1. This is a suit for redemption, brought by junior members of what is termed a strisothu tarwad, the manager of which is a woman called a karnavathi, and the members of which are governed by Marumakkattayam law. The suit has bean decreed, and the first question before us is whether the plaintiffs had a right to maintain it. As laid down in Vasudevan v. Sankaran I.L.R. (1897) Mad. 129 and numerous other decisions, a karnavan is at once the manager and the mouthpiece of the tarwad, or, in the words of Mr. Justice Holloway, 'a Malabar family speaks through its head, the karnavan, and in Courts of Justice, except in antagonism to that head, can speak in no other way.'
2. So, although we might be prepared to hold that junior members of such a family were, generally speaking, persons having an interest in tarwad property within the meaning of Section 91, Transfer of Property Act, when the individual right of suit from the point of view of the personal law of the parties in in question, we are fully in agreement with the statement of law laid down in Katherkutti Haji v. Kundan Menon Second Appeal No. 959 of 1917 (unreported) where it was declared by Phillips and Kumaraswami Sastri, JJ., that only under very special circumstances could the anandravans of a tarwad maintain a suit for redemption of a kanom granted by their karnavan, as such a suit would amount to an act of interference in the karnavan's management of tarwad affairs.
3. In the present case, the plaintiffs alleged in their plaint that the first defendant was acting in collusion with the sixteenth defendant, the kanomdar, and was ready to do any act prejudicial to the tarwad, and again, that if the possession of the properties was not recovered at once the jenmam title of the tarward would, in course of time, be prejudice. In her written statement the first defendant denied all the imputation made against her in the plaint.
4.The onus then clearly lay on the plaintiff's to establish under the first issue that such very special circumstances exited as would justify a suit being brought by them without the concurrence of the karnavathi. They adduced no oral evidence at all, and there is nothing on the record to show that the first defendant had so misbehaved as to make it imperative to take the conduct of the affairs of the tarward, in such matter as the institution of suits, etc., out of her hands. The District Munsif assumed that the first defendant was colluding with the sixteenth defendant, but apparently his only ground for drawing this inference was that she asked to have the suits dismissed. There may be many reasons why the continuance of the kanom might be beneficial to the tarwad. The terms as to the payment of purapad may be favourable. The may not have enough money readily available for defraying the large amount due for improvements. The Courts below have not gone into these matter and decided that many 'very special circumstances' exited for redeeming the kanom as soon as it became redeemable. In the absence of such proof the plaintiff's cannot maintain this suit. It is unnecessary to deal with the other ground of appeal. The appeal is allowed and the suit is dismissed without prejudice to the tarwad's right of redemption in a properly instituted suit. This appellant will get his costs throughout from the respondents Nos. 1 to 4. The other respondents will bear their own costs throughout.