Skip to content


R. Lingaraj and ors. Vs. Parvathi - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberAppeal Against Order No. 27 of 1973
Judge
Reported inAIR1975Mad285
ActsLunacy Act, 1912 - Sections 3(5) and 62
AppellantR. Lingaraj and ors.
RespondentParvathi
Appellant AdvocateT.R. Rajagopalan, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateS. Padmanabhan, Adv. for ;R. Nadanasabapathy and R. Thamodaran
DispositionAppeal succeeds
Cases ReferredSonabati Devi v. Narayan
Excerpt:
civil - lunacy - sections 3 (5) and 62 of lunacy act, 1912 - finding by court that person is of unsound mind and incapable of managing himself has got far reaching consequences and must be given only after great care and caution - person held to be unsound mind is bound to deprived either temporarily or permanently of right to manage his properties - it is incumbent on court making inquisition under section 62 to bestow its consideration on each and every aspect of matter before rendering judicial finding that person subjected to inquisition is of unsound mind and needs guardian for his person and property - held, first appellant cannot be declared a person of unsound mind and incapable of managing himself and his affairs - appointment of respondent as guardian of person and property of.....ordernatarajan, j.1. r. lingaraj, who has been held to be a lunatic under the indian lunacy act, 1912 (hereinafter referred to as the act) and respondents 1 to 4 in o. p. no. 169 of 1969 on the file of the court of the district judge of coimbatore (west) are the appellants. the proceedings between the parties have a long and chequered history and for a full appreciation of the controversy it is necessary to refer to the course of the litigation from its inception. parvathi alias kundhiammal, the respondent herein, is the wife of lingaraj. she came forward with a petition under sections 62 and 67 of the act for directing an inquisition for the purpose of ascertaining whether her husband, lingaraj, is of unsound mind and incapable of managing himself and his affairs and for consequential.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Natarajan, J.

1. R. Lingaraj, who has been held to be a lunatic under the Indian Lunacy Act, 1912 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) and respondents 1 to 4 in O. P. No. 169 of 1969 on the file of the Court of the District Judge of Coimbatore (West) are the appellants. The proceedings between the parties have a long and chequered history and for a full appreciation of the controversy it is necessary to refer to the course of the litigation from its inception. Parvathi alias Kundhiammal, the respondent herein, is the wife of Lingaraj. She came forward with a petition under Sections 62 and 67 of the Act for directing an inquisition for the purpose of ascertaining whether her husband, Lingaraj, is of unsound mind and incapable of managing himself and his affairs and for consequential orders and directions of Court, if the Court found on inquisition that Lingaraj is of unsound mind. Though she had given birth to three sons and a daughter through Lingaraj, the respondent's case was that, Lingaraj had been of unsound mind from the year 1967 and he was incapable of managing his affairs. It was her further case that in or about the first week of July 1969, the brothers of Lingaraj who are appellants 3 to 5 herein, decoyed Lingaraj from his house and were detaining him unlawfully in their custody. Subsequent to the decoyment of Lingaraj, one of his brothers by nameKrishnaraj, was also reported to have induced Lingaraj to execute a lease deed in respect of his tea estate, the terms of which were detrimental to the interests of Lingaraj and his family members, and had thereby taken undue advantage of the mental condition of Lingaraj. In those circumstances, the respondent wanted the Court to hold an inquisition about the mental condition of Lingaraj and if the Court found him to be a lunatic, make suitable provision for the custody of Lingaraj and the management of his properties.

2. The petition was resisted by Lingaraj as well as appellants 2 to 5 and in the counter-statements filed by them, it was contended that Lingaraj was not of unsound mind or a lunatic, that he was not incapable of managing himself and his affairs, that he was not decoyed by the appellants 2 to 5, that he was not detained unlawfully and that the lease deed entered into by him was a fair transaction and was forged, for proper and bona fide reasons, it was further contended that the petition had been filed for motivated reasons as Lingaraj had refused to convey his properties to the name of the respondent.

