Rajagopala Ayyangar, J.
1. These two appeals against the order of the Estates Abolition Tribunal, Madurai, raise a common question for consideration.
2. Two villages Sivandanur and Vallam, which were originally owned or formed part of the Zamin Estate of Chookampatti were notified and taken over by the Government under the Estates Abolition Act. The advance compensations amounting to Rs. 10, 980 and Rs. 7,605 have been deposited for these two villages respectively before the Abolition Tribunal. The District Board of Tirunelveli, as the manager of a Choultry at Courtallam, laid claim to these compensation amounts as a creditor and their right was disputed by the respresentatives-in-title of the purchasers of these two villages, the purchases having taken place as far back as 1868. The Tribunal has upheld the claim of the District Board to rank as a creditor as regards the compensation amounts and has apportioned the amount in deposit between the claimant and the objector. It is the correctness of the basis on which this apportionment has been effected by the Tribunal that is in controversy in the appeals before us.
3. One Mohammad Ameer Khan had instituted O.S. No. 23 of 1866 on the file of the Civil Court, Tirunelveli, against a previous zamindar and had obtained a decree. In execution of this decree the right, title and interest of the Zamindar in certain of the villages pertaining to the Zamin were brought to sale and the two villages named above, with which this appeal is concerned, were purchased by the predecessor in interest of the respective appellants in these two appeals. The sale proclamation, which preceded the sale, set out the names of the several villages, the rent derived from the villages as per the Collector's accounts, the peishcush due in regard to each village and also announced that the sale of the villages thus set out was subject to this condition, 'Persons wishing to purchase these villages' must purchase them on condition of their paying annually out of the net profits thereof the sums mentioned below for the support of the Choultry at Courtallam.
1. Vallam .. Rs. 1,150.
2. Sivandanur .. Rs. 650
4. This, therefore, would prima facie make out that the purchases were, as it were subject to a charge or enucumbrance in favour of the choultry for the payment of the amount mentioned against each village. The Tribunal held that the Choultry were creditors but computed the amount due to the institution as 1150/1896 of the compensation amount in the case of Vallam and 650/1090 in the case of Sivandanur. This fraction was arrived at by taking the net income from the villages in question as found in the sale proclamation as the donominator and the amount charged on this income as the numerator. The Tribunal held that this represented the relative proportion of the interests of the purchaser and of the charge-holder in the villages taken as a whole in 1868 and considered that this would be the most equitable manner in which these interests should share in the compensation in deposit. It is againt the apportionment in this manner that the present appeals have been filed by the owners of these two villages.
5. Mr. Bashyam Ayyangar, learned Counsel for the purchaser of the Sivandanur village (S.I.A. No. 29 of 1953) urged before us that the Tribunal were wrong in treating the Choultry as a creditor but that the institution were really maintenance-holders and so should have been held entitled at the most to a fifth share of the compensation amount.
6. The application by the District Board on behalf of the charity was one preferred under Section 42 of the Act as a creditor. On receipt of this application the Tribunal has under Section 43 to enquire into the validity of the claim, and Section 44(1) enacts:
As a preliminary to such determination, the Tribunal shall apportion the compensation,among the principal landholder and any other persons whose rights or interests in the estate stand transferred to the Government under Section 3, Clause (b), or cease and determine under Section 3, Clause (c), including persons who are entitled to be maintained from the estate and its income, as far as possible, in accordance with the value of their respective interests in the estate
The rules for the determination of the rights of persons entitled to share in the compensation amount are to be found in Section 45(2)(a) and (b), and Section 45(4) defines the maximum proportion, which could be allowed to the maintenance-holder. The provisions in relation to estates other than impartible, that is partible; divided as well as undivided, follow the same pattern and they need not therefore be repeated. The argument of Bashyam Ayyangar was that the charity was
a person who immediately before the notified date was entitled to maintenance out of the estate or its income under an instrument in writing or contract...
