1. The relationship between the plaintiff and one Appalanarasamma who is the all-important character in this story is shown in the geneological table herewith annexed. It will be seen that one Radhakrishnamma married one Venkamma and that they had a daughter Appalanarasamma who died on the 9ih February, 1932. The plaintiff is the son of a sister of Radhakrishnamma, namely, Kuppili Peda Ragha-vamma and he claims the property, the subject of this suit, as a reversioner to the estate of Radhakrishnamma. There are before us four defendants-appellants. In A.S. No. 10 of 1937 defendants 2, 3 and 7 are the appellants and are represented by Mr. P. Somasundaram. The first defendant appeals separately in A.S. No. 205 of 1937 arfd is represented by Mr. Govinda-rajachari. The property concerned is as follows: The defendants claim that they are entitled to the suit property; defendant 2 as alienee of portions of item 1 in the plaint which he purchased from the first defendant and Appalanarasamma; the third defendant as alienee also of other portions of item 1 from the same source. The seventh defendant claims under a sale by Appalanarasamma to the sixth defendant and from the sixth defendant to him of item 4 of Schedule A. The appeal concerns only the items to which 1 have alluded. The answer to this claim was twofold (1) that the lands in sub-itemsvl to 4 of item 1 which had been covered by a permanent lease given by Appalanarasamma to the first defendant were enfranchised mirasi service inam lands and (2) that
| | |
Sister Sister Died before 1881.
Kuppili Peda Arabhi China Radhakrishnamma.
Raghavamma Rdghavamma, Venkamma died
| | Daughter Appalanarasamma
Varahanarasimhulu Lakshminara- (died on 9-2-1932)
(died in 1913) married simhulu (Plaintiff) married to
2. Appalanarasamma was entitled to deal with them as absolute owner as they had been enfranchised in her favour while she was the holder of the office of karnam in the village of Lakshmipuram. The legal position relating to the ownership of inam lands attached to the office of karnam and enfranchised in his or her favour has been well settled, by the Judicial Committee and in this High Court. It was decided by the Judicial Committee in Venkata Jagannadha v. Veerabhadrayya (1921) 41 M.L.J. 1 : L.R. 48 IndAp 244 : I.L.R. 44 Mad. 643 that the karnam of a village in Madras occupies his office not by hereditary or family right but as a personal appointee, although the appointment is primarily made of a suitable person who is a member of a particular family and that where karnam service lands have been enfranchised, a quit rent being imposed in lieu of the service, and an inam title deed is granted confirming the lands to the holder of the office, his representatives and assigns, the lands are his separate property and are not subject to any claim to partition by other members of the family. The result of that is that when lands of this description are alienated by a karnam, the alienee gets a good title. That principle has been applied to the case of women representatives who occupy the position of karnam in Palaniyandi v. Velayudam Pillai : AIR1929Mad93 and Abdnkuri Venkataramadoss v. Pachigolla Gavarraju : (1922)43MLJ153 . It is unnecessary to go into this position at any length because there is no contention about the legal position and there is very little contention now about the one point which we for some time had discussed before us. It was naturally of the utmost importance to the defendants in this case, resting as they did their title on the position of Appalanarasamma as the karnam of this village, to establish that she was actually in that position and that the enfranchisement was in, her favour. There were in the possession of the defendants at the earliest stage of this case certain documents which went a long way towards establishing this position. Those documents arose under the following circumstances. There had been litigation long ago between Appalanarasamma and one Koduru Venkanna in O.S. No. 388 of 1909 in the District Munsif's Court of Parvathipur. It appeared that Koduru Venkanna was claiming that he was entitled to the mirasi inam lands of Lakshmipuram village jointly with Appalanarasamma. xppala-narasarama's contention which it was necessary for her to vindicate by a suit was that Venkanna was no more than her r agent or representative to carry out the duties of karnam, she being a woman, but that she was the sole karnam and had the sole right to these lands. So it will be seen that the most important question to be considered in that case was what was the legal position of Appalanarasamma in relation to the karnamship. The matter was heard by the District Munsif and his judgment which is now marked as Ex. 15 was produced to the learned Judge. It is a long judgment and there was a decree finally which is marked as Ex. 14. It awarded Appalanarasamma the wet lands claimed but refused a decree for the dry lands. Against that decree there was an appeal to the District Judge whose judgment is marked as Ex. 17. It concluded in paragraph 12 with the following words:
I am therefore of opinion that plaintiff is entitled to have all the suit lands exclusively enfranchised in her name and the entry of defendant's name in the title deed as a joint owner is fraudulent and illegal.
