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Chapalamadugu Govindayya (Deceased) and anr. Vs. Suddapalli Ramamurthi and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty;Civil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1941Mad524; (1941)1MLJ354
AppellantChapalamadugu Govindayya (Deceased) and anr.
RespondentSuddapalli Ramamurthi and ors.
Cases Referred(vide Richmond v. Branson
Excerpt:
- - we must, therefore, take it that the learned judge who admitted the plaint, on a perusal of the affidavit, satisfied himself that the 1st plaintiff was a person of unsound mind incapable of protecting his own interest. 293 of 1937. it seems to us that this contention is well founded......these properties (o.s. no. 6 of 1919) and expenses had to be incurred in connection therewith. the suit mortgage was executed partly for the purpose of meeting those expenses, the debts incurred in connection therewith and also for discharging a debt incurred for averting a court sale of items 19 and 20 in execution of the decree in o.s. no. 585 of 1910 obtained on a deed of mortgage executed by the original owner of the property. in both the suits (o.s. 63 of 1932 and in the present suit) the validity of the mortgage was dealt with on the footing that the said two-thirds acquired under ex. h was joint family property and the case set up by hanumantha rao was negatived. the question whether the mortgage deed was true and supported by consideration and binding on the members of the family.....
Judgment:

Venkataramana Rao, J.

1. These two appeals arise out of a suit to enforce a mortgage dated 16th January, 1919 executed in favour of Chappalamadugu Govindayya by one, Yagnayya and his undivided son Ramamurti, and Hanumantha Rao for himself and as guardian of his sons Venkatanarasimham and Satyanarayana who are defendants 2 and 3 in this suit. All the members of the family of Hanumantha Rao are also impleaded as defendants herein besides Ramamurti, the son of Yagnayya. The said Ramamurti, Venkatanarasimham and Satyanarayana are impleaded as trustees of Seetaramaswami and Anjaneya temples on the ground that the father of the 1st defendant Yagnayya, and Hanumantha Rao the father of Venkatanarasimham and Satyanarayana were trustees of the said temples. The reason for the inclusion of these defendants in the capacity of trustees apart from their individual capacity is that items 19 and 20 of the plaint schedule property which are also comprised in the said deed of mortgage are properties dedicated to the said temples and vested in the trustees in trust for the temples. The validity and the binding nature of this mortgage on the minor defendants was the subject-matter of an issue in the partition suit (O.S. No. 63 of 1932) on the file of the Sub-Court, Bapatla, out of which Appeal No. 293 of 1937 arises. The evidence relating thereto has been elaborately discussed by the learned Subordinate Judge who came to the conclusion that the said mortgage was binding on all the members of the family including the minor plaintiffs in O.S. No. 63 of 1932. In that suit the properties mortgaged were described as items 1 to 26 of the B schedule to the plaint. In those properties the family of Hanumantha Rao was entitled to two-thirds and the other one-third belonged to Yagnayya. The case for Hanumantha Rao in the partition suit was that the said properties were his self-acquisitions whereas the case of the other members of the family was that they were purchased for the benefit of the family. Those properties originally belonged to one Venkatappayya who died leaving him surviving his widow Seetammaand his mother. On the death of his widow and mother, the succession opened and the reversioners who were entitled to the said properties were Yagnayya the father of Ramamurti and one Venkataramayya and another Sriramamurti each entitled to one third share. It appears that Venkataramayya became entitled to two-thirds subsequently. On 26th June, 1915, Hanumantha Rao purchased the two-third share of Venkataramayya under Ex. H. In regard to these properties the reversionary rights of Yagnayya and Venkataramayya were questioned by certain persons who filed O.S. No. 72 of 1910 on the file of the Sub-Court, Bapatla, which ended ultimately in favour of the said Yagnayya and Venkataramayya. Another suit was filed for recovery of these properties (O.S. No. 6 of 1919) and expenses had to be incurred in connection therewith. The suit mortgage was executed partly for the purpose of meeting those expenses, the debts incurred in connection therewith and also for discharging a debt incurred for averting a Court sale of items 19 and 20 in execution of the decree in O.S. No. 585 of 1910 obtained on a deed of mortgage executed by the original owner of the property. In both the suits (O.S. 63 of 1932 and in the present suit) the validity of the mortgage was dealt with on the footing that the said two-thirds acquired under Ex. H was joint family property and the case set up by Hanumantha Rao was negatived. The question whether the mortgage deed was true and supported by consideration and binding on the members of the family was also raised in this suit. The learned Judge adopted the finding arrived at in O.S. No. 63 of 1932 in this suit also. He however, came to the conclusion that the mortgage was not enforceable against items 19 and 20 on the ground that they were trust property and that there was no satisfactory evidence to show that they were comprised in the mortgage decree in pursuance of which the properties were alleged to have been brought to sale. Appeal No. 195 of 1937 was filed by the first plaintiff in so far as the decree was against him in relation to items 19 and 20. Appeal No. 293 of 1937 was filed by the plaintiffs in O.S. No. 63 of 1932 who are also defendants 3, 5 and 6 in the suit out of which this appeal arises.

