1. The suit was brought by the plaintiffs the members of S.R.M.A.R. firm against the defendants members of the M: P. M.R. firm for the recovery of Rs. 24,036-0-6 due to the plaintiffs on account of dealings between them. Both of them are money lenders. The Subordinate Judge has passed a decre in favour of the plaintiff. Against this decree the defendants 1, 3 & 4 appeal. The first objection taken is that on the facts set out in the plaint the suit is not maintainable. There is an allegation in the plaint that any amount payable by the defendants should be made good out of the money deposited by R. M, R. M. firm with the plaintiffs through and to the order of one Chokkalingam Chetti who was a member both of the defendants firm and that of said R. M.R. M. firm. As to this it is sufficient to say that no discharge is either allowed by the plaintiffs or by the defendants. An agreement that the debt due may be discharged in a certain manner does not shew that the plaintiffs waived any other remedy which they might have. The plaintiff's case is that he has not been able to realize the debt in accordance with the agreement. On the other hand Chokkalinga Chetty himself has fraudulently taken steps to deprive him of that money. The defendants do not allege that the plaintiff has been guilty of any bad faith and it is found in Original Suit 157 which was heard about the same time that no such agreement had been proved. We therefore disallow this contention.
2. It is then argued that the plaintiff has failed to prove the debt. The plaintiffs account books show that the debt claimed is due. The second witness swears that the entries in the account books A to C are true entries of the transactions that really took place. They open with a debit entry of 45,154-7-3 against the defendants. It is argued that there is no evidence that this amount is really due as the accounts which give the details as to how this sum was made up have not been filed. But the same witness proves that it was the 6th defendant one of the managing partners of the defendant's firm who directed him to debit this amount as due by the defendant's firm.
3. We hold therefore that the plaintiff's accounts are corroborated and their claim is proved. It is next argued that defendants 2 to 5 are not partners and that the decree that has been passed in favor of the plaintiff to recover the sum due from the second defendant personally along with others and from the family properties of the defendants is wrong because it is only their share in the assets of the firm of M.P. M.R. that should have been made liable. Though no doubt the witnesses do not state in so many terms that the sons of the 1st defendant are partners their evidence is clear that the firm M.P. M.R. was a money lending business carried on by the 1st defendant's family of which the defendants 3, 4, and 5 are members and another family represented by the 6th to 8th defendants. It was not alleged by the plaintiffs in the lower Court that it was only a certain portion of the property belonging to the 1st defendant's family that was set apart for this business.
4. There is no issue raising that question and looking to the usual course of practice in such cases we have no doubt that in the case of these Nattukottai Chetties their family properties should be treated as trade assets. They are a trading community and they usually treat the family property as assets making no distinction between their family property and their trade assests. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary we accept the finding of the Subordinate Judge which is also supported by the evidence of the witnesses.
5. The next contention is that the suit is barred by limitation. It is argued that the Exhibits E and E2 which acknowledge the defendant's liability are not proved or signed by the 1st defendant and it is also argued that the 1st defendant is not a person authorised by the others to acknowledge the liability of the firm. The letter purports to be written by Chidambaram (1st defendant) and it ends with the words (sic) (Murugan Thunai).
6. The genuineness of these letters was not denied in the written statement though it is not expressly admitted, The plaintiff's 2nd witness swears that they are the 1st defendant's letters. The 1st defendant did not go into the witness box to deny them. We accordingly accept them as genuine. It is in evidence that the Nattukottai Chetties in writing their private letters do not usually sign their names but only write words similar to those given above which are words invoking the help of a deity. The particular deity whose name is given indicates the family as it is the family God that is always invoked. At the top of the letter the writer's own name is given. In these circumstances we accept the evidence that these words at the end of the latter are intended for the signature of the writer. We therefore hold that these letters are signed by the 1st defendant.
7. Whether these letters by the 1st defendant as a partner will bind the other partners is a question which is unnecessary to determine in this case; because he is the managing member of the family to which the appellants belong and his acknowledgment is therefore binding on them.
8. For these reasons we dismiss the appeal with costs.