1. The Munsif finds that the defendants' predeeessors-in-title obtained Inam title-deeds for the land in dispute in 1863 and that they continued in possession since then. The extract from the Inam Register also shows that they were in possession since 1860. In appeal, the Subordinate Judge finds that the widow's possession continued till her death in 1903. If this is so, no doubt, no inference can be drawn in favour of the defendants from the Inam title-deed and Register. But the Subordinate Judge does not refer to these two documents. If they were in possession, then, the evidence of the widow's continued possession cannot be accepted at any rate without some explanation to explain those documents. If the defendants continued in possession after 1868, the effect of the Inam title-deed has to be considered. If the land belonged to the Government at that time or if they could then confer full ownership, the defendants would acquire title thereto. In any event when the defendants prove possession for over forty years, it would be for the plaintiff to show clearly that the property devolved on the widow. As the Subordinate Judge has not considered these documents and as they are material, we are unable to accept his findings. We must, therefore, ask him to submit revised findings on the evidence on record on the following questions:
1. Whether the defendants and their predecessors-in-title were in possession of the lands in suit under the Inam title-deeds and when and how did they get into possession?
2. What title did the defendants acquire to the lands under the Inam title-deeds?
3. Whether the suit is barred by limitation?
2. The findings will be submitted within six weeks, and seven days will be allowed for filing objections.
3. In compliance with the above judgment, the Subordinate Judge of Kistna at Ellore submitted the following.
1. The suit, out of which this appeal arose, was instituted by the plaintiff, calling himself a reversioner to succeed to the estate of the last male holder Kocherlakota Ramanna. His widow Mahalakshmamma after enjoying her husband's property died on or about 12th March 1903.
2. Several defendants, who are in possession of different plots of land, were impleaded in the suit and we are now concerned with the two acres of land called 'Sankara Pampu' in the possession of the defendants Nos. 17 to 19.
3. The defendants contended that out of 1 acre, 50 cents of Item No. 5, one acre was got by gift by their ancestors from Saravamma, the mother-in-law of Mahalakshmamma, who took possession of the entire property stating that her husband Viyyanna died last and not the husband of Mahalakshmamma and that the remaining fifty cents in the same Item No. 5 was obtained by the father of Nos. 16 to 18 defendants by purchase from one of the sons of one Akandam Reddemma, who had got the said fifty cents together with some other lands as gift from Mahalakshmamma. With regard to the other fifty cents their defence was that their ancestors got it by gift from Mahalakshmamma. These gifts are according to them, dated so far back as 1840.
4. The defendants further pleaded that as Sarvavamma was even according to the plaintiff a trespasser in possession up to 1849 they who have been in possession of the 1 acre, 50 cents under her should also be treated as trespassers and hence the suit was barred by limitation.
5. A still further plea was set up by the defendants, viz., that on account of their long possession, the Inam Commissioner enfranchised these as well as the one acre of land in their favour and so they have acquired absolute rights over the property.
6. The last point urged by the defendants related to the plea of limitation. According to them, the law of limitation then in force was Act XIV of 1859 and, therefore, the plaintiff's suit was barred by time.
7. The District Munsif having decided against these defendants they filed A.S. No. 289 of 1905 and this Court confirmed the decision of the lower Court and dismissed the appeal with costs. These defendants then appealed to the High Court in S.A. No. 1140 of 1906 and the High Court remanded the appeal for findings on the following.
(1) Whether the defendants and their predecessors-in-title were in possession of the lands in suit under the Inam title-deeds and when and how did they get into possession?
(2) What title did the defendants acquire to the lands under the Inam title-deeds ?
(3) Whether the suit is barred by limitation ?
8. The first issue.-The lands in dispute in this appeal may be divided under two heads-lands gifted by Mahalakshmamma and lands gifted by Saravamma. With respect to the lands acquired as gift from Mahalakshmamma the appellant's pleader did not press his objections. The gift having been made by a Hindu widow who possessed only life-interest, the appellant's pleader in fact gave up his contention with respect of the lands so gifted by Mahalakshmamma. But as regards the one acre of land said to have been acquired by them from Saravamma in 1840, the defendants relied on Exhibits V and VII which are Inam title-deeds. They showed that the title of these defendants was confirmed by the Inam Commissioner. Such a decision was based on Exhibit III which was an Inam statement. From this it pretty clearly appears that these defendants were in possession of the lands on the date of the deeds and the title was confirmed to them on account of their possession.
9. The document, Exhibit III, on the basis of which Exhibits V and VII were issued, is dated 18th February 1860. Column 1 of that document gave the name of the Inamdar and also the names of the persons in enjoyment of the lands then. Emani Subbanna and Akandam Subbanna were said to be the persons in possession on the date of Exhibit I, that is, in 1860. These two persons are the ancestors of the present contending defendants who now claim the Inam. Thus from this document Exhibit III it is clear that at least since 1860, the family of the defendants have been in the possession and enjoyment of the Jands in question. The oral evidence let in on behalf of the plaintiff was to the effect that these defendants and their ancestors have been in enjoyment of them for the last fifty years. They are plaintiff's witnesses Nos. 4, 5 and 7.