2. Mr. Rajah Aiyar has raised two contentions in these appeals (1) that the suit itself is incompetent and ought to have been dismissed, and (2) that the mortgage was not supported by consideration in respect of two items which formed part of the consideration, namely, (1) a sum of Rs. 4713-14-4 being the amount borrowed for the purpose of discharging a promissory note dated 14th January, 1919, in favour of the plaintiff and (2) a sum of Rs. 1140-6-11 being cash alleged to have been paid on the date of the mortgage.

3. Mr. M.S. Ramachandra Rao, who appears for the plaintiff, raised a preliminary objection that the appeal itself is incompetent. We shall briefly dispose of the preliminary objection. The contention of Mr. Ramachandra Rao is that the finding as regards consideration was incorporated in the decree in O.S. No. 63 of 1932 and no appeal was preferred in regard thereto and the adjudication therein has become final and will operate as res judicata. But we think this contention is unsustainable in view of the Full Bench decision in Panchanada Velan v. Vaidianatha Sastrial (1905) 16 M.L.J. 63 : I.L.R. 29 Mad. 333 and Ramaswami Chetti v. Karuppan Chetty (1915) 29 M.L.J. 551

4. We shall now deal with Mr. Rajah Aiyar's contention as to the competency of the suit. The plaint was filed on behalf of Govindayya as first plaintiff represented by his brother's son Rangayya and also by Rangayya as second plaintiff. Govindayya is described in the cause title thus: 'Chapalamadugu Govindayya being lunatic by next friend Chapalamadugu Rangayya.' The plaint was filed on 15th January, 1931. Three years afterwards on the 20th March, 1934, the first plaintiff, filed an application stating that he was of sound mind that the second plaintiff had no right to the suit amount and that he should be removed from the suit and also as his next friend and he should be permitted to conduct the suit himself. The second plaintiff had no objection and the order was made in terms of the petition. Later on, after all the witnesses were examined the second plaintiff filed an application stating, that he might be appointed as the next friend of the first plaintiff; but that application was dismissed on the ground that Govindayya was not so mentally infirm as to be incapable of protecting his interests. One of the issues in the suit was whether the first plaintiff was a lunatic and the second plaintiff had a right to represent the first plaintiff. On that issue the learned Judge recorded his finding thus:

I find on issue 9 that the first plaintiff was of unsound mind and incapable of protecting his interests when the suit was filed and the second plaintiff was consequently entitled to file the suit as his next friend.

