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Karuppanna Konar and ors. Vs. Govindan Minor Alias Logendran, Through His Maternal Grandfather and Next Friend M. Arumuga Konar and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty;Civil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1977)1MLJ326
AppellantKaruppanna Konar and ors.
RespondentGovindan Minor Alias Logendran, Through His Maternal Grandfather and Next Friend M. Arumuga Konar an
Cases ReferredNagaraja Iyer v. Natesa Iyer
Excerpt:
.....clearly show that the settlor aid not intend to give an absolute right in the property to the settlee subbalakshmi ammal. further, the fact that he wanted only the male and female children of the settlee to inherit the property after the lifetime of subbalakshmi, even though he would also be one of the heirs who could take the property along with the son or daughter, if an absolute estate was granted to subbalakshmi, clearly shows the intention of the settlor that the son and daughter were the direct objects of gift by the settlor and they do not take the property as provided under the hindu secession act or hindu law it is true that there is no express provision prohibiting alienation by the settlee; taken in conjunction with the restriction of the heirs who could inherit the..........court accepted this contention.... but the lower appellate court held that under the settlement deed subbalakshmi ammal got only a life interest in the suit property and on her death the plaintiff, who is the only minor son of subbalakshmi ammal, got that property absolutely and that, therefore, even to the extent of one half share the sale deeds executed by the first defendant were not valid. it is against this judgment and decree of the lower appellate court, defendants 3 to 5 have filed the second appeal.2. after setting out the demand t y the bride's parents for executing a settlement deed and acceptance of the same by the bridegroom the settlement deed proceeded to state that the settlor had given the property by way of marriage settlement to subbalakshmi ammal and that the.....
Judgment:

V. Ramaswami, J.

1. Defendants 3 to 5 are the appellants. Under a marriage settlement deed 30th January, 1958 the first defendant settled the suit property in favour of his wife Subbalakshmi Ammal. Subsequent to the death of Subbalakshmi Ammal, the first defendant purported to. sell the property to defendants 4 and 5 under two sale deeds dated 7th December, 1965 and 16th January, 1977. The minor son of Subbalakshmi had filed a suit for setting aside these two sale deeds executed by his father and for recovery of possession. His contention was that under the marriage settlement deed dated 30th January 1958 his mother Subbalakshmi Ammal was only given a life interest without any powers of alienation and that on her death he had become entitled to the property and that since the property belonged to the minor plaintiff, the first defendant had. no right to execute the sale-deeds in favour of defendants 4 and 5 even for necessity without an order of Court. The plaintiff' accordingly asked for setting aside the sale deeds and for recovery of possession. There were a number of defences in the suit. But the main defence which survives for consideration in this second appeal relates to the construction of the settlement deed. According to the defendant, under the settlement deed,. Subbalakshmi Ammal was given an absolute estate and that since she died subsequent to the Hindu Succession Act coming into force, the first defendant is also an heir to his wife along with the minor son and as such entitled to at least on half of the suit property. Accordingly, they claimed that the sale deeds executed by the first defendant is valid at least to the extent of the share of the first defendant. The trial Court accepted this contention.... But the lower appellate Court held that under the settlement deed Subbalakshmi Ammal got only a life interest in the suit property and on her death the plaintiff, who is the only minor son of Subbalakshmi Ammal, got that property absolutely and that, therefore, even to the extent of one half share the sale deeds executed by the first defendant were not valid. It is against this judgment and decree of the lower appellate Court, defendants 3 to 5 have filed the second appeal.

