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R. Thangaraja Pandian Vs. Veeraraghava Iyengar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLimitation
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1958)1MLJ69
AppellantR. Thangaraja Pandian
RespondentVeeraraghava Iyengar
Cases ReferredZamorin of Calicut v. Achutha Menon
Excerpt:
.....matters, namely, the declaration as well as the recovery of the dues under the right so declared. if the contention of the appellant is well founded there is no article which deals specifically with, the period of limitation in the case of a suit to recover moneys due under an alleged periodically recurring right......under section 42, o.p. no. 571 of 1952, which was filed on 29th june, 1952, was beyond the period of limitation prescribed by section 42 and was therefore barred ; (2) that the respondent, veeraraghava iyengar had not established his identity as a representative of the original inamdar, sami aiyan, whose, successor in interest he claimed to be ; (3) that in any event the claim to the arrears of payments for any period beyond 3 years was barred by limitation, and that the tribunal could not allow the arrears for the 9 years claimed in the petition ; (4) that the amount expressed in terms of money as that due for arrears was not based on a proper computation of the price of paddy at the relevant periods.7. along with o.p. no. 571 of 1952, the respondent filed an application to.....
Judgment:

P. Rajagopala Ayyangar, J.

1. The estate of Panayur in Tirunelveli district was notified and taken over by Government under the provisions of the Estate Abolition Act XXVI of 1948, and advance compensation therefor totalling Rs. 14,940 was deposited with the Estates Abolition Tribunal, Madurai. Thereafter the respondent before us made a claim under Section 42 for the payment to him of a sum of Rs. 5,383-10-0 out of the amount thus deposited. This claim has been upheld in part by the Tribunal, which has directed payment to the respondent of Rs. 945-7-2 to be made, and it is this decision of the Tribunal whose correctness is challenged in this appeal by the proprietor, the ' principal landholder ' of the estate.

2. The claim of the respondent preferred under Section 42 numbered as O.P. No. 571 of 1952 was based on these facts.

From time immemorial the mahajanas, the pangalis of the applicant were entitled to a melwaram of 6 1/2 kottahs of seed land as dhilta manibam, the respondent being entitled to 5 and 31/32 for his share.

In support of his case the respondent filed Exhibits A-i to A-3. Exhibit A-1 was an extract from the register of inams of the village, in which it was stated that there was a mahajana inam which found a place from the manibam accounts starting with Fasli 1212. The extent of this inam was specified as 8 kottahs wet and 5 marakkals dry, which expressed in acres came to 24.2 acres wet and 25.01 dry. This document set out 17 individuals as then in enjoyment of the inam, noting 'one Sami Aiyan aged then 40 years being entitled to 5 and 31/32 shares with a remark that the total of the karais in the village was 33. It also made a note that in the neighbouring village of Vayali Kulam the then owners also possessed shares, which were set out. The respondent then went to state that the melwaram was subsequently quantified, and that as the representative of these inamdars, he was for his share entitled to the sum claimed.

3. It is now common ground that the land, which was the subject of this grant was not at the date of the grant or even inam settlement localised but was merely melwaram due on an 8 kottahs of land out of the total extent of lands in the village. At some date not now ascertainable the share of the melwaram payable to the inamdars was settled with the landholder at 26 kottahs, 20 marakkalsand 2 1/2 padis of paddy.

4. The respondent claimed that there had been arrears in the payment of his share out of the 26 kottahs, etc., of paddy between Faslis 1351 to 1359, and made a claim for a sum of Rs. 1,769-9-0 as representing these arrears. The value of the future payments was computed at Rs. 3,614-10-0 that was claimed in the application under Section 42.

5. There was no dispute regarding the existence of the inam ; nor regarding the amount in paddy, which was substituted for the yearly melwaram payable in respect of these unlocalised lands.

6. The appellant raised four grounds in opposition to this claim : (1) That the compensation amount had been deposited with the Tribunal on 3rd July, 1951, and that the petition under Section 42, O.P. No. 571 of 1952, which was filed on 29th June, 1952, was beyond the period of limitation prescribed by Section 42 and was therefore barred ; (2) That the respondent, Veeraraghava Iyengar had not established his identity as a representative of the original inamdar, Sami Aiyan, whose, successor in interest he claimed to be ; (3) That in any event the claim to the arrears of payments for any period beyond 3 years was barred by limitation, and that the Tribunal could not allow the arrears for the 9 years claimed in the petition ; (4) That the amount expressed in terms of money as that due for arrears was not based on a proper computation of the price of paddy at the relevant periods.

