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K.P. Kalliani Amma and K.P. Karunakara Menon Vs. K.P. Govinda Menon and Twenty-two ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Property
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1912)ILR35Mad648
AppellantK.P. Kalliani Amma and K.P. Karunakara Menon
RespondentK.P. Govinda Menon and Twenty-two ors.
Cases ReferredNocury Lall Chucherbutty v. Bindabun Chinder Chuaksrbutty I.L.R.
Excerpt:
.....law - gift to a woman and her children enures for their benefit with the incidents of tarwad property--members subsequently born acquire an interest by birth--kurnavan, power of to alienage--right of one member of tarwad to erect buildings in tarwad property--compensation, claim to for demolition of building--malabar tenants' improvement act 1 of (1900), section 5. - - the demise purports to be made expressly for the purpose of enabling the first defendant to erect a house on the property and entitles him to receive at the expiry of the kanom the value of the house as well as compensation for other improvements that he might make. both the lower courts have negatived this contention and held that the properties included in the deed of gift, exhibit a, wore taken by ammu..........of gift, exhibit a, wore taken by ammu aroma to be held and enjoyed by her with the incidents of tarwad property under the marumakattayam law, and that consequently they belonged to ammu a mma, and her children and the issue of her female children, with the result, that the plaintiff and the defendants, other than the second defendant were equally entitled to them along with the second defendant. the lower courts have further held that the demise in question was beyond the powers of disposition of the second defendant, and that the first defendant was bound to surrender the property. the district munsif was of opinion however that the first defendant was on titled to receive compensation for the building. but the subordinate judge held he was not. it would appear that the plaintiff,.....
Judgment:

1. These two second appeals arise out of the suit by the plaintiff to recover a paramba demised by the second defendant in favour of the first defendant. The parties to the suit are all members of a Marumakattuyarn tarwad. The plaintiff, first defendant, and defendants Nos. 3 to 6 are the children of the second defendant who is the senior lady of the tarwad. The other defendants are the children and grand-children of the second defendant's children. The plaintiff is the senior male member and according to the Marurnakattayam law the karnavan of the tarwad. Until about a year before the data of the suit the second defendant was in actual management of the tarwad. But in April 1907 she gave up the management to the plaintiff under Exhibit I, Prior to her doing so she executed in April 1906 a kanom-deed, Exhibit T, demising the paramba in question in favour of a junior son, the first defendant, for a period of sixty years. The demise purports to be made expressly for the purpose of enabling the first defendant to erect a house on the property and entitles him to receive at the expiry of the kanom the value of the house as well as compensation for other improvements that he might make. The plaintiff impeaches the demise as an improvident transaction which the second defendant as manager has no power to make, and claims to recover the premises and to have the building erected by the first defendant pulled down and removed, and states that he is not bound to pay any compensation for the building. The first and second defendants contend that the property in suit; belongs tin the second defendant; alone, that the other members of the tar wad have no title to it during her life, and that the demise by her in favour of the first defendant is valid. The first defendant claims in case of eviction to be entitled do compensation for the value of the building. The property in dispute together wish a large number of other items of property was the subject of a deed of gift executed in 1857 in favour of the second defendant's mother, Ammu Arama, by her husband, one K, Govinda Manon, and it is on the construction of this instrument that the first and second defendants contend that the second defendant is exclusively entitled to the property during her life-time. Both the lower Courts have negatived this contention and held that the properties included in the deed of gift, exhibit A, wore taken by Ammu Aroma to be held and enjoyed by her with the incidents of tarwad property under the Marumakattayam law, and that consequently they belonged to Ammu A mma, and her children and the issue of her female children, with the result, that the plaintiff and the defendants, other than the second defendant were equally entitled to them along with the second defendant. The lower Courts have further held that the demise in question was beyond the powers of disposition of the second defendant, and that the first defendant was bound to surrender the property. The District Munsif was of opinion however that the first defendant was on titled to receive compensation for the building. But the Subordinate judge held he was not. It would appear that the plaintiff, after the institution of the suit, applied for an ad interim injunction restraining the first defendant from erecting the building. But the application was not granted as the first defendants has already made some advance in the building of the house. The second defendant has preferred Second Appeal No. 525 and the first defendant Second Appeal No. 526 against the judgment of the Subordinate Judge.