5. Mr. Rajah Aiyar challenges this finding and says that the suit must be held to be incompetent on the ground that when it was filed the first plaintiff must be deemed to have been of sound mind and the plaint must be held to have been validly presented only on the date when it was amended by striking out the name of the next friend and this suit having been filed more than twelve years of the execution of the bond is barred by limitation. He further contends that even assuming the first plaintiff was of unsound mind the plaint was not filed in accordance with Order 32, Rule 15 as no enquiry was held and no order passed permitting the second plaintiff to sue as the next friend of the first plaintiff. He relied in support thereof on a decision of the Calcutta High Court in Nirendra Lal Bhattacharya v. Bepin Chandra Bhattacharya 38 C.W.N. 1081 and a decision of our learned brother Mockett, J., in Rajammal v. Mahadeva Aiyar 1937 M.W.N. 398. Before dealing with this contention the question we have to find is whether the first plaintiff was really of unsound mind on 16th January, 1931, the date when the plaint was filed. The learned Judge on a consideration of the evidence came to the conclusion that he was. It is in evidence that he was really of unsound mind from 1923 to 1933 for a period of ten years and was also kept in the Mental Hospital, Waltair, that up to 1933, in litigations had with reference to his estate, the second plaintiff was acting as his next friend and guardian. There was also oral evidence to the effect that the first plaintiff was really of unsound mind in the beginning of 1931 when the present suit was filed. Nothing has been shown to us that the finding of the learned Judge that the plaintiff was really of unsound mind on the date of the plaint is wrong. We therefore, affirm the said finding.

6. In view of this finding the question is whether there has been a valid presentation of the plaint on 16th January, 1931. Order 32, Rule 15 runs thus:

The provisions contained in Rules 1 to 14, so far as they are applicable, shall extend to persons adjudged to be of unsound mind and to persons who though not so adjudged are found by the Court on enquiry, by reason of unsoundness of mind or mental infirmity, to be incapable of protecting their interests when suing or being sued.

7. According to the above rule the provisions relating to minors should be applied as far as they are applicable. In the case of a person who is not adjudged to be of unsound mind but who by reason of unsoundness of mind or mental infirmity is incapable of protecting his rights the plaint should be filed on his behalf by a next friend. That has been done in this case. But what is urged is that before a next friend can represent such a person it must be found on enquiry by the Court that the person by reason of unsoundness of mind or mental infirmity is incapable of protecting his interests. That is, there must be a preliminary enquiry and a finding of the Court before the plaint was filed. That is the view taken by our learned brother Mockett, J. It seems to us that such a procedure is not contemplated by the provisions of the Code. Apparently our learned brother was having in view the procedure similar to that adopted in pauper suits or the English practice. There is no provision in the Civil Procedure Code under which such an enquiry can be had. What is contemplated is that the plaint must be filed by a next friend and the Court, before admitting the plaint, should satisfy itself on enquiry that the person on whose behalf the plaint is presented was by reason of unsoundness of mind incapable of protecting his interests and should be represented by a next friend. Ordinarily the next friend ought to file an application supported by an affidavit along with the plaint and the judge should pass an order thereon. That the section does contemplate an enquiry there can be no doubt, but the nature of the enquiry is not indicated. It seems to us that if the affidavit in support of the request to permit a person to sue as a next friend discloses all the facts which would satisfy the Court that the person on whose behalf the plaint is presented is by reason of unsound mind or mental infirmity incapable of protecting his interests, without any further enquiry the Court can permit the next friend to sue on his behalf, or if the allegations in the affidavit are not convincing, it is open to the Court to direct the next friend to produce witnesses before it in order that it may satisfy itself as to the mental capacity of the person on whose behalf the plaint is presented All that is needed is that there should be some prima facie proof such as to satisfy the Court that the person was by reason of unsoundness of mind or mental infirmity incapable of protecting his interests, because an order permitting the next friend to represent such a person is not final. It is always open to the defendant to take out an independent application to have the said order revoked when the Court can go fully into the matter. But when once the Court permits the next friend to sue on behalf of such a person, it is not open to the Court to raise an independent issue in the trial as to the competency of the next friend to represent him in the suit (vide Richmond v. Branson & Son (1914) 1.Ch. 968 followed in City Civil Court Appeal No. 36 of 1936). in this case as soon as the plaint was presented the Court finding that it was presented on behalf of a person of unsound mind, called for an affidavit and the said affidavit was filed and it was after that, the plaint was permitted to be filed by the next friend. We must, therefore, take it that the learned Judge who admitted the plaint, on a perusal of the affidavit, satisfied himself that the 1st plaintiff was a person of unsound mind incapable of protecting his own interest. In view of the fact that the first plaintiff was up to the date of the plaint treated as a person of unsound mind and having regard to his previous history, the Court was probably justified on the allegations in the affidavit in coming to the conclusion which it did namely, permitting the second plaintiff to sue as the next friend. We think it desirable that the Court should insist upon an independent application and an affidavit fully disclosing the facts relating to the unsoundness of mind of the person on whose behalf the plaint is presented and the Court before admitting the plaint should, if the allegations in the affidavit are not convincing, insist upon the production of witnesses in order to enable the Court to satisfy itself that the person was of unsound mind and incapable of protecting his own interests and record a finding to that effect. In this case the first plaintiff having been permitted to sue by a next friend it was not open to the Court to raise issue No. 9. We therefore, find that the suit by the next friend was competent.