7. Along with O.P. No. 571 of 1952, the respondent filed an application to excuse the delay in his filing the petition. In the affidavit in support of it the respondent had stated that he was not aware of the precise date of the deposit, and that consequently the delay in filing the O.P. within the period of six months should be excused. The Tribunal, though it did not pass any reasoned order on this application, allowed it, and it must therefore be held that it was satisfied that the respondent had just cause for not filing his petition in time. We do not see any error on this head in the order of the Tribunal to be rectified in the appeal.

8. The next point was in relation to the identity of the respondent, Veeraraghava Iyengar as the successor-in-interest of Krishna Aiyan referred to in Exhibit A-1. The only ground urged for this before the Tribunal, and repeated before us also, was that whereas the respondent, was an Iyengar, the individual named in Exhibit A-1 was an Ayyar. The Tribunal has repelled this contention on the ground, that there are several communities among the brahmins where the suffixes Ayyar and Iyengar are indiscriminately used in the same family and this by itself was, therefore, no reason to reject the respondent's case. We are in entire agreement with this view, which we confirm from our own experience.

9. The third point was regarding the validity of the claim for any period beyond three years. The Tribunal allowed the claim for more than three years by holding that the payment of this melwaram constituted a charge on the estate. Learned Counsel for the appellants strenuously contended that the Tribunal committed an error in so holding. The Tribunal referred to the decision of a Bench of this Court, Krishniahv. Lodd Govinda Doss (1937) 46 M.L.W. 358 as authority for the view. It was there held by Varadachari and Pandurang Rao, JJ., that a suit for the recovery of Kavimera being a grant of a portion of the melwaram of a certain village in a zamindari was governed by Article 131 of the Limitation Act, as being a suit to establish a periodically recurring right, which could be enforced within a period of twelve years. The learned Judges, also held that the liability in that case constituted a charge on the zamindari estate.

10. Mr. Viswanatha Iyer, learned Counsel for the appellant attacked both the points involved in that decision. First he said that the decision of the Full Bench in Zamotin of Calicut v. Achutha Menon : AIR1914Mad377 on the proper interpretation of scope of Article 131 of the Limitation Act which had been followed in Krlshniah v. Lodd Govinda Doss (1937) 46 M. L.W. 358 was no longer good law by reason of a pronouncement of the Federal Court in Punjab Province v. Pandit Tara Chand (1947) 2 M.L.J. 389 . Secondly it was urged that the payment in the present case could not constitute a charge on the entire estate. We are unable to uphold either of these objections. In Zamorin of Calicut v. Achutha Menon : AIR1914Mad377 a Full Bench of this Court held that Article 131 applied not merely to a suit merely for a declaration of the plaintiff's right but it also governed the period of limitation for the recovery of the sums due under such right. The learned Judges examined all the previous decisions, and held that the language used in Article 131 though not free from doubt, pointed to the conclusion that it covered both these matters, namely, the declaration as well as the recovery of the dues under the right so declared. White, C.J., who delivered the main opinion said:

The question of the existence of the right is no doubt distinct from the question of the right to recover moneys if it is established that the right exists. It is, however, difficult to see why the period of limitation should not in both cases be the same, as it is in the case of a suit for a declaration of a right to maintenance and in a suit for arrears of maintenance. If the contention of the appellant is well founded there is no article which deals specifically with, the period of limitation in the case of a suit to recover moneys due under an alleged periodically recurring right. There is force in the contention that the use of the word 'establish' and the fact that there is only one article in the case of a suit with reference to a periodically recurring right, and not two as in the case of suits based on an alleged right to maintenance (see Articles 128 and 129) indicate that the Legislature intended to deal with both classes of suits in Article 131.

