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Vencatrama Aiyar and anr. Vs. the Secretary of State for India in Council, Represented by the Collector of Tanjore and Vencatachellam Pillay - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported in5Ind.Cas.118
AppellantVencatrama Aiyar and anr.
RespondentThe Secretary of State for India in Council, Represented by the Collector of Tanjore and Vencatachel
Cases ReferredAnangamanjari Chowdrani v. Tripura Sundari Chowdhrani
Excerpt:
adverse possession - suit against government for recovery of a tank--acts constituting adverse possession--enjoyment of fruits and flowers on the banks of the tank--removal of silt from the tank--entry of tank in settlement register as poramboke, effect of--burden of proof. - - no doubt their enjoyment of the aloe flowers and of the fishery in the tank for the past 35 or 40 years, if it stood alone, would not indicate ownership because, in fact, government everywhere, and especially in mirasi villages, allows the villagers to take fuel and grass, and wild fruits and flowers, from the poramboke and other waste lands of the villages and allows them in many cases to enjoy also the fish of small tanks. the record fives no idea of the size or character of the tank, but the government pleader..........is no. evidence that government was ever in possession of it. we must, therefore, hold that the plaintiffs' possession should be presumed to have continued for more than the statutory period and that they have established their title by prescription anangamanjari chowdrani v. tripura sundari chowdhrani 14 c. 740 at p. 748 s.a. no. 1434 of 1904 and s.a. no. 576 of 1936, not yet reported. in this view it is not necessary to go into the question of the plaintiffs' alleged right, as mirasidars.4. we declare the plaintiffs' right to the tank and its banks as against the defendants and (sic) them a decree for its recovery and for (sic) profits at the rate claimed, rs. 8 per (sic) from 1901 until delivery of possession (sic) 3 years from this date whichever (sic) first occurs with costs.....
Judgment:

1. In this case the plaintiffs prayed for a declaration that they are the owners of the tank described in the plaint, and for recovery of its possession, and for damages against the Secretary of State for India because his agent the Collector has leased out the aloe flowers on the banks of the tank and thus invaded their rights. The Courts below have found against the plaintiff's title, and they appeal. Their claim is founded on two ground viz., (1) that as sole mirasidars of the village they have by immemorial custom an execlusive right to all the poramboke lands of the village, and (2) that they, have been in exclusive possession and enjoyment of the tank for over the statutory period adversely to the Government and. that they have thus acquired a title to it by prescription. We think that the title of the plaintiffs by adverse possession is established by the evidence. No doubt their enjoyment of the aloe flowers and of the fishery in the tank for the past 35 or 40 years, if it stood alone, would not indicate ownership because, in fact, Government everywhere, and especially in Mirasi villages, allows the villagers to take fuel and grass, and wild fruits and flowers, from the poramboke and other waste lands of the villages and allows them in many cases to enjoy also the fish of small tanks. The non-interference of Government with such enjoyment does not imply a denial of the ownership of Government or an abandonment by Government of its ownership. The Secretary of, State for India v. Manyeshwara Krishnaya 28 M.k 257. But in the present case we have much more. It is proved by the evidence that the predecessor-in-interest of the plaintiffs expended large sums in clearing silt out of the tank and constructed masonry sluices in it for regulating the inflow and outflow of its water. These are acts of a kind which raise a presumption of ownership in the person doing them and are sufficient to shift to the defendant the burden of explaining away the acts and the ordinary inferences arising from such acts, and showing a title in the Government. There is not, however a shred of evidence, oral or documentary, adduced by Government in this case. There is merely the allegation r the written statement that the tank is entered in the Paimash and Settlement Registers as Government Poramboke. Such entry is of course, insufficient to prove that the tank is, in fact, the property of Government.

2. The Collector, examined on interrogatories, admits that the Government has never at any time executed any repairs to the tank. He does not say that they have ever exercised any act of ownership in regard to it her does he attempt to explain how it happens that the plaintiffs, if not owners of the tank, have cleared out its silt and have constructed masonry, sluices in it. He does not say that these acts were done with the permissions of the Revenue authorities, or even that such acts are in that District often allowed by Government at the request of the villagers as the upkeep of the tank is to their advantage. The record fives no idea of the size or character of the tank, but the Government Pleader and Vakil for the plaintiffs state that it is a small village tank of about If acres in extent, not used for irrigation, but used for drinking and bathing purposes, such a tank may well be the property of the villagers in common, or of private persons.

3. We think that the evidence on the record points to the conclusion that the plaintiffs have been in possession and enjoyment of the tank adversely to Government for 30 or 40 years, and this is sufficient to shift to Government the onus of showing that Government has been in possession at some time within 60 years prior to the suit. There is no. evidence that Government was ever in possession of it. We must, therefore, hold that the plaintiffs' possession should be presumed to have continued for more than the statutory period and that they have established their title by prescription Anangamanjari Chowdrani v. Tripura Sundari Chowdhrani 14 C. 740 at p. 748 S.A. No. 1434 of 1904 and S.A. No. 576 of 1936, not yet reported. In this view it is not necessary to go into the question of the plaintiffs' alleged right, as mirasidars.

4. We declare the plaintiffs' right to the tank and its banks as against the defendants and (sic) them a decree for its recovery and for (sic) profits at the rate claimed, Rs. 8 per (sic) from 1901 until delivery of possession (sic) 3 years from this date whichever (sic) first occurs with costs throughout against (sic) 1st defendant.

5. Three months' time is allowed to the 1st amendment to satisfy the decree.


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