Horace Owen Compton Beasley, Kt., C.J.
1. This Letters Patent Appeal arises out of a suit filed by the plaintiff-appellant for the recovery of possession of the plaint-mentioned manai together with arrears of rent from the defendants to whose ancestor this site was granted by the plaintiff under a registered lease deed, Ex. A, dated the 3rd July, 1891. The appellant's case is that he is the head of Sivaprakasa Swamigal Mutt, that the suit property which is situated in Madappuram village belongs to the aforesaid Mutt and that it was leased out to the father of defendants 1 to 3 who took it for erecting a house upon it for his occupation. The plaintiff's claim was resisted by the defendants on several grounds. It was urged that the lease granted by the plaintiff was a permanent lease, that no default was made in the payment of rent, that the plaintiff's suit was barred by limitation and that in case of eviction a sum of Rs. 1,000 should be paid as compensation for the house built on the suit site. The Lower Courts found that the lease granted under Ex. A was a permanent lease. The Subordinate Judge found that the permanent lease was not granted for any benefit or necessity of the Mutt; but, on a consideration of the case-law upon the point, he held that the lease in question was good till the end of the plaintiff's lifetime, whatever might be the binding character of it so far as the plaintiff's successor was concerned. The Subordinate judge, therefore, dismissed the plaintiff's suit,. confirming the decision of the first Court. On second appeal, Qundaram Chetty, J., upheld the view of the Subordinate Judge and dismissed the appeal.
2. It is clear from the plaint that the claim was put forward in respect of this property as being the property with which the Mutt was generally endowed and therefore the position does not fall to be considered from any other point of view. The position, therefore, is that the appellant, the head of the Mutt, is not in the position of a trustee holding property vested in him or in the religious institution for any specific purpose. He occupies the position of the head of a Mutt not that of a trustee, and our learned brother in Second Appeal rightly draws the distinction between the two classes of persons. It is argued here' that it is well settled that, though the head of a Mutt may grant a lease of property of the Mutt, he can only do so for his lifetime and that any alienation beyond his lifetime is invalid and, it is argued also, void ab initio. It is, of course, well settled that the head of a Mutt can grant a lease of the property of the Mutt for his lifetime. In this case we are not dealing with an alienation made by the predecessor of 'the plaintiff. It was the plaintiff himself who granted the lease and he granted a permanent lease. What is the position? Is that lease at any rate valid for his lifetime or is he entitled during his lifetime to go behind what he has done and to have that lease declared invalid? It is worthy of note that except by inference even in this suit there is no claim for any such declaration. It seems to be merely a suit for possession but, in my opinion, even had there been a claim in this suit or a claim put forward by the plaintiff to set aside his alienation, it must have failed. The whole question really turns upon what is the effect of an alienation by the head of a mutt beyond his lifetime. What is to happen to a permanent lease granted by the head of a mutt? It is argued here, as before stated, on behalf of the appellant, that the effect is to render the whole lease void. It is argued that the Court cannot separate the good part of the lease from the bad part; and in support of this proposition a decision of this Court has been referred to, viz., Andalam Hanumanthu v. Peruri Kristabrahmam (1927) 26 L.W. 202, a decision of Kumaraswami Sastri, J., where he held that an alienation made by a trustee of wakf property was void ab initio. Whatever may be the position of a trustee of a wakf, we are not here faced with that position at all. We are faced with an alienation made by the head of the mutt and, in my opinion, the decision referred to is of no application here; and even if it were, it is not a decision which I should be inclined to follow much though I respect the decision of that very learned Judge. But, in my opinion, we are not called upon to say whether that decision was a correct one or not. It is perfectly clear to me as it was indeed to Sundaram Chetty, J., that, if the head of a mutt grants a permanent lease, the lease at' least enures for his lifetime and is a valid one. This is what was held in Vidya Varuithi v. Balusami Ayyar : I.L.R. 44 Mad. 831 : 41 M.L.J. 346 and it was there held amongst other things that the endowments of a Hindu mutt are not 'conveyed in trust,' nor is the head of a mutt 'a trustee' with regard to them save as to any specific property, proved to be vested in the head for a specific and definite object. This case, of course, is very much in point in distinguishing the position of a trustee and what he does from the position of the head of a mutt and what he does. -It was held also in that case that where the head of a mutt has granted a permanent lease the lessee cannot claim adverse possession as against the grantor of that permanent lease although different considerations may arise when the successor of the grantor comes upon the field and adverse possession may at any rate be obtained against him. The position is dealt with at page 854 where the argument on the question of limitation is considered as follows:
That article (Article 144) declares that for a suit ' for possession of immovable property or any interest therein not hereby (i.e., by the schedule) otherwise specially provided for' the period of limitation is 12 years from the date when the possession of the defendant became adverse to the plaintiff. In view of the argument it is necessary to discover when, according to the plaintiff, his adverse possession began. He was let into possession by Mahant No. 1 under a lease which purported to be a permanent lease, but which under the law could enure only for the grantor's lifetime. According to the well settled law of India (apart from the question of necessity, which does not here arise) a Mahant is incompetent to create any interest in respect of the mutt property to enure beyond his life.
3. It was accordingly held that the lessee as against Mahant No. 1 did not acquire a title by adverse possession as he was unable to prescribe against Mahant No. 1 who was, although purporting to grant a permanent lease, granting' a lease which was to enure only for his lifetime. This case was considered in a more recent decision of the Privy Council in Sudbaiya Pandaram v. Mahamad Mustapha Maracayar :
A further argument has been put forward to the effect that the period of limitation begins to run afresh as each new trustee succeeds to the office, and in support of that view reliance is placed on the case of Ishwar Shyam Chand Jiu v. Rani Kanai Ghose (P.C) and on the case of Vidya Varuthi v. Balusami Ayyar
4. In both these cases there is, in my opinion, clear authority for the' view taken by Sundaram Chetty, J., that although the permanent lease was invalid it was good at least for the lifetime of the plaintiff.
5. For these reasons, I agree with the judgment of Sundaram Chetty, J. and dismiss this Letters Patent Appeal with costs.
6. I agree with my Lord the Chief Justice and have nothing to add.