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Nagammal Vs. Alagumanna Chettiar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1984)1MLJ40
AppellantNagammal
RespondentAlagumanna Chettiar
Cases ReferredPerumal v. China Kuppanna Gounder
Excerpt:
.....the plea put forward by the revision petitioner herein that she is entitled to the benefits of the debt relief acts of the state of tamil nadu, the court should always view the case of the defendant the revision petitioner herein with sympathy, because, the three enactments contemplate relief to persons like the revision petitioner who are engaged in cultivation. 7. learned counsel for the revision petitioner submits that a debtor against whom a suit is instituted can claim the benefits under all these three enactments, namely, act xxxi of 1976, act xl of 1978 repealed by act xl of 1979, as well as act xiii of 1980. in the instant case, it is submitted that the documentary evidence adduced on behalf of the revision petitioner, namely, certified copies of adangals as well as chitta..........as prayed for and that the defendant is not entitled to any of the benefits of the tamil nadu debt relief act.2. the suit was instituted by the plaintiff alagumanna chettiar, who is the respondent herein who is not represented today when this petition is heard. he has neither appeared in person nor made arrangements to make representations. the learned counsel for the revision petitioner was heard. the suit was on a promissory note executed by the defendant on 20th march, 1974 for rs. 1,500 which is filed as exhibit a-1 in the suit. exhibit a-2 is the registration copy of the mortgage deed executed by the defendant in favour of the nallaperumal chettiar. apart from examining himself as p. w. 1, the plaintiff has examined p.w.-2 and 3 in support of his case. case.3. the defendant.....
Judgment:
ORDER

S. Swamikkannu, J.

1. This is a revision petition filed by the defendant, Nagammal against the judgment and decree, dated 19th August, 1981, in O.S. No. 2158 of 1978 on the file of the Court of the learned Additional District Munsif, Namakkal, holding that the plaintiff is entitled to a decree as prayed for and that the defendant is not entitled to any of the benefits of the Tamil Nadu Debt Relief Act.

2. The suit was instituted by the plaintiff Alagumanna Chettiar, who is the respondent herein who is not represented today when this petition is heard. He has neither appeared in person nor made arrangements to make representations. The learned Counsel for the revision petitioner was heard. The suit was on a promissory note executed by the defendant on 20th March, 1974 for Rs. 1,500 which is filed as Exhibit A-1 in the suit. Exhibit A-2 is the registration copy of the mortgage deed executed by the defendant in favour of the Nallaperumal Chettiar. Apart from examining himself as P. W. 1, the plaintiff has examined P.W.-2 and 3 in support of his case. case.

3. The defendant examined herself as D. W. 1 and produced Exhibits B-1 and B-2, which are certified copies of cultivation adangal for faslis 1389 and 1388 respectively, and Exhibit B-3 certified copy of chitta extract for fasli 1390.

4. The trial Court framed the following issues--

1. Whether the defendant executed the suit pronote and received any consideration?

2. Whether the defendant Was indebted to the plaintiff's brother Nallathambi and whether she gave him two thumb impressioned propers for the purpose of renewal and the suit pro-note is genuine?

3. Whether the defendant is entitled to the benefits of T. N. Act XXXI of 1976 and Act XL of 1978?

4. To what relief, if any, is the plaintiff entitled?

Additional Issues :--Whether the defendant is entitled to the benefits or T. N. Act XIII of 1980?

5. The trial Court found all the issues against the defendant and decreed the suit as prayed for with costs. The trial Court held under issue No. 3 and additional issue that the defendant is not entitled to benefits under any of the Debt Relief Acts of the Tamil Nadu, because, apart from producing Exhibits B-1 to B-3 she had not even produced the certificate said to have been issued in her favour by the Tahsildar for herself claiming the benefits of the Debt Relief Acts. Because of the non-production of the same together with the non-availability of sufficient evidence on record, the trial Court held that the revision petitioner herein was not entitled to the benefits of any one of the three Acts enacted by the State of Tamil Nadu. The trial Court held that the defendant had not discharged her burden to show that she is not owning more than a unit of land as per the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Debt Relief Act, 1976 (XXXI of 1976) where one Unit is equivalent to 2 acres. and so also under the provisions of the other two enactments. So far as the Tamil Nadu Debt Relief Act XIII of 1980 is concerned, the trial Court has held that that the revision petitioner herein has not proved that her annual household income is less than Rs. 4,800 as contemplated by the definition of 'debtor' under Section 3 of Act XIII of 1980.

6. The learned Counsel for the revision petitioner submits that apart from producing Exhibits B-1 to B-3, what else can a poor lady like the petitioner do in order to get the benefits of the enactments. She had also deposed that her income is not appreciable. Under these circumstances, the burden shifts on the plaintiff-respondent herein, and in as much as the respondent herein who had laid the suit had not let in any satisfactory contra evidence to reject the plea put forward by the revision petitioner herein that she is entitled to the benefits of the Debt Relief Acts of the State of Tamil Nadu, the Court should always view the case of the defendant the revision petitioner herein with sympathy, because, the three enactments contemplate relief to persons like the revision petitioner who are engaged in cultivation. Tamil Nadu Act XL of 1979 came into existence on the statute book replacing Act XL of 1978. The object of that enactment is to provide for the relief of certain indebted persons in the State of Tamil Nadu. Act XII of 1980 is also an enactment to provide similar relief. Act XXXI of 1976 defines the term 'debt' in Section 3, Clause (e), to mean any liability in cash or in kind, whether secured or unsecused and whether decreed or not, but not to include arrears of tax due to the Central or State Governments or a local authority. The term, 'debtor' under Clause (f) of the same section of the same enactment, means (i) a landless agricultural labourer, or (ii) a rural artisan, or (iii) a small farmer who had borrowed or incurred any debt before the commencement of the Act. Act XL of 1979 defines the term 'debt' under Clause (2) of Section 3 to mean any liability in cash or in kind, whether secured or unsecured and whether decreed or not, but not to include rent as defined in Clause (8), and the term 'debtor' is defined under Clause (3) of the said section, to mean any person from whom any debt is due, subject to the Provisos and Explanations given thereunder. Under Act XIII of 1980. Section 3 Clause (d) defines the term 'debtor' to mean any person from whom a debt is due and whose annual household income does not exceed Rs. 4,800, subject to the Provisos and Explanation given thereunder.

