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Maimoon Bivi and anr. Vs. O.A. Khajee Mohideen and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Property
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetters Patent Appeal No. 83 of 1964
Judge
Reported inAIR1970Mad200
ActsMahomedan Law; Trusts Act, 1882 - Sections 90; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Sections 100
AppellantMaimoon Bivi and anr.
RespondentO.A. Khajee Mohideen and anr.
Appellant AdvocateA. Sundaram Iyer, ;G.M. Abdul Khader and ;S.M. Amjad Nainar, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateS.V. Venugopalachari and ;S. Padmanabhan, Advs.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Cases ReferredKennedy v. De Trafford
Excerpt:
.....the children. it is an admitted fact that he was a well-to-do person. it is well established that, even in the case of a joint hindu family where there is sufficient nucleus, there is no presumption that property standing in the name of a female member of the family is joint family property. only when there is no question as to the truthfulness of a witness and the question is as to the proper inference to be drawn from truthful evidence, the original court is in no better position to decide the matter than the appellate court......property was acquired with the income from the first schedule properties as an accretion to the common estate as pleaded by the plaintiff. the common case of the parties is that, after the death of her husband, the first defendant along with her children was living in her father's house and that her father was looking after the first schedule properties, he was spending out of the income from the properties for the maintenance of the first defendant and her children as well as for education of the children. it is an admitted fact that he was a well-to-do person. he died on 3-10-1955. it is the plaintiff's case that the maternal grandfather purchased the second schedule property with the surplus income from the first schedule properties. the first defendant would contend that she had.....
Judgment:

Natesan, J.

1. This is an appeal under the Letters Patent from the judgment of our learned brother Kailasam J. in a regular first appeal. The suit is one for partition of the properties of a deceased Muhammad Ahmed Meeran who in March 1943, leaving as his heirs his widow Maimoon Bivi, minor son Khaja Mohideen and minor daughter Mohideen Batharomal, filed by Khaja Mohideen after becoming a major, The widow, the chief contestant in the suit, is the first defendant. The minor daughter of the deceased represented by her husband as guardian is the third defendant. She became a major pendente lite. The suit properties comprise the plaint first and second schedule properties. The first schedule properties were secured as the two-third share of the deceased Ahmed Meeran in his father's estate under the decree in O.S. No. 329 of 1943 on the file of the District Munsif Court, Tirunelveli. The second schedule property stands in the name of the widow the first defendant, under a purchase as per the original of Exhibit A-13, 13-3-1955. It is the case of the plaintiff that the second schedule property, though standing in the name of the first defendant, has to be partitioned among the heirs of the deceased Ahmed Meeran, as the property was purchased in the name of the first defendant with the surplus income from the first schedule properties for the benefit of all the heirs, There is no dispute as regards the first schedule properties and the shares the parties are entitled to therein--the plaintiff to 14/24th share, the first defendant to a 3/24th share and the daughter the third defendant to the remaining 7/24th share. The contest is only in respect of the second schedule property which the first defendant claims to be an acquisition made by her for herself. The learned Subordinate Judge upheld the first defendant's exclusive right to the second schedule property and granted a preliminary decree for partition of the first schedule properties except item 9. On appeal to this Court, our learned brother, Kailasam J., allowed the appeal upholding the plaintiffs claim for partition of the second schedule property also. The Letters Patent Appeal is directed against the variation of the decree in respect of the second schedule property.

2. The short question for consideration is whether the second schedule property was acquired with the income from the first schedule properties as an accretion to the common estate as pleaded by the plaintiff. The common case of the parties is that, after the death of her husband, the first defendant along with her children was living in her father's house and that her father was looking after the first schedule properties, He was spending out of the income from the properties for the maintenance of the first defendant and her children as well as for education of the children. It is an admitted fact that he was a well-to-do person. He died on 3-10-1955. It is the plaintiff's case that the maternal grandfather purchased the second schedule property with the surplus income from the first schedule properties. The first defendant would contend that she had funds of her own, that she used to earn by doing yarn-winding, stitching and embroidery work, that her father also used to give her moneys, that she lent out the moneys and after realising moneys lent, she purchased the secona schedule property.

3. To start with, certain principles have to be borne in mind while considering the claims made in this case and examining the evidence on record in relation thereto. We are here concerned with a property acquired by a Muslim woman at a time when her husband's estate was owned in common by her along with other heirs, her children. Another important feature is that the common properties were in the management of her father, She was an adult and the other co-heirs were minors. Under the Muham-madan Law, she was not the property guardian of the minors. Nor was the maternal grandfather who was actually in management of the properties, guardian of the minors. He had assumed management of the family properties, no doubt, for the benefit of the co-heirs. It is well established that, even in the case of a joint Hindu family where there is sufficient nucleus, there is no presumption that property standing in the name of a female member of the family is joint family property. As pointed out in Abdul Samad Khan v. Bibi-Jan, : AIR1925Mad1149 , there is no provision in Muham-madan Law that the acquisitions of the several members of a family are made for the benefit of the family jointly; and the principles and presumptions applicable to the case of a Joint Hindu family are not applicable to a Muhammadan family. At the moment of his death, the estate of a deceased Muhammadan devolves on his heirs and they take the estate as tenants-in-common in specific shares. The theory of representation is not recognised under the Muhammadan Law and the interest of each heir is separate and distinct, As observed in Abdul Huck v. Seethamsetti Taya Rao : AIR1928Mad14 , children in a Muhammadan family are not co-owners in the sense that what is pur--chased by one person enures for the benefit of another. In that case, the children of a deceased Muhammadan were minors at the time of his death and their paternal uncle who managed the properties on their behalf purchased some property in the name of one of the minors. The contention that inasmuch as the property was purchased in the name of a minor it must be taken to have been purchased for the benefit of the whole family, was rejected. But, as there was evidence that some cash left by the deceased was utilised for the purchase, it was held that to the extent the amount was taken for the purchase from the general estate of the minor in whose name the property was purchased had to give credit to the estate for the amount. It was said that when accounts were taken the family would be entitled to debit against the per-son in whose name the property was purchased the amounts utilised for the purchase, and that the fact that the property was purchased by him with money taken from the father's estate would not make the property the common property of the family. We may here usefully refer the following observations of ours in Venkatasubramania v. Eswara Iyer : AIR1966Mad266 :