3. The learned District Judge of Coimbatore examined Lingaraj on 26-2-1970 by putting him some questions. On such examination, the learned Judge found that Lingaraj was able to give rational answers to the questions put by him, but nevertheless, he directed the Subordinate Judge of Ootacamund, under Section 66 (1) of the Act, to hold an enquiry regarding the lunacy of Lingaraj and submit a report. In compliance with this order the learned Subordinate Judge examined Lingaraj and submitted a report that he was not a lunatic. The learned District Judge accepted the report of the Subordinate Judge and, without any further enquiry, acted upon it by declaring that Lingaraj was not a lunatic.

4. Aggrieved by the perfunctory manner in which the matter had been dealt with, the respondent preferred Civil Miscellaneous Appeal No. 249 of 1970. Ganesan, J. sustained the contention of the respondent and held that a proper inquisition had not been done in the matter and the District Judge had failed to adopt the prescribed procedure in the matter of holding an inquisition under the Act. Consequently, the appeal was allowed and Ganesan, J. remitted the matter to the learned District Judge for fresh disposal of the case according to law.

5. In the enquiry held subsequent to the order of remand, the District Judge examined Lingaraj on 25-3-1972 and made

the following order:

'Adjournment prayed for on behalf of the petitioner refused. The alleged lunatic present. I personally examined him in open Court. He answered questions, but his looks, his behaviour and the manner in which he gives the answers lead me to doubt whether he is mentally normal. Hence I desire to have medical opinion before inquisition is launched. A requisition is to go to the District Medical Officer, Nilgiris, for examination of the alleged lunatic and report as to his mental condition. The alleged lunatic is directed to appear before the District Medical Officer on 14-4-1972 and subsequent days as required by the District Medical Officer. The District Medical Officer shall be intimated of this fact. The petitioner (respondent herein) shall deposit the sum, if any, required by the District Medical Officer..,...'

Lingaraj was produced before P.W. 1 Dr. Mrs. P. Sarala Krishnamurthy, District Medical Officer, Nilgiris, on 14-4-72. From the evidence of P.W. 1 it is borne out that though Lingaraj submitted himself to an examination by P.W. 1, he did not agree to remain in the hospital for a period of ten days for purposes of observation. Subsequently, the District Judge proceeded with the enquiry of the petition, wherein witnesses including P.W. 1 ,and the respondent were examined. Contra evidence was adduced by Lingaraj himself as P.W. 1 and two others as P. Ws. 2 and 3. I shall refer to the evidence of P.Ws. 1 to 5 and P.Ws. 1 to 3 at a later stage. Suffice it to say now that the learned District Judge accepted the respondent's case and declared Lingaraj to be of unsound mind and incapable of managing himself and his affairs. He further held that the respondent was only fit and proper person to be appointed guardian of the person and property of Lingaraj and gave necessary directions to the brothers of Lingaraj to hand over Lingaraj to the respondent. It is as against this order, the first appellant Lingaraj as well as his mother and brothers, viz. appellants 2 to 5 have preferred this appeal.

6. Mr. T. R. Rajagopalan, learned counsel for the appellants, contended firstly, that the evidence on record was not adequate to warrant the conclusion that Lingaraj is of unsound mind and incapable of managing himself and his affairs and secondly, that, even if the evidence suggested that he was mentally not normal, the abnormality or subnormality of his mental faculty ought not to be confused with lunacy as envisaged under the Act. Arguing contra, Mr. S. Padmanabhan contended that the testimony of P.Ws. 1 to 5 as well as the answers given by Lingaraj (P.W. 1) himself in cross-examination left the Court with no other alternative but to hold that Lingaraj was a lunatic.

7. As is well known, no person can have direct experience of the mind of another and therefore the proper test for determining the insanity of a person will be his conduct. Such being the case, it becomes necessary to determine the conduct of R.W. 1 with reference to the testimony of P.Ws. 1 to 5 and R.W. 1 himself besides the evidence of R.Ws. 2 and 3.

