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Subbiah Chetti Vs. Veerajinnu Ammal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Property
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberAppeal No. 92 of 1974
Judge
Reported inAIR1979Mad85
ActsHindu Law; Limitation Act, 1963 - Schedule - Articles 64 and 65
AppellantSubbiah Chetti
RespondentVeerajinnu Ammal and ors.
Cases ReferredSee State Bank of Travancore v. Panicker
Excerpt:
- - 4. the question that has to be considered is whether the defendant has any title to the suit property either on the death of this wife, jagannatha ammal, in 1950, or on the death of his daughter sargunavalli in the year 1966. the position of a property inherited by a female heir either from males or from females is now well settled. (2) according to the dayabhaga school as well as the benares. it is now well-settled that a permissive possession cannot be converted into an adverse possession, unless it is proved that the person in possession asserted an adverse title to the property to the knowledge of the true owners for a period of twelve years or more......in o. s. no. 3034 of 1966 in the city civil court, madras. the plaintiffs are the daughters of one mariammal who is herself a daughter of one veerammal. veerammal died leaving certain properties. these properties were inherited by mariammal as her heir. mariammal died in 1936 leaving behind her husband govinda chetti and her daughters the first two plaintiffs and one jagannatha ammal. jagannatha ammal died in 1950 leaving behind her husband subbiah chetti, the defendant in the suit and a daughter sargunavalli. sargunavalli died in or about 1966. the plaintiffs claimed that on the death of jagannatha ammal in the year 1950, they had become entitled to the properties left by mariammal and, therefore, they sought to recover possession from jagannatha ammal's husband subbiah chetti who was.....
Judgment:

1. This appeal has been filed by the defendant in O. S. No. 3034 of 1966 in the City Civil Court, Madras. The plaintiffs are the daughters of one Mariammal who is herself a daughter of one Veerammal. Veerammal died leaving certain properties. These properties were inherited by Mariammal as her heir. Mariammal died in 1936 leaving behind her husband Govinda Chetti and her daughters the first two plaintiffs and one Jagannatha Ammal. Jagannatha Ammal died in 1950 leaving behind her husband Subbiah Chetti, the defendant in the suit and a daughter Sargunavalli. Sargunavalli died in or about 1966. The plaintiffs claimed that on the death of Jagannatha Ammal in the year 1950, they had become entitled to the properties left by Mariammal and, therefore, they sought to recover possession from Jagannatha Ammal's husband Subbiah Chetti who was in enjoyment of the said properties. The defendant Subbiah Chetti contended that the properties under consideration were the properties of one Govinda Chetti, the husband of Mariammal and that the said properties had been divided between him and his sons by a registered deed of partition dated 27-6-1963 in which these two items fell to the share of Govinda Chetti. Govinda Chetti is said to have made a settlement of the said properties by a registered document dated 3-7-1963, under which the suit property was given to the first plaintiff and the defendant's daughter, since deceased, to be taken by them absolutely in equal shares. The defendant claimed that he was in possession of the suit property in his own right.

2. The trial Court held that the suit property belonged to Veerammal and that the plaintiffs became entitled to the suit property after the death of Jagannatha Ammal. It was also held that the deed of settlement executed by Govinda Chetti was not valid and binding on the plaintiffs and that Govinda Chetti had not acquired any interest in the property by adverse possession. The result was that the suit was decreed as prayed for. The defendant is now in appeal.

3. The first submission urged on behalf of the appellant is that on the death of Mariammal, her three daughters became the heirs, that on the death of Jagannatha Ammal, one of the three daughters, her share devolved on her daughter Sargunavalli on whose death the defendant himself became entitled to her share. The learned counsel for the appellant, therefore, claimed that he was one of the three co-owners of the suit property and that there could be no adverse possession as against him. As he continued to be a co-owner of the suit property, his one-third share in the suit property has to be recognised. The learned counsel for the respondents submitted that the heirs of Mariammal were her daughters who took the properties jointly and on the death of Jagannatha Ammal, there was aright of a survivorship available in favour of the plaintiffs so that the defendant had absolutely no right over those properties.

4. The question that has to be considered is whether the defendant has any title to the suit property either on the death of this wife, Jagannatha Ammal, in 1950, or on the death of his daughter Sargunavalli in the year 1966. The position of a property inherited by a female heir either from males or from females is now well settled. It is stated in Mullah's Hindu Law, 14th Edition, paragraph 130-

'(1) A woman may inherit the ordinary property of a male such as her husband, father, son and the rest. She may also inherit the stridhanam of a female such as her mother, daughter and the rest.

(2) According to the Dayabhaga School as well as the Benares. Mithilas and Madras Schools property inherited by a woman whether from a male or from a female, does not become her stridhana. She takes only a limited interest in the property, and on her death the property passes not to her heirs, but to the next heir of the person from whom she inherited it.'