2. The contentions urged by the learned vakil for the appellants are --

(i) That on the correct construction of Exhibit A the second defendant alone has a present title to the property in dispute;

(ii) That oven if the property belongs to the whole tarwad the demise is not invalid;

(iii) That even if the demise should be held not binding on the tar wad on the ground that it is for the excessive period of sixty years, it should not he altogether set aside, but upheld for the period for which a karnavan could lawfully grant a demise of the character of exhibit T;

(iv) That, if the demise be not upheld at all, the second defendant, being a co-owner of the property with the plaintiff, did not act wrongfully in constructing the building, and the plaintiff is not en tided to have it demolished, and that first defendant is entitled to compensation on eviction.

3. These contentions will now be dealt with seriatim.

4. With respect to the first contention relating to the construction of exhibit A, the material terms of the instrument which, as already stated, is a deed of gift executed by K. Govinda Man on in favour of Ammu Amma are: 'I have now given properties consisting among others of land, paramba, and house, particulars whereof are given below.... In all, properties to the value of Rs. 10,000 are as aforesaid given to you as yours, and I have delivered the documents, etc., relating thereto, and now in my possession. Therefore I have resolved that, acting in accordance with the terms and conditions thereof, you and your santhanams should be in enjoyment for over, along with me at the said Puthiaveetu as long as I live and in proprium thereafter.' The document recites that the donor had already given some proportion to the donee and her santanams permanently and for ever. The provision entitling the donor to joint enjoyment with the donee during his life-time may for the purposes of this case be neglected, At the time of the gift Ammu Amma had several children besides the second defendant, but the second defendant is the only survivor of them at present, The gift may be briefly stated to be one to Ammu Amma and her children, The appellant's contention is that it should be regarded as a gift, jointly to Ammu Amma and her children alive at the data of the gift, and that on the death of the other donees it survived to the second defendant exclusively. This contention is absolutely untenable in the face of the cases already decided by this Court. Id is unnecessary to refer to precedents earlier than the Pull Bench ruling in Kunhacha Umma v. Kutti Mammi Rajee I.L.R. (1893) Mad. 201, In that case a gift to a Muhammadan woman (governed by the Marumakattayam law) and her children was held by the full Court, concurring with Best and Subramania Ayyar, JJ., the referring Judges, to enure in favour of the donee and her children with the incidents of tar wad property, and that the property could not be attached for the debts of one of the children as he had no disposable interest in it. The decision was no doubt based on the principle enunciated by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Sreemutty Soorjeemoney Dossee v. Denobundoo Mullick (1856) 6 M.I.A. 626 and Mahomed Shumsool v. Shewukram (1874) L.R. 21 IndAp, 7 that in the construction of instruments the law applicable to the parties and the mode in which the property is generally held by them should be taken into account in determining the intention of the donor and the estate which the donee would take under the instrument. According to the Marumakattayam law, property is held by the members of a tarwad jointly without any right to compulsory partition and without any individual right of disposal so long as the tarwad continues to exist. It follows therefore that the property gifted must be taken to belong to Ammu Aroma and her children with the abovementioned incidents of tarwad property. As according to the Marumakattayam system all members born in the family acquire by birth a right in the tarwad property, the issue of Ammu Amma's famala children became entitled on their birth to the property equally with Ammu Amma and her children existing at the date of exhibit A. This point was expressly decided in the subsequent case of Katankandi Koma v. Siva Sankaram : (1910)20MLJ134 , In Pattathperuvath Paihumma v. Mannamhminiyil' Abdulla Haji I.L.R. (1908) Mad. 228, the learned Chief Justice and Wallis, J and in Kunhamina v. Kunhambi I.L.R. (1909) Mad. 315, Miller and Munro, JJ., held that none of the persons taking under such an instrument has any right of disposal of his or her interest contrary to the Marumakattayam law. In Abdulla v. Ckekkootti : (1910)20MLJ368 and in Parvathi Kattiammah v. Ramaahandra Ejaman (1910) 1 M.W.N. 124 it was held that those who take under such an instrument of gift would be regarded as a tarwad for the purpose of management of the property and that the senior male member would have the right of management as in the case of ordinary tarwad property. Mr. Ramachandra Ayyar relies on certain observations contained in the judgment of