7. The whole basis of learned Counsel's argument was rested on the expression 'for the support of the Choultry' occurring in the sale proclamation. The steps in the reasoning by which this was equated to a payment for maintenance were these. A payment made to an individual is maintenance, because it is for his support. The payment to the Choultry directed in the sale proclamation was made for the support of the institution. In a general way the purpose is the same, as the object of the grant or payment is to render possible the continued existence of the grantee. Hence a payment, which in terms was for the support of an institution, is a payment for maintenance and in this case, it is one payable under a contract. We are wholly unable to countenance this argument. It is clear from the context that the expression maintenance referred to in Section 45 and the corresponding provisions is to the maintenance payable to the members of the family and not a sum payable to support charities. We would also point out that it would be most inapt to call a charity a person' though we do not desire to rest our decision on any such narrow or technical ground. In our judgment it is impossible to hold that the claims for maintenance referred to in Section 45(2)(b) and the other corresponding provisions refer to claims other than those in regard to maintenance properly so called that is for the support of natural persons or that it could include claims in regard to amounts payable to institutions charged and exigible out of the property.
8. Mr. Bashyam Ayyangar placed before us and relied on the decision in Lakshmi Venkayamma v. Surya Rao Bahadur (1956) An.W.R. 37 , rendered by a Divison Bench of the Andhra High Court. The case concerned a claim by certain annuity-holders against the compensation deposited. An annuity of Rs. 3,000 per year was created under a will by the proprietor of Kolanka and Veeravaram Estates in favour of his maternal uncles blonging to the Chelikani family. This grant was later confirmed and made perpetual in the grantee family. When the parent estate was taken over, all the then members of the Chelikani family, who were entitled to fractional shares in this annuity, put forward the claim that they were creditors and so had to be paid in full before the compensation amount could be distributed to the sharers entitled to it. The Tribunal negatived their claim holding that in essence and substance the annuity merly represented a maintenance allowance, and this decision was affirmed by the Andhra High Court as Special Tribunal. The main contention urged before the Court was that there was no legal compulsion or duty on the part of the testator to maintain the annuitants and therefore, the grant could not be treated as in discharge of or a quantification of a maintenance claim. This was negatived by the Court and Subba Rao, C.J., who delivered the judgment of the Bench said, 'Payment by way of maintenance also may take the form of an annuity ' and after extracting a passage from the judgment of Mukherjea, J., in Anirudha Mitra v. Official Receiver : AIR1942Cal241 , which ran,
But we cannot say that there could not be a maintenance grant unless there was an antecedent obligation on the grantor to maintain the grantee under the personal law of the parties,
summarised the position thus:
The owner of a property may be under a personal obligation to pay maintenance to another or he may in his bounty agree to pay maintenance to another. This right to maintenance may be embodied in a document creating a charge over the property or only creating a personal obligation on the owner. The right may be confined to the lifetime of the grantee or may be made heritable or both heritable and transferable. Whatever may be the terminology, used, if the object of the grant was to provide for the maintenance of the grantee, the fact that the right to receive periodical payment from out of the income of the estate is made heritable or even transferable, cannot make the grant any the less a grant for maintenance.
9. This case is therefore an authority for no propositions other than (1) that an allowance for maintenance might take the form of an annuity including one in perpetuity, and (2) that the maintenance arrangement made in favour of a persoft who had no legally enforceable claim against the grantor does not make it other than one for maintenance. Without going so far as to say that this decision and the surijming up of the legal position by the learned Chief Justice is against the appellant, we are unable to see how the decision or any proposition of law laid down therein helps the appellant. Here in the present case there was a pre-existing liability to pay a fixed amount charged upon a village and the purchaser acquired the village subject to that charge. Before the Court sale the Choultry was a creditor and the position would therefore remain unaltered in the hands of the purchaser. No doubt Subba Rao, C.J., held that a payment of maintenance to a person who had no legal claim to it would fall within Section 45(2)(b), but that is hardly the question before us and offers no assistance for deciding the present appeals.
10. Learned Counsel for the appellant referred us to the figures regarding the income derived by the proprietors of these villages before and after the rents were reduced under the provisions of the Rent Reduction Act (XXX of 1947), as if the variation in the amount could afford some basis on which the claim of the charity could be abated. In our judgment this argument is not well founded and the proportions which Rs. 650, Rs. 1,150, in the case of the two villages bore to the actual income derived by the appellants from the respective villages at the time of the taking over, are wholly irrelevant for determining the amount due to the charity.
11. We are not called upon to decide whether the mode of computation adopted by the Tribunal for ascertaining the proportion of the compensation amount payable to this creditor is correct or not, since having regard to the total compensation, which is likely to be paid the amount payable would certainly not be less on any calculation, and the decision has become final by reason of the District Board not challenging it.
12. The appeals fail and are dismissed with costs in each.