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Kandukuri Veera Basavaraju Pantulu and ors. Vs. Kandukuri Balasurya Prasadarao Pantulu and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported inAIR1915Mad316; 25Ind.Cas.3
AppellantKandukuri Veera Basavaraju Pantulu and ors.
RespondentKandukuri Balasurya Prasadarao Pantulu and anr.
Cases ReferredVellanki Venkata Krishna Rao v. Venkata Rama Lakshmi
Excerpt:
.....the nearest reversioner, and to obtain the consent of any but three comparatively remote sapindas of whom two were interested directly in approving her project, she made, no such bonafide effort to take the opinion of the sapindas or a majority of them as the law..........is valid, will be to make the 1st plaintiff a nearer reversioner, as son of his adoptive father, pedda sanniyasi razu, viswanada row's paternal uncle. the learned district judge has held it invalid on the ground that it was not made either with the authority of pedda sanniyasi razu or with a legally sufficient consent by sapindas. we are prepared to accept these findings and we, therefore, need not deal with his remaining ground of decision that in any case no adoption made by the widow of pedda sanniyasi razu, after the last male member of the family of viswanada row had died and the estate had vested in his widow, could justify the plaintiff's claim. the learned district judge has dealt very fully with the facts and we need not repeat his reasons for holding that plaintiff's.....
Judgment:

1. The question in this appeal is of the validity of the adoption of 1st plaintiff. It is denied by defendants, who would, but for the adoption, be the reversioners of K. V. Viswanada Row, the last male owner of the suit property including the valuable Uralam and Devadi estates. The effect of the adoption, if it is valid, will be to make the 1st plaintiff a nearer reversioner, as son of his adoptive father, Pedda Sanniyasi Razu, Viswanada Row's paternal uncle. The learned District Judge has held it invalid on the ground that it was not made either with the authority of Pedda Sanniyasi Razu or with a legally sufficient consent by sapindas. We are prepared to accept these findings and we, therefore, need not deal with his remaining ground of decision that in any case no adoption made by the widow of Pedda Sanniyasi Razu, after the last male member of the family of Viswanada Row had died and the estate had vested in his widow, could justify the plaintiff's claim. The learned District Judge has dealt very fully with the facts and we need not repeat his reasons for holding that plaintiff's allegations, supported by interested witnesses of low credit and in parts improbable, are not proved. It is also on this account unnecessary for us to adjudicate on the legal objection to the admissibility of Exhibit B, on the ground that it is unregistered. We refer, however, to one point because stress has been laid on it here in argument. It is urged that the learned District Judge has been led by a mistaken construction of Exhibit VI (a), not only to find that Pedda Sanniyasi died about 1840 and, therefore, could not, as plaintiffs allege, have consented in 1853 to an adoption, but also to allow this mistake to influence his consideration of the evidence as a whole. Firstly, however, there were other good reasons besides those based on Exhibit VI (a) for his conclusions, and secondly, his argument from that document was, in our opinion, sustainable. It is said that it was not, because it took no account of the possibility that Pedda Sanniyasi was the son, not of Veeyamma, but of. another wife of his father, and that, therefore, the reference to only one son by the former as alive in 1841 does not entail that Pedda Sanniyasi was dead then. This objection is alleged to be the stronger, because there is no reference even to Pedda Sanniyasi's widow or her right to maintenance, and because in Exhibit AA, in 1855 Veeyamma's only son, not her only surviving son, is mentioned. The sufficient answers to all this seem to us to be that (1) the reference to an only son in Exhibit AA was sufficiently explicit for the purpose of the writer; (2) no reference to Pedda Sanniyasi's widow or her maintenance was necessary in Exhibit VI (a), because it dealt only with the succession to the estate of Veeyamma, her mother-in-law, not with any of the ancestral property of her husband which alone was liable for her claim to maintenance; (3) as the District Judge has shown, the suggestion that Pedda Sanniyasi was not the son of Veeyamma was made only at the hearing and was supported by no acceptable evidence.

2. The earliest of the consents relied on, which we can treat as proved, is Exhibit Rl. It is a letter from one Borroya Bhushena Rao, now deceased, the great-grandson of the brother of the great-grandfather of Pedda Sanniyasi, to whom the adoption was made, and of the great-great-grandfather of Viswanadha Row, the last male-holder. He was, therefore, in almost the remotest class of reversioners to the latter, and accordingly even if Exhibit R1 contained everything essential to a valid consent, it could affect the justification for the widow's action only in an infinitesimal degree. It further, however, consists merely in a general statement that the writer welcomes her intention to adopt and contains no approval of the adoption of 1st plaintiff in particular on indication that his selection was known. In fact the 1st plaintiff's father deposed as the 1st plaintiff's witness that he was asked to give him for the purpose only after Exhibit A, five months later. No doubt the learned District Judge is mistaken in his statement that the other matters referred to in Exhibit R1 as reserved for discussion are shown by evidence to have included the choice of a boy. But on the evidence available and the terms of Exhibit Rl, we must hold that it, at the highest, authorized the adoption of any boy at any time and, therefore, was useless, vide Suryanarayana v. Venkataramana 26 M. 681, and that, as the learned District Judge opines, it expresses only a general willingness to consider the making of an adoption favourably, the necessary final consent to a specific adoption being reserved ' until details are available. In these circumstances Exhibit R1 must be dismissed from consideration. Exhibit. B and the evidence regarding the consents of the alleged signatories to it must also, we agree with the learned District Judge, be rejected. It follows that the consents in evidence, Exhibits A and Al, are those only of the 1st, plaintiff's witness who is the 1st plaintiff's father, Aiyappa Razu, and the 1st plaintiff's witness' brother, now deceased. They were members of the third of the classes into which the learned District Judge has divided the reversioners. On the other hand, it is not shown that the members of the second class the remaining members of the third class or the members of the fifth class were consulted; and, a most important fact, the nearest reversioner, defendant's father, K. Sanniyasi Razu, refused his consent. The question is whether Exhibits A and Al, are sufficient authority for the adoption in these circumstances.

