraordinary repairs which the inamdars were under no obligation to carry out to the tank in question. with reference to one item, namely, the cost necessary to strengthen the bund so that the sunken portion might be set right, he was inclined to hold that the work fell within the scope of the duties of the dasabandam inamdar, but having regard to his finding on the question of jurisdiction, the.....
Judgment:

Chandrasekhara Aiyar, J.

1. The plaintiffs, who are the appellants in this second appeal, brought a suit for the recovery of the costs incurred by them in executing certain repairs to a desabandam tank in accordance with the requisition of the Collector under the Railway Protection Act. The defendants are the desabandam inamdars, under an obligation to keep the tank in good repair, so that the ayacut under it might be properly irrigated. The amount of the claim is Rs. 1,081, ofwhich Rs. 1,030 is the cost of execution of the repairs and the balance represents interest at 12 per cent. per annum from 16th August, 1939, till the date of plaint.

2. The defendants pleaded that the repairs carried out by the plaintiffs were not repairs which they were under any obligation to effect and that consequently, if the plaintiffs, in compliance with the orders of the Collector, carried out the repairs, they must be deemed to have done so voluntarily. They also urged that the Civil Court had no jurisdiction to go into this claim.

3. The District Munsiff decreed the suit overruling the plea raised in bar of the Civil Court's jurisdiction and holding that the repairs which the plaintiffs effected were really repairs that the dasabandam inamdars were under an obligation to carry out.

4. On appeal, the District Judge of North Arcot reversed this decision and dismissed the plaintiffs' suit. He took the view that the Civil Court had no jurisdiction and that as regards the repairs themselves, they were in the nature of extraordinary repairs which the inamdars were under no obligation to carry out to the tank in question. With reference to one item, namely, the cost necessary to strengthen the bund so that the sunken portion might be set right, he was inclined to hold that the work fell within the scope of the duties of the dasabandam inamdar, but having regard to his finding on the question of jurisdiction, the plaintiffs were not allowed any relief even in respect of this item.

5. The question of jurisdiction is free from diffiuclty. The learned Judge went wrong in holding that there was anything in Sections 140 and 189 of the Madras Estates Land Act to bar the cognizance of such a claim by the Civil Courts. It is true that Section 140 speaks of the obligation of the holder of a dasabandam inam to maintain the irrigation work in good repair, but the provisions of this section will get attracted only on the fulfilment of the requisites or the conditions laid down in the previous sections, particularly 136 (c), 136 (d) and 138. The jurisdiction of the Civil Court is ousted only as regards any dispute or matter in respect of which suits or applications might be brought or made of the nature specified in Parts A and B of the schedule to the Act. We are not for the present concerned with Part A. Part B refers to applications under Sections 137, 137(a), 137(c) and 138 (serial No. 30 to 37). It is only with reference to these applications that the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts is ousted. Here we have cases where a creditor claims to recover from a dasabandam inamdar the cost of repairs which he was called upon to execute by the Collector who took action under Section 14 of the Railways Protection Act. Such a claim is outside the scope of the Madras Estates' Land Act. Section 140 applies only to suits brought under the circumstances specified in the prior sections of the chapter.

6. It will be seen from the report of the Executive Engineer and the plans and the estimates drawn and prepared by him that it was considered necessary, apparently for the proper protection of the railway line going near the bund of the tank in question, that the bye-wash or surplus weir should be widened by 44 and 50 feet to the left and right sides of the existing position and that in this connection a sum of Rs. 790 was the expenditure to be incurred. This surely is not a repair which the dasabandam inamdars are under an obligation to undertake. Their legal duty is to maintain the tank in good condition of repair to serve the purposes for which it came into existence, and they cannot be called upon to undertake anything more because the railway line has come into the picture later and requires to be protected adequately against a possible breach of the tank. In Ex. P-10 and P-w, we get an idea of the repairs that were considered necessary and the cost that had to be incurred in respect of each item. The learned Judge was right in holding that the defendants should be saddled with the cost of the earth work to be done for strengthening the bund in portions so that it might be brought into a standard condition as per ' the approved memoir'. Any high ground that had formed in front of the escape from the weir and which would have impeded the normal overflow of the surplus water of the tank would also have to be removed by the inamdars as otherwise water which should flow over would collect in the tank, to the prejudice of its safety and may prove the cause for its breach, causing damage to all parties concerned-the mittadar, the inamdars who hold the lands in the ayacut, the other ayacutdars and the railway authorities also. The expenses relating to those items have to be allowed in the plaintiffs' favour, and they are made of five sums of Rs. 55, 20, 26, 35 and 61, making a total of Rs. 197, as would be seen from Ex. P-7. We have to add to this a centage charge of 14 per cent. Thus the defendants are liable for a sum of Rs. 225 in all; and for this sum they would be liable under Section 69 or 70 of the Contract Act. The remaining portion of the claim against them has to stand rejected.

7. The second appeal is therefore allowed in part and the plaintiffs will have a decree for Rs. 225 only together with interest at six percent from 16th August, 1939, when the repairs were effected till the date of payment. The parties will pay and receive proportionate costs throughout. (No leave).


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