1. This appeal arises out of a suit brought by the plaintiff-appellant claiming to be one of the reversioners to the estate of one Venkatarama Ayyar who died in 1859. Defendants Nos. 2 and 3 are the other reversioners of equal grade with the plaintiff. Plaintiff accordingly claims a fourth share of the suit properties. The third defendant claims under a will Ex. 9-A executed in 1928 by the widow of Venkatarama Ayyar by name Meenakshi Ammal. The fourth defendant is the nephew of the said widow and is in possession of certain properties which he inherited from his father who got them partly under a gift deed, Ex. VIII executed by the widow and partly under a Court sale Ex. VII in execution of a mortgage decree obtained against the widow.
2. The learned District Judge has dismissed the plaintiffs' suit mainly on the strength of an arrangement entered into between the widow and her mother-in-law in the year 1859 with the consent of the presumptive reversioners (Exs. I and I-A). Briefly stated, the effect of that arrangement was that the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law divided the estate between themselves undertaking liability for portions of the debts due by the deceased Venkatarama Ayyar. It was apparently considered necessary that the widows should be able to alienate portions of the properties to facilitate the discharge of debts.
3. But Exs. I and I-A, however, contained words which may connote a general power of alienation for both the ladies. Some years after Ex. I, the mother-in-law sold a portion of the property to a stranger (Ex. III): she also executed (1) a mortgage (Ex. II,) to Sundarappier, one of the presumptive reversioners and the grandfather of the plaintiff, and (2) another document (Ex. V) in favour of the same person whereby she made over to him all the properties that remained with her out of what she got under Ex. I, on condition that Suudarappier should discharge a mortgage debt which she had undertaken to pay and also maintain her during her lifetime. She lived for more than twenty years thereafter and was being maintained by Sundarappier. Meenakshi Ammal on her part alienated a one-eighth pangu by way of gift under Ex. VIII in favour of her brother on the occasion of the completion of her Somavaravritam. Another one-eighth pangu, was sold away in a Court Bale in execution of a mortgage decree obtained against her and the remaining one-half pangu was bequeathed by her under Ex. IX-A.
4. It only remains to refer to a litigation, O.S. No. 302 of 1906 on the file of the Mayavaram Munsif's Court whereby Meenakshi Ammal attempted to recover from Sundarappier's branch the properties which they had received under Ex. V. Exhibit A is the plaint therein and Ex. VI, the written statement of the first defendant therein. Meenakshi Ammal asserted that the properties were givenover to her mother-in-law for her maintenance while the present first plaintiff as the second defendant therein asserted that the mother-in-law Mook the properties absolutely under Ex. 1. The litigation did not proceed to a decision.
5. On the facts above stated the learned Judge was of opinion that the principle of the decisions of the Privy Council in Kanhai Lal v. Brij Lal (1918) 40 A. 487 : 47 Ind. Cas. 207 : 22 C.W.N. 911 : 8 L.W. 212 : 24 M.L.T. 23 : 35 M.L.J. 459 : 16 A.L.J. 825 : (1918) M.W.N. 709 : 28 C.L.J. 394 : 5 P.L.W. 294 : 20 Bom. L.R. 1048 : 45 I.A. 118, and Rangouda Annagouda v. Bhausaheb , applied to the case and that the reversioners were precluded from questioning the power of Meenakshi Ammal to deal as she liked with the share allotted to her under Ex. I. We think that the learned Judge has misunderstood the effect of these cases. The decisions of the Judicial Committee turned upon the fact that the person who subsequently attempted to question the terms of the settlement Was himself a party to the settlement and had taken benefits there under. In the case in Rangauda Annagouda v. Bhausaheb , their Lordships take care to add that if the actual reversioner turned out to be a different person, the position may be different. In the present case the plaintiff and defendants Nos. 1 to 3 are according to law reversioners in their Own right and were not parties to the original settlement of 1859 nor will it be reasonable to say that they have retained any benefits received by Sundarappier under that settlement. All that Sundarappier did by attesting the original settlement was to give room to the inference that that was a fair settlement of the disputes between the two ladies and the best way for making arrangements for the discharge of debts due by the estate of Venkatarama Ayyar. We do not think that his attestation of that document would justify the conversion of the widow's limited estate into an absolute estate for all purposes. The two alienations in his favour made by the mother-in-law, namely those under Exs. II and V were for consideration and would not impose upon him any disability either by way of estoppel or an inference of ratification of all transactions that Meenakshi may choose to enter into. They might as well have, been made in favour of strangers. As regards the written statement filed by the present first plaintiff as defendant in O.S. No. 302 of 1906, it really carries the matter no further. When the widow as plaintiff repudiated Ex. I by merely referring to the mother-in-law's interest as one for maintenance, the present first plaintiff insisted upon the arrangement under Ex. I. It could not have misled the present contesting defendants so as to give rise to any estoppel.
6. We are, however, not prepared to agree with the plaintiff's contention so far as Exs. VII and VIII are concerned. We see no reason to hold that the Court sale under Ex. VII was not for a debt binding on he estate nor are we at this distance of time prepared to say that the gift under Ex. VIII was improper or unjustifiable, under the Hindu Law. What the third defendant claims under the will Ex. IX-A stands on a wholly different footing. It could not possibly be said to have been for the discharge of debts due by the husband's estate or for any other purpose binding upon the estate under the Hindu Law.
7. The decree of the lower Court will accordingly be set aside so far as the properties covered by Ex. IX, IX-A are concerned. The first plaintiff will be on-titled to a fourth share in respect of that portion of Venkatrama Ayyar's estate.
8. With reference to Issues No. V-A and V-B, we direct that Items Nos. 27, 29 and 31 of the plaint schedule be excluded from the decree.
9. In the result, the appeal is dismissed with costs as against the fourth and 8th respondents and allowed with costs both here and in the lower Court as against the tenth respondent.