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Sankaranarayana Reddi and ors. Vs. Koppaya Reddi Alias Gopal Reddi and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1926Mad236
AppellantSankaranarayana Reddi and ors.
RespondentKoppaya Reddi Alias Gopal Reddi and ors.
Cases ReferredSeshayya v. Narasamma
Excerpt:
.....in their) proper..........sister's son are to perform my funeral, etc., ceremonies and enjoy the aforesaid properties with absolute rights. the properties mentioned in schedule 2 hereof are to be enjoyed by my daughter avudaiyammal and my son-in-law ramalinga reddiar from this date with absolute rights and with heritable rights in favour of son, grandson, etc.2. the actual words of gift in this document seem' undoubtedly to confer an absolute estate, the words used being with reference to schedule 2: 'with absolute rights and with heritable rights in favour of son, grandson, etc.' in considering this gift the subordinate judge has formed his opinion with reference to the preliminary sentence in which the settler stated that his intention was that my properties may not pass to the control of others after my.....
Judgment:

Phillips, J.

1. The sole question that arises in this appeal is the interpretation of the deed of settlement executed by Alagiri Eeddi on the 3rd November 1884. This document contains the following provisions:

I have no male issue: I have only a daughter named Avudai Ammal alias Mukkayi Ammal and my wife Avudai Ammal. As I am now, on account of old age, very weak in body, I hereby make the provisions, mentioned below so that my properties, etc., may not pass to the control of others after my lifetime and that they may go to my lawful heirs....The punja land and house site etc., mentioned in Schedule 1 hereof are to be enjoyed by myself and my wife Avudai Ammal during our lifetime; my daughter Avudaiyammal and her husband Ramalinga Reddiar who is also my sister's son are to perform my funeral, etc., ceremonies and enjoy the aforesaid Properties with absolute rights. The properties mentioned in Schedule 2 hereof are to be enjoyed by my daughter Avudaiyammal and my son-in-law Ramalinga Reddiar from this date with absolute rights and with heritable rights in favour of son, grandson, etc.

2. The actual words of gift in this document seem' undoubtedly to confer an absolute estate, the words used being with reference to Schedule 2: 'with absolute rights and with heritable rights in favour of son, grandson, etc.' In considering this gift the Subordinate Judge has formed his opinion with reference to the preliminary sentence in which the settler stated that his intention was that my properties may not pass to the control of others after my lifetime and that they may go to my lawful heirs.' This intention he has held to govern the whole of the document and consequently to modify the words which purport to confer absolute rights, and he has held that the gift to the daughter was one merely to be enjoyed by her for her lifetime so that it might pass to her son after her death. This is the contention put forward by the learned Advocate-General for the respondent, for although the testator does express an intention that the property should go to his lawful heirs he does not specify what particular heirs he actually had in his mind. There are really no words that raise the presumption that he meant his daughter's son and his daughter's son only, for a grandson would not be his only lawful heir.

3. Several cases have been cited in support of the proposition that the absolute gift is controlled by this expression of opinion. I may refer to two cases: Nanda Gopal v. Purchmoni Debi [1910] 6 I.C. 354 and Surendra Nath Chatterji v. Sarojbandu Bhuttacharji 26 C.W.N. 893, cited for respondent, but in both these cases after the words which in a technical sense imply the gift of an absolute estate there are very stringent limitations imposed to restrain alienation and in the latter case to regulate the conduct of the donee and in these particular circumstances it was held that these restrictions were such that the testator cannot have intended to use the technical words in their technical sense, but only intended to convey a life estate. Here we have no restrictions after the words of gift, the words used being sarvaswathanthram puthra pouthra parampariyam. We do not think that they can be controlled by the somewhat vague expression of the settler as to his intention, occurring in the earlier portion of the document. In this connexion we may refer to Salit Mohun Singh Roy v. Chukkun Lal Roy [1897] 24 Cal. 834 where it was observed at page 846.

There are two cardinal principles in the construction of Wills, deeds and other documents which their Lordships think are applicable to the decision of this case. The first is that clear and unambiguous dispositive words are not to be controlled or qualified by any general expression of intention. The second is that technical word or words of known legal import must have their legal effect even though the testator uses consistent words, unless these consistent words are of such a nature as to make it perfectly clear that the testator did not mean to use the technical words in their) proper sense.

4. Applying these principles it is clear that the settler's general expression of intention cannot control or qualify the very unambiguous words in which he conveys an absolute estate. In this case the settler used words which have the legal effect of granting the absolute estate and there are no consistent words of such a nature as to make it clear that the testator did not mean those words to have their ordinary legal meaning. We must hold therefore that the words used must bear their proper meaning.

5. Another case relied on for the respondents is Seshayya v. Narasamma [1899] 22 Mad. 357. The decision in that case was apparently based largely on the then prevailing opinion that the estate granted to the widow must ordinarily be construed as a life estate unless the words of gift put it beyond all doubt that the estate intended to be conveyed was absolute. Apart from that, that decision must, we think, be confined to the facts of that case which are not fully before us; for it appears that although there was a gift to the widow and her son jointly the effect of the decision in that case was to deprive the widow not only of the absolute estate claimed by her but even of the life estate which, it would appear, had been granted. Unless there were facts in that case which showed that the life estate was relinquished, the decision hardly seems to be in accordance with the language of the document which purported to give some estate to the widow.

6. For all these reasons we think that the view taken by the Subordinate Judge is wrong and hold that Ex. 1 conveyed the absolute estate both in Schedule1 and in Schedule 2 to the daughter Avudaiyammal and her husband Ramalinga Reddiar which they would hold as tenants-in-common. As a result of the decision the decree will have to be set aside and the suit remanded for disposal on the other points which arise.

7. Costs in this suit will abide the result and the stamp duty on the appeal memorandum will be refunded.


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