Charles A. Turner, Kt., C.J.
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Babu Nayak Anantha Santi.
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| Chudamma = Venkappa = Kaveri Ramachandra.
| | (1st Deft.) |
----------------------------- | Subraya.
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Govinda. Devendra. Puttu. |
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------- ------------ | Seshagiri, = Sridevi (died 1877).
| | | | | Adopted son
2nd 3rd 6th 4th Lakshmi- (died in
Deft. Deft.Deft. Deft. narayana 1838),
1. The pedigree of the respondents and of Seshagiri, whose estate is the subject of this suit, has been found to be, so far as it is material, as above set out.
2. Venkappa, having no son by either of his wives, adopted Seshagiri, who died without issue in 1838, leaving a widow, Sridevi, who died in 1877.
3. The eighth defendant is the son of Sridevi's sister and was under the protection of the seventh defendant; the ninth and tenth defendants are the brother and nephew of Sridevi.
4. Before her death Sridevi executed a muktiarnama in which she declared she had adopted the eighth defendant under instructions from her husband and by which she appointed the ninth and tenth defendants managers of her husband's estate for the benefit of the minor. The plaintiff', claiming to be a grandson of Babu and a sapinda of Seshagiri through the common ancestor, the father of Babu and Anantha, and entitled to a one-third share in Seshagiri's estate after the death of Kaveri, the first defendant, brought this suit to obtain a declaration that the alleged adoption had not been made, and, if it had been made, was invalid.
5. The first defendant denied the plaintiff's title : the second, third, and fourth defendants did not appear : the sixth defendant supported the plaintiff's claim : the seventh, ninth, and tenth denied the plaintiff's title and relied on the adoption. It was also pleaded that the value of the suit was in excess of the Munsif's jurisdiction.
6. Both Courts have found that the plaintiff has proved his title, that the adoption is not proved, and that, if it were made, the authority to adopt is not proved. With regard to the objection taken to the jurisdiction, the Munsif ascertained that the whole value of the estate was nearly Rs. 9,000. But he allowed the plaintiff to abandon his title to certain buildings, and, deducting the value of these buildings, found that the one-third share claimed by the plaintiff would be properly valued at Us. 2,226-7-7, and, conceiving that the subject-matter of the suit was thus brought within the pecuniary limits of his jurisdiction, he passed a decree declaring the adoption invalid, and that the plaintiff, on the death of Kaveri, would be entitled to a one-sixth share. On appeal the plea of want of jurisdiction was repeated and overruled by the judge as technical.
7. On second appeal it is objected that, inasmuch as no claim was made for the recovery of property, but for a declaration of the invalidity of the adoption, the abandonment of title to a portion of the estate would not bring the suit within the Munsif's jurisdiction : that, inasmuch as the plaintiff's right was merely contingent, he could not claim a definite share and that in the life-time of Kaveri he was not entitled to maintain suit.
8. The Judge is in error in holding a plea to jurisdiction to be a technical plea in the sense that an Appellate Court is entitled to disregard it if the Court is satisfied with the propriety of the decision under appeal on the merits. If the subject-matter of the suit was, in value, in excess of the pecuniary limits of the Munsif's jurisdiction, it was the duty of the Appellate Court to set aside the decree, for the decree would have been passed by a Court having no authority to pass it.
9. In our judgment the validity of the plea must be allowed. A reversioner cannot lay claim to any definite share, and, although he is in certain cases allowed to protect his possible interests by instituting a suit to impugn a transaction that may affect his title, he cannot impugn so much only of the transaction as would affect what he calculated may be the extent of his interest. He has asked for a declaration that the adoption was not made, and that, if it was made, it was invalid. The fact and validity of the adoption is then the subject of the suit, and in valuing it for purposes of jurisdiction, a computation must be made of the value of the interest that would be lost to the alleged adopted minor if the adoption be declared invalid.
10. It is stated by the appellants that in virtue of the muktiarnama they have taken possession of the estate. Whether this has been done with the concurrence of the first defendant is not apparent. She has at least abstained from suit, and, as the plaintiff is an immediate reversioner to the first defendant, we are not prepared to say he is not entitled to maintain suit. We, therefore, set aside the decrees of the Lower Appellate Court and of the Court of First Instance and direct the Munsif to return the plaint to the plaintiff for presentation in the proper Court.
11. The respondents will pay appellants' costs incurred hitherto in all Courts.