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Kodukula Kameswaramma Vs. Kodukula Thammanna and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1939Mad798; (1939)2MLJ460
AppellantKodukula Kameswaramma
RespondentKodukula Thammanna and ors.
Cases ReferredMohanleswara Rao v. Durgamba
Excerpt:
- .....her maternal grandfather and continued to live with him until his death in 1923. shortly after her husband's death the appellant claimed the widow's right of maintenance out of the joint family property. the question of the amount to be paid to her was referred to arbitration. she was a major at the time and signed the reference, which is dated 25th april, 1914. the arbitrators gave their award on the 18th october, 1914, under which the appellant was to receive from her brothers-in-law by way of maintenance a sum of rs. 42 per annum during her lifetime. the award also provided that the appellant should not be entitled to an increase in the rate even if circumstances changed. the rate was to be rs. 42, no more and no less. notwithstanding the award the appellant, after her grandfather's.....
Judgment:

Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, C.J.

1. The appellant is the widow of one Subbarayudu, who died in August, 1913. Subbarayudu was joint with his brothers, respondents 1 to 4. After the death of her husband the appellant went to live with her maternal grandfather and continued to live with him until his death in 1923. Shortly after her husband's death the appellant claimed the widow's right of maintenance out of the joint family property. The question of the amount to be paid to her was referred to arbitration. She was a major at the time and signed the reference, which is dated 25th April, 1914. The arbitrators gave their award on the 18th October, 1914, under which the appellant was to receive from her brothers-in-law by way of maintenance a sum of Rs. 42 per annum during her lifetime. The award also provided that the appellant should not be entitled to an increase in the rate even if circumstances changed. The rate was to be Rs. 42, no more and no less. Notwithstanding the award the appellant, after her grandfather's death, claimed to be entitled to maintenance at the rate of Rs. 20 per mensem, to an annual payment of Rs. 25 for clothing and to a sum of Rs. 200 for residence and cooking utensils. She based her claim on two grounds: - (1) At the time of the award and until his death her maternal grandfather was helping to support her; and (2) the income from the joint family property had increased. 1 The members of the family refused to accede to the appellant's. demand. The consequence was, she filed in the Court of the District Munsif of Vizagapatam the suit out of which this appeal arises. The respondents pleaded the award and their plea was accepted. The appellant then appealed to the District Judge of Vizagapatam. The District Judge agreed with the decision of the District Munsif and dismissed the appeal. She then filed a second appeal which was heard by Venkataramana Rao, J., who considered that the decision of the lower Courts were right, but granted a certificate under Clause 15 of the Letters Patent.

2. Venkataramana Rao, J., accepted the contention of the appellant that the award went beyond the terms of reference in that the question referred was merely the amount of maintenance to be paid without regard to the question whether the appellant would be entitled to claim an increased amount if circumstances changed, but he was of the opinion that the case fell within the decision in Brij Mohan Lal v. Shiam Singh I.L.R.(1901) 24 All 164. There the Allahabad High Court held that where an award has been accepted by the parties and one of them has received benefits under it he is not entitled at a later stage to challenge its validity. In the present case it is certainly not open to the appellant to raise any question as to the validity of the award. She knew of the provisions in the award and for fourteen years; she accepted without question the amount given to her by it. That she knew of the terms of the award and accepted it as being valid is shown by Ex. Ill which is a receipt given by her in respect of the payment of the first annual payment of Rs. 42. The receipt reads as follows:

As my husband Subbarayudu, your undivided brother is dead, and as you are bound to protect me, the mediators who were chosen by you and me,, have settled that a sum of Rs. 42 per annum should be given as maintenance by you to me. I consented to the said settlement. You have therefore paid me in cash this day a sum of Rs. 42 (Rupees forty-two) being the amount of maintenance for one year, from the 15th Margasira Sudda of this year to the 15th Margasira Sudda of the ensuing Rakshasa year. Hence the same has been received.

3. In the face of the express statement that she had consented to the award it is not possible for the appellant to contend that she did not accept it or that she did not know the terms of it. The District Judge has found as a fact that she did accept the award and this finding is conclusive on the question.

4. It was held in Mohanleswara Rao v. Durgamba (1923) 46 M.L.J. 189 : I.L.R. 47 Mad. 308, that a contract by a Hindu widow with her husband's coparceners to receive a fixed sum per annum for maintenance and not claim any increase in future even in case of change of circumstances was a valid agreement. If it were open to the appellant at this late stage to question the award - I hold that it is not - she accepted the arrangement embodied in it and this constituted an agreement between her and her husband's coparceners under which she was to be paid this sum for life without any right in either party to claim a variation, whatever change there might be in circumstances. From whatever point of view the case is considered the decision must be against the appellant. The appeal consequently fails and will be dismissed with costs.


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