Skip to content


Putti Sethu Rao Vs. Seethalakshmi Ammal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Subject Civil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1925Mad1188
AppellantPutti Sethu Rao
RespondentSeethalakshmi Ammal and ors.
Cases ReferredRam Kuar v. Dhum Singh
Excerpt:
- .....case, apart from the argument above dealt with. in my opinion, the trustee ought to have filed a suit or suits, to recover the amounts collected by the defendants, within three years from the receipt of the amounts. it is true that the district munsif, if he was not inclined to stay the trial of the later suits, would have decided against the trustee, but on appeal the subordinate judge (partially) and the high court (completely) would have decided his suits, along with the reversal of the district munsif's decision, in o.s. no. 923 of 1911.6. the appellant next relied on the security bonds (exhibits b and b-l, dated january 1912), for saving limitation. these bonds do not purport to charge any property, nor do they furnish any sureties. they are mere statements that the defendants.....
Judgment:

Ramesam, J.

1. The only point argued in appeal is the question of limitation. The facts necessary for understanding how the question arises may be briefly stated. The suit is by the trustee of the temple of Venkatramanaswami, in Tandoni village (Karur taluk, Trichinopoly district) to recover from the defendants, who are the sthaneekas and archakas of the temple, the collection of offerings of money, etc., in the hundials of the temple. The plaint is dated 15th August, 1919. The offerings sought to be recovered cover the period 25th August, 1911 to 31st August 1914. To avoid the obvious bar of limitation, the facts next to be mentioned are relied on. In 1893 by Exhibit M, the then members of the Devasthanam Committee granted a perpetual lease of the right to collect the offerings to the predecessors-in-title of the defendants. On 25th August 1911, two worshippers of the temple filed a suit to declare that the lease is invalid and not binding on the temple. (O.S. No. 923 of 1911). On a petition for temporary injunction, the District Munsif passed an order, on 12bh October, 1911, permitting the defendants to continue the collecting of the offerings, after executing certain security bonds. The suit was dismissed on 22nd February, 1913. On appeal, the Subordinate Judge decided (on 15th December, 1913) that the lease was invalid, but held that the defendants were entitled to collect all the offerings below eight annas. On second appeal the High Court decided against the defendants (22nd September, 1916); see Kalyan Venkataramana Ayyangar v. Kasturiranga Ayyangar (1917) 40 Mad. 212 and the decision certainly operated from 25th August, 1911.

2. It is now claimed that the period between 22nd February, 1913 and the order of the High Court must be excluded in computing the limitation against the plaintiff. It is alleged that during this period the decrees of the Distiot Munsif and the Subordinate Judge were against the plaintiff and were in force. Not until the High Court declared the plaintiff's right could the plaintiff sue. Even if this argument is oorrect the Subordinate Judge decided as to sums above 8 annas against the defendants on 16th December, 1913, and there was nothing to prevent the present suit from being brought, after 15th December, 1913, and before 22nd September, 1916. The plaintiff's argument has still to be considered, for sums below eight annas.

3. The appellant's learned vakil contends that the judgments of the Courts - the District Munsif and the Subordinate Judge must be obeyed and respected, and only on 22nd September, 1916, when they were reversed, defendants could be sued. This argument assumes that the present plaintiff (the trustee), who was not a party to the former suit is bound by the judgments in the former litigation. The appellant relies on Chidambaranath Thambiran v. Nallasiva Mudaliar (1918) 41 Mad. 124 and Kadir Mastan Rowther v. Sengammal (1920) 43 Mad. 433. The idol of a temple, represented by a trustee, can certainly take the benefit of the judgment in a suit by worshippers for the benefit of the trust. It is doubtful whether the idol is bound by an adverse judgment in a suit by worshippers. It cannot be said that the worshippers represent the temple within the meaning of Section 11, Civil Procedure Code, It is unnecessary to discuss this question further, as, in my opinion, even if the plaintiffs are identical, the former litigation does not help to stop or suspend limitation.

