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P.R. Aiyanachariar Vs. Lakshmi Ammal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty;Civil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported in(1911)21MLJ500
AppellantP.R. Aiyanachariar
RespondentLakshmi Ammal and ors.
Cases Referred and Rajijalakshmi v. Suryanarayana
Excerpt:
- - but it is now well established that a mistaken impression of law regarding the validity of the adoption is not a ground on which estoppel can be based......(1897) 2 ch. 86. this proposition is quite untenable. rangachari's title to his adoptive father's family property must of course be held in this case to have been acquired by prescription. it is quite true that, if a person capable of holding one or other of different kinds of estate prescribes for a particular kind of estate, he could not acquire a larger estate or an estate different from that for which he prescribes. the animus possidendi is the test for determining the estate which prescription would confer on him. see our judgment in a.s. no. 73 of 1908. therefore, if a woman prescribes for what is known as a 'woman's estate' under the hindu law, it must be held at least in some classes of cases that her heir would be the successor to her woman's estate and rajijalakshmi v......
Judgment:

1. This is an appeal from the decision of the District Court of Chingleput in a snit for a declaration that certain alienations made by the 1st defendant, the widow of one Srinivasa Raghavachari, were not binding on the plaintiff who claims to be the nearest reversioner of her husband entitled to succeed on the 1st defendant's death. The lower court has found that the plaintiff is not proved to be the nearest reversioner, and dismissed the suit on that ground without deciding the other issues. The plaintiff's father was adopted by the natural brother of (Rangadhari) the father of the 1st defendant's husband (Srinivasa Raghavachari). The case of the defendants is that Rangachari was given away in adoption to one Raghavachari and ceased to be a member of the plaintiff's family. The plaintiff denied the adoption of Rangachari and alleged that the adoption, even if true, was invalid. He also claimed to be Rangachari's reversionary heir, even if the adoption was true and valid. The factum of the adoption was found in the defendant's favour by the lower court, and in fact was conceded by the plaintiff's vakil in the course of the case, and the learned vakil for the appellant does not seriously contest it before us. The lower court held that the adoption was invalid, it being a second adoption made by Rangachariar's widow, Kanagammal, long after the estate of her husband had vested in her first adopted son and then in that adopted son's adopted son and finally in the widow of the latter. It was admitted for the respondent that this finding could not be disputed. The. lower court has found, however, that Rangachari was all along treated as Raghavachari's adopted son, and that the plaintiff is estopped from disputing the validity of the adoption, and it was further held that, for the purposes of this case, it must be taken that Rangachari consequently ceased to belong to his natural family, and the plaintiff could not claim to be the reversioner of Rangachari as a member of his natural family. The plaintiff's right as reversioner, even in the event of the adoption being valid, is held by the lower court not to be proved. In appeal it is contended that the finding as to estoppel is incorrect and that in any event the result of the estoppel would only be to prevent the plaintiff from disputing Rangachari's right to the property of Raghavachari as his adopted son, but that it could not give him the status of an adopted son or put an end to his position as a member of his natural family. We are of opinion that both these contentions should be upheld. There is practically no evidence of estoppel at all. The facts on which the learned vakil for the respondent seeks to maintain the finding of the lower court are : (1) that Rangachari did not take a share in the property of his natural family along with the plaintiff's father, the whole estate being taken by the latter; (2) that Rangachari's position as adopted son was recognised by his relations; and (3) that the plaintiff's father wrote the letters Exhibits XIX(a) to XIX(c) to Kanagammal and her 1st adopted son's widow, Srirangammal, soon after the adoption in which he enquired about the welfare of the 'child Rungachari.' These facts, in our opinion, are quite insufficient to establish the plea of estoppel. It is not contended that Rangachari claimed any share of the property of his natural family and was refused it by the plaintiff's father, Rangachari was evidently under the impression that His adoption was valid and, it may be, that the plaintiff's father and other relations also shared in that impression, a fact which would account for the letters already referred to. But it is now well established that a mistaken impression of law regarding the validity of the adoption is not a ground on which estoppel can be based. Mr. K. Srinivasa Aiyangar does not contend that the estoppel could change the natural status of Rangachari, if the adoption was invalid. But he argues that as Rangachari purported to hold the property in suit as the adopted son of Raghavachari, the reversionary heirs entitled to succeed on the death of the 1st defendant are the sapindas of Raghavachari's family and not of Rangachari's natural family. And he relied on the authority of Rajijalakshmi v. Suryanarayana : (1893)3MLJ100 and Dalton v. Fitzgerald (1897) 2 Ch. 86. This proposition is quite untenable. Rangachari's title to his adoptive father's family property must of course be held in this case to have been acquired by prescription. It is quite true that, if a person capable of holding one or other of different kinds of estate prescribes for a particular kind of estate, he could not acquire a larger estate or an estate different from that for which he prescribes. The animus possidendi is the test for determining the estate which prescription would confer on him. See our judgment in A.S. No. 73 of 1908. Therefore, if a woman prescribes for what is known as a 'woman's estate' under the Hindu Law, it must be held at least in some classes of cases that her heir would be the successor to her woman's estate and Rajijalakshmi v. Suryanarayana : (1893)3MLJ100 similarly holds to hat if one prescribes for an impartible holder's estate, the property which he acquires by prescription would, in certain circumstances, pass to the heirs who would be entitled to succeed if the property were in fact impartible. But it is impossible to hold that there would be any difference in the estate which Rangachari acquired by prescription, whether he purported to belong to his natural family or to the family into which he was adopted. The title acquired by him would be the same in both cases, namely an absolute heritable estate. The decision in Dalton V. Fitzgerald (1897) 2 Ch. 86 has absolutely no application. It merely held, that a person obtaining possession of property under a specific instrument and his heirs would not be entitled to dispute the title of other persons claiming an estate in the same property under the same instrument. This is a rule of estoppel applicable to the person taking under an instrument and to his heirs. It has no bearing on cases where title is acquired solely by prescription.

2. In the view we have taken on this question, it is unnecessary to consider whether the plaintiff's claim as reversioner, even if the adoption set up be valid, is sustainable or not. We must reverse the decree of the lower court and remand the suit for trial on the issues which have not been disposed of. The costs of this appeal will abide the result.


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