7. Learned Counsel for the revision petitioner submits that a debtor against whom a suit is instituted can claim the benefits under all these three enactments, namely, Act XXXI of 1976, Act XL of 1978 repealed by Act XL of 1979, as well as Act XIII of 1980. In the instant case, it is submitted that the documentary evidence adduced on behalf of the revision petitioner, namely, certified copies of adangals as well as chitta extracts, would clearly show that the revision petitioner (defendant) owns only one acre 30 cents of land and as such, by no stretch of imagination, can it be argued that the said extent would fetch more than Rs. 4,800 annually. It is apposite to mention here that the case of the respondent-plaintiff is that apart from the land which the . revision petitioner owns. she is also engaged in milk-vending business. According to the respondent, the said business of the petitioner yields an appreciable income which taken together with the income from the land, would exceed the sum of Rs. 4,800, the limit contemplated under Section 3 of Act XIII of 1980. Apart from all this, though the revision-petitioner has claimed that she has obtained a certificate from the Tahsildar concerned that she is a small farmer, no such certificate has been produced by her by way of documentary evidence and as such, there was no adverse comment made by the lower Court in its order under revision. This aspect has also been the subject-matter of vehement argument before me by learned Counsel for the revision petitioner. According to learned Counsel the stand of the revision-petitioner is that apart from producing Exhibits B-1 to B-3, a poor farmer like petitioner who is an illiterate woman, cannot exert herself any more in order to prove her claim and that thereafter, the burden was shifted in to the respondent to prove contra. Learned Counsel would also submit that if this Court is inclined to remand the matter with respect to this aspect of the case to find out whether the petitioner is entitled to the benefits of any one of the abovesaid enactments as claimed by her, it is also open to her to agitate further relating to the question of genuineness of otherwise of the promissory note. In other words, the submission is. the finding relating to passing of consideration under the suit promissory note must also be left open if this Court is to remit the matter.

8. This revision petition involves very interesting points, namely, whether it is open to any person to make a claim for the benefits under all the three enactments and as such, it is for the Court to consider the definitions enabling the petitioner to claim the benefits under the provisions of the above enactments. In this regard, learned Counsel also refers to the decision of a Bench of this Court in Ramu Chettiar v. Special Tahsildar : (1982)2MLJ418 , wherein it was held that Sections 5 and 6 of the Act specifically conferred upon the Tahsildar the power to give a certificate of discharge as regards a pledge debt as well as a mortgage debt. No such power has been given to the Tahsildar in respect of money claims pending before the civil Court, but the judgment-debtor has to agitate the question as to whether he is entitled to the benefits under Act XIII of 1980, before the executing Court and cannot approach the Tahsildar to get a certificate of discharge of money claim which is pending before the civil Court. It was observed in the above case cited by learned Counsel as follows (vide para 3 of the report):

A conjoint reading of Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Act (XIII of 1980) seems to indicate that the view taken by the learned Judge flows from the language used in Section 4 as compared in Section 5 and 6 of the Act. When Sections 5 and 6 specifically confer upon the Tahsildar a power to give a certificate of discharge as regards the pledge debt as well as a mortgage debt, no such power has been given to the Tahsildar in respect of money claims which are pending before a civil Court. Therefore, we are in entire agreement with the view taken by Ratnam, J. in the above case Perumal v. China Kuppanna Gounder (1981) 94 L.W. 317 : (1981) 2 M.L.J. 1 : (1981) T.L.N.J. 236 : A.I.R. 1981 Mad. 271. Therefore, the third respondent in this case who is a respondent in the execution petition has to agitate the question as to whether he is entitled to the benefits of Section 4, of Act XIII of 1980 before the executing Court, and he cannot approach the Tahsildar or the appellate authority for getting a certificate of discharge of money claims which are pending before the civil Court.

This Court is of the view that in the interests of justice and in the interest of the appreciation of the provisions of the three special enanctments, benefit under which are claimed by the revision petitioner the suit has to be remanded back to the lower Court for fresh disposal in the light of the observations made above. The judgment and decree of the Court below are set aside and the suit is remanded back for fresh disposal, after allowing both sides to let in evidence, both oral and documentary, in order to appreciate the various aspects of the contentions put forward on the basis of the provisions of the Acts, namely, Acts XXXI of 1976. XL of 1979 and XIII of 1980. The revision petition is accordingly allowed. No. costs. The learned District Munsif, Namakkal, is directed to take up the suit on file soon after the receipt of the records and dispose it of as early as possible, since it is of the year 1978.


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