8. P.W. 2, the respondent, and her son, P.W. 4 studying in the Pre-University Class, have deposed that S.W. 1 was of unsound mind, that the symptoms became more pronounced from about five years prior to their examination, that he would throw out the food served to him, that he would pick up beedies from the road and strew them on his food, that he would take a lighted lantern even during day-time and that he would even go to the extent of answering calls of nature in the .house itself. P.W. 5, a maternal uncle of P.W. 2, has deposed that for about five years prior to his giving evidence, R.W. 1 had been behaving insanely, that he would walk about the streets in broad daylight with a lighted lantern, that even on rainy days he would carry an umbrella in a folded fashion, that after buying edibles (vadai) and tea in neighboring shops, he would hand over the cash for the edibles to the tea shop man and the cost of the tea to the hotelier and that R.W. 1 was incapable of heeding to sane advice given to him by his well-wishers. From the evidence of these three witnesses, it is rather difficult to reach a conclusion that R.W. 1 was of unsound mind and had pronounced symptoms of lunacy. Though P.Ws. 2 and 4 are none else than the wife and son of R.W. 1 it is not possible to place wholesale reliance on their testimony. It is obvious that the dispute regarding the management of the properties of R.W. 1 has an impact on the case of the respondent that R.W. 1 is of unsound mind and is incapable of managing his affairs. It is somewhat unlikely that R.W. 1, who had been married to P.W. 2 twenty-three years ago and who had normal conjugal life with her resulting in the birth of four children, would have suddenly developed symptoms of insanity. Many of the details furnished by P.Ws. 2 and 4 in their evidence regarding the insane behaviour of R.W. 1 do not find place in the petition filed by P.W. 2, P.W. 5, being the uncle of P.W. 2, is not an independent witness and as such, his evidence cannot also be given ready acceptance. If really R.W. 1 had been exhibiting symptoms of unsoundness of mind for about five years,the entire village would have known about his lunacy and consequently, there would be no dearth of witnesses to speak about the mental condition of R.W. 1. Curiously enough, the respondent has not examined ,any of her neighbours or any of the shop-keepers or any independent witness of the village to speak about the mental condition of R.W. 1. The absence of testimony of any independent witness is certainly a serious infirmity in the case of the respondent.

9. The remaining witnesses to speak about R.W. 1's unsoundness of mind are P.W. 1 the District Medical Officer, Nilgiris, and P.W. 3, an Ayurvedic Vaidyar of Akathuthurai in Palghat District. P.W. 1 has, no doubt, stated that in her opinion, R.W. 1 is not in his proper senses and is incapable of managing himself. Having regard to her qualifications and tier disinterested role in the controversy between the parties, her testimony is certainly entitled to weight and consideration. But nevertheless, there are certain features which stand in the way of unreserved acceptance being given to the opinion of P.W. 1 Admittedly, P.W. 1 examined R.W. 1 only for one or one and a half hours and P.W. 1 did not have the advantage of keeping R.W. 1 under observation for the usual number of days in cases of such type. No record has been produced by P.W. 1 regarding the nature and intensity of her examination of R.W. 1, Even if any such record had been produced, it is doubtful if the conclusion arrived at by P.W. 1 regarding the sanity of R.W. 1 can secure forthright acceptance in a Court of law. All that P.W. 1 has stated in her evidence is that she noted the general behaviour of R.W. 1, how he conducted himself and how he answered questions. She has further stated that R.W. 1 was adamant and refused to submit himself for examination and was always attempting to run away. She has also stated that she had to waste a lot of tune over him and in all she spent about one or one and a half hours in her endeavour to assess the mental condition of R.W. 1. However capable and competent P.W. 1 might be, in view of her qualifications and her experience in the medical field, it will be neither wise nor just to accord ready recognition to the opinion of P.W. 1 about R.W. 1 being of unsound mind. The symptoms of fright exhibited by 'R.W. 1 at the time of his examination may be due to the strange atmosphere of the hospital and nervousness developed on seeing ailing patients, doctors, hospital staff etc., at the hospital premises. Whatever it be, the conclusion arrived at by P.W. 1 as a result of her examination of R.W. 1 lasting about one or one and a half hours, during which session, admittedly, a part of the timewas spent in preventing R.W. 1 from running away, is not an infallible one. Unless there are other circumstances and factors which lend support to the opinion of P.W. 1, it would be a hazardous venture to conclude that R.W. 1 had been medically examined by a competent person like P.W. 1 and the result of the examination established the lunacy of R.W. 1.

