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A.L. Meenakshi Achi and anr. Vs. S.T.L. Rm. Alias K. Rm. Ramaswami Chettiar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1937Mad785; 173Ind.Cas.671
AppellantA.L. Meenakshi Achi and anr.
RespondentS.T.L. Rm. Alias K. Rm. Ramaswami Chettiar and ors.
Cases ReferredAnjayya v. Ankamma
Excerpt:
- - , precisely those of an heir, and as observed by horwill, j......is common ground that the maintainability or otherwise of the suit depends upon whether or not the joint family properties are or can be deemed to be the estate of the deceased arunachala chettiar in the hands of his minor son, respondent 2. it is no doubt true that under the hindu law, the undivided son or other descendant who succeeds to the joint family property on the death of the ancestor does so by right of survivorship and takes the property in his own right and not as heir of the ancestor, but he is liable under the hindu law by reason of his pious obligation to pay the debts of the deceased not incurred for illegal or immoral purposes, to the extent of the joint family property which has come to his hands, and section 53 of the present civil p.c. provides that for the purpose of.....
Judgment:

Lakshmana Rao, J.

1. This second appeal arises out of a suit by respondent 1 for administration of the estate of the deceased Arunachala Chettiar, the undivided father of minor respondent 2, and the sole question for determination is whether, as contended by the appellants who have obtained decrees against the estate in the hands of respondent 2, a suit for administration is not maintainable. The locus standi of respondent 1, to institute a suit for the administration of the estate, if any, of the deceased Arunachala Chettiar was not disputed and it is common ground that the maintainability or otherwise of the suit depends upon whether or not the joint family properties are or can be deemed to be the estate of the deceased Arunachala Chettiar in the hands of his minor son, respondent 2. It is no doubt true that under the Hindu law, the undivided son or other descendant who succeeds to the joint family property on the death of the ancestor does so by right of survivorship and takes the property in his own right and not as heir of the ancestor, but he is liable under the Hindu law by reason of his pious obligation to pay the debts of the deceased not incurred for illegal or immoral purposes, to the extent of the joint family property which has come to his hands, and Section 53 of the present Civil P.C. provides that for the purpose of Section 50 and Section 52 which relate to execution of decrees on the death of a judgment-debtor and enforcement of decrees passed against a party as the legal representative of a deceased person, property in the hands of a son or other descendant which is liable under Hindu law for the payment of the debt of the deceased shall be deemed to be the property of the deceased which has come to the hands of the son or other descendant as his legal representative. That section was enacted in order to settle the conflict as to whether the liability of the son could be enforced only by way of a separate suit, and the words 'for the purpose of Section 50 and Section 52' have to be understood in the light of the reason for the enactment of Section 53. That a suit instituted against a father can on his death be continued against the undivided son is undoubted, and the decree has then to be for the payment of the amount out of the property of the deceased.

2. The joint family property is for this purpose to be deemed to be the property of the deceased which has come to his hands as the legal representative, and as pointed out in Chottey Lal v. Ganpat Rai : AIR1934All590 , the pious obligation of a Hindu son to pay his father's debts is not affected by the fact that the joint family also comprises members other than the father and his sons. The undivided share of the son will then be deemed to be the property of the father which has come to the hands of the son as his legal representative and in effect Section 53 extends the meaning of the term legal representative as defined in Section 2, Clause (11) by expressly making the son or descendant of a Hindu, his legal representative, in respect of the joint family property in his hands which is liable under Hindu law for the satisfaction of debt of the deceased ancestor. The obligations of the son or other descendant in respect of the debts of the deceased ancestor which are not illegal or immoral, are after the enactment of Section 53, Civil P.C., precisely those of an heir, and as observed by Horwill, J. in Anjayya v. Ankamma AIR 1937 Mad 99, the very reasons which would make it equitable and desirable to enable a creditor to file a suit for administration of the assets of a deceased person in the hands of an heir or administrator or executor would make it equitable and desirable that a creditor should be allowed to bring an administration suit against the undivided son of the debtor. The decisions under the Succession Act have no direct bearing nor are the several High Courts agreed on the point. The Madras view is that letters of administration may be granted to an undivided son: vide In the matter of Dasu Manavelan Chetty (1910) 33 Mad 93, and it follows that the suit is maintainable. The second appeal therefore fails and is dismissed with costs. Leave is granted.


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