Moore and Sankarsn Nair, 33., in Koroth Amman Kutti v. Perungottil Appu Nambiar I.L.R. (1906) Mad. 322 in support of his contention that so long as the second defendant should live the other members of the tarwad would have no right to the property in question. In that case the gift was made to a woman and her children, A decree was obtained by a creditor against the assets of one of the children who had died prior to the suit. The decree-holder sought to attach his interest in the gifted property, but the learned Judges held that the share of the deceased passed by survivorship to the other children and that the creditor had nothing to proceed against. The case therefore affirms the joint holding by all the donees and the absence of any separate interest in any of them capable of being disposed of by him. The observation relied on by the appellants is this. 'The District Judge has held that Unichira and her sons formed a separate tarwad by reason of their having obtained these properties on gift and therefore Koran Nambiar bad no interest available for attachment and sale. We are unable to agree with the District Judge in his view that when a female and some of or all her children obtain any property from their father or karnavan as in this ease, they are thereby constituted into a tarwad by themselves, the senior member among them have the ordinary rights of the karnavan of a Malabar tarwad so far as the other members in his branch are concerned.' According to this dictum, it is contended that, as the female donee and her children are not constituted into a tarwad the children of the donee do not acquire an interest in the property under exhibit A, and that consequently Ammu Amma's issue could not acquire a right in the property in dispute during her life-time. The construction of the dictum cannot be upheld. It must be noted that the decision in Kunhaoha Umma v. Kutti Mamnti Hajee I.L.R. (1893) Mad. 201 was expressly affirmed and adopted by the learned Judges. The proposition that the property gifted was taken by the donees with the incidents of tarwad property, was not departed from, and one of such incidents, via., that; the holders of the property have no right of disposal and that the property goes by survivorship to the remaining holders, on the death of any, was affirmed and acted on. No question arose in the case whether the members of the tarwad born after the date of gift would take an interest: in it by birth or not. What then is the meaning of the statement ' that the donecs could not be taken to be constituted into a tarwad by themselves, the senio donee having the ordinary rights of a karnavaa of a Malabar tarwad so far as the other members in his branch are concerned'? It can only be taken to mean that they do not become a tarwad so as to give the karnavan alt the ordinary rights of a karnavan over the members of his tarwad. It is only in this sense that this statement could have been understood in Pattatheruvath Pathumma v. Mannamkunniyil Abdulla Haji I.L.R. (1908) Mad. 228 and Kunhamina. v. Ktinhambi I.L.R. (1909) Mad. 315, which quote it with approval. The question--what rights a karnavan of such special property hold by a branch of a tarwad would have with respect to the other members of the branch--has not been elucidated by the learned Judges who decided Koroth Amman Kutti v. Petungottil Appu Nambiar I.L.R. (1906) Mad. 322. But there can to no doubt that ho can-not have all the rights of a karnavan over the junior members of his tarwad. Ho is not their guardian and has no right of supervision or control over them. He is not responsible for their protection, education, or maintenance. His right is confined to the management of the special property owned by him and the other members of his branch. The title to manage them has been upheld as already mentioned in Abdulla v. Chekkooti : (1910)20MLJ368 and Parvaihi Kattilammah v. Ramachundra Ejaman (1910) 1 M.W.N. 124. What his duties are with respect to the disposal of the income of the property and what the rights of the other members of the branch are to receive a portion of the income are points that have not got been judicially decided, and it is not necessary to make any further remarks on them as they do not arise for decision in this case. In Appeal No. 122 of 1905 it; was held that, where a member of a branch of a tarwad holding special property has certain properties standing in his own name, there is no presumption that such property belongs to the branch and not to himself, although it has often been held that there is a presumption that all the properties standing in the name of any member of a tarwad belong to the tarwad and that the onus lies on him to rebut such presumption. Whatever may be the scope of the dictum that the manager of special property belonging to a branch has not got ail the power of a karnavan with respect to the other members who are born in the branch, it certainly does not mean that the members who are born in the branch would not acquire a right in the property by birth. This contention must therefore fail.

