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Parvathi Ammal and ors. Vs. M. R. Sivarama Iyer - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1927Mad90; 97Ind.Cas.998
AppellantParvathi Ammal and ors.
RespondentM. R. Sivarama Iyer
Cases ReferredSura Lakshmiah Chetty v. Kothandarama Pillai
Excerpt:
- - they were kept in a most careful and business-like manner and consequently are of a very great value as evidence in this case, but unfortunately mr. ) i am, therefore, satisfied that ramakrishna iyer did not make a gift of this money to his wife. but i am satisfied that these entries do show what i have indicated. this he would be disentitled to dispose of after his lifetime save in exceptional eases......family property.3. i may also add that if the deposit in the names of ramakrishna iyer and his wife jointly was valid as a disposition in her favour after his death, similarly the deposit by meenakshiammal in the names of herself and the defendant would have the effect of establishing defendant's right after meenakshiammal's death.4. i have not referred in detail to the very numerous items in ramakrishna iyer's accounts on which i have relied because the vakil for the appellants ignored them almost entirely in his opening argument and did not attempt to rebut the argument for the respondent based thereon; but i am satisfied that these entries do show what i have indicated.5. the appeal fails and is dismissed with costs. it is contended that the printing by respondent is excessive,.....
Judgment:

Phillips, J.

1. The plaintiffs (appellants) are the daughters of the late Ramakrishna Iyer, who was the Public Prosecutor in Calicut, and they seek to recover Rs. 10,000 which they allege was given by their father to their mother Meenakshiammal. This Rs. 10,000 consists of two deposits of Rs. 5,000 each made with the Bank of Madras on 12th February, 1909, and 1st August 1910, respectively in the joint names of Ramakrishna Iyer and his wife Meenakshiammal. The plaintiff's contention is that the money was given by Ramakrishna Iyer to his wife, and that they are entitled after their mother's death to the money both as heirs and as legatees under her Will. The lower Court has found the Will to be genuine, but this question is really quite immaterial, for if the money belonged to Meenakshiammal, the plaintiffs would undoubtedly he entitled to it as her heirs. The first deposit of Rs. 5,000 was made on 12th February, 1909, in accordance with Ex. B, the letter sent by Ramakrishna Iyer to the Bank in which he asked that the money might be deposited in the names of himself and his wife 'jointly or to the survivor.' No written instructions seems to have been given in the ease of the second deposit on 1st August 1910. The deposit receipts Exs.A series and N series are all made payable tc either or survivor, except Ex. A (2) which is the renewal of 13th February, 1911. The main question for consideration is whether in making these deposits Ramakrishna Iyer did intend to and did make a gift to his wife, and also whether ho had the power to make such a gift. It is fortunate that in this case we have the assistance of the accounts kept by Ramakrishna Iyer, and a very large portion of the evidence put before us consists of extracts from these accounts. They were kept in a most careful and business-like manner and consequently are of a very great value as evidence in this case, but unfortunately Mr. Ramachandra Iyer for the appellants very largely ignored these accounts in his argument and subsequently put forward many theories which were quite inconsistent with the entries in the accounts. Under the English Law, when a person purchases property in the name of himself and stranger jointly, there is presumed to be a resulting trust in favour of the man who advances the purchasemoney, but when in lieu of a stranger the purchase is in the name of the wife, there is a presumption of advancement in favour of his wife; similarly also in the case of a purchase in the name of a child. This principle, however, is not applicable in India because of the existence of the custom of benami transaction as pointed out by the Privy Council in Sura Lakshmiah chetty v. Kothandarama Pillai .

There can be no doubt now that a purchase in India by a native of India of property in India in the name of his wife, unexplained by other proved or admitted facts, is to be regarded as a benami transaction by which the beneficial interest in the property is in the husband, although the ostensible title is in the wife. The rule of the law of England that such a purchase by a husband in England is to be assumed to be a purchase for the advancement of the wife does not apply in India.

2. The mere fact, therefore, that the deposits were in the name of the wife does not justify a presumption that she was the beneficial owner of the money. The plaintiffs must, therefore, prove that the wife's advancement was intended. (His Lordship dealt with the evidence and proceeded.) I am, therefore, satisfied that Ramakrishna Iyer did not make a gift of this money to his wife. It is suggested that even if he did not make a gift outright, he intended her to benefit after his death and showed his intention by accepting deposit receipts payable to either or surviver. In considering this point it is necessary to decide whether the money was Ramakrishna Iyer's self-acquisition or joint family property. (His Lordship further discussed evidence and found that the money was joint family property.) As laid down by the Privy Council in Radhakant Lal v. Nazma Begum [1918] 45 Cal. 733 and Rajanikanta Pal v. Jagamohan Pal A. I. R. 1923 P. C. 57 this blending in one account would have the effect of making that property joint family property. The ruling in Suraj Naraia v. Ratan Lal [1918] 40 All 159 is no authority to the contrary; for in that case a portion of the self-acquisition had been utilized in purchasing and for another before it was blended with the family property, there being evidence that the purchaser intended to benefit the person in whose name the purchase was made. If, therefore, the Rs. 10,000 was joint family property, Ramakrishna Iyer could not gift it away except under special circumstances, and ho could not bequeath it after his death. I have found that there was no gift. The contention that he intended that his wife should take it after his death must be answered by the fact that he had no disposing power. Such an intention on his part was in effect an intention to leave his money by Will and consequently was ultra vires as it was joint family property.

3. I may also add that if the deposit in the names of Ramakrishna Iyer and his wife jointly was valid as a disposition in her favour after his death, similarly the deposit by Meenakshiammal in the names of herself and the defendant would have the effect of establishing defendant's right after Meenakshiammal's death.

4. I have not referred in detail to the very numerous items in Ramakrishna Iyer's accounts on which I have relied because the vakil for the appellants ignored them almost entirely in his opening argument and did not attempt to rebut the argument for the respondent based thereon; but I am satisfied that these entries do show what I have indicated.

5. The appeal fails and is dismissed with costs. It is contended that the printing by respondent is excessive, and this contention is supported by the fact that the record extends to over 1000 pages. A very large portion of the record was referred to in argument and it was necessary to print the accounts, but greater discrimination might have been exercised in selecting the accounts to be printed. Appellant will, therefore, be ordered to pay only 2/3rds of respondent's printing costs.

Odgers, J.

6. I agree with the judgment just pronounced. It is clear from Sura Lakshmiah Chetty v. Kothandarama Pillai that the English Law presumption of the wife's advancement does not exist in the Indian Law, but on the contrary the presumption here is that where a document is taken in the name of a man and his wife, the former providing the money, the transaction is, so far as the wife is concerned, benami for the husband. This disposes of the point as to the Bank deposits being in the joint name of Ramakrishna Iyer and Meenakshiammal. Regarded as a provision for his wife after his death, his deposits will be invalid if the Rs. 10,000 is in fact joint family property. We were taken very carefully through the voluminous accounts by Mr. Anantakrishna Iyer and these prove a nucleus of ancestral property with which the deceased undoubtedly blended his earnings as a vakil, so as to make the whole mass ancestral property under the law. This he would be disentitled to dispose of after his lifetime save in exceptional eases. Provision for a wife is not one of these. There is, therefore, not only no gift inter vivos in this case but also no valid disposition of the money to take effect after the lifetime of Ramakrishna Iyer. I agree that the appeal must be dismissed with costs in accordance with the order proposed by my learned brother.


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