2. After setting out the demand t y the bride's parents for executing a settlement deed and acceptance of the same by the bridegroom the settlement deed proceeded to state that the settlor had given the property by way of marriage settlement to Subbalakshmi Ammal and that the property should be taken by the male and female children that may be born to her in the order of heirs. The settlement deed further provided that in case she dies without leaving any male or female child, the property should devolve on him or his other heirs. In construing such a document, we have to ascertain the intention of the settler with reference to the language used in the document and the document will have to be read as a whole and interpreted in order to ascertain such intention. No clause should be construed as redundant or inconsistent with the earlier disposition, unless the earlier disposition is in clear terms and has conveyed an absolute title. In the terms of the document which I have set out save, we do not find any language clearly indicating the conveyance of an absolute title in favour of Subbalakshmi Ammal. The recitals that on her death, the property should go to her male and female children and in the absence of any male or female child, it would have to devolve on the settlor and his other heirs clearly show that the settlor aid not intend to give an absolute right in the property to the settlee Subbalakshmi Ammal. We do not even find the normal expression, when the settlement was effected in favour of the wife. Further, the fact that he wanted only the male and female children of the settlee to inherit the property after the lifetime of Subbalakshmi, even though he would also be one of the heirs who could take the property along with the son or daughter, if an absolute estate was granted to Subbalakshmi, clearly shows the intention of the settlor that the son and daughter were the direct objects of gift by the settlor and they do not take the property as provided under the Hindu Secession Act or Hindu Law It is true that there is no express provision prohibiting alienation by the settlee; but equally there is also no provision referring to her interest as absolute or The absence of the term. taken in conjunction with the restriction of the heirs who could inherit the property clearly shows that the settlor intended that only as a life interest holder and not absolutely. It should also be kept In mind though that ,s not conclusive, that the document is a marriage settlement deed intended to provide maintenance to the'' prospective wife, and in such circumstances it is not unreasonable to think that the settlor intended that the property should devolve to her children or to himself in the absence of such children ant it should not go to the settlee's other heirs. The learned Counsel for the appellants, in support of his contention that the document created an absolute interest in favour of Subbalakshmi, relied on the decisions in Subbayan Chettiar v. Rajaram : (1958)1MLJ335 , Tiruchendur Sri Subramaniaswami Temple v. Ramasamia Pillai : AIR1941Mad39 and Nagaroja Iyer v. Natesa Iyer : AIR1925Mad1013 , In the first of these cases, as set out in the judgment, we find that when conveying interest in favour of his wife, the settlor used the expression that the settlee will have to enjoy the property indicating an absolute grant. Further, the other provision relating to the children was that the property should be enjoyed by the settlee and by the male heirs born to her by the settlor from generation to generation. It was not an inheritance clause so to say but it refers to a pious wish that the property should be enjoyed by the settlee and by the male heirs from generation to generation. That decision, therefore, has no application. In Tiruchendur Sri Subramaniaswami Temple v. Ramasamia Pillai : AIR1941Mad39 , will, which came up for consideration, bequeathed the property in favour of the testator's only son. The donee was the only son, who could have otherwise inherited the property also absolutely. When he bequeathed the property, it could not have been the intention of the testator, who does not even seem to have had any other child or children at the time of the execution of the will, that his only son should get only a life interest. It is in those circumstances this Court held that the son got an absolute right. The decision in Nagaraja Iyer v. Natesa Iyer : AIR1925Mad1013 , also depended on the wording of the document and the Court came to the conclusion that the daughter was given an absolute estate. But, on the other hand, the decision of Raghavan, J., in S.A.No. 54 of 1970 dated 23rd June, 1972 shows that the use of the words as in our case, in dealing with the properties to be taken by the settlee's daughter, indicates the wife (settlee) is not given a right to alienate the properties and the properties should remain intact, although the testator gave in that case absolute rights of enjoyment of the properties to the wife. The decisions cited by the learned Counsel for the appellants depended on the terms of the particular documents and they are helpful only in a general way in understanding the document now in question. As already stated, it appears to me that the terms of the document clearly show that the settlor could not have intended to convey an absolute title to his wife Subbalakshmi Ammal and only a life interest was given to her. . If Subbalakshmi Ammal had only life interest in the property, it is not disputed that the plaintiff, as the son of Subbalakshmi, is entitled to the property and the first defendant has no right to sell the same. The second appeal accordingly fails and it is dismissed. But there will be no order as to costs. No leave.


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