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K. Vishnu Nambudri Vs. M.C. Akkamma - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1911)ILR34Mad496
AppellantK. Vishnu Nambudri
RespondentM.C. Akkamma
Cases Referred(Katama Nachyar v. The Raja of Sivaganga
Excerpt:
.....heirs under hindu law. - - but when after his complete dominion (with right of alienation) over self-acquisition was recognised it is difficult to conceive a different line of descent for it from property that may have been obtained by partition which would undoubtedly be made to descend to natural, heirs to the exclusion of those from whom be may have divided, the foundation of common interest in the property failing survivorship goes with it and the nature of the property determines the rule of succession a nambudri like any other hindu has the rights to alienate his self-acquisition in his life time without regard to any necessity or to the wishes of the other members of his family- he may devise it to strangers. the siuia holds good in the case of the self-acquisition of a..........was built by the deceased out of his own funds though on land belonging to the family was his self-acquisition and the point is not raised by the memorandum of second appeal. we accordingly accept that finding. as to the utensils, etc., worth rs. 500 they are in the house left by the deceased and were admittedly the property of the deceased, the first question is whether the self-acquisition of parameswaran devolved on the family to which he belonged or on his son, the fourth defendant. all the previous decisions were reviewed in chemnauthat attekunnath lakshmiamma v. palakuzhu thuppan nambudri i.l.r. (1902) mad. 662 and the learned judge therein arrived at the conclusion that; the question is not concluded by authority and that there is no definite ruling of the high court on the.....
Judgment:

Sankaran-Nair, J.

1. The plaintiff sues to re- cover a debt contracted by the deceased Parameawaran Nambu-dri, a junior member of an illom, of which the first defendant is the head. His wife and child are also defendants. Parameswaran Nambudri was in possession of a piece of land belonging to the family and it is found that he built thereon a house worth Rs. 1,000 out of his own funds and also planted pepper vines on the land. It was conceded in the lower Courts that the house which was built by the deceased out of his own funds though on land belonging to the family was his self-acquisition and the point is not raised by the memorandum of second appeal. We accordingly accept that finding. As to the utensils, etc., worth Rs. 500 they are in the house left by the deceased and were admittedly the property of the deceased, The first question is whether the self-acquisition of Parameswaran devolved on the family to which he belonged or on his son, the fourth defendant. All the previous decisions were reviewed in Chemnauthat Attekunnath Lakshmiamma v. Palakuzhu Thuppan Nambudri I.L.R. (1902) Mad. 662 and the learned Judge therein arrived at the conclusion that; the question is not concluded by authority and that there is no definite ruling of the High Court on the point As to the law applicable to the Nambudris, it has been held in a case in which evidence was taken about their usage, that 'Nambudris are governed by the Hindu Law, except so far as it is shown to have been modified by usage or custom having the force of law,' the probable origin of the special usage being either some doctrine of Hindu Law as it stood at the date of 'their settlement' in Malabar 'though now obsolete or some marumak-katayam' [Vdsudevan The Secretary of State for India I.L.R. (1883) Mad. 157. The Hindu Law is generally speaking the law laid down by the author of the Mitakshara. Under that law, though the interest of an undivided member in family property passes by survivorship to the other members of the family, his separate property devolves exclusively on his own heirs. The fourth defendant, the son of the deceased, takes the property of the latter under the Hindu Law to the exclusion of the other members of the family. It is true that-under the marumakkatayam law, we have decided that the self acquisition of a male in Malabar lapses to his tarwad but it has also been decided that in the case of a female, her children succeed to the exclusion of the tarwad, while in Canara under the same law under another name, where the theory is more strictly carried out in practice, the self-acquisitions of a male also descend to his own heirs. It may be noticed 'that in the earliest case Kamaran v. Ryru of which there is any report, it is stated, to be a very prevalent belief that the immediate juniors and not the tar-wad are those entitled to the self-acquisitions and that not one of the decisions including that of the full bench in Govindan Nair v. Sankaran Nair I.L.R. 1909 Mad. 35 is based upon usage but, on the other band, the majority of the Judges acted on the maxim 'stare decisions. In these circumstances we cannot take it that any 'marumakkatayam usage' would have influenced the family law of the Nambudris in this respect. Nor have we been referred to any doctrine of ancient Hindu Law which denied to the son the right of succession to the separate property of his father, which may have served as a basis for the existence, if any, of a different rule of law among the Nambudris. Under the old Hindu Law when self-acquisition was not recognised, no question could arise as to succession. When separate property or self-acquisition was recognised, the law of succession followed the nature of the property. The foundation of the right to take by survivorship is common interest and common possession., during the life-time of the deceased. It is possible there may have been a stage in the growth of Hindu law when a man who acquired any property had only the use of it, in which, case his undivided family may have taken it on his death. But when after his complete dominion (with right of alienation) over self-acquisition was recognised it is difficult to conceive a different line of descent for it from property that may have been obtained by partition which would undoubtedly be made to descend to natural, heirs to the exclusion of those from whom be may have divided, The foundation of common interest in the property failing survivorship goes with it and the nature of the property determines the rule of succession A Nambudri like any other Hindu has the rights to alienate his self-acquisition in his life time without regard to any necessity or to the wishes of the other members of his family- He may devise it to strangers. If the deceased had been a divided member there is no doubt his son would have succeeded to the property obtained on partition and in my opinion the self-acquisition will follow the same course of descent. The fourth defendant is therefore entitled to the house and utensils and not the first defendant. The decree against the first defendant as representative is therefore revised, but in the circumstances without costs. The suit was dismissed against the fourth defendant and there is no appeal.