8. We shall now deal with the contention of Mr. Rajah Aiyar relating to the two items of consideration referred to by him as valid and binding on the minor plaintiffs. There is absolutely no evidence to show that the mortgage to discharge which the sum of Rs. 4,713-14-4 was borrowed was binding on the properties which were purchased under Ex. H and Mr. Ramachandra Rao frankly concedes that the evidence is not such as to warrant a finding in favour of his client. We must therefore declare the said items of consideration as not binding on the appellants (defendants 3, 5 and 6) who were also plaintiffs 1 to 3 in O.S. No. 63 of 1932. But what Mr. Ramachandra Rao contends is that items 19 and 20 in any event must be declared liable which is the subject-matter of Appeal No. 293 of 1937. It seems to us that this contention is well founded. Items 19 and 20 were dedicated to the temples of Seetharamaswami and Anjaneyaswami by the original owner Venkataramayya subsequent to the date of the execution of the mortgage on which the decree in O.S. No. 585 of 1910 was obtained. There is evidence in this case that items 19 and 20 were the subject of the said mortgage. There is an admission by Yagnayya and Hanumantha Rao that the said items did form part of the said mortgage. In the written statement filed in O.S. No. 93 of 1922, a suit relating to the trust, paragraph 10 of the written statement is to the following effect:

Late Venkatappayya mortgaged items 1 and 2 of the plaint A schedule under two mortgage deeds of the 10th March, 1883 and 11th January, 1889. The mortgagees obtained decrees in O.S. Nos. 585 and 589 of 1910 on the foot of these mortgages.

9. No doubt in that suit a compromise was arrived at by which Ramamurthi, Venkataramayya and Hanumantha Rao for himself and as guardian of his sons Venkatanarasimham and Satyanarayana agreed to get released the said items 19 and 20 from the suit mortgage. Therefore the evidence so far as is available in this suit goes to show that items 19 and 20 were in any event liable for the mortgage executed by the original owner Venkatappayya and the said amount of Rs. 4,713-14-4 was borrowed to discharge the mortgage decree to avert the Court sale of the said items. Prima facie therefore the said items 19 and 20 are liable to bear the burden of the said debt. We are therefore inclined to hold that so far as the said sum of Rs. 4,713-14-4 is concerned, it must be declared to be binding on items 19 and 20 and not upon the rest of the properties and we construe the deed of mortgage as having been executed by the members of the family of the appellant and Yagnayya in their individual right in regard to the amount borrowed for the purpose of the reversionary litigation and by Yagnayya and Hanumantha Rao in their capacity as trustees so far as Rs. 4,713-14-4 in concerned. The decree must therefore be modified by declaring that only items 19 and 20 can be brought to sale in respect of the sum of Rs. 4,713-14-4 with interest thereon and for the rest of the consideration the other items are to be brought to sale.

10. In regard to the sum of Rs. 1,140-6-11 paid as cash, we must hold the said item of consideration as binding on the plaintiffs. The said sum was admittedly borrowed for the purpose of the reversionary litigation as a result of which the properties mortgaged were obtained for the benefit of the family. Time for redemption, six months.

11. The appellants in both the appeals will pay and receive proportionate costs.

12. The appellant in Appeal No. 293 of 1937 is hereby directed to pay the Court-fee payable on the memorandum of appeal to Government, and he will get proportionate costs in the appeal which will be recovered by him from the respondents.


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