'Amongst tenants-in-common where one tenant-in-common acquires property in his individual right with no intention of making it common property, the property will not be divisible..... .As noticed in Kennedy v. De Trafford, 1897 AC 180, there is no fiduciary relation between tenants-in-common or real estate as such. Nor can one tenant-in-common of real estate by leaving the management of tie property in the hands of his co-tenant impose upon him an obligation of a fiduciary character. A co-sharer would continue to account for the rents and profits received by him in excess of his share; but even if he fails to maintain separate account of his lawful share and is in possession of excess profits, the funds collected by him do not get impressed with the character of joint funds. There is no trust in favour of the persons who have not Joined in the acquisition of the profits or in investments.' As to Section 90 of the Trusts Act, for it to apply, it must be established that the party against whom relief is sought availed himself of his position as co-owner and gained an advantage in derogation of the rights of other persons interested in the property, or as representing all persons interested in the property gained an advantage. Then, of course, he must hold the advantage gained for the benefit of the other persons interested in the property, but subject to their obligation to share the expenses incurred in acquiring the advantage.

4. In the present case, admittedly, the management of the common properties was not with the first defendant. The management was by the first defendant's father for the benefit of the first defendant and her children and the purchase was made in her name. To make the property acquired in her name partible, it must be established that the property was purchased in her name as representative of the common estate. It cannot be said that the Erst defendant had gained an advantage in derogation of her minor children, as she was not in management of the estate. The case of the first defendant is that the funds of the joint family were not utilised for the purchase of the property and that it was out of her own earnings, to which was also added moneys given to her by her father, that the property was purchased. True, if it is found that the purchase had been made by the grandfather from out of the surplus in his hands taking the sale deed in the name of his daughter, the then adult co-owner of the properties, a case for partition of the property between the co-owners may be held made out. But the burden in this respect is on the parry claiming that it is an acquisition in the name of the first defendant for and as representative of the co-owners.

5. The plaintiff relied principally on the evidence of his maternal uncle, the brother of the first defendant who has given evidence as P.W, 2, and the account book Exhibit A-2 on which our learned brother Kailasam J., rested his decision. Learned counsel for the plaintiff had to concede that, if the account book Exhibit A-2, and the evidence of P.W, 2 are rejected, the plaintiff has no case for partition of the second schedule property. The learned trial Judge who heard and saw the witness has rejected the oral evidence of P.W. 2, and, as regards the account book Exhibit A-2, he concluded that Exhibit A-2 is not a genuine account book and that it was cooked up for the purpose of the suit, Mr. S. V. Venugopalachari, counsel for the plaintiff, contended that the questions whether Exhibit A-2 is a genuine account or not or whether the evidence of P.W. 2 should bo accepted or not are pure questions of fact, in respect of which this Court in Letters Patent appeal would not reassess the evidence. It is said that the matter is now at the second appellate stage. We cannot agree. The appeal under Clause 15 Letters Patent is in the nature of rehearing of the appeal. While there is a specific inhibition under Section 100, Civil P.C., against interference on facts in second appeal, there no such inhibition under Clause 15, Letters Patent. Clause 15 is differently word-ed from Section 100, Civil P.O., and the appeal before us is from a judgment in a regular appeal under Section 96, Civil P. G., heard by a single Judge of this Court. Our atten-tion has not been drawn to any rule of law that a finding, arrived at by a single Judge of the High Court in first appeal, is not open to be challenged on facts under clause 15 Letters Patent. Of course, in a Letters Patent Appeal, this Court will give the utmost consideration to an inference of fact made by learned single Judge of this Court and will be hesitant to differ from the same. But there are cases and cases and we are concerned with the reversal of finding of fact depending to an extent on the credibility of witnesses assessed against by the trial Judge who heard and saw the witnesses. Having regard to this aspect, we cannot, as desired by learned counsel for the plaintiff, at the outset refuse to re-examine the evidence ourselves. Only when there is no question as to the truthfulness of a witness and the question is as to the proper inference to be drawn from truthful evidence, the original Court is in no better position to decide the matter than the appellate Court.

(Their Lordships after discussing the evidence, oral and documentary, in paras 6 to 8, found themselves in entire agreement with the Subordinate Judge that the acquisition of the second schedule property was for the exclusive benefit of the first defendant and not as representing the co-heirs, and concluded.)

9. In the result, the Letters Patent Appeal is allowed and the decree and judgment of the trial Court in regard to the second schedule property are restored. The parties will bear their respective costs in this appeal.


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