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Andukuri Venkataramdas (Dead) and ors. Vs. Pachigolla Gavarraju and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported inAIR1922Mad173; 70Ind.Cas.677
AppellantAndukuri Venkataramdas (Dead) and ors.;bollapragada Suryanarana and ors.
RespondentPachigolla Gavarraju and ors.;andukuri Venkataramadas and ors.
Cases ReferredPingala Lakshmipathi v. Bommireddipalli Chalamayya
Excerpt:
inam - karnam service--enfranchisement--title-deed in name of hindu woman--succession to office--stridhanam heirs, or husband's heirs--madras hereditary village offices act (iii of 1895). - .....case of minors it was provided that when the legal heir was a minor he should be registered as an office-holder and the collector should appoint, a gumashta to perform the duties until he attained majority. in the present instance, mahalakshmi animal was appointed, rightly or wrongly, as karnam on the death of her minor son and when her husband's brothers sought to oust her in a court of law their suit was dismissed and she was confirmed in liar office; the inam was enfranchised and the title-deed was granted to her in 1892 which in terms is an absolute grant of 3745 acres dry and 3267 acres of wet land in free-hold subject to a small quit rent.2. the question before us is, whether this conferred on her an absolute estate or only a widow's estate. in similar cases it was held in.....
Judgment:

Spencer, J.

1. The properties concerned in this suit (Order Section No. 47 of 191,6) consisted of karnam service inam lands which were enfranchised in 1892 by Government and the title-deed was granted to a woman named Mahalakshmi Ammal who was the last registered holder of the office. The appellants Nos. 1 and 2 in Appeal No. 260 are Mahalakshmi Ammal's daughter's sons and the other appellants are alienees from her and from them after the enfranchisement of the inam which formed the emoluments of the office. These appellants were defendants in the lower Court. The first appellant in Appeal No. 255, since deceased, was the husband's brother's son of Mahalakshmi, and the other appellants are alienees from him who were plaintiffs in the lower Court. On the death of the last adult male-holder Venkataramadoss, the office was first registered in the name of his minor son, Venkatramanayya and on that son's death, his mother, Mahalakshmi, succeeded as being his nearest heir. Act III of 1895 which now regulates the succession to hereditary offices in the Presidency of Madras, by Section 10 makes a woman ineligible for appointment. Regulation VI of 1831, which was the law in force in 1879 when Venkatramanayya died, did not actually prohibit the appointment of women. But the Board's Standing Order which guided the proceedings of Collectors in making a proper selection declared that females should be excluded from succession on the ground that they were obviously incapable of performing those duties. But they did not exclude persons claiming through females. In the case of minors it was provided that when the legal heir was a minor he should be registered as an office-holder and the Collector should appoint, a gumashta to perform the duties until he attained majority. In the present instance, Mahalakshmi Animal was appointed, rightly or wrongly, as karnam on the death of her minor son and when her husband's brothers sought to oust her in a Court of law their suit was dismissed and she was confirmed in liar office; the inam was enfranchised and the title-deed was granted to her in 1892 which in terms is an absolute grant of 3745 acres dry and 3267 acres of wet land in free-hold subject to a small quit rent.

2. The question before us is, whether this conferred on her an absolute estate or only a widow's estate. In similar cases it was held in Dharanipragada Durgamma v. Kadambari Virrazu 21 M. 47 and in Subbaraya Mudali v. Kamu Chetti 23 M. 47 that the title-deed conveyed the land to the widow as her own absolute property by grant from Government and that it was not intended to limit her estate to a widow's estate. In Salemma v. Lutchmana Reddi 8 M.L.J. 14 which was a case of Moniagar's inam which was enfranchised it was held that the property belonged to the deceased as her stridhanam and descended to her heirs. A contrary view was taken in Pingala Lakshmipathi v. Bommireddipalli Chalamayya 30 M. 434 by a Full Bench. But that case has-been overruled by the Privy Council decision in Venkata Jagannadha Sarma v. Veerabhadrayya 61 Ind. Cas. 667 : (1921) M.W.N. 401 which must be considered as finally settling the long controversy as to the lights accruing to heirs of persons in whom service inams are enfranchised. Pingala Lakshmipathi v. Bommireddipalli Chalamayya 30 M. 434 may also be distinguished by the fact that in that case the title-deed was made out jointly in favour of the widow and the next reversioner which might be taken as an indication that the reversioner should take the estate on the widow's death and not the widow's heirs. It is argued that Government could not have intended that the right of succession should be diverted from the male line of heirs into a fresh line of succession starting from a female. But this is the effect of the law which provides that succession to the office is to go to a single heir of, the last registered holder. The result is, that the last registered holder forms a new stock of descent, and that, when an appointment has to be made, the nearest heir to him is preferred provided he is otherwise qualified. After the inam is enfranchised the property descends to the heirs of the person named in the title-deed, that is, to the heirs of the person who is registered as holder at the time of enfranchisement. As a result of this view of the law, the daughter's sons of Mahalakshmi will succeed to her absolute property in preference to the relations of her husband and, this being so, Appeal No. 255 must be dismissed with costs and Appeal No. 260 will be allowed and the suit dismissed with costs, except as to Item No. 13, as to which there is a Memorandum of Objections and in respect of which the parties have come to a compromise, which is, that the plaintiffs will hand over possession of this item by the 1st of April 1922 to the defendants Nos. 50 to 55 from whom they obtained possession by executing the decree of the lower Court which is now reversed. Both sides orally agree that they will have no claim against each other for costs in the suit or in the appeal or mesne profits as regards this item only. If restitution is not made according to their compromise, the defendants will be entitled to recover possession in execution of the decree and also to recover mesne profits.

Devadoss, J.

3. I agree.


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