Skip to content


Sundari Ammal Vs. Venkatarama Sastrial and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1934Mad384; (1934)66MLJ680
AppellantSundari Ammal
RespondentVenkatarama Sastrial and ors.
Cases ReferredBhavanamma Garu v. Ramasami Garu I.L.R.
Excerpt:
- - so that at its best the allowance given to the widow would amount to rs. on appeal by the plaintiff-respondent, who is a son of the appellant's husband's brother, the learned subordinate judge of kumbakonam went through an equally long list of authorities but equally failed to find anything fitting this particular problem. at its best this allowance would have produced in years long gone by--whether they will return no one can say--rs. i fail to see what support can be obtained for the judgment of the lower court from these remarks......the authorities that the possession of private means may be taken into consideration for fixing a widow's maintenance proceeded straightaway to apply it to a reduction of maintenance once granted. he went into figures in paragraph 13 of his judgment to ascertain how far the appellant's financial condition had improved so as to necessitate a reduction in her allowance. he found that she got the 6 mahs of land already mentioned from her brother and therefore was receiving 25 kalams of paddy more than when the maintenance was fixed and for that reason reduced the appellant's maintenance to 8 kalams and rs. 4 1/2 a year. at its best this allowance would have produced in years long gone by--whether they will return no one can say--rs. 28 1/2 a year. as a matter of fact it will now produce.....
Judgment:

Krishnan Pandalai, J.

1. This appeal arises out of a suit of rather an unusual character whose object was to reduce the maintenance allowed to a Hindu widow, the 1st defendant '(appellant) by the decree in O.S. No. 67 of 1883 (Ex. A) obtained by her against her husband's brother and other members of his family by which she was allowed an annual maintenance of 16 kalams of paddy and Rs. 9 a year on the ground that the circumstances had subsequently so altered that she became no longer entitled to receive this sumptuous allowance and had therefore to be put upon shorter rations. The improvement in the appellant's condition was said to arise from her having received a gift of 6 mahs of land which, according to the learned Judge in the lower appellate Court, produces an annual income of 25 kalams. It is notorious that at the present moment and for 2, 3 years at least prior to this the price of paddy is about 14 annas to Re. 1 a kalam. It never was much above Rs. 3 a kalam. So that at its best the allowance given to the widow would amount to Rs. 57 a year and at the present moment amounts to Rs. 23 a year. -The District Munsif after going through a number of authorities was unable to find anything to suit this peculiar case. He dismissed the suit on the ground that the original allowance itself was insufficient and was so fixed because the widow had then the protection of her father who having been a pandit in the Cochin Chief Court had retired on a pension of Rs. 125. It was expected that with his assistance she might be able to sustain life if she got Rs. 57 more from her family. On appeal by the plaintiff-respondent, who is a son of the appellant's husband's brother, the learned Subordinate Judge of Kumbakonam went through an equally long list of authorities but equally failed to find anything fitting this particular problem. But having gathered the principle from the authorities that the possession of private means may be taken into consideration for fixing a widow's maintenance proceeded straightaway to apply it to a reduction of maintenance once granted. He went into figures in paragraph 13 of his judgment to ascertain how far the appellant's financial condition had improved so as to necessitate a reduction in her allowance. He found that she got the 6 mahs of land already mentioned from her brother and therefore was receiving 25 kalams of paddy more than when the maintenance was fixed and for that reason reduced the appellant's maintenance to 8 kalams and Rs. 4 1/2 a year. At its best this allowance would have produced in years long gone by--whether they will return no one can say--Rs. 28 1/2 a year. As a matter of fact it will now produce Rs. 11-8-0.

2. A more absurd result it is difficult to imagine, as the conclusion of a judicial enquiry into the sufficiency of a widow's maintenance. The appellant is now 80 years old and obviously quite unable to work or to bear physical exertion. She must be attended to by others. Her father on whose help the allowance was fixed in 1883 is long age dead. Those are the facts. No judicial mind can in these circumstances reduce a widow's maintenance which at present would yield only Rs. 23 a year.

3. But this is said to be supported by some principle. There is no such principle. I asked the learned Advocates on both sides to refer me to any case reported of unreported in which a widow's maintenance had been reduced on the principle contended for. I have not been referred to any such case. The reference to Lingayya v. Kanakamma I.L.R. (1913) Mad. 153 : (1913) 28 M.L.J. 260 is obviously misconceived because all that was said there was that in fixing the rate of maintenance which means first fixing it the private means of the widow might be taken into consideration although it will not be a ground for denying her any maintenance. That is not the present case which is one of reducing a maintenance which has been allowed by a decree of Court and fixed at the figure awarded in view of the fact that the maintenance-holder expected to receive some help from her relations. Reference has, however, been made to certain observations in Bhavanamma Garu v. Ramasami Garu I.L.R. (1881) Mad. 193. That was a case where two villages in a Zamindari in the Kistna District were given for the maintenance of a widow of the family at a time when there was no irrigation. Subsequently irrigation was introduced and the income of the villages greatly enhanced. In these circumstances the then Zamindar took unlawful possession of a portion of these villages. In the suit by the widow for its recovery their Lordships held that the Zamindar was not entitled to re-take possession of the properties given for maintenance which are given for the widow's lifetime. It then seems to have been suggested that because the annual income of the properties had greatly enhanced, the Zamindar was entitled to revise the grant. The question was one not before the Court nor did it require decision. But their Lordships made certain observations at page 199. They first say what is very much to the point in this case that when land is allotted for maintenance for the donee's life, the average income is what is regarded as the basis of the contract and that variations of the average income from normal causes such as variations of seasons is not a sufficient ground to revise the grant. But their Lordships proceed that the introduction of irrigation in the case then under consideration was no doubt a circumstance not foreseen by either party to the contract, and that whether the present Zamindar is at liberty to revise the grant on the ground that the late Zamindar ought to have foreseen and provided against the contingency is a question which it is not necessary to decide for the purpose of this suit. They added further that such a right, if any, is only to claim readjustment of the grant and not to dispossess the lady either by gaining over the tenants or by granting pattas to them. I fail to see what support can be obtained for the judgment of the Lower Court from these remarks. No right of revision was there asserted. Their Lordships are very careful to add that they were talking of a right, if any, and they also carefully guarded themselves by saying that it was not necessary to decide the point. But those facts have absolutely no reference to this case. There the property given itself enhanced in value, i.e., annual value. Here no property at all was given. And what was subsequently given to the widow was by some one else who took pity on her--her brother. The grain and money allowance given by the family has not appreciated even if that were relevant but greatly depreciated. I have sought but not obtained any basis for the principle that where a widow has received a certain rate of maintenance from the family but subsequently improved her financial condition either by her own efforts or by the generosity of others, she is liable to have that allowance reduced. The learned Judge therefore entirely misdirected himself and his decree must therefore be set aside and that of the District Munsif restored with costs here and in the Court below.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //