1. The plaintiff in this case is the widow of one Vedala Janakiramayya who is said to be the adopted son of the first defendant's husband. The first defendant has denied both the factum of the adoption and also its validity. The Subordinate Judge has found that the ceremony of adoption did actually take place and that the plaintiff's husband has been treated as an adopted son by the first defendant, but he has held that, the first defendant, not having had authority from her husband or from the sapindas to make the adoption, the adoption is invalid; and he has further found that the first defendant is not estopped from raising the plea of the invalidity of the adoption. In appeal, the factum of the adoption is not disputed and the only point which is seriously argued is that the authority given by the husband has not been actually proved; but it is contended that the first defendant, by her conduct and acts from the time of the adoption until the present day, is estopped from denying that plaintiff's husband was really her adopted son.
2. There are many facts proved which we think may be referred to in detail as the question of estoppel must depend upon the evidence and we will proceed to mention the chief circumstances which would lead to an inference in coming to a decision. In the first place, when this boy was adopted his name and his house name were changed. He took the house name of the first defendant's husband and the name of his adopted father's father. Immediately after the adoption the first defendant performed his Upanayanam ceremony. Some years later, the first defendant performed his marriage and also Grahapravesam ceremony. The adopted boy performed the shraddha for the first defendant's husband and it also appears that he had no share in the property belonging to his natural family. The partition in the natural family has not been actually proved but, from the only evidence available it seems clear that Janakiramayya did not receive any of his natural family's property. There is the further circumstance that, when Janakiramayya's natural mother died, the plaintiff did not observe pollution and, if Janakiramayya had been a member of that family ha must undoubtedly have done so. These circumstances are all very strong evidence that the first defendant did adopt the boy and treated him as a lawfully adopted son; his performance of the ceremonies mentioned was one that could only be done by an adopted son, and, therefore the whole course of the conduct of the first defendant and, as far as we know of other people, showed a recognition of the validity of Janakiramayya's adoption. In this connection, we may refer to the case decided by the Privy Council in Dharam Kunwar v. Balwant Singh (1912) 34 All. 398 which in many respects resembles the facts here. It is suggested in Ramachari v. Saraswathi Ammal (1920) M.W.N. 721, that the remarks of the Privy Council in this case are mere obiter dicta, but we think that is hardly so, although they decided the question in issue in two ways: once as a question of fact and again on the question of estoppel, which had been the only one decided, by the Allahabad High Court. In that judgment we find the following passage relating to the widow who was held to be estopped from disputing the validity of the adoption which she had made. 'She has asserted her authority in the most solemn manner under her hand and seal, and her conduct both before and after that assertion has been of a like unequivocal character. She could not now be allowed to change her story without grave injustice ensuing to those who have acted in reliance upon her deliberate and repeated representations. The respondent is now severed from his natural family, he has undergone a change of social status which may or may not be beneficial to him but which has certainly so altered his mode of life as to make a relapse into his former condition a grievous hardship upon him. He and his friends have been driven to expenses in the maintenance of his privileges with which the Rani purported to endow him. He married on the faith of his adoptive mother's word, and no doubt his creditors who have sold him goods or lent him money in like reliance on her good faith'. Many of these facts we find in the present case and we think that they are sufficient to constitute an estoppel. It was contended by Mr. Krishnaswami Iyer for the Respondent that the representation by the first defendant that the boy had been adopted was nothing more than a representation that the ceremony of adoption had taken place and that it could not be treated as a representation that ceremony was validly performed. In the circumstances of this case we are not prepared to accept that plea. It would be very difficult at this late stage to prove the authority considering that the adoption took place as long ago as 1897; and, while the first defendant by her words and acts held out the boy as her adopted son, it is difficult to restrict that representation to a mere assertion that the ceremony of adoption had taken place. In addition to her conduct we have the deliberate statement made by her in Ex. K which is the earliest opportunity afforded to her to make a representation in public, that she had her husband's authority to adopt. There is also evidence that she asserted this authority at the time of the adoption, which we see no reason to discredit. This coupled with her conduct is quite sufficient to constitute an estoppel and we must hold accordingly that she is estopped from denying the adoption.
3. A further question is raised by the respondents as to item 3, which the second defendant claims to have detained under some arrangement with the first defendant in 1897. The second defendant has not been examined and the first defendant does not support his case, and we have only very vague indications from the evidence to enable such a case to be put forward. It certainly has not been proved.
4. The appeal will be allowed and the plaintiff will have a decree for possession of the suit property and for mesne profits at the rate of Rs. 250 per annum from the data of plaint. As the first defendant is now dead, the mesne profits will be payable by the second defendant and defendants 3 to 6. The question of their respective liabilities will be determined in execution. The plaintiff will have her costs throughout against the second defendant and the second defendant will pay Government the court-fees on the plaint and the appeal memo.