1. The Madras State Bhoodan Yagna Board, represented by its Chairman, the 8th defendant in O. S. 31 of 1963, on the file of the Court of the Subordinate Judge of Tuticorin, is the appellant. Plaintiffs 1 to 3 are the sons and the fourth plaintiff is the wife of the first defendant. The suit was laid for partition of the plaint properties into four shares and for allotment of three shares to plaintiffs 1 to 3 with provision for maintenance of the fourth plaintiff and for the marriage expenses of the daughter of the first defendant. The first defendant executed three gift deeds, viz., Exs. B-1 to B-3, all on 29-10-1954 in favor of the Bhoodan Yagna started by Acharya Vinobaji in respect of certain family properties. The main contest was regarding the validity and binding nature of these gift deeds. The plaintiffs contended that these gift deeds were not binding upon them and that plaintiffs 1 to 3 were entitled to their shares in the items covered by these gift deeds. The appellant contended that the gift deeds were made by the first defendant for charitable purposes and that the extent covered by the gift deeds was small, compared to the total extent possessed by the joint family and that therefore the gift deeds were valid. It was also contended on behalf of the appellant that the plaintiffs were not entitled to impugn the gifts by reason of certain provisions of the Madras Bhoodan Yagna Act (Act XV of 1958). The trial Court negatived these contentions and granted a decree for partition of the plaint properties with a direction that the maintenance provision for the fourth plaintiff and the provision for expenses for the marriage of the sister of plaintiff 1 to 3 will be made in the final decree proceedings. Hence, this appeal.
2. It is not in controversy that the properties covered under Exs. B-1 to B-3 are joint family properties. Ex. B-1 relates to items 9 and 10 of plaint I schedule; Ex. B-2 relates to item 2 of plaint III schedule and Ex. B-3 relates to item 2 of plaint IV schedule. The contention of the plaintiffs is that the value of the properties covered by these gift deeds is about one third of the total value of the joint family properties, whereas according to the appellant, the value would be about one-fifth of the total value of the joint family properties. Even if the gifted properties represent only one-fifth of the value of the joint family properties, the question is, whether the first defendant had power to make these gifts. The law on the subject is well settled. The Supreme Court in Guramma Bhratar v. Mallappa Chanbasappa, : 4SCR497 had dealt with this aspect elaborately and after referring to the texts on the subject and the case law, it observed at pages 516 and 517 thus :--
'But what we are concerned with in this case is the power of a manager to make a gift to an outsider of a joint family property. The scope of the limitations on that power has been fairly well settled by the decisions interpreting the relevant texts of Hindu law. The decision of Hindu law sanctioned gifts, to strangers by a manager of a joint Hindu family of a small extent of property for pious purposes. But no authority went so far, and none has been placed before us, to sustain such gift to a stranger however much the donor was beholden to him on the ground that it was made out of charity. It must be remembered that the Manager has no absolute power of disposal over joint Hindu family property. The Hindu Law permits him to do so only within strict limits. We cannot extent the scope of the power on the basis of the wide interpretation given to the words 'pious purposes' in Hindu Law in a different context. In the circumstances, we hold that a gift to a stranger of a joint family property by the Manager of the family property by the Manager of the family is void.'
In view of this decision, it is not at all necessary to consider whether the extent of the property gifted by the first defendant in favor of the 8th defendant is reasonable or out of proportion. Even if that question arises, we are of the view that the first defendant had no right to make a gift of a large extent of such value as representing one-fifth of the total value, even according to the case of the 8th defendant. The evidence of D. Ws. 2 to 6 is that the total value of the plaint schedule properties would be about Rs. 1,64,000 and the value of the items covered by Exs. B-1 to B-3 would be about Rs. 37,000. Even if we accept the value as given by D. Ws. 2 to 6, it would be seen that the value of the items covered by Exs. B-1 to B-3, is not small, when compared to the total value of the joint family property, and therefore, on this view also, the gifts will have to fail.
3. Mr. Alagiriswami, appearing for the appellant, contended that the gifts made by the first defendant would be valid at least to the extent of his share in the joint family properties. His submission is that under the Hindu Succession Act, the first defendant is entitled to make a will of his property and if, on the death of the first defendant, such a will can take effect, there is no reason for not applying the same principles to a case of gift by the first defendant. It is true that Section 30 of the Hindu Succession Act confers power upon a member of a joint family to make a will in respect of his interest in the joint family property. But that principle cannot be extended to a case of a gift, which is a transaction inter vivos, unless the statute itself specifically recognizes it. Section 4 of that Act which sets out the overriding effect of that Act merely provides that any text, rule or interpretation of Hindu Law or any custom or usage as part of that law in force immediately before the commencement of that Act shall cease to have effect with respect to any matter for which provision is made in that Act. That Act has not made any provision for making a gift by a manager of a joint family of his interest in the joint family property and as such Section 30 does not avail to the appellant and we are clearly of the opinion that the gifts by the first defendant are invalid even as regards his interests in the joint family properties.
4. The next contention urged by Mr. Alagiriswami is that the plaintiffs did not take steps to have the gift deeds set aside under the provisions of the Madras Bhoodan Yagna Act, 1958, and that, therefore, the suit was not competent so far as the items covered by the gift deeds are concerned. The assumption underlying this argument is without substance. Section 16 of the Madras Bhoodan Yagna Act dealing with donation of the land inter alia says that notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any other law for the time being in force, any owner may by declaration made in the prescribed manner, donate his land for the Bhoodan Yagna. It is only if a donation satisfies this requirement, the other provisions regarding declaration, hearing of objections and taking proceedings to have the declaration set aside would arise for consideration. In the instant case, the first defendant was not the owner of the lands, and as the lands were not his lands within the meaning of he expression 'his land' occurring in Section 16(1)(a), the other provisions of the Act are not attracted and the plaintiffs need not follow the procedure laid down in the said Act. The trial Court was therefore right in holding that the plaintiffs were entitled to ignore the gifts and ask for their share in the gifted lands.
5. There is also the further fact that the lands could not have been considered to be vested in the Board, as the copy of the order confirming declaration were not registered as contemplated by the third proviso to Section 11 of the Madras Bhoodan Yagna (Amendment) Act, 1964 (Madras Act XXXVI of 1964), which states that notwithstanding anything contained in Section 11or sub-section(5) of Section17 of the Principal Act, as in force immediately before the commencement of that Act (Act XXXVI of 1964) the right, title and interest of the donor in such land shall stand transferred to and vest in the State Board or the Sarvodaya Panchayat, as the case may be, only on registration of the copy of the order under the first proviso. In this case, there is no evidence to show that such a copy of the order was so registered.
6. In the result, the appeal fails and is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.
7. Appeal dismissed.