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Narayanaswami Naidu Vs. Chellammal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1970)2MLJ633
AppellantNarayanaswami Naidu
RespondentChellammal and ors.
Cases ReferredBasappa v. Siddamma
Excerpt:
- .....revenue or profits payable in respect of land used for agricultural purposes. the meaning of the word 'debt' has therefore to be ascertained by reference to the judicial decisions cited supra. the meaning adopted by the courts also (allies with the ordinary connotation of the word as accepted in public parlance. the word ' debt ' is defined in concise oxford dictionary as money, goods or services owing. the emphasis is upon the word ' owing ' and this necessarily connotes that there must be a pre-existing debt.10. in this case it is clear that the legal representatives are merely seeking to execute an order for the payment of compensation awarded to the deceased, and in the view i have taken about the meaning of word 'debt', it necessarily follows that the order is not one for the.....
Judgment:

S. Ganesan, J.

1. Narayanaswami Naidu, the defendant-Judgment-debtor in O.S. No. I221 of 1953 on the file of the District Munsif, Coimbatore is the appellant herein.

2. The material facts necessary for the disposal of this appeal lie in a short compass. One Damodaraswami Naidu filed the suit O.S. No. 1221 of 1953 referred to above against the appellant herein for recovery of a document, viz., an agreement to reconvey executed by the appellant in his favour. A sum of Rs. 2,000 had to be paid for, for enforcement of the agreement to reconvey. The suit was decreed as prayed for and, in execution of that decree, Damodaraswami Naidu sought to attach the appellant's properties and obtained a successful order therein. Thereupon the appellant filed C.M.A. No. 127 of 1960 before the first appellate Court, and a compromise was entered into and a joint memo. was filed whereby it was agreed that the executing Court might fix the sum payable to Damodaraswami Naidu as compensation under the provisions of Order 21, Rule 31, Civil Procedure Code, for non-delivery of the agreement of conveyance. The executing Court fixed the compensation Rs. 2,000 but it was reduced on appeal by the Subordinate Judge to Rs. 25 ; but the compensation of Rs. 2,000 fixed by the executing Court was restored by Vcnkatadri, J., in C.M.S.A. No. 104 of 1963. Damodaraswami Naidu subsequently died and his wife and children have filed E.P. No. 258 of 1966, out of which the present appeal arises, for execution of the order in E.P. No. 894 of 1961 under which the executing Court had fixed the compensation at Rs. 2,000.

3. The appellant, relying upon the provisions of Section 214 (1) (b) of the Indian Succession Act (XXXIX of 1925) contends that the execution sought for by the legal representatives of Damodaraswami Naidu of the order in E.P. No. 894 of 1961 is incompetent without the production of a succession certificate obtained under part X of the Act. Both the Courts below have rejected his objection and hence this appeal.

4. On a fair construction of Section 214 (1) (b) and of the decisions which had arisen under Section 214, I have come to the conclusion that the contention of the appellant is untenable.

5. In Khadim Hussain Khan v. Shri Nawab Abdur Rahman Khan 1956 A.L.J. 746, Randhir Singh, J., of Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court had held that a perusal of Section 214 (1) (a) of the Succession Act showed that a succession certificate would be necessary before the passing of a decree against a debtor of a deceased person for the payment of a debt, that this presupposes the existence of a debt before the suit was instituted and that a succession certificate would be necessary if the suit was brought for the recovery of a debt existing on the date of the suit. The learned Judge had further observed that Sub-section (v) of Section 214 indicated that a decree passed against such a debtor could not be executed on the production of a succession certificate and that the use of the word 'such' was very significant and evidently referred to a debtor against whom a debt was due before a decree was passed and that it would not, therefore, cover a decree for costs which was not passed on the basis of any pre-existing debt, but was passed for the recovery of costs incurred during the pendency of the suit.

6. In Mohammed Ekram v. Union of India : AIR1959Pat337 , a suit was instituted by two partners against the Railway Administration for the loss of goods ascribed to the negligence of latter and one of the partners died during the pendency of the suit, and; when the legal representatives of the deceased partner sought to come on record, a contention was raised that they could not do so except on the production of a succession certificate. In paragraph 21 at page 342 of the decision cited above, the learned Judges have observed that the Subordinate Judge had rightly held that no succession certificate was necessary in that case, because, under Section 214 of the Indian Succession Act, it was only in respect of a debt that such a certificate was necessary for a Court to pass a decree in favour of the heirs of a person who dies intestate.

7. The learned Counsel for the appellant cites the decision of the Mysore High Court in Basappa v. Siddamma : AIR1966Kant198 , but that decision merely lays down that, where a person obtained a money decree but died before he could recover the money decreed and his wife sought execution, the executing Court should not proceed with the execution unless and until execution petitioner produced a succession certificate as required by Section 214 of the Succession Act. It is not known from the judgment whether the money decree was based upon a pre-existing debt or not, and the decision therefore docs not throw any light on the question on hand.

8. The learned Counsel for the appellant contends that, once a decree or order had been passed for payment of money to the deceased, it was incumbent upon the legal representatives to produce a succession certificate; and he relies upon the provisions of Section 214 (2) of the Succession Act which states that the word ' debt ' in Sub-section (1) includes any debt except rent, revenue or profits payable in respect of land used for agricultural purposes.

9. I am however inclined to share the view expressed by the Allahabad and Patna High Courts in the decisions cited supra. I agree that a plain reading of Section 214(1)(a) and (b) clearly shows that the intention of the Legislature was that a succession certificate was necessary only if a decree had been obtained on the basis of a pre-existing debt. The emphasis throughout is on the word ' debt.' In my view, in order to attract the provisions of Section 214 (1) (a), a decree must be sought for on a pre-existing debt due to the deceased and the order sought to be executed by the legal representatives must be for the payment of a debt due to the deceased. If the decree is not for the payment of money due prior to the institution of the suit but for damages or compensation for breach of contract or for tort, then the decree would not be one for a debt due to the deceased. Where costs have been awarded to the deceased in the suit, the decree cannot be said to be for a debt. Section 214(2) of the Act does not purport to define the word ' debt', but merely states that it includes any debt except rent, revenue or profits payable in respect of land used for agricultural purposes. The meaning of the word 'debt' has therefore to be ascertained by reference to the judicial decisions cited supra. The meaning adopted by the Courts also (allies with the ordinary connotation of the word as accepted in public parlance. The word ' debt ' is defined in Concise Oxford Dictionary as money, goods or services owing. The emphasis is upon the word ' owing ' and this necessarily connotes that there must be a pre-existing debt.

10. In this case it is clear that the legal representatives are merely seeking to execute an order for the payment of compensation awarded to the deceased, and in the view I have taken about the meaning of word 'debt', it necessarily follows that the order is not one for the payment of a debt. It is therefore plain that the provisions of Section 214 (1) (b) of the Indian Succession Act are not attracted. The order of the execution Court is proper.

11. The appeal fails and is therefore dismissed with costs. No leave.


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