1. The plaintiffs in O. S. No. 339 of 1964 on the file of the court of the District Munsif of Chingleput who succeeded before the trial Court but lost before the first appellate Court are the appellants herein. The suit was instituted by the appellants for partition and separate possession of 1/6th share to each of the suit properties under the following circumstances Ex. A-1 dated 23-3-1958 is an agreement entered into between the appellants and the second defendant and his father. Ganapathi Asari. This document refers to the suit properties as belonging to the second defendant and his father but proceeds to state that the patta in the Zamin estate for the suit properties stood in the name of all the seven persons who were parties to Ex. A-1 and that for arrears of kist for faslis 1361 to 1367, amounting to Rs. 601, the suit properties were sold by the Firka Revenue Inspector Cheyyur on 24-2-1958 and were purchased by one Kittu Iyengar of Maduranthakam. The agreement further states that for the purpose of having that sale cancelled the appellants herein contributed Rs. 109 each amounting to Rs. 454 which they had paid to Ganapathi Asari who had to contribute a sum of Rs. 109 himself Rs. 56 being the deficit amount for being deposited for having the sale cancelled and Rs. 53 being the amount required for expenses. The agreement also states that the amount should be deposited in the State Bank, Chingleput, on 24-3-1958 and the sale should be got cancelled. Another provision contained in the agreement is that for the lands in question Ganapathi Asari and the second defendant had applied for patta to the Settlement Officer, Tiruvellore and that as soon as those proceedings were over the suit properties should be divided into six shares, that the appellants should get 1/6 share each on payment of Rs. 50 by each of them, and that the remaining 1/6 share should belong to Ganapathi Asari and the second defendant. With reference to this partition the document states that the parties to the document should get their shares from that day onwards.
2. Ex. A-2 is a document dated 15-3-1961, executed by the second defendant alone after the death of Ganapathi Asari which verbatim reproduces the provisions of Ex. A-1.
3. It was on the basis of these documents that the appellants instituted the suit claiming partition as mentioned above, putting forward the contention that on their fulfillment of the condition of payment as contemplated by Ex. A-1, they became entitled to their respective shares in the suit properties.
4. As against this case of the appellants the second defendant contended that he was not a party to either Ex. A-1 or A-2 that he continued to be the exclusive owner of the suit property, that the amount for having the revenue sale set aside, was paid only by Ganapathi Asari and not by the appellants and that, consequently, the appellants were not entitled to any share in the suit properties.
5. The learned Additional District Munsif, Chingleput, who tried the suit came to the conclusion that the second defendant was a party to Exs. A-1 and A-2 that the amounts had been paid by the appellants as required by Ex. A-1 and that consequently, the appellants were entitled to the relief of partition prayed for by them in this view on 25-10-1966 he decreed the suit as prayed for.
6. As against this judgment and decree the second defendant preferred an appeal and the same was disposed of by the learned Additional Subordinate Judge of Chingleput as A. S. 57 of 1967 on 20th November 1968. He concurred with the conclusion of the learned District Munsif that Exs. A-1 and A-2 were executed by the second defendant. He however, dismissed the suit holding that the proper remedy of the appellants was to institute a suit for specific performance and not to file a suit for partition, straightway. It is the correctness of this conclusion that is challenged before me in the present second appeal by the plaintiffs in the suit.