This decision of a Full Bench has been followed in this Court ever since in numerous cases. The judgment of the Federal Court, which learned Counsel urges has overruled this Full Bench decision, was in relation to a suit by a public servant for the recovery of the arrears of his salary. One of the contentions raised by Government was that this suit was barred. His Lordship Zafrullah Khan, J., who dealt with this point about limitation considered the applicability of various articles of the Limitation Act, which counsel on either side contended were relevant to such a case. Articles 115 and 102 were put forward on behalf of the Government. They were rejected as inapplicable for reasons, which are not material in the present context. Counsel for the public servant in that case urged two Articles as applicable, Articles 131 and 120. The Court held that the latter was the one more appropriate.

11. Dealing with Article 131 Zafrullah Khan, J., said:

Article 131 applies to suits to establish a peroidically recurring right. The period of limitation provided by the Article is 12 years and begins to run when the plaintiff is first refused the enjoyment of the right. A claim to recover arrears of pay is manifestly not one to establish a periodically recurring light.

This last sentence is relied on as conflicting with the decision of this Court in Zamorin of Calicut v. Achutha Menon : AIR1914Mad377 and as in effect overruling it. We are wholly unable to accept this argument. We understand the sentence to mean no more than that a salary due to a public servant is not a' periodically recurring right within Article 131. The attention of the Court was not drawn to the various decisions of the several High Courts as to the proper interpretation of the words in the first column of Article 131 and we cannot, therefore, hold that without any consideration of the difficulties involved in construing those words in a restricted sense, the Federal Court intended to overrule the long line of decisions of this Court on the topic.

12. The next point urged before us was as to whether the respondent had a charge in respect of the payments due to the pangudars. When the original inam was granted, the land out of which the melwaram was to issue was specified only by extent and was not localised. Therefore, the only conclusion possible is that the melwaram was to issue out of every portion of the land in the estate. This would, therefore, have constituted a charge on the estate. Learned Counsel, however, urged that when by reason of the later arrangement, the amount due for melwaram was quantified into 26 kottahs, etc., of paddy, it became transformed as it were into a rent due under a permanent lease, and that without any express provision therefor no charge far the rent would exist. We are unable to uphold this contention. The nature of the obligation imposed upon the holder of the estate recognised by the inam grant and confirmed at the inam settlement was not altered by reason of the substituted arrangement. The judgment in A.S. No. 230 of 1894, which was a previous proceeding in which certain pangudars successfully sued to recover the arrears of the amounts due to them give some indication as to the manner in which this fixation took place. The learned District Judge there remarked that the average for particular periods was taken as the basis, and this was fixed for the future without reference to good or bad seasons, the actual yield during any particular year being wholly ignored. This would, therefore, indicate that there was no basic change in the nature of the right of the pangalis or in the obligation of the proprietor, but only that instead of payments which might vary with the actual produce from the lands, this became fixed quantities of paddy. If as we hold, there was a charge under the terms of the inam settlement it follows that it remained unaffected by the quantification of the payments. In this connection some reliance was sought to be placed on the allegation in the petition, O.P. No. 571 of 1952, where the respondent had used the words ' permanent lease '. But in the context it is clear that he was merely trying to reproduce what he considered was the decision in the proceeding of 1892 to 1895 culminating in A.S. No. 230 of 1894 to which we have already referred. We have gone through the entirety of this judgment of the appellate Court, and there is no basis for the contention that the substituted arrangement partook of the nature of a permanent lease. In our opinion, the Tribunal was right in holding, that there was a charge on the estate for the payment of these sums.

13. The last point that remains to be dealt with is as regards the conversion into money of the respondent's share of the 26 kottahs, etc., of paddy. Learned Counsel pointed out that the Tribunal committed an error in thinking that the appellant had in his statement put the price of paddy in the relevant years at Rs. 8 per kottah. Though there is justification for this complaint, it does not help the appellant. The Tribunal had directed the parties to file statements as to the price of paddy, and the respondent put it at Rs. 15 per kottah. If, as is now pointed out, the appellant did not suggest any figure as the price during the relevant period, it would be seen that the statement of the Tribunal, that the figure of Rs. 15 per kottah mentioned by the respondent stood uncontradicted, is correct.

14. There are no merits in this appeal, which fails and is dismissed with costs.


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