Skip to content


V. Gopala Chetty Vs. V. Narayanaswami Chetty - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1926Mad681
AppellantV. Gopala Chetty
RespondentV. Narayanaswami Chetty
Cases ReferredPonaha Siobbarani Reddy v. Vadamadi Seshachalam Chetty
Excerpt:
- - 3. on the third issue, the question was whether article 123 of the limitation act applied to the facts of this case, and the learned subordinate judge held that as the defendant must be held to be at best an intermeddler or an executor de son tort and as article 123 of the limitation act does not apply to an executor de son tort the plaintiff was only entitled to recover mesne profits from the defendant for three years prior to suit. i have been referred to the evidence and it appears that the widow was in a poor state of health very soon after the death of her husband and unable to move about. i think as the appellant has failed he must pay costs in this court......that the defendant was an executor de son tort. it is admitted that if he was an executor de son tort, article 123 applied by reason of the recent privy council ruling which has confirmed the decision of this court reported in zamindar of bhadrachalam v. venkatadri appa rao a.i.r. 1922 mad. 457.4. the second point taken is that if he is not an executor de son tort he is in the position of a mere accountant and therefore he is only liable to account for 6 years under art 120 of the limitation act, no reliance being placed on section 10 of the limitation act before me it has been somewhat strenuously contended that this defendant is not an executor de son tort or, at any rate, if he was, he certainly was not such between 1912, the date of kasturi chetti's death, and 1915, the date of his.....
Judgment:

Odgers, J.

1. This was a suit brought by the plaintiff who attained his majority in 1918 for an account of the properties left by his grandfather, Kasturi Chetti, who died in 1912j and for division of the same between the plaintiff and the defendant and for accounts and mesne profits. Kasturi Chetti left self-acquired properties which he divided equally between his grandson, the plaintiff, and his own third son, the defendant. The defendant raised a number of pleas including a prior division and the issues were: (1) whether the division pleaded by the defendant is true; (2) whether the defendant is accountable to the plaintiff as claimed in the plaint. If so, to what extent? and (3) Is the claim to mesne profits barred by limitation?

2. It appears from the judgment of the Subordinate Judge that there was no final division of the immovable properties as alleged by the defendant and that; as to the second issue a plea was taken that the defendant was the guardian of the plaintiff and kept him under his protection. This is found against.

3. On the third issue, the question was whether Article 123 of the Limitation Act applied to the facts of this case, and the learned Subordinate Judge held that as the defendant must be held to be at best an intermeddler or an executor de son tort and as Article 123 of the Limitation Act does not apply to an executor de son tort the plaintiff was only entitled to recover mesne profits from the defendant for three years prior to suit. On appeal to the District Judge he held that Article 123 did apply to the facts of the case, that the defendant was an executor de son tort and therefore liable to account for 12 years' mesne profits. Two points have been taken before me on second appeal, namely: (1) that the District Judge was wrong in holding that the defendant was an executor de son tort. It is admitted that if he was an executor de son tort, Article 123 applied by reason of the recent Privy Council ruling which has confirmed the decision of this Court reported in Zamindar of Bhadrachalam v. Venkatadri Appa Rao A.I.R. 1922 Mad. 457.

4. The second point taken is that if he is not an executor de son tort he is in the position of a mere accountant and therefore he is only liable to account for 6 years under Art 120 of the Limitation Act, no reliance being placed on Section 10 of the Limitation Act before me It has been somewhat strenuously contended that this defendant is not an executor de son tort or, at any rate, if he was, he certainly was not such between 1912, the date of Kasturi Chetti's death, and 1915, the date of his widow's death. There is no question but that the widow Venkamma was appointed executrix by the testator, but I rather doubt if she really entered on her duties at all. It is pointed out that the Subordinate Judge found that she took charge of the estate and managed it till her death in 1915 being helped by her sons in the collection of rents from houses and lands. The learned District Judge finds that the evidence shows that the defendant has been managing the estate of Kasturi Chetti since his death. I cannot say he is wrong. I have been referred to the evidence and it appears that the widow was in a poor state of health very soon after the death of her husband and unable to move about. A legal point is taken that the defendant cannot be an executor de son tort as long as the widow is alive. Reliance is placed on the Succession Act, Section 265, which of course does not apply to a Hindu Will. The section says:

A person who intermeddles with the estate of the deceased...while there is no rightful executor or administrator in existence.