7. I may straightway mention one thing namely that the finding of the courts below that Exs. A-1 and A-2 have been executed by the second defendant in the suit is concurrent and having regard to the very nature of this finding no serious argument was advanced before me to challenge the same, by the second defendant in the present second appeal. Once Exs. A-1 and A-2 are found to have been executed by the second defendant the question that arises for consideration is whether the appellants are entitled to institute the present suit for partition as claimed by them or whether they are bound to file only a suit for specific performance as contended by the second defendant and found by the lower appellate court. Before proceeding to consider this question, the preliminary question that arises for consideration is whether the appellants have discharged the obligation imposed on them under Ex. A-1 since, only if they had discharged their obligation, they would be entitled to claim any relief based on Exs. A-1 and A-2. I have already referred to the terms of Ex. A-1 which clearly show that the appellants have contributed their share of Rs. 109 each for deposit with a view to have the sale set aside. Ex. A-3 is a challan dated 25-3-1958 for the deposit of the amount into the treasury for having the sale set aside. No doubt, the challan shows the payment in the name of Ganapathi Asari. But I am clearly of the opinion that this does not affect the situation in any way whatever, because the owners of the properties at the time when they were sold were Ganapathi Asari and the second defendant and, very naturally the amount was deposited in their name. The question is who contributed the amount? I have already referred to the terms of Ex. A-1 which expressly state that the contribution had already been made by all the parties for having the sale set aside and the amount was paid to Ganapathi Asari and that the amount should be deposited in the State Bank of India, Chingleput, on 24-3-1958. Ex. A-2 came into existence in 1961 and that also repeats the terms contained in Ex. A-1. Consequently if the contribution had not been made by the appellants as required by Ex. A-1, Ex. A-2 would not have been in the terms in which it is prepared and would have definitely pointed out that the contribution was not made by the appellants but the entire amount was paid by Ganapathi Asari. In view of the absence of any such statement in Ex. A-2 and in view of Ex. A-2 verbatim reproducing the statement contained in Ex. A-1 it is clear that the contribution for depositing the amount to have the revenue sale set aside was made by the appellants as required by Ex. A-1. This conclusion derives further support from the fact that the challan Ex. A-3 was produced only by the appellants.
8. Then there remains the question as to the payment of Rs. 50 each as contemplated by Ex. A-1. In support of their claim that they had paid this amount also the appellants produced Ex. A-4 dated 9-3-1962, it being a letter signed by the second defendant, acknowledging the receipt of Rs. 50 from each of the appellants. The second defendant in his evidence denied having executed Ex. A-4. To prove Ex. A-4 the appellants examined P.W. 8 but the learned Additional Subordinate Judge rejected the evidence of P.W. 8 and came to the conclusion that the appellants had not established that Ex. A-4 was executed by the second defendant. I have compared the alleged signature of the second defendant in Ex. A-4 with his admitted signatures in his deposition before the trial Court and in his written statement, and, having done so, I do not have the slightest doubt that Ex. A-4 was executed by the second defendant. Apart from this no motive whatever was alleged as to why the appellants should fabricate Ex. A-4. On the other hand the denial of execution of Ex. A-4 by the second defendant is on a par with his denial of the execution of Exs. A-1 and A-2. Having regard to all these circumstances there can be no doubt whatever that Ex. A-4 was executed by the second defendant. If so it is clear that the appellants had discharged their obligation of payment of the amounts mentioned in Ex. A-1.
9. The next question for consideration is whether by making the payment as required in Ex. A-1 the appellants have become entitled to their respective shares in the suit properties so as to enable them to file a suit for partition. Mr. D. C. Krishnamurthi the learned counsel for the second defendant repeatedly contended before me that the only remedy of the appellants was to file a suit for specific performance for compelling the second defendant to execute a sale deed in their favor and not to file a suit for partition. I am unable to accept this contention of the learned counsel that the only remedy of the appellants is to file a suit for specific performance. There is no provision whatever in Ex. A-1 contemplating Ganapathi Asari and the second defendant executing sale deeds in favor of the appellants. On the other hand, from what I have stated above, it is clear that Ex. A-1 proceeded on the basis that the parties became entitled to their respective shares from the date of Ex. A-1 itself. The actual statement in Ex. A-1 is:
(Original in Tamil omitted--Ed.)
This will make it clear that Ex. A-1 did not contemplate the execution of any deed by Ganapathi Asari and the second defendant, but on the other hand proceeded on the basis that the parties became entitled to their respective interest in the suit properties immediately. Therefore the contention of the learned counsel for the second defendant which found favor with the learned Subordinate Judge, that the only remedy of the appellants was to file a suit for specific performance, is untenable.