3. So Appalanarasamma succeeded in her claim to the dry lands also. The District Judge had before that held in paragraph 8 that the plaintiff was the holder of the office at the time of the enfranchisement and not defendant but that defendant was only a deputy doing duties of the office on behalf of plaintiff. The matter in second appeal in this High Court was peremptorily rejected and in the result the learned District Judge's judgment was affirmed. Therefore the position of Appalanarasamma had been a matter of the fullest investigation before a Court of law and it seems to me that under Section 13 of the Evidence Act these proceedings on the question of the existence of her right in this office and property would have been and a very relevant as being transactions by which the right was recognised. Most unfortunately, in the lower Court copies of these documents according to the learned Judge were not produced until the hearing of the suit. He rejected them because, as is obvious^ their receipt in evidence was opposed by the plaintiff. The learned Judge said:
These documents are for the first time produced into Court only to-day and the explanation for their non-production previously is not satisfactory. They were not also mentioned in any list filed with the written statement as documents on which defendants wanted to rely.
4. There does not appear to us to be any provision of the Code which provides for this list to which the learned Judge refers but that apparently was one of the grounds on which he excluded these documents. Except for two documents Nos. 8 and 12, which were a registered notice and a public copy of a lease, the whole of these documents were rejected including all these records of the proceedings in the District Munsiff's Court of Parvatipur. The judicial Committee, if authority is needed, have emphasised that when documents are official records of undoubted authenticity which may assist the Court to decide rightly the issues before it, leave should not ordinarily be refused even though they are produced late. (Gopika Raman Roy v. Atal Singh (1929) 56 M.L.J. 562 : L.R. 56 IndAp 119 : I.L.R. 56 Cal. 1003 .) I can imagine no stronger case for granting leave than this. These documents had been referred to in the pleadings. They are documents about whose authenticity there cannot be the slightest question, being Court records. They were produced before the case started on the first day and yet they were summarily rejected by the learned Judge for reasons which I confess I do not understand. A petition has been presented to us asking that these documents should be admitted in evidence and after hearing both sides we have decided that this petition should be allowed. Certified copies of these documents are now before us though before the learned Judge--copies contained in the printed papers in the old litigation had been produced and the result seems to prove conclusively the case which the defendants seek to establish, nariely, that Appalanarasamma was entitled to deal with these properties by virtue of holding this office and of the enfranchisement of the properties. Now it is very unfortunate that there was-not produced to the learned trial Judge a copy of the Inam Register which might have put this matter beyond any further dispute. We therefore thought it right to suggest to Mr. Lakshmanna for the respondent, if he so desired, that time would be given to him to obtain certified copies of the relevant entries from the Board of Revenue as an answer to these documents which we now admit; but Mr. Lakshmanna did not think it worthwhile. In fact although every thing possible was said, finally I think he was driven to the position that it was quite impossible to maintain (1) that these documents should not be admitted and (2) when they were admitted that the defendants' case was not established and the plaintiff's case thereby defeated. This however concerns item 1, sub-items 1 to 4 only. Items 2(a) and 2(b) which are among the sub-items concern the second and third defendants. All those items are covered by the admission of these documents (together with items 1 to 4 in the plaint schedule;. Item 4 of the plaint schedule however is said to rest upon a will of Radha-krishnamma which was not produced in the lower Court but which was sought to be proved by the production of a document, Ex. I said to be signed by Radhakrishnamma in which the execution of a will in favour of Venkamma was admitted. That document which seems to contain all possible admissions necessary for this part of the defendants' case rested also on the evidence of three witnesses. D.W. 1 produced the document. He says that Koduri Venkanna was his mother's father and he found Ex. I in his father's records. Why this Koduri Venkanna should be in possession of this document is not clear. So Ex. I started its career by being produced not from proper custody but from unexpected custody. D.W. 2 identified the signature in Ex. I of Pattabhiramayya. D.W. 3 an old gentleman of 80 identified the signature of Radhakrishnamma the maker of the document. The learned Judge regarded this document as suspect and was-not satisfied with the evidence of these witnesses and we are inclined to take the same view. It certainly cannot be said that the learned Judge was not entitled to arrive at the conclusion which he did and we are proposing to confirm that part of his judgment. So far as any claim therefore is made under this will referred to in Ex. I it must fail. The claim to item 4 and sub-item 5 of item 1 has not therefore been established by the defendants or any of them, But so far as the rest of the properties are concerned I am satisfied that the defendants by the production of Exs. 14, 15, 17 and 19 which we have now admitted and which should have been admitted in the Court below have established beyond doubt that Appalanarasamma occupied this position and
5. Mr. Somasundaram took exception to the learned Judge's order with regard to mesne profits. But the only evidence before the learned Judge was the evidence of P.W. 2 who gave' the total of the mesne profits from all these lands as Rs. 800. The defendants did not think fit to give the Court any assistance. The learned Judge was therefore in a difficulty, but-he arrived - how exactly it is not clear - at the view that the proper amount should be taken to be Rs. 752 and he consequently estimated that the mesne profits should be decreed at that amount which equals Rs. 16-7-0 per acre. It does not seem to me to lie in the mouth of Mr. Somasundaram to complain about this figure Rs. 752; the answer might well have been that the sole evidence on the record was of a larger figure, Rs. 800 and that that amount might well have been awarded.
6. In the result therefore in substance, except as I have indicated, this appeal must succeed. With regard to costs the parties will pay and receive proportionate costs here and below to the extent of their respective success. The court-fee also will be shared in the same proportion.
Krishnaswami Aiyangar, J.
7. I entirely agree. As observed by my learned brother there are two defences put forward (1) a defence that would cover all the items claimed by the plaintiff in the suit, namely, that the last male holder Radha-krishnamma left a will by which he bequeathed his entire estate to his widow Venkamma for life and after her life absolutely to his daughter Appalanarasamma. If this will were true it would afford a defence to the entire suit. The learned Judge has found against it and the matter has been discussed in the judgment of my learned brother. I agree that there is no sufficient material for disturbing the finding of the learned judge.
8. The second defence related only to the inam land of the extent of 22 acres consisting of 12 acres wet and 10 acres dry. It had been originally attached to the office of karnam held in the family. Radhakrishnamma held the office and after his (Jeath it is clear that Appalanarasamma held it. Sometime prior to 1909 while Appalanarasamma was the holder of the office and was in enjoyment of these inam properties they were enfranchised and an inam title deed came to be issued not in the name of Appalanarasamma alone as it should have been, but in the joint names of Appalanarasamma and Koduri Venkanna. Koduri Venkanna was the husband of the mother's sister of Appalanarasamma and appears to have been a gumastah for doing the karnam service both during the lifetime of Radhakrishnamma and after his death when Appalanarasamma was the holder of the office. He apparently took advantage of his position and the ignorance of Appalanarasamma and managed to get the inam title deed issued jointly in the names of himself and Appalanarasamma behind her back. This led to the litigation started by O.S. No. 388 of 1909 on the file of the District Munsif's Court of Parvatipur. The District Munsif upheld the claim of Appalanarasamma in regard to the wet lands alone, dismissing her suit in regard to the dry lands on the ground that she was not shown to have been in possession of them. The District Judge in A.S. No. 550 of 1910 declared her right to both the wet and dry lands comprised in the inam and also directed that the inam title deed should be amended accordingly. This judgment was confirmed by the High Court in S.A. No. 1020 of 1912. The result of this litigation was that Appalanarasamma's absolute title to the entire property to the exclusion of Koduru Venkanna based upon the enfranchisement of the inam land.in the names of both was established. That being so her alienations of these enfranchised inam lands cannot be questioned by the reversioner as it is settled that an enfranchisement confers absolute title on the enfranchisee.
9. It is necessary to mention that the inam lands comprise sub-items 1 to 4 only in item No. 1 of the schedule to the plain', two of these sub-items being 2(a) and 2(b) separately numbered for purposes of identification. Appellant No. 1 in A.S. No. 10 of 1937 succeeds in regard to item 2(a) and appellant No. 2 succeeds in regard to item 2(b). So far as appellant No. 3 [who was the seventh defendant in the Court below and who put forward a claim to item (4)] is concerned, he fails as his only ground of defence was the will which has been found against by us. So far as he is concerned the appeal must therefore be dismissed. The appellant in A.S. No. 205 of 1937 who was the first defendant in the Court below succeeds in regard to two of the sub-items in item 1, namely, those other than 2(a) and 2(b) and to that extent his appeal succeeds.
10. In the result, the plaintiff's suit will be dismissed as regards all the four sub-items of item 1 of the plaint schedule inclusive of items 2(a) and 2(b) separately numbered which are the items purchased by the second and third defendants who are appellants 1 and 2 in A.S. No. 10 of 1937.