Again in para 169, it is stated :-

'According to the Bengal, Benares, Mithila and Madras schools, the rule laid down in para. 168, sub-para. (3), as to property inherited by a female from a male, applies also to property inherited by her from a female. Consequently a female inheriting property (stridhana) from a female taken only a limited estate in such property, and at her death the property passes not to her heirs, but to the next stridhana heir of the female from whom she inherited it.' These propositions are indisputable. The result is that on the death of Jagannatha Ammal in this particular case, the succession had to be ascertained as if it had gone back to Mariammal, her mother. The other stridhana heir of her mother would get it as Jagannatha Ammal was, at the relevant time, only a limited owner and could not prescribe her own line of descent. In Venkateswaralu v. Raghavalu, AIR 1957 AP 604, Subba Rao C. J. as he then was, expressed the legal position as follows (at page 607)-

'Under Hindu Law, a female succeeding to the property of an absolute owner, whether a female or a male, does not take an absolute interest. She never become a fresh stock of descent. After her death, it reverts back to the heirs of the last male or female holder as the case may be.

In the case of a stridhana holder after the death of a daughter the property reverts back to the mother, but the next heir of the stridhana holder is the daughter's daughter, and the daughter's daughter takes it not as the heir of her mother, but as the stridhanam heir of her grandmother.'

In that particular case, there was no other daughter who could be the stridhana heir of her mother and, therefore, it was observed that the grandmother (granddaughter?) would inherit the property as the heir of the grandmother and not as the heir of the mother. In the present case, there are daughters and, therefore, they would be the stridhana heirs of the mother Mariammal and on the death of Jagannatha Ammal, the daughters of Mariammal would be entitled to her share also.

5. The question as to whether the daughters succeeding to their father's estate take as joint tenants with rights survivorship or not has been considered in several cases of this and other High Courts. These decisions have been noticed by the Supreme Court in Karpagathachi v. Nagarathinathachi, : [1965]3SCR335 . In that case, it was pointed out that the two daughters succeeding to their father's estate took as joint tenants with rights of survivorship and that they, just as two widows of a deceased Hindu, could also enter into an arrangement regarding their respective rights in the properties during the continuance of their estate. It is this aspect which has also been noticed in Mulla's Hindu Law at page 114 of the 14th Edition as follows-

'Two or more daughters of a class take the estate jointly as in the case of widows, with rights of survivorship.

Therefore, even on the principle of survivorship, the two plaintiffs would be entitled to the entire properties left by Mariammal as the surviving heirs on the death of Jagannatha Ammal. Consequently, the defendant cannot claim any right over this property on the death of Jagannatha Ammal in 1950. The legal position as already discussed shows that Jagannatha Ammal could not have been a stock of descent and, therefore, Sargunavalli could not become her heir with respect to those properties so that on the death of Sargunavalli the property could devolve on Subbiah Chetti.

6. The only other aspect that was canvassed by the learned counsel for the appellant was that Mariammal's husband Govinda Chetti had executed a settlement deed on 3-7-1973 marked as Ex. A. 1 in the case. Under the said document he claimed that this property had been in his undisputed enjoyment for a period of thirty years and he left part of the properties in favour of the first plaintiff and the other part in favour of the second plaintiff and Sargunavalli who was then alive. This document is relied on in support of the defendant's title to a share. It is in this context that the competence of Govinda Chetti to execute a settlement in respect of this property has to be gone into. Govinda Chetti had certain other properties which he had obtained on partition. I am not concerned with the settlement covering those properties. I am only concerned with the settlement of the properties left by Mariammal, his wife. He had no title to these properties. The assertion in the document that he was in undisputed possession of the property on his own for a period of thirty years does not appear to be a correct one. At any rate, there is no evidence to show that he put forward any rights adverse to his own daughters at any time prior to 3-7-1963. At the time when Marriammal died in 1936, her daughters were all young. It is only subsequently that they were married. Govinda Chetti could only have been in possession of those properties on the death of Marriammal for and on behalf of his own children. It is now well-settled that a permissive possession cannot be converted into an adverse possession, unless it is proved that the person in possession asserted an adverse title to the property to the knowledge of the true owners for a period of twelve years or more. See State Bank of Travancore v. Panicker, : AIR1971SC996 . As there is no evidence on any assertion of any title hostile to any daughters by Govinda Chetti at any point of time earlier than 3-7-1963, the settlement under Ex. A-1 can only be taken as such assertion on that particular date. The present suit has been filed within a period of three years from the said assertion and, therefore, the defendant cannot derive any benefit under the said document. Govinda Chetti had absolutely no right or interest over the said properties so as to settle them on others and, therefore, the defendant cannot claim any right under the said settlement either. The result is that the court below acted rightly in decreeing the suit in the manner done. There is no merit in this appeal. It is accordingly dismissed. No order as to costs. The court-fee payable on the memorandum of appeal filed as pauper will be paid within a period of three months from this date. Time for four months is granted for delivery of possession.

7. Appeal dismissed.


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