Krishnaswami Alyar, J.

2. I agree in the judgment of Mr. Justice Sankaran-Nair. As regards the pepper vines we must treat them as the property of the illom. They were grown by the deceased Parameswaran Nambudri on illom property. They cannot be held to be his self-acquisitions. The first defendant as the Karnavan is not liable for the debt contracted by Parameswaran so far as this property is concerned. No question has been raised in second appeal that the house and vessels were not the self-acquisitions of Parameswaran. The house is in the occupation of defendants Nos. 2 to 4, the mother, widow and son of Parameswaran and the vessels too are in their possession. No decree can be given in this case against the first defendant on the ground that he is in possession of Parameswaran's property. But it is contended for the respondents that the illom succeeds to the self-acquisition of every member and that the first defendant as Karnavan is properly liable for Parameswaran's debts, This question has been left undetermined by the District Judge. In Chemanauthat Attekunnath Lakshmiamma v. Palakuzhu Thuppan Nambudri I.L.R. (1902) Mad. 662, the question was left open whether under the customary law governing the Nambudris of Malabar the self-acquisitions of a Nambudri pass at his death to the immediate heirs of the acquirer or to the illom. The observation in Vasudevan v. The Secretary of State for India I.L.R. (1881) Mad. 157 that self-acquired property merges on the death of the person acquiring it with family property as is the case among Nairs is not a binding decision. There is no course of decisions as is the case amongst marumakka-tayam families that the self acquisitions of a member of a Nambudri illom lapse to the illom. The recent decision by the majority of the Pull Bench in Govindan Nair v. Sankaran Nair I.L.R. (1909) Mad 351 which is solely rested on the current of judicial authority as regards the descent of the self-acquisition of a marumakkatayam Hindu does not therefore apply to the case of Nambudris. Unfettered by authority there can be no question as to what is the rule of law we should apply to the descent of a Nambudri's self-acquisition. It is capable of gift inter vivos. It can be willed away at the pleasure of the acquirer. Unless the notion of heritable rights in son, widow and daughter is foreign to the Nambudri, we are bound to apply the ordinary Hindu Law of succession to the Nambudri's self-acquisition, If we go back to the archaic Hindu Law and repudiate the idea of self-acquisition itself then, of course, the property acquired, must lapse to the tarwad. But in that case even in the acquirer's life-time he would have no right over It But this being recognised even to the extent of validating a posthumous disposition by will, I do not see how we are entitled to refuse succession to the natural heirs of the acquirer. If an illom became divided into individual units with the consent of all, each individual will pass his separate property to his own heirs and not to his divided brethren in a group. This was the analogy accepted by the Privy Council in the Sivaganga case (Katama Nachyar v. The Raja of Sivaganga (1863) 9 M.I.A. 539 for the succession of self-acquisition. The siuia holds good in the case of the self-acquisition of a Nambudri. The Nambudri is governed by the Smritis. He is even more orthodox than the Brahmins of the rest; of the country. He owes allegiance to the Vedas, the Smritis and the Puranas. Except in so far as recognised custom has made any inroad into the law of the Smritis, he is governed by that law. The fourth defendant as the son of Parameswaran must therefore be held entitled to the house and utensils. No decree has been passed against him and there is no appeal by the plaintiff to make him liable. We must therefore allow the appeal by the first defendant and dismiss the plaintiff's suit, but in the circumstances without costs.


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