5. As I said the section has no binding character in the present case; but what I think the section really means is not that the executor has to be alive but must not have disclaimed; and that of course is the difficulty in a Hindu Will in the moffusil where there are no means of finding out whether an executor or an executrix has formally disclaimed or not. It was further attempted to be argued that on the findings of the learned Subordinate Judge the defendant had in fact acted as an agent or under the authority of the rightful executrix. I very much doubt if this point has been agitated in either of the lower Courts and the finding of the District Judge is certainly against it. There is of course no doubt that where a person has been permitted by the executor to obtain possession of part of the assets of the testator he will not be executor de son tort to the original testator or of the executor even if he retained those assets after the executor's death when there is no personal representative of either: see Tomlin v. Beck [1823] T & R 438.. It is further urged that under the circumstances of this case the defendant is only liable for mesne profits for 6 year3; and a number of cases were referred to, beginning with Gajanan Vinayak v. Waman Shamrao : (1910)12BOMLR881 . That is a decision by a single Judge. There the contest was between Section 10 and Article 120 of the Limitation Act. It was held that the plaintiff could not take advantage of Article 123 but was restricted to accounts for six years only. The main argument seems to have been on the applicability of Section 10. The suit brought by the plaintiff for a share in the estate in question was brought 21 years after the death of the testator. In the present case it is said that the fact that for some little time the Will was disregarded and the legatees and others lived together as a joint Hindu family, must have the effect of depriving the plaintiff of the benefit of Article 123 and must reduce him to six years' mesne profits under Article 120. I am quite unable to see on what principle of law and justice this can be effected provided the defendant is an executor de son tort, and as to this I am unable to say that the District Judge is wrong either in his view of the evidence or in his decision on the law. If the defendant was an executor de son tort from the death of the testator I cannot see any reason why he should be allowed to put several years' mesne profits into his pocket by virtue of availing himself of the provisions of the residuary Article 120. In a case of pure accounting such will, of course, be the consequence, as for instance in Baradd Proshad Banerjee v. Gajendra Nath Banerjee 13 C.W.N. 557, where the Judges refer to the suit as a suit for accounts pure and simple of the description now before us, and they held that it could not be treated as a suit against the trustee for the purpose of following the trust property. There again Section 10 came up for consideration. In Hemangini Dasi v. Nebin Chand Ghose [1882] 8 Cal. 788 there was a period of 16 years between the death of the testator and the institution of the suit by one of the annuitants claiming a share under the Will and asking for a partition. There it was held that in taking the accounts only six years would be allowed on the authority of Saroda Pershad Chattopadhya v. Brojo Nath Buttacharjee [1880] 5 Cal. 910. In Parusotam Rao Tantia v. Radha Bai (1915) 37 All. 318 a similar decision was come to, but the facts of the case seem to be peculiar. There, a widow of one of the members of the family sued to recover from the manager of the family, and the term ' manager' is used not in the sense in which we usually use it but in reference to the individual to whom this particular family entrusted the management of its affairs. The question was whether it was a suit for money had and received or a suit to which Article 120 applied. It remains to note that the case in Zamindar of Bhadrachalam v. Venkatadri Appa Rao A.I.R. 1922 Mad. 457 which has been approved by the Privy Council was followed by a Bench of the Lahore High Court in Garbaksh Singh v. Bhagwan Singh A.I.R. 1924 Lah 561 and in the Madras Law Journal case, Schwabe, C.J., said:

In my view Article 123 applies to suits for degacies against any person rightly or wrongly in possession of the estate under such circumstances that he is bound to deal with it as the estate of the deceased.

6. I think, on the finding of the learned District Judge, that exactly describes the position of the defendant in this case. The defendant will of course be accountable for sums that have actually come into his hands under the ruling in Ponaha Siobbarani Reddy v. Vadamadi Seshachalam Chetty [1910] 33 Mad. 359 and will be entitled to all due allowances for payments made to or on behalf of or for the benefit of the grandson of the testator. With these modifications, I think the District Judge was right. I think as the appellant has failed he must pay costs in this Court.

7. The Second Appeal is dismissed with costs.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //