1. The District Judge finds the price for which the land was sold was not unduly low. He farther feeds that the lands purchased by the guardian with the funds obtained by the sale of the plaint land were worth only Rs. 300. He says that 'the fact that the purchase money was not properly invested can not be used to the detriment of defendants Nos. 1 and 2 who duly paid it over to the guardian.' But we cannot hold that, if a guardian sells lands worth Rs. 850 and buys other lands worth Rs. 300, such a transaction can be regarded as beneficial to the minor. The vendee would at least be bound to show that after making due inquiries he believed that the purchase-money was intended to be used for a purpose which would make the sale beneficial to the minor. We express no opinion at the present stage on the question whether, if the vendee succeeded in proving this, the sale by the guardian could be upheld, if in fact the sale was not beneficial to the minor.
2. With respect to the question whether, apart from the price, there were other circumstances making the sale beneficial, the learned Vakil for the respondents draws attention to the fact that the relations of the minor had sold their lands in the same place and that one of them in 1903 sold at Rs. 40 per acre. The District Judge does not, as pointed out by Mr. Govindaraghava Aiyar, refer to the circumstances mentioned by the Munsif regarding the sale in Exhibit VIII but takes the price under Exhibit VIII to determine whether the price for which the plaint land was sold was fair. The Judge observes that, if the guardian had remained in possession, permission to irrigate the land might not have been obtained. In selling the land, what the guardian had to take into account was whether there was a fair prospect of the land being irrigated within a reasonably short time.
3. In the circumstances, we consider it desirable to have a revised finding on the question: 'Whether the price for which the land was sold was such as to justify the guardian in selling it.' We must also ask the District Judge to record a finding on the question 'whether the vendees, defendants Nos. 1 and 2, believed bona fide, that is, after making reasonable inquiry, that the purchase-money would be invested in such a manner as to make the sale beneficial to the minor.' Both parties may adduce fresh evidence on the second question.
4. The findings will be submitted within one month from the date of receipt of this order and seven days will be allowed for filing objections.
5. Further arguments in the case are reserved.
6. In compliance with the order contained in the above judgment, the District Judge of Coimbatore submitted the following
7. I am directed by the High Court to submit a revised finding on the question 'whether the price for which the land was sold was such as to justify the guardian in selling it.' I am also directed by the High Court to record a finding on the question whether the vendees, defendants Nos. 1 and 2, believed bona fide, that is, after making reasonable inquiry, that the purchase-money would be invested in such a manner as to make the sale beneficial to the minor.
2. The price for which the plaint land was sold was Rs. 850 (Vide the sale-deed Exhibit I). It is admitted on plaintiff's side that this sum was really paid by the vendees, 1st and 2ad defendants, to the 3rd defendant, the guardian of the plaintiffs. The question is whether this sum was a proper price for the land, so as to justify the guardian in selling it. The plaint land is 18 acres and 35 cants in extent and the price for which it was sold under Exhibit I was at the rate of Rs. 46 1/2 per acre. The plaint land is situated in the village of Marchinaickenpalayam and is to the south of the jungle stream shown on the plan. My predecessor-in-office (Mr. Broadfoot) found, on a consideration of the documents mentioned in paragraphs of the judgment, that the average price per acre of lands situated in the vicinity of the plaint land and to the south of the jungle stream was from 1897 to 1904, Rs. 50 an acre. He found further that a land adjacent to the plaint land was sold at the price of Rs. 40 an acre in 1908, the year immediately preceding the year in which the sale of the plaint land took place. Exhibit VIII is the sale-deed showing the sale of the adjacent land for a price of Rs. 40 per acre. Exhibits VI, VII, XV, XVI, XVII, XIX and XX are the documents which show that the average price for lands situated to the south of the jungle stream was Rs. 50 per acre between the years 1897 to 1904. The plaint land was on the date of the sale in 1904 in a neglected state and was overgrown with prickly pear. My predecessor-in-office (Mr. Broadfoot) took the price fixed in Exhibit VIII as a fair criterion for determining the price of the plaint land which has a common character of locality with it. This document, Exhibit VIII, was, no doubt, discredited by the District Munsif, but the only ground assigned by him for discrediting it is a surmise that it was brought about by the misrepresentation of the vendees. There is no reason for thinking that the vendors did not know the value of the Land and were duped by the vendees. The evidence of plaintiff's 31st witness on the point is, in ray opinion, worthless and undeserving of credit. Exhibit VIII is, in my opinion, a sale-deed bona fide executed, and the statement of the price of the land therein contained must be taken as true. The correctness of the value of the land as stated in Exhibit VIII is shown by the prior documents on record, viz., Exhibits XXIII, IX, VI, VII, XXIV, XV, XVI and XVII. The District Munsif has, in paragraphs 9 to 13 of his judgment, dealt with a number of documents to show the value of lands in the village of Marchi Naikanpalayam and arrived at the conclusion that the price of the land in that village ranged from Rs. 35 to Rs. 232 between the years 1900 and 1901. The documents executed after the date of the plaint sale-deed are not of much evidentiary value on the question of the correct price of lands in the village on the date of the plaint sale-deed. With respect to the documents of earlier dates considered by the District Munsif, I have to point out a serious flaw in the view taken by the District Munsif, and that is, that he has not discriminated between the lands lying to the north of the jungle stream and the lands lying to the south of it. These two sets of lands are essentially dissimilar in quality and productiveness. The lands situated to the north of the jungle stream are better in quality by reason of greater irrigational facilities. The higher prices mentioned in some documents dealt with by the District Munsif are in respect of those better lands situated to the north of the jungle stream. The District Munsif