10. In the year 1849, Mahalakshmamma filed a suit against her mother-in-law Saravamma, for recovery of these lands among others on the ground that the latter trespassed on them. She obtained a decree for possession. To this decree the present defendants' ancestors were no parlies. If they were really in possession, Mahalakshmamma would certainly have made them parties. Even Saravamma did not raise the objection, that these defendants would be necessary parties to the suit because they were in possession of the lands If these were in possession they at least would have applied to the Court to be made parties. The fact that Mahalakshmamma did not include them as defendants and the fact that neither Saravamma nor these defendants applied to the Court that they should be made parties, would clearly show that in 1849, the present defendants were not in possession of the land in dispute. The alleged gift by Saravamma, therefore, in or about 1840 appears to be untrue. Some of the plaintiff's witnesses stated that these defendants have been in possession during the last 50 or 60 years. This would mean that the contending defendants must have entered on the land subsequent to 1849. It is the case of the defendants themselves that a portion of the land was gifted to them by Mahalakshmamma and portion by a Saravamma. I am of opinion that all the lands were gifted to them by Mahalakshmamma and that Saravamma did nothing at all. Unless the defendants proved the gift by Saravamma satisfactorily and traced their possession and enjoyment to such gift before the year 1849, I should think the defendants have no case. To prove the alleged gift there is no direct evidence. The defendant's 6th witness stated that he was informed of the gift by Mahalakshmamma. Why or under what circumstances she came to inform him of this there is no evidence about. On the fact of it, his statement appears to be untrue.
True it is not possible to procure direct evidence for the gift for it is alleged to have been made in 1840, that is, about 70 years ago. But if the gift were true there could have been a document for the same. At least at the time of the Inam Settlement in 1860, when the possession of the defendants was mentioned in Exhibit III, the right also under which they came into possession, that is, the right created by gift might well have been mentioned in the Inam Settlement. In these circumstances, I am of opinion that all the lands now claimed by these defendants were put into their possession by Mahalakshmamma at one and the same time subsequent to the decree in the suit of 1849.
11. My finding, therefore, on this issue is that the appellants were not in possession of the lands in suit under the Inam title-deeds and that they were let into possession subsequent to 1849 by Mahalakshmamma. As to how they came into possession, it is not possible to record a finding for according to the defendants they got the lands by gift about which there is no satisfactory evidence.
12. The second issue.-- The Inam Title-deeds Act, VIII of 1869 says 'Nothing contained in any title-deed heretofore issued to any Inam-holder shall be deemed to define, limit, infringe or destroy the rights of any description of holders or occupiers of the lands from which any Inam is derived or drawn, or to affect the interests of any person other than the Inam-holder named in the title-deed', In the case of A. Visiappa v. A. Ramajagi 2 M.H.C.R. 341, it was held 'a certificate of the Inam. Commissioner does not afford conclusive title in the property of the person to whom it was granted'. So also in the case of Krishnabhupati Devu v. Vikrama Devu 18 M.a 13. it was held that the Inam title-deed did not create absolute right in any property to the person to whom the said deed was granted. In the case of Piniala Lakshmipathi v. Bommireddipillai Chalamayya 30 M. 434 : 17 M.L.J. 101 : 2 M.L.T. 131, it was held that an enfranchisement by Government did not confer on the persons named in the title-deed any rights in derogation of those possessed by other persons in the Inam at the time of the enfranchisement. My finding on this issue, therefore, is that the defendants did not acquire any title to the lands under the Inam title-deeds.
13. The third Issue.-- The plaintiff's wit-nesses Nos. 4, 5 and 7 admitted possession of these defendants for at least fifty years before January 1905, when their evidence was recorded in the lower Court. This will amount to saying that these appellants have been in possession from at least 1855. It has already been found that before 1855, Mahalaksh-mamma's husband died and the possession relied on by the appellants must have been got from Mahalakshmamma and not Saravamma Mahalakshmamma possessed only a life-interest. But the appellant's pleader relied on the old Limitation Act XIV of 1859. He argued that according to the evidence of the plaintiff's witnesses Nos. 4, 5 and 7, the defendants have been in possession from fifty or sixty years before suit which would be at least from 1855 and, therefore, under the old Act XIV of 1859, the plaintiff's claim was barred. According to Exhibit III, the defendants were in actual possession in February 1860, the date on which the title-deed was issued. Unless they have been in possession for some years previously, their names would not have been entered in column 1 of Exhibit III as persons in present possession. The subsequent Act of 1871 came to force in July 1871 and, therefore, according to him under the prior Act of 1859, he having been in possession for over twelve years, he has acquired a right to the properties and, therefore, the claim of the plaintiff was barred.
14. But Mahalakshmamma was not dispossessed or prevented from taking possession by the hostile act of a third party. It was found above that subsequent to 1849, after she had claimed and obtained a decree as a widow of the last male-holder, that is, her husband, and got into possession of the property, the defendants' ancestors were let into possession by herself. So it was not by the hostile act of a third party that the defendants came into possession. Hence the claim of the plaintiff cannot be said to have been barred.
4. This second appeal coming on for hearing after the return of the above findings, the Court delivered the following.
5. We accept the findings and dismiss the second appeal with costs.