3. As regards K. Sannayasi Razu, there is an averment in the plaint that he consented to the adoption of his own son, 2nd defendant, in 1882, the suggestion being that he has now withdrawn his consent capriciously. We do not think that the evidence of the untrustworthy plaintiff's 7th witness and the inference from Exhibit A justify even the qualified acceptance which the learned District Judge has given to this part of the case. And in any event it is clear that (1) this arrangement was abandoned before 1890, the date of Exhibit V (a) to be refered to later, and (2) such a consent might properly be limited to the adoption of the son of the consenting sapinda and would lose its validity after lapse of time during which circumstances had changed: Subramaniam v. Venkamma 26 M. 627 : 13 M.L.J. 239, and Suryanarayana v. Venkatraman 26 M. 681. As regards Exhibit D2 in which K. Sanniyasi refused his consent, it is first material that it is not shown to have been sent in response to any request for his opinion, since its language does not imply any, and the only evidence of one, plaintiff's 7th witness, is useless intrinsically and because it relates to a request in 1894, when neither plaintiff nor any other boy had been selected. Exhibit D2, therefore, resembles the communication from the plaintiff referred to in Subrahmanyam v. Venkamma 26 M. 627 : 13 M.L.J. 239, and we must hold that the widow was not relieved from 'the duty of consulting K. Sanniyasi in consequence of it, and that he was not under an obligation to give his reasons exhaustively in it, when they had not been asked for and presumably, therefore, there was no desire to consider them fairly. In fact Exhibit D2 warned the widow against the adoption on the ground that, as a mere maintenance-holder she was not competent to make it, a rough statement apparently of the legal argument based on the vesting of the estate in Viswanadha Row's widow, which the learned District Judge accepted. K. Sanniyasi was certainly entitled to present it for consideration, if only tentatively and as a preliminary to the making of the other objections, which were also available and to which we refer.

4. Those objections are material also with reference to the value of the consents obtained, Exhibits A and A1. The learned District Judge has dealt at length with the facts and it is clear that (1) Narasayamma, his widow, took no steps to adopt for at least thirty years from the later date, alleged for the death of Pedda Sanniyasi by the plaintiffs, (2) she then very possibly owing to dissatisfaction with her position on the succession of Mahalakshmamma, widow of the last male-holder of the estate, merely sent Exhibit S to the Collector, (3) she formally abandoned her intention to adopt in 1890 by Exhibit V, in consideration of the continuance of her very substantial allowance, (4) she revived that intention in 1895, only after Mahalakshmamma had taken steps towards an adoption, apparently because there was no indication that any member of her own and the first plaintiff's branch of the family would be chosen and her opportunities for deriving advantage from the estate might be diminished, (5) she then adopted the 1st plaintiff, though he would not be capable of performing her husband's ceremonies for over twelve years. The learned District Judge was apparently deterred, by the first part of the dictum of the Privy Council in the pennltimate paragraph of Vellanki Venkata Krishna Rao v. Venkata Rama Lakshmi 1 M. 174 : 4 I.A.I : 26 W.R. 21 : 1 Ind. Jur. 63 : 3 Sar. P.C.J. 669 : 3 Suth. P.C.J. 353, from holding that the foundation of the widow's motives in no legitimate desire for her husband's spiritual benefit or the perpetuation of his family, but in the caprice and personal advantage, was not decisive. We need not consider whether the conclusion of that dictum did. not authorise him to do so, nor need we go through the, cases to which he has referred. For though the circumstances enumerated imposed a special obligation on Narasayamma to place her conduct beyond suspicion, it is plain that; having failed to consult the 1st defendant's father, the nearest reversioner, and to obtain the consent of any but three comparatively remote sapindas of whom two were interested directly in approving her project, she made, no such bonafide effort to take the opinion of the sapindas or a majority of them as the law requires. We, accordingly, agree with the learned District Judge that the adoption was made without the necessary authority and was, therefore, invalid.

5. The consequence is that the appeal fails and is dismissed with costs.


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