10. Arising from this, the real question for consideration is whether the suit for partition was maintainable. The terms of Ex. A-1 make it clear that the suit properties originally belonged to the second defendant and his father Ganapathi Asari but by virtue of the revenue auction they lost their title to the suit properties. Subsequently, when the revenue auction was set aside and the title was restored to them, it was not restored to them as exclusive owners of the property, but a persons holding the property for themselves as well as for the benefit of the appellants who had contributed to the deposit to be made for setting aside the sale and who were required to make other contributions for getting their share in the properties. As a consequence of setting aside the sale Ganapathi Asari and the second defendant became owners of the properties not in their own right and exclusively, but for themselves and for the benefit of the appellants. If so the appellants became entitled to the property a co-owners along with the second defendant and Ganapathi Asari in respect of the shares mentioned in Ex. A-1 and they could institute a suit for partition for working out their rights and separating their shares in the suit properties. The decision of this court in Patur Venkataseshayya v. Dubagunta Subramaniam : AIR1951Mad547 as to when a transaction can be said to be benami, in a way supports my conclusions.
11. If A, out of his own funds, purchases property in the name of B without intending to make him the beneficial owner thereof, B will be the benamidar and A will be the real owner, and in the case of the dispute between the parties. A will be entitled to file a suit for recovery of possession of the property from B. Similarly if A and B enter into an agreement to contribute the consideration for the purchase of a property and to purchase the same in the name of B for the benefit of both, certainly A and B will be co-owners of the property, notwithstanding the title deed standing in the name of B and in the case of a dispute between them, A will be entitled to file a suit for partition and recovery of possession of his share of the property as agreed to between them. In the particular case, the fact that on the date when Ex. A-1 came into existence the suit property had already been sold in revenue auction and the parties were contemplating setting aside that sale so as to regain the property will not make any different on principle and as soon as the appellants have contributed their share under and pursuant to Ex. A-1 for getting back the property after setting aside the revenue sale the position will be the same as if all the parties have agreed to purchase the property by jointly contributing the consideration in the name of one for the benefit of all and therefore the appellants will be entitled to institute the suit for partition and separate possession of their share.
12. Mr. D. C. Krishnamurthi, the learned counsel for the second defendant contended before me that the only method known to law for becoming a co-owner was as contemplated by S. 45 of the Transfer of Property Act, and that the provisions of that section not being applicable to the present case the appellants herein could not institute the present suit for partition as if they were co-owners along with the second defendant. I am unable to agree with this contention. Section 45 of the Transfer of Property Act has a limited operation. All that the section says is that, where immovable property is transferred for consideration to two or more persons and such consideration is paid out of a fund belonging to them in common, they are in the absence of a contract to the contrary, respectively entitled to interests in such property identical as nearly as may be, with the interests to which they were respectively entitled in the fund; and where such consideration is paid out of separate funds belonging to them respectively they are in the absence of a contract to the contrary respectively entitled to interest in such property in proportion to the shares of the consideration which they respectively advanced. Thus it will be seen that Section 45 only states that the interest inter se as between the several joint purchasers of an immovable property will subject to contract between them, be in the proportion in which they were entitled to the consideration for the purchase and has nothing whatever to do with the method of creating common ownership or the manner, in which several persons can become common owners in respect of a single item of property.
13. Hence for the reasons mentioned above the suit instituted by the appellants herein for partition and separate possession of 1/6 share each in the suit properties is competent and the learned Additional Subordinate judge erred in holding that the suit was not maintainable and that the only remedy of the appellants was to institute a suit for specific performance.
14. The result is that the second appeal succeeds and is allowed the judgment and decree of the learned Additional Subordinate Judge of Chingleput are set aside and those of the learned Additional District Munsif of Chingleput restored. The parties shall bear their own costs throughout. No leave.
15. Appeal allowed.