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Pujari Bhimajji, Minor by Next Friend Pujari Nagappa Vs. Rajabhai HussaIn Sahib and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported in(1920)39MLJ239
AppellantPujari Bhimajji, Minor by Next Friend Pujari Nagappa
RespondentRajabhai HussaIn Sahib and anr.
Cases ReferredRam Barechha Ram v. Tarak Tewari
Excerpt:
- - the legislature clearly made this provision because it was strongly of opinion that it was not for the minor's welfare that anybody else except such certificated guardian where one exists should act for a minor defendant. 535 was not a case decided on the rule which we are now considering, but the decision turned upon the question whether failure to give notice to a person alleged to be then in charge of the minor wholly vitiated the appointment of a third person by the court as the minor's (sic) that is, whether non-compliance with provisions of order 32, rules (3), (4) made the appointment wholly illegal or whether it was only an irregularity......order 32, rule 4(2)(so far as it relates to a minor defendant) is as follows: 'where a minor has a guardian appointed or declared by competent authority, no person other than such guardian shall be appointed his guardian for the suit,' (that is, in the case where a minor is a defendant) 'unless the court considers for reasons to be recorded that it is for the minor's welfare that another person be appointed.' the old section 457, c.p.c. prohibited a married woman being appointed as guardian for the suit for a minor defendant and thus created a legal disability in her to act as such. now order 32, rule 4(2), in the case where a minor is a defendant, similarly prohibits any person other than the guardian appointed or declared by competent authority to act as guardian for the suit of a.....
Judgment:

Sadasiva Aiyar, J.

1. The plaintiff represented by his certificated guardian (appointed by the District Court) is the appellant before us. He sued to set aside the decree passed against him in a suit brought by the present 1st defendant as plaintiff on a mortgage bond executed by the plaintiff's mother. The short question for decision is whether the plaintiff was properly and legally represented in that suit. An officer of the court was appointed in that suit at the instance of the then plaintiff (present 1st defendant) as guardian (for the suit) of the minor defendant (present plaintiff). If there was no proper representation, if the representation by that officer was not merely irregular but also illegal, there can be no doubt that this suit to set aside the decree and the other proceedings in the former suit is sustainable. The lower courts held that because the court and the present 1st defendant (the then plaintiff) were not aware that a guardian had been appointed by the District Court for the minor, the appointment of an officer of the Court as the guardian for the former suit was neither illegal nor irregular and therefore the decree in the former suit should not be set aside. I am unable to agree with the conclusions of the lower courts. Order 32, Rule 4(2)(so far as it relates to a minor defendant) is as follows: 'Where a minor has a guardian appointed or declared by competent authority, no person other than such guardian shall be appointed his guardian for the suit,' (that is, in the case where a minor is a defendant) 'unless the Court considers for reasons to be recorded that it is for the minor's welfare that another person be appointed.' The old Section 457, C.P.C. prohibited a married woman being appointed as guardian for the suit for a minor defendant and thus created a legal disability in her to act as such. Now Order 32, Rule 4(2), in the case where a minor is a defendant, similarly prohibits any person other than the guardian appointed or declared by competent authority to act as guardian for the suit of a minor defendant. The legislature clearly made this provision because it was strongly of opinion that it was not for the minor's welfare that anybody else except such certificated guardian where one exists should act for a minor defendant. Where there is such a clear prohibition by the legislature, the Court's ignorance of the existence of a certificated guardian cannot be taken into consideration in deciding the question whether there has been a proper representaion of a minor in the suit, any more than the ignorance of a Court under the old provisions that a woman appointed by it as a guardian was a married woman could affect the decision of the question whether the minor was properly represented by such a woman. I think the decision in Hanuman Prasad v. Muhammad Ishaq I.L.R. (1905) All. 137 confirmed in Rashid Unnisa v. Muhammad Ismail Khan I.L.R. (1909) A11 572. (P.C.) is almost conclusive on this point. On behalf of the Respondent, we have been referred to the decision in Dammar Singh v. Pirbhu Singh I.L.R. (1907) . All. 290 in which the question is very meagrely discussed and which was decided before the Privy Council decision above referred to. The obit?r dicta in Jogeshwar Narain v. Lala Mooralidhar (1907) 7 Cal. L.J. 270 and Midnapore Zamindari Co. Ltd. v. Govinda Mahto (1907) 8 Cal. L.J. 31 approving the decision in Dhammar Singh v. Pirbhu Singh I.L.R. (1907) All. 290 do not carry us much further. The case in Maruthamalai v. Palani I.L.R. (1912) Mad. 535 was not a case decided on the rule which we are now considering, but the decision turned upon the question whether failure to give notice to a person alleged to be then in charge of the minor wholly vitiated the appointment of a third person by the Court as the minor's (sic) that is, whether non-compliance with provisions of Order 32, Rules (3), (4) made the appointment wholly illegal or whether it was only an irregularity. I do not think that a prohibition to anybody else to act enacted in Order 32, Rule 4(2) can be put on the same footing as the direction to give notice to the person in whose care the minor is before making the appointment of a proper guardian. On the whole, I think that there was no legal representation of the minor plaintiff in the former suit. I hope that plaintiffs will hereafter take care when they implead a minor as a party-defendant and when they apply to the Court for appointing a guardian for the suit, to enquire whether a certificated guardian has been already appointed for the minor defendant. I would also add that there are observations in the case in Narsing Narain v. Sheikh Jahi Maistry (1911) 15 Cal. L.J. 3 which doubt the soundness of the decision in Dhammar Singh v. Pirbhu Singh I.L.R. (1907) All. 290. I would decree the suit setting aside the decrees of the Lower Courts. As allegations of fraud and collusion made in paragraphs 8 (b) and 8 (c) of the plaint were not proved according to the findings of both Courts and as the illegality of the appointment of the Court officer under the provisions of the Code was not expressly set up in the plaint, I would direct the next friend to bear personally the costs of this litigation incurred in the plaintiff's behalf. The defendants will of course bear their own costs.

Spencer, J.

2. I agree. I think that when there is a definite prohibition of law in such words as those in Order 32, Rule 4 C.P.C. ' no person other than such guardian shall act as the next friend of the minor, or be appointed guardian for the suit unless etc.' that a decree obtained against a minor represented by some other person is an illegal decree void against the minor and not a decree' obtained by a mere irregularity. I would follow in this matter the Privy Council decision in Rashid-un-nissa v. Muhammad Ismail Khan I.L.R. (1909) All. 572 and another case of the Privy Council in Khirajmal v. Daim I.L.R(1904) . Ca1.296 where it was held that a decree obtained against a person who was not properly represented on the record was void and without jurisdiction against such person. I agree with my learned brother that Dammar Singh v. Pirbhu Singh I.L.R (1907) All. p. 290 is not a case which we can follow without hesitation. There is another case in Ram Barechha Ram v. Tarak Tewari (1916) 14 All. L.J. 589 quoted by the respondent's pleader. In that case, the minor belonged to an undivided Hindu family and the manager of that family was a party and fully contested the suit. There was therefore no necessity to appoint a guardian at all and the decree obtained against the minors on whose behalf a guardian not properly representative of their interest was appointed was not on that account an invalid decree. The appeal will have to be allowed, the directions as to the costs being as mentioned in my learned brother's order.


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