1. This is an appeal against an order of remand by the lower appellate Court sending back a suit for trial by the first Court. The plaintiffs, who are respondents 1 and 2 here, sued in 1920 to establish their right to, and to recover possession of, 2 3 share of the suit property. The property belonged to one Chinnayya who died without issue leading a widow. She sold the property to the 1st defendant's father in 1886 and died in 1920. The plaintiff's suit was filed after her death, the plaintiffs being the actual reversioners then. Their claim is met in limine by defendants 1 to 7, who now represent the alienee, on the plea of res judicata.
2. It is not disputed that the father of plaintiffs 1 and 2 at the time when he was a presumptive reversioner to the widow in 1898 filed O.S. No. 320 of 1898 against the widow and her alienee for a declaration that the alienation was not binding on the reversioners, and that he lost that suit. The first Court has held that, as that suit was a representative suit, the result of it will bind the plaintiffs and is an effectual bar to their getting a decree in this suit. The lower appellate Court held that a decree in a previous declaratory suit does not bind a reversioner when he has reached the status of an actual reversioner suing for possession unless he was himself an actual party to the declaratory suit. It therefore remanded the suit for hearing.
3. We think that the Lower Appellate Court's view of the Law as it now stands is wrong.
4. The Lower Appellate Court and the respondents here rely on certain dicta in some early Privy Council cases at a time when the law was that only the nearest reversioner had any right of suit and before it was clearly laid down by this Court that a declaratory suit by a contingent reversioner is a representative suit on behalf of all reversioners. In Venkatanarayana Pillai v. Subbammal ILR (1915) M 406 : 28 MLJ 535. the Privy Council has clearly laid down the principle that the cause of action for such a suit is the common injury to the reversionary right. The question for decision in that case was whether when a presumptive reversioner, the plaintiff in such a suit, dies, the suit may or may not be continued by the next contingent reversioner. The Privy Council held that it could, because the right to sue survived, it being a common right inherent in all reversioners, and, touching for a moment on what was then the law in Madras as laid down by the Madras High Court, viz., that the adjudication on an alienation in a suit by a presumptive reversioner did not operate as res judicata against a contingent reversioner, the Judicial Committee held that such a test for determining whether a contingent reversioner is entitled to continue the suit of a presumptive reversioner was irrelevant. The Privy Council therefore neither commended nor condemned in so many words the law as to res judicata in such suit as then laid down by the Madras High Court, but it did lay down emphatically that the right of all contingent reversioners is one and the same, a single cause of action. In Varamma v. Gopaladasayya ILR (1917) M 659 : 1917 35 MLJ 57 a Full Bench of this Court has logically followed up that line of reasoning and laid down that such a suit by one contingent reversioner is a representative suit on behalf of all. The previous Madras and Privy Council decisions have all been considered in that case and the proposition set out above was adopted in the clearest terms.
5. The respondents seek to distinguish this case on the ground that it merely decided the legal position inter se of contingent reversioners before the death of the widow who are entitled to sue only for a declaration and that the legal position is entirely changed when the widow is dead and the party bringing the suit is the actual reversioner entitled to sue for possession. Reliance is placed on a statement of Sadasiva Aiyar, J. at p. 677, that so far as suits for possession on the death of the female heir are concerned, the assistance of the legislature, that is an enactment that a decree obtained by the then nearest reversioner is binding on the remoter reversioner, is still necessary. This does not appear to us to assist the respondents. The dictum is directed towards preventing a multiplicity of suits by actual reversioners, one after another, after the death of the widow and it has nothing to do with the effect on a suit by an actual reversioner of a decree in a previous declaratory suit.
6. It 'is obvious and this is where the Lower Appellate Court is in some confusion that the cause of action of the actualreversioner is different from the cause of action for a suit by a contingent reversioner, and there is therefore no bar in law to the suit founded on the former cause of action. The question for decision is, whether, when that suit is brought it must not fail in limine where it has already been decided in a declaratory suit, representative of all reversioners, that the alienation is binding on all reversioners. We think there can be only one answer to this. If a declaratory suit is representative of all reversioners, all are bound by it, and the death of the widow cannot break that bond. To meet this argument Mr. Somayya for the respondents 1 and 2 had eventually to fall back on the contention that the word ' representative ' in. Varamma v. Gopaladasayya ILR (1917) M 659 : 1917 35 MLJ 57. was a misnomer and that it only meant to imply that all contingent reversioners had the same and a single cause of action, so that when one died, another could take his place. We are not prepared to accept this contention. It is quite clear from the judgemnt that the learned Judges were under no misapprehension and that they clearly and with full knowledge laid down the proposition that a decree in a declaratory suit by a contingent reversioner binds all reversioners. There is no question of the bond being only for a limited period. It would be a reductio ad absurdum if the decree in such a declaratory suit were reduced to waste paper merely by the widow's death, except in the one case where the plaintiff in each suit was the same. Such a decree could in no sense be termed a representative decree.
7. It is clear then that the actual reversioner is, unless and until he gets it set aside, bound by any decree passed in a previous declaratory representative suit by a contingent reversioner. It is a case to which Explanation VI of Section 11 of the Civil Procedure Code clearly applies.
8. That is the view held by the Allahabad High Court in Kesho Prasad Singh v. Sheo Pargash Ojha ILR (1921) A 19. and the Calcutta High Court. See Pramatha Nath Basu v. Bhuban Mohan Basu ILR (1921) C. 45. We are therefore of opinion that the view of the District Munsif on this point is correct and must prevail.
9. The respondents have raised another contention, namely, that it is open to them to agitate the question whether the decision in O.S. No. 320 of 1898 was not due to laches and to collusion on the part of the then reversioner-plaintiff in that suit. The District Munsif says distinctly that they did not allege any such contention before him. The respondents say that that is a misstatement, but we are not prepared to go behind the statement of the District Munsif and we note that neither in the plaint nor in the issues has any such point been raised.
10. We therefore reverse the order of the lower appellate Court and dismiss the plaintiffs' suit with costs throughout in all Courts.