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Peri Kameswar Rao, Minor by New Guardian Peri Reddamma Vs. Peri Jagannadha Sastri - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1941Mad405; (1941)1MLJ12
AppellantPeri Kameswar Rao, Minor by New Guardian Peri Reddamma
RespondentPeri Jagannadha Sastri
Cases ReferredNatchiar v. Dorasinga Tevar
Excerpt:
- - any person may sue before the collector for any of the village offices specified in section 3 or for recovery of the emoluments of any such office on the ground that he is entitled under sub-section (2) or (3) of section 10 of the madras proprietary estates village service act, 1894, or under sub-section (2) or (3) of section 10 or sub-section (2) or (3) of section 11 or section 12 of this act, as the case may be, to hold such office and enjoy such emoluments;.....whether the suit out of which this appeal arises is barred by section 21 of the madras hereditary village offices act. the facts are few and not in dispute. the office of the village munsif of peruru became vacant in 1928 consequent on the resignation of the first defendant. the second defendant was put forward as the adopted son of the. first defendant, but the plaintiff's father opposed his claim on the ground that he was entitled to succeed thereto because the first defendant, the plaintiff's father and the natural father of the second defendant were brothers and sons of the same father. the revenue authorities referred the plaintiff's father to a court of law. the plaintiff's father subsequently died and thereupon the plaintiff filed this suit for a declaration that the second.....
Judgment:

Venkataramana Rao, J.

1. The question for decision in this second appeal is whether the suit out of which this appeal arises is barred by Section 21 of the Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act. The facts are few and not in dispute. The office of the Village Munsif of Peruru became vacant in 1928 consequent on the resignation of the first defendant. The second defendant was put forward as the adopted son of the. first defendant, but the plaintiff's father opposed his claim on the ground that he was entitled to succeed thereto because the first defendant, the plaintiff's father and the natural father of the second defendant were brothers and sons of the same father. The revenue authorities referred the plaintiff's father to a Court of law. The plaintiff's father subsequently died and thereupon the plaintiff filed this suit for a declaration that the second defendant was not the adopted son of the first defendant. Both the Courts below have held that the suit is maintainable.

2. Mr. Lakshmanna on behalf of the second defendant (appellant) contends that under Section 21 of the Hereditary Village Offices Act the present suit is excluded from the cognizance of a Civil Court. The question is whether this contention is tenable. Section 21 of the Act runs thus:

No Civil Court shall have authority to take into consideration or decide any claim to succeed to any of the offices specified in Section 3 or any question as to the rate or amount of the emoluments of any such office or except as provided in proviso (ii) to Sub-section (1) of Section 13, any claim to recover the emoluments of any such office.

3. It is settled by a uniform course of decisions of this Court that the jurisdiction of a Civil Court is excluded only in those cases where a suit is cognizable under Section 13 of the Hereditary Village Offices Act, which runs thus:

Any person may sue before the Collector for any of the Village Offices specified in Section 3 or for recovery of the emoluments of any such office on the ground that he is entitled under Sub-section (2) or (3) of Section 10 of the Madras Proprietary Estates Village Service Act, 1894, or under Sub-section (2) or (3) of Section 10 or Sub-section (2) or (3) of Section 11 or Section 12 of this Act, as the case may be, to hold such office and enjoy such emoluments; or, being a minor, may sue before the Collector to be registered as heir of the last holder of any such office.

4. Giving Section 13 its plain meaning, the suit that is contemplated in Section 13 is only a suit for the recovery of a village office. But Mr. Lakshmanna lays stress on the proviso 'No suit shall be entertained for a mere declaratory decree' as implying that a suit for a declaration is cognizable only by the Revenue Court and that the plaintiff ought to have sued in the Revenue Court for a declaration that the second defendant was not the adopted son and also for recovery of the office. I have given due consideration to this argument and it seems to me that it is untenable. A suit for a declaration that a certain person Is not the adopted son is primarily cognizable by a Civil Court and unless such a suit is expressly excluded by any provision of the Act or by necessary implication, it will lie. It is the right of every litigant, as observed by their Lordships of the Privy Council in Sheo Singh Rai v. Dakho .) to come to the Court to have a document or an act which obstructs title or enjoyment of property cancelled or set aside or for an injunction against such obstructions, and such right would be sufficient to sustain a declaratory decree. So long as the question of adoption is left outstanding, it will be an impediment in the way of the plaintiff succeeding to the office. A suit such as this is maintainable in a Civil Court under Section 42 of the Specific Relief Act and the only relief which the plaintiff can claim in the suit and which the Court can grant is a declaratory decree because the consequential relief to which he may be entitled, namely, the recovery of the office, is not a relief which a Civil Court can grant. As their Lordships of the Privy Council again observed in Strimathoo Moothoo Vijia Ragoonadah Ranee Kolanda-puree Natchiar v. Dorasinga Tevar , a suit for a declaration is cognizable where it is required as a step to relief in some other Court. Therefore if the plaintiff succeeds in establishing his right he will be enabled to file a suit under Section 13 of the Hereditary Village Offices Act and recover the office on the ground that he is entitled under Sub-section (2) of Section 10 of the Act to hold the office relying on the judgment which has removed all impediment to his succession. The proviso to Section 13 on which Mr. Lakshmanna relies does not warrant the contention put forward by him. Section 13(1) of the Act is very plain and the proviso cannot be relied on for the purpose of enlarging the scope of Section 13(1). It may be that in a suit for the recovery of the office the Revenue Court may incidentally go into the question of adoption, but if is not the province of the Revenue Court to grant a declaration as to status such as adoption. Where the enactment Section 13(1) does not expressly or by necessary implication oust the jurisdiction of the Civil Court to entertain a suit of the nature in question, the proviso to the enactment cannot be relied on for the said purpose. The proviso on the other hand expressly enacts that it is not the province of a Revenue Court to grant a declaratory decree. This necessarily implies that it is rather the province of a Civil Court to do so. The use of the expression 'mere' connotes that the Revenue Court is debarred from granting a substantive relief of the nature contemplated in Section 42 of the Specific Relief Act. It seems to me therefore that the view taken by the lower Courts is sound.

5. In the result the second appeal fails and is dismissed with costs. I reduce the pleader's fee awarded by the lower Court from Rs. 50 to Rs. 25. The memorandum of cross-objections is dismissed, but I make no order as to costs. Leave to appeal refused.


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