was, in my opinion, wrong in taking the prices mentioned in those documents as criteria for determining the prices of the lands situated to the south of the jungle stream. The District Munsif's omission to notice this essential difference in the circumstances of the two sets of land has, to a great extent, vitiated his finding as regards the correct price of the plaint land. I agree with Mr. Broadfoot in thinking that the price for which the land was sold by Exhibit I was a fair price, regard being had to the value of the surrounding lauds as proved by the documentary evidence on record. The District Munsif finds that there was on the date of the sale under Exhibit I a prospect of the introduction of an irrigation channel into the plaint lands and he thinks that the 3rd defendant should not have sold the land when there was this prospect which was likely to enhance the value of this land after same years. There is, however, nothing to show that 3rd defendant was aware of this possibility of irrigational advantage, when she sold the land under Exhibit I. Though there was idea of introducing channel water as aforesaid, nothing was done to give effect to it prior to the year 1906. The channel was introduced into the locality of the plaint land only in 1906, two years after the date of the sale in question. That the possibility of the introduction of the channel did not, up to the year 1904, enhance the price of the lands in the locality to the south of the jangle stream is abundantly clear from the documents mentioned above. When such was the case, it cannot be said that the 3rd defendant acted improperly in not demanding a higher price for the land on account of the prospect of introduction of the channel. It is proved by the evidence of plaintiffs' own 33rd witness that 3rd defendant was a proper guardian for her minor sons, the plaintiffs, that she was affectionate towards them and managed their affairs well. There was every motive for her to bring about the sale in the way most beneficial to the minors. The reason why she sold the plaint land was because it was not a profitable land and was situated at a distance of 17 miles from the family of herself and the minors. She wanted to purchase a land in the vicinity of the family house, and for that purpose sold the plaint land for Rs. 850 under Exhibit I. I am of opinion on the evidence adduced at the original trial and on the remand trial in appeal, that the price for which the land was sold (Rs. 850) was such as to justify the guardian (3rd defendant) in selling it.
3. I accordingly find in the affirmative the 1st issue referred to me.
4. On the 2nd issue referred to me, I am of opinion, on the evidence on record, that the vendees, 1st and 2nd defendants, bona fide thought 3rd defendant would invest Rs. 800 out of the sale price in the purchase of a land in Moolanur for the benefit of the minors. In fact, 3rd defendant purchased for the minors a land in Moolanur under Exhibit II, which was registered on the same date on which the sale-deed, Exhibit I, was registered. This Court found originally that the value of the land purchased under Exhibit II was only Rs. 300, but that 1st and 2nd defendants were not responsible for the fraud, if any, perpetuated by the parties to Exhibit II. It appears from the evidence of the 2nd defendant and of the witnesses examined for the 1st and 2nd defendants at the remand trial that when the sale deed Exhibit I was executed, 1st and 2nd defendants warned the purchase-money paid by them to be invested for the minors, that 3rd defendant thereupon told them that she was going to purchase a land in Moolanur for Rs. 800 for the benefit of the minors and that accordingly, the sale-deed, Exhibit, II for Rs. 800 was executed in favour of the minors.
5. The 1st and 2nd defendants relied upon Exhibit II as a bona fide transaction and were satisfied. They had no means of knowing and did not know the secret understanding, if any, between the vendor and the vendee in Exhibit II. They saw the registered sale-deed for Rs. 800, (Exhibt II) in the name of the minors for the Moolanur land and they relied upon the statement of the value of the land in Exhibit II as correct. It may be contended, however, that they were not entitled to assume the correctness of the recital in Exhibit II, but were bound to ascertain by proper inquiry the real value of the land which 3rd defendant was purchasing for the minors. Whether a purchaser of property in good faith and for adequate value, from a guardian, has incumbent upon him such a far reaching obligation to see to the investment of the purchase-money for the benefit of the minor is a question in regard to which it is not necessary for me to express an opinion in the present case. All that I am prepared to hold, on the evidence on record, is that let and 2nd defendants who paid the sale price Rs. 850 bona fide thought that Rs. 800 out of the amount would be invested by the 3rd defendant (the guardian) for the purchase of the Moolanur land in the name of the minors, that they saw the sale-deed for Rs. 800 (Exhibit II) in the names of the minors relied upon it as a true transaction. They did not, however, inquire as to the real price or the land and they did not satisfy themselves that it was worth Rs. 800, the amount shown in Exhibit II. I find the issue accordingly.
8. This second appeal and the memorandum of objections coming on for final hearing the Court delivered the following
9. The finding of Mr. Broadfoot, the District Judge, was that the land bought for the plaintiff under Exhibit II was worth only Rs. 300. The present District Judge has found that the 2nd defendant did not make proper inquiries as to the real value of the land that the plaintiffs' guardian was going to purchase but honestly accepted as true the recital in Exhibit II that the land proposed to be bought was worth Rs. 800. Our attention is drawn to the evidence of D. witnesses Nos. 23 and 24 examined after the remand. This evidence is not clear on the question whether the 2nd defendant was informed that the land to be bought was worth Rs. 800. We think that the Judge did not accept their evidence as sufficient to show that 2nd defendant was a bona fide purchaser. We must, therefore, accept his finding and hold that the sale is not binding on the minor plaintiff. We set aside the decree of the lower Appellate Court and restore the Munsif's decree giving the plaintiff a decree for possession. The decree will be conditional on the plaintiff paying to defendants Nos. 1 and 2 within three months from this date the amount awarded to them by the Munsif. The Munsif's decree as to mesne profits and damages and the compensation payable to defendants Nos. 1 and 2 is also restored. The parties will bear their own costs throughout.