5. The argument that the demise is not valid, even if the property belongs to the whole tarwad, must also fail. We cannot attach weight to the consideration that the demise is in favour of one of the junior members inasmuch as, if it be valid in his favour, it must be equally so in favour of any person to whom ha may alienate. That a karnavan ordinarily cannot make' an alienation for such a long period as sixty years cannot to doubted, and no special necessity or special benefit such as would justify it has been shown,

6. It is also impossible to uphold on the facts in this case the contention that the demise may be maintained for a portion of the term granted by it, namely the usual period of twelve years. To do so would necessitate the making of a new contract for the parties different from what they intended. Then it provides for the payment of the value of improvement at the expiration of sixty years, the term fixed. It would not be reasonable to compel the first defendant to wait for forty-eight rears for payment after his surrender or to require the plaintiff to make payment long before the time fixed in the document.

7. The next contention is that the first defendant being a co-owner, his action in constructing the building was not wrongful, that the tarwad would sustain no injury by it, and the plaintiff is not therefore entitled to the demolition of the building. We may say at once that it is not shown that the tarwad would sustain no injury at all by the first defendant's action. It is pointed out on the other hand that the tarwad is growing in numbers and that the demised paramba which is adjacent to the tarwad house may to required for the construction of an additional residence for the members of the family. It is no doubt true that as between co-owners generally one of them who takes possession of a portion of the common holding cannot be said to be necessarily a wrong-doer, and that this would to so even if he raised substantial buildings thereon. The principles applicable in cases have been laid down in numerous decisions, which have bean collated in the elaborate judgment of Mookerjee, J., in Ananda Chandra Sen v. Parbati Nath Sen (1906) 4 C.L.J. 198. The learned Judge states the principle thus: 'Now, as was pointed out in Mohesh Narain v. Nawbut Pathak (1905) 1 C.L.J. 437, although in the case of immoveable property, jointly owned, each co-owner is in theory interested in every infinitesimal portion of the subject-matter, and each has the right, irrespective of the quantity of the interest, to be in possession of every part and parcel of the property, jointly with the others, yet it does not follow, that one joint-owner is entitled to maintain an action in ejectment against a co-owner, merely on the ground that the latter has taken exclusive possession of a portion of the joint property. Such exclusive occupation may under certain circumstances be perfectly legitimate and may not constitute an invasion of the rights of the co-sharer; if there is no assertion of a hostile title, no exclusion or ouster, an action in ejectments cannot lie. I am not prepared to hold, that an exclusive appropriation by one co-owner of a part of the joint land to his own use by the erection of a permanent structure, is necessarily evidence of an ouster; it may well be, that the lands cannot be enjoyed, as each of the joint-owners is entitled to enjoy them, without making extensive and permanent improvements. Why should the co-owner, willing to bear the expense of such improvements, be compelled to desist from making them and be required to leave his lands in a condition in which he cannot use them advantageously to himself, for he is necessarily so compelled and required, if his improvements are to be treated as hostile acts subjecting him to the penalties visited upon a co-owner found guilty of an ouster of his companion in interest; [Freeman on Go-tenancy and Partition, Section 240], The rule is well settled that the plaintiff, who complains of the act of his co-owner cannot obtain a decree for demolition of building or for joint possession, unless he can establish that he has sustained some substantial injury by reason of the act of which he complains' This principle however is not applicable to the case of the members of a Marumakkatayam tarwad. The property of such a tarwad is no doubt vested in all the members of the family as owners. But it must be remembered that none of the members has a right to any particular portion of the property. On the other hand, the karnavan of the tarwad is entitled to manage the whole estate and to be in possession thereof for that purpose. His possession no doubt is the possession of all in law so far as its effect on the title of the members is concerned, but nevertheless do junior member is entitled to take actual possession of any portion of the property without the consent of the karnavan. In Kaixnan v. Tenju I.L.R. (1982) Mad. 1 the karnavan's right to actual possession as against an anantharavan has been recognised by this Court. Any other rule would indeed destroy one of the most important rights of the ksirnavan and make it impossible for him to carry on the management of the estate. It would therefore be impossible to hold that any anantharavan might take possession of any particular portion of the family estate he might choose and erect buildings on it and continue in occupation of it. Mr. Ramachandra Aiyar relies in support of his contention on Nocury Lall Chucherbutty v. Bindabun Chinder Chuaksrbutty I.L.R. (1882) Calc. 708. In that case one of the co-paracers of a Dayabhaga family in Bengal had occupied and constructed a building on a piece of land belonging to the family and the question was whether the plaintiff in the suit, another member (it does not appear that he was the manager) was entitled to have the building demolished. It was found that the plaintiff took no steps to prevent the erection of the building when it was actually going on, MC DONELL and Field, JJ., held that in the circumstances of the case demolition should not be ordered as he had failed to show that injury had accrued to him by reason of the erection of the building. The decision is not applicable to the present case. In so far as it proceeds on any estoppel of the plaintiff in consequence of his conduct, it is inapplicable, as the plaintiff objected to the demise in this case and the defendant according to the Courts below at one time agreed to give up the demise but subsequently withdraw his consent and proceeded to build on it. The right of a co-parcener of a Dayabhaga family is materially different from that of a junior member of a Marumakkatayam turwad in the matter of dealing with the joint estate of the family. The former may enforce a partition at any time he pleases. The latter can do so under no circumstances. Where a co-parcener entitled to partition erects a building on family land without the consent of the manager, the Court may hesitate to direct its demolition, seeing that at a partition between the parties the Court could in the exercise of its equitable jurisdiction allot the land built on to the co-parcener who made the building and thus avoid the hardship caused by the demolition. But in a Marumakkatayam family no such course is possible as the Court has no power to decree a partition, and it would not be fair or equitable either to compel the karnavan to purchase the building constructed by a junior member or to deprive the karnavan of possession of part of the family property for ever. The conclusion must therefore be that the defendant cannot resist recovery or demolition of the building on general principles.