10. The opinion of P.W. 3, the native doctor, regarding the mental condition of R.W. 1 does not, and in fact ought not to, carry conviction. He claims to be a native physician well versed in the art of giving psychiatric treatment. But, except his own claim in that behalf, there is no other evidence to establish the professional attainments of P.W. 3. According to him, when R.W. 1 was brought to him for treatment, R.W. 1 was suffering from loss of sleep. He is also said to have exhibited abnormal symptoms such as refusing to eat, smoking beedies incessantly, answering calls of nature at all places and expressing difficulty to take bath by himself. From these symptoms, P.W. 3 has drawn his conclusion that R.W. 1 was of unsound mind. However, even according to P.W. 3, the patient viz. R.W. 1 was either partially or fully cured as a result of the treatment given by P.W. 3. R.W. 1, when he was examined by me in the course of the hearing of the appeal, admitted having received treatment from a native physician at Palghat but according to him, the treatment was for fever and not for any other ailment. It is therefore quite likely that P.W. 3 gave treatment to R.W. 1 for some time, but from that factor alone, I do not think it safe or prudent to accept the opinion of P.W. 3 that R.W. 1 was of unsound mind when he was brought to him and that he gave treatment for such a condition.

11. Ironically, the strength of the respondent's case about R.W. 1 being a person of unsound mind lies in the answers given by R.W. 1 in cross-examination. In his examination-in-chief, R.W. 1 has given a cogent version and refuted the allegation of his wife that he was of unsound mind and that he was exhibiting abnormality of behaviour. The debacle, however, occurred when R.W. 1 was subjected to an exacting cross-examination. Since considerable reliance was placed by Mr. S. Padmanabhan on the answer given by R. W. 1 in cross-examination to sustain the order of the learned District Judge, it is necessary to extract the insensible and irrational answers given by R.W. 1 in answer to several questions put to him in cross-examination:

(After reproducing the evidence in local script the judgment proceeded.)

There is no denying the fact that the answers of R.W. 1 to the questions put to him in cross-examination, as extracted above, clearly go to show that R.W. 1, is not a man of normal or average intellect. But, the crucial question for consideration is whether the stupid and idiotic answers given by R.W. 1 can form the basis for the Court concluding that he is a person of unsound mind and therefore a Lunatic within the meaning of the Act. Before proceeding to assess the soundness or otherwise of the mind of R.W, 1 with reference to his performance in the witness-box, I may conveniently dispose of the evidence of R.Ws. 2 and 3.

12. R.W. 2, a former school-teacher, has stated that R.W. 1 was his student in Standards IV and V and that apart from exhibiting a certain dullness of mind, R.W. 1 did not have any sypmtom of lunacy. I am unable to attach any importance to the evidence of R.W. 2 because the case of the respondent itself is that it was only from about five years prior to the filing of the petition, R.W. 1 began to exhibit symptoms of lunacy. Even the assertion of R.W. 2 that he had been seeing R.W. 1 almost daily for the past several years and that he did not find any abnormality of behaviour in him cannot merit any acceptance, because the alleged meeting of R.W. 2 with R.W. 1 seem to be casual. R.W. 3, Krishnaraj, is the younger brother of R.W. 1 and he has stated that R.W. 1 is not suffering from unsoundness of mind. Since the respondent has accused R.W. 3 and his brothers of having decoyed R.W. 1 and detaining R.W. 1 in their house against his wish, R.W. 3's testimony cannot be characterised as impartial testimony. Inasmuch as R.W. 1 himself has been examined by the trial Judge as well .as by me, I do not think it necessary to dwell much upon the veracity of R.W. 3's testimony and the impact the testimony of R.Ws. 2 and 3 has on the controversy between the parties.

13. As has been held by Tek Chand, J. in Teka Devi v. Gopal Das AIR 1930 Lah 289 and which proposition is, by now, well settled, 'in assuming jurisdiction under the Lunacy Act, the Court must keep in view the distinction between mere weakness of intellect and 'lunacy' as understood in the Act and it is only with 'lunatics' as defined in Section 3 (5) that the Act is concerned'. Dealing with the question as to what would amount to unsoundness of mind, a Bench of the Allahabad High Court held as follows in Joshi Ram Krishnan v. Rukmini Bai : AIR1949All449 .

'Unsoundness of mind implies some unusual feature of the mind as has tended to make it different from the normaland has, in effect, impaired the man's capacity to look after his affairs in a manner in which another person without such mental irregularity would be able to do in a matter of his own. The idea suggests some derangement of the mind, whatever be its degree and it is not to be confused with, or taken as analogous to, a mere mental weakness or Lack of intelligence.

A man may find it difficult to answer questions of a particular class, but if he intelligently answers questions of various other sorts concerning himself, his family and property, he cannot be classed with men of unsound mind being unable to manage their affairs. If a man is able to understand and answer questions on various matters except those relating to arithmetical calculations, he cannot be regarded .as mentally unsound, although he would be held as having a weak or undeveloped mind.'

While I am in agreement with the expressions contained in the above two decisions, I would like to add that unsound-ness of mind has reference to a mental condition which falls outside the range of the wide spectrum of mental calibre ranging from that of a nincompoop to that of genius. It may well be that at the lower range of the spectrum there is an apparent resemblance between the mental fabric of a nincompoop or a booby, or a lubberly lout on the one hand and a lunatic on the other. But, such superficial similarity ought not to result in confusion. The spectrum of the mental calibre of unsound persons is of entirely different wave-lengths, the range varying from the wave-length of the mind of a mild and harmless lunatic at the base and going up to the top depicting the mind of a violent meniac. The stupidity or the dull wittedness or the weakness of mind of a simpleton is the sub-terranian level of the structure of the human intellect and the apex of it will extend to the soaring height of the mind of a genius. On the other hand, the mental condition of a lunatic described under the Act as an idiot or & person of unsound mind, has reference to a deranged or dishevelled mind which is on an entirely different plane than the dull wit or weak intellect of a simpleton or booby. However low the intelligence quotient of a simpleton may be. his mental capacity is referable to an integrated and sound mind, while the mental factor of a person of unsound mind can have reference only to a mind affected by severe congenital subnormality or to a disintegrated or deranged or dishevelled mind. It is in this perspective, the ability of a person with unsound mind to take care of himself and manage his affairs has to be assessed. A person of weak intellect may not have the capacity to look after himself and his affairs in a prudent or acceptable manner, but nevertheless, the capacity of his mind to manage himself and his affairs cannot be called into question. On the other hand, a person of unsound mind is one who is totally unsuited to manage himself and his affairs and such incompeteney is directly referable and attributable to the incapacity of his mind. Having thus dealt with the law on this aspect of the matter, I shall now revert to a factual consideration of the state of the mind of R.W. 1 with reference to his examination before the learned District Judge and his examination before me.

14. It may be recalled that, before referring to the unintelligible answers given by R.W. 1 in cross-examination, I had stated that he had given cogent evidence during his examination-in-chief. Even in cross-examination he has given certain rational answers. On reading the entire evidence of R.W. 1 before the District Jugde, a strong feeling is aroused that, after having exhibited the normality of his mind by giving cogent and rational answers to questions put to him in the chief-examination, R.W. 1's self-confidence and power of resistance broke down on being subjected to a trying cross-examination. He may have broken down due to nervousness or due to inadequate powers of resistance, a feature commonly found inhered in men of weak intellect. Otherwise, it is incomprehensible that R-W. 1 would have given such irrational answers as saying that he came to Coimbatore from Ooty by plane, ship etc. It is apparent that, after a stage, P.W. 1 had simply begun to affirm whatever suggestion was put to him in cross-examination by the counsel for the petitioner and thus sought escape from further cross-examination at the hands of the counsel. Even in the midst of the taxing cross-examination R.W. 1 has given sensible and rational answers to some questions by saying that the age of his wife was 39 years, that he refused to accede to his wife's demand for handing over the properties to her, that the shirt he was wearing was his own and did not belong to his brother, that the annual lease for his estate was Rs. 3,000, that the lease was evidenced by a deed, that he knows the Co-operative Bank at Coonoor and that he has not attempted to mortgage his property and raise a loan. It is on account of these conflicting features in the evidence of R.W. 1 viz., the sensible manner of answering questions in the chief-examination, the feeble attempt made by R.W. 1 at the earlier stages of the cross-examination to hold his ground and thereafter the utter crumbling downof R.W. 1 during cross-examination by the total lack of resistance to the onslaught made by the cross-examining counsel; that I deemed it necessary to send for R.W. 1 and examine him myself. When R.W. 1 appeared before me, I put him several questions in the presence of counsel for both sides and R.W. 1 was certainly able to give rational and sensible answers to the various questions put by me. Except exhibiting some nervousness to undergo the examination and coughing involuntarily before answering every question, R.W. 1 did not manifest any other symptom of abnormality. For a full appreciation of the matter it is necessary that the questions put by me and the answers given by R.W. 1 are reproduced here:--

'Q. How many brothers have you Sot?

A. I have got five brothers and threesisters.

Q. When were you married?

A. 20 years ago.

Q. How many children have you got?

A. I have three sons and a daughter.

Q. What is your occupation?

A. I am looking after my tea Estate.

Q. How many acres of tea estate do you have?

A. Ten acres.

Q. Have you borrowed money from anywhere?

A. I do not have any debts,

Q. Where are your wife and children?

A. They are in Sogathurai.

Q. For how many years are they living there?

A. They are living there for the last five years.

Q. Why are they living separately?

A. They asked me to give away my properties. I refused to concede to their request and hence they have quarrelled and gone away.

Q. Who is cooking food for you?

A. My mother cooks food for me.

Q. Are you prepared to lead life with your wife and children, if they come back to your place?

A. I am willing.

Q. Where are you now and how did you come?

A. I am now in Madras. I came here by train.

Q. Were you treated by any native doctor at Palghat and if so, what was your ailment?

A. I went to Palghat, as I was suffering from fever. I was not satisfied with the treatment given by the doctor and so I came away.

Q. Is it a fact that you picked up beedies and put them in your 'place of food?

A. It is not true.

Q. What is the type of food you take?

A. I take iddlies, dosai, coffee etc.

Q. Do you have workers in your tea estate?

A. Yes. I have workers and I supervise their work,

Q. How much income do you get?

A. I get Rs. 250 per month.

Q. At that rate what is your annual Income?

A. At first the witness stated that it is Rs. 30,000. Later, he corrected and said that it is Rs. 2,400.

Q. Who brought you to Madras?

A. My younger brother Ramachan-dran brought me to Madras.

Q. Why did your wife and children ask for the estate?

A. I do not know why they made such a demand.

Q. What do you do with the income?

A. The land is leased out. After meeting my expenses, the balance of the lease amount is kept in my box.

Q. Are you willing to allow your wife end major son to look after the tea estate?

A. No. I am not willing.'

The record of the answers given by R.W. 1 unmistakably go to show that he comprehends simple questions put to him and that he is able to give relevant and rational answers. At this juncture, it has to be pointed out that many of the questions put to R.W. 1 in cross-examination before the District Judge relate to things like the height and the distance of place in metres, the requirement of cloth for dress in terms of metres, the speed of vehicles in terms of miles per hour etc. The startling answers given by R.W. 1 are in answer to those questions, and the answers themselves are repetitive of the suggestions put to him by the cross-examining counsel. I do not think the stupidity of those answers can be held adequate material to reach the conclusion that R.W. 1 is a person of unsound mind. As the Allahabad High Court had stated in : AIR1949All449 , merely because a man may find difficulty in answering questions of a particular class such as those relating to arithmetical calculations etc., but was able to answer intelligently various questions of other sorts concerning himself, his family and property, he cannot be regarded as mentally unsound. It is interesting to note that in the case decided by the Allahabad High Court, the alleged lunatic was not able to say as to how many annas there were in a sum of Rs. 5 what the total would be of 5 + 10 and whether a sum of annas nine was larger than a sum of seventeen pies. In spite of such answers having been given, the court held that the person was not a lunatic because he was able to give rational and intelligent answers to other questions put to him regarding himself, his family and family members. The instant case also must be treated as a easel of that kind where a person is unable to answer questions of a particular kind regarding the height and the distance of places in metres, speed of vehicles in terms of miles per hour etc. This circumstance certainly ought not to outweigh other factors which clearly warrant the inference that R.W. 1, though a person of subnormal intellect and capacity, is certainly not a person of unsound mind.

15. Mr. S. Padmanabhan, however, placed reliance on Sonabati Devi v. Narayan AIR 1935 Pat 423 where it was observed that it frequently happens that persons of unsound mind are capable of logical answers to questions and of giving a reasonably intelligent account of themselves, but that does not necessarily imply that such persons are capable of looking after themselves or that their minds are in such & condition that would enable them to look after themselves or their property. He would, therefore, contend that even though R.W. 1 has been able to give logical answers to some of the questions put to him, it ought not to be construed that he was mentally sound and capable of managing himself and his affairs. I am clearly unable to agree with the arguments of Mr. Padmanabhan. The degree of mental soundness of a person brought before the Court for inquisition under the provisions of the Act has to be determined with reference to the facts and circumstances of each case and there is no infallible test which can be prescribed as of universal application in all such cases. In the instant case, apart from the basis offered by the irrational answers given by R.W. 1 to most of the questions put to him in cross-examination, there is no other material on which the respondent can lay her hands on and invite the Court to accede to her contention that R. W. 1 is an idiot or a person of unsound mind as envisaged under the Act and consequently, a person incapable of managing himself and his affairs. As stated above, the capacity of a person to manage himself and his affairs may vary from person to person, but the total incapacity which alone would justify a Court finding a person to be of unsound mind is wholly different from the inadequate ability of a person to look after himself and his affairs according to accepted norms and standards and by no; stretch of imagination, be equated with incapacity flowing from unsoundness of mind. I have already held that the evidence of P.Ws. 2, 4 and 5 regarding the abnormal behaviour of R.W. 1 is not free from doubt and blemish. Therefore, the contention of the respondent that the

order of the District Judge declaring R.W. 1 to be a person of unsound mind should not be disturbed, cannot be acceded.

16. The last contention of Mr. Padmanabhan is that inasmuch as R.W. 1 has leased out his estate to R.W. 3 soon after the respondent went away to her mother's house with her children, it is patently made out that R.W. 1 is incapable of managing his estate, and therefore, it must be held that he is incapable of managing his affairs. This is also an untenable contention. Merely because a person who is brought up for inquisition by a Court under the provisions of the Act is proved to have found difficulty in managing his estate ,and leased it to another person, it can never 'be contended that the action of the persons must only be attributed to the incapacity arising from unsoundness of mind. A person can well lease out his estate to a third-party for a host of reasons including physical disability, laziness, prudent conduct etc. Hence this contention of Mr. Padmanabhan must also fail.

17. A finding by a Court under Section '63 (2) of the Act that a person is of unsound mind and incapable of managing himself and/or incapable of managing his affairs has got far-reaching consequences and must, therefore, be given only after great care and deliberation. Apart from being stigmatised as a lunatic, a person held to be of unsound mind is bound to be deprived, either temporarily or permanently, of the right to manage his properties according to his likes and views. It is, therefore, incumbent on the Court making an inquisition under Section 62 of the Act, to bestow, its consideration on each and every aspect of the matter before rendering a judicial finding that the person subjected to inquisition is of unsound mind and needs a guardian for his person and property. For reasons already stated above, the instant case is not one where the first appellant can be declared a person of unsound mind and incapable of managing himself and his affairs.

18. In the result, the appeal succeeds and the order of the learned District Judge is set aside. Once it is held that the first appellant is not a person of unsound mind, it necessarily follows that the order of the District Judge appointing the respondent the guardian of the person and property of the first appellant must also fall to the ground. Having regard to the close relationship between the parties, there will be no order as to costs.


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