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Velayuda Gurukal Vs. Annammal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1926Mad652
AppellantVelayuda Gurukal
RespondentAnnammal and ors.
Cases ReferredSecretary of State v. Srinivasa Chariar
Excerpt:
.....and tippu ceased to exist, as the act of conquest did away with all the rights of the inhabitants that existed at the time of the conquest. decide the interesting question whether the government made a grant of the inam to the predecessors-in-title of the plaintiff or only recognized a pre-existing title. it is unnecessary to discuss the question further as we are satisfied in this case that the inam documents produced in the case are such documents as would bring them within the principle of ruling in midnapur zemindari v. ): in the circumstances of this case it is the best evidence of those terms, and it is on the true construction of the terms, so evidenced that the rights of the plaintiffs must depend. had these materials stood alone .they might well have been urged as..........but venkatasubba row, j., dismissed the plaintiff's suit on the ground that the recitals in the inam documents were against the claim of the plaintiff.2. the point raised by the appellant before us is that the misconstruction of a document which is not a title-deed or foundation of title is not a ground for interference by the high court in second appeal. the argument is that the original deed of grant was not in evidence in the suit and exs. a,b,c, i and ii, were only evidence in the case and the misconstruction of a document which is only a piece of evidence is not a ground for interference in second appeal. reliance is placed upon a recent decision of the privy council in midnapur zemindary v. uma charan mandal a.i.r. 1923 p.c. 187. in the case lord sumner in delivering the.....
Judgment:

1. This is an appeal against the judgment of our learned brother, Venkatasubba Row, J., reversing the decrees of the lower Courts and dismissing the plaintiff's suit. The plaintiff brought the suit for possession of property on the ground that it belonged to an Authinam. Both the lower Courts held in plaintiff's favour. But Venkatasubba Row, J., dismissed the plaintiff's suit on the ground that the recitals in the inam documents were against the claim of the plaintiff.

2. The point raised by the appellant before us is that the misconstruction of a document which is not a title-deed or foundation of title is not a ground for interference by the High Court in second appeal. The argument is that the original deed of grant was not in evidence in the suit and Exs. A,B,C, I and II, were only evidence in the case and the misconstruction of a document which is only a piece of evidence is not a ground for interference in second appeal. Reliance is placed upon a recent decision of the Privy Council in Midnapur Zemindary v. Uma Charan Mandal A.I.R. 1923 P.C. 187. In the case Lord Sumner in delivering the judgment of their Lordships observed:

The documents admitted in evidence upon that question are really historical materials, and although they have to be construed, and if possible understood, they are not to be treated as involving issues of law merely because they have to be construed. It is not as though they were being construed as instruments of title, or were contracts or statutes, or otherwise the direct foundation of rights.

3. In the case the question for decision was what was the date on which a particular holding began as a definite holding; and a number of documents were put in evidence which were of historical character. So far as the report goes, there is nothing to show that any document which directly related to the title of property had to be construed. In the present case the inam register and the inam patta, though they are not the original grants, yet contain the terms of the original grant and in the absence of the original grant, the inam title deed and the inam register and the statement are the foundation of the inamdar's title. It has been urged that at the time of the inam enquiry the rights of the parties as they existed at the time were acknowledged by the Inam Commissioner and the Inam Commissioner did not confer any title on the inamdar nor did he take away the right from him. In answer to this contention, Mr. T.M. Krishnaswami Iyer, urges that Coimbatore District was a part of the Mysore State and when the East India Co., defeated Hyder and Tippu and took possession of the territory, all the rights of the persons who held under Hyder and Tippu ceased to exist, as the act of conquest did away with all the rights of the inhabitants that existed at the time of the conquest. He relies upon Secretary of State v. Bai Raj Bai [1915] 39 Bom. 625, Arunachellam v. Venkatachalapathi Guruswamigal [1919] 43 Mad. 253 and Sethuramaswami v. Meruswami [1918] 41 Mad. 296. On the other hand the appellant's vakil relies upon Vangala Dikshatulu v. Vengala Gavaramma [1905] 28 Mad. 13, Cherukuri Venkanna v. Mantravathi Lakshmi Narayana 2 M.H.C. 327, Gannaiyan v. Kamakchi Ayyar [1903] 26 Mad. 339 and Narayana v. Chengalamma [1887] 10 Mad. 1. It is unnecessary for the purpose of this case to. decide the interesting question whether the Government made a grant of the inam to the predecessors-in-title of the plaintiff or only recognized a pre-existing title. The policy of the British Government when they acquired territory either by conquest or by cession or by any other Act of State, was not to do away altogether wit h the rights of the inhabitants in the portion of the territory acquired or ceded, but to try to act equitably in all matters and to preserve the status quo ante. It is unnecessary to discuss the question further as we are satisfied in this case that the inam documents produced in the case are such documents as would bring them within the principle of ruling in Midnapur Zemindari v. Uma Charan Mandal [1881] 23 Mad. 86, even if the observation of Lord Sumner is to be literally understood.

4. The case in Secretary of State v. Srinivasa Chariar [1921] 44 Mad. 421 upon which great reliance is placed by the appellant does not help him. In that case, though the original deed of grant was not produced, yet a copy which was accepted as a correct copy of the deed of grant was in evidence. Their Lordships observe at page 429 (44 Mad.):

In the circumstances of this case it is the best evidence of those terms, and it is on the true construction of the terms, so evidenced that the rights of the plaintiffs must depend.

5. In discussing the probative force of the other documents filed in the case their Lordships observe:

Had these materials stood alone .they might well have been urged as suggesting an inference that the original grant was in terms that supported the plaintiff's claim as to what passed under it. But in the clearer light afforded by Ex. 1 they lose their evidentiary value and leave the terms as shown by that exhibit in no degree obscured.

6. In this case, as already observed, the deed of grant is not produced. The statements made before the Inam Commissioner and the title-deed issued by him are the foundation of the plaintiff's title, But for the inam title-deed and the inam statement it is difficult to see how the plaintiff could reasonably contend that it was an inam to his predecessor in title. These documents are, therefore, the foundation of the plaintiff's claim and the misconstruction of such documents is certainly a ground upon which the High Court could interfere. In this connexion it may be observed that the inquiry at the time of the inam settlement was as thorough as it could be in the circumstances and the Inam Commissioner after such inquiry settled the terms upon which the inams were to be held, and in the absence of the original deed of grant it cannot be said that the inam documents did not embody what the parties at the time considered to be their rights.

7. This Court has been consistently interfering in eases where the lower Courts have misread evidence or overlooked important evidence or relied for their conclusion upon inadmissible evidence, or where they misdirected themselves as to any questions of importance or where they relied upon personal knowledge or where they took a wrong view as to the onus of proof, or where they decided points not raised by the parties, or where they misconstrued important documents. When a Court misconstrues a document it relies upon a construction which it is not capable of bearing and such misconstruction leads not merely to a wrong view of the evidence but to relying upon what it considers to be an inference from the evidence which the evidence is not capable of bearing. The misconstruction of an important document, therefore, is a ground for interference by the High Court.

8. In this case we have no hesitation in holding that the inam documents are the basis of the plaintiff's title and the misconstruction of them is a ground for interference in second appeal.

9. The decision of our learned brother is right and we dismiss the Letters Patent appeal with costs.


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