8. It remains to deal with the claim to compensation for improvements which is made on the ground that the first defendant honestly believed that the second defendant was the sole owner of the property during her life-time and was therefore entitled to grant a demise, and that he believed himself bona fide to be a lessee, thus entitling him to compensation under Section 5 of the Malabar Tenants' Improvements Act. Mr. Anantakrishna Aiyar for the respondent contends that no claim to compensation he made on the ground put forward in this Court. We find on reference to the written statement that the right to compensation was not rested on any particular ground, and issue No. IV relating to the question was framed in general terms. The District Munsif dealt very briefly with the question observing that even a trespasser when be makes improvements bona fide is entitled to the value of the improvements.' The Subordinate Judge observes: He is not a trespasser believing in good faith that he had power to make improvements, He is not a tenant within the meaning of the Improvements Act.' We cannot say that the first defendant is disentitled either by the terms of his written statement or by the frame of the issue to contend that he bona fide believed that the second defendant was the absolute owner of the property entitled to deal with it at her pleasure. We were at first inclined to direct an inquiry with reference to this point, but we find it would be useless to do so, as it is perfectly clear on the fasts appearing on the record that the plaintiff objected to the kanom before the defendant constructed the building and the latter at one time actually agreed to give it up but subsequently refused to do so. It is not therefore open to him now to say that he made the building bona fide under the impression that the land belonged absolutely to his mother. He was certainly put upon enquiry as to her real title; and if he put a wrong construction on the deed of gift, on which the plea of bond fides is sought to be maintained, ha must take the consequence, We must dismiss both the Second Appeals with costs.


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