4. It should be remarked, at the outset, that the judgments of the District Munsif and the Subordinate Judge were declaratory and there was nothing to obey. If there was a decree directing one party to pay a certain sum of money, or deliver certain property to another, the decree ought to be obeyed. There is no such decree here. If money is paid under a decree, restitution of it cannot be claimed until it is reversed. The cases cited by the learned vakil, Doraiswami Ayyar v. Annaswami Ayyar (1900) 23 Mad. 306 and Rodger v. The Comptoir D. Escampte de Paris (1871) L.R. 3 P.C. 465 are cases of restitution. Even the case of Shama Purshad Roy v. Hurro Prashad Roy 1863 10 M.I.A. 203 is really a case of money paid under a deoree. In that case we have the further supposed principle of dependent judgments mixed up with it - a principle applied in Jogesh Chunder Butt v. Kali Churn Dutt (1877) 3 Cal. 30 : but that no such principle exists is now clear after the decision in The Secretary of State v. Ranganayakamma (1920) 12 L.W. 334 and Naganna v. Venkattappayya A.I.R. 1923 P.C. 167 reversing Sri Raja Bommadevara Venkata Narasimha Naidu v. Rani Venkatappayya : (1919)37MLJ591 . At the time when The Secretary of State v. Ranganayakamma (1920) 12 L.W. 334 was decided Sri Raja Bommadevara Venkatanarasimha Naidu v. Rani Venkatappayya : (1919)37MLJ591 was under appeal and the appeal was not yet decided. The decision in The Secretary of State v. Ranganayakamma (1920) 12 L.W. 334 can be really made to rest on the simpler and broader ground that the cause of action for each year's water-cess accrued on the date of its payment and there is no provision in the Limitation Act enabling the plaintiff to wait for the reversal of the Subordinate Judge's judgment by the High Court. It is not true that the ground for recovering the later year's water-cess might be different from that of the first year, which was the subject of the suit. The remarks in Bassu Kuar v. Dhum Singh (1889) 11 All. 47 have been relied on. But they have nothing to do with the case before us. That is not a case when one judgment was reversed by the final judgment, and the cause of action had to be suspended or postponed during the interval. In that case, the only cause of action for the suit that was actually brought was that settled by the judgment in the prior litigation.

5. It is conceded that Article 62 applies to the case, apart from the argument above dealt with. In my opinion, the trustee ought to have filed a suit or suits, to recover the amounts collected by the defendants, within three years from the receipt of the amounts. It is true that the District Munsif, if he was not inclined to stay the trial of the later suits, would have decided against the trustee, but on appeal the Subordinate Judge (partially) and the High Court (completely) would have decided his suits, along with the reversal of the District Munsif's decision, in O.S. No. 923 of 1911.

6. The appellant next relied on the security bonds (Exhibits B and B-l, dated January 1912), for saving limitation. These bonds do not purport to charge any property, nor do they furnish any sureties. They are mere statements that the defendants were men of means, and if any decree is ultimately passed against them, there will be no difficulty in executing it. One is surprised that such bonds were accepted. They do not serve any purpose. This argument does not avail the appellant.

7. In my opinion, the suit was properly held to be barred by limitation under Article 62. The appeal is dismissed with costs of Respondents 1 and 4 to 6.

Jackson, J.

8. I agree. The argument before us has proceeded upon the assumption that the temple trustee sued for declaration that the temple committee had no authority to lease to the defendants the right of making temple collections, that lease was held by the District Munsif to be valid; and his decree, 'until it was set aside by the appellate Court, barred the trustee from claiming these-collections from the defendants; nor could he have a cause of action for such a claim, until the date of the reversing appellate decree. He could not sue to recover the collections, while the decree of the Munsif's Court was still in force : nor during that period could time be allowed to run against him.

9. This argument was mainly based upon a passage in Ram Kuar v. Dhum Singh (1889) 11 All. 47 and I only wish to add that the-language of that ruling really lends it no support. The passage runs (p. 56) : 'It would be an inconvenient state of the law if it were found necessary for a man to institute a perfectly vain litigation, under peril of losing his property if he does not. And it would be a lamentable state of the law, if it were found that a. debtor, who for years has been insisting that his creditor shall take payment in a particular mode, can, when it is decided that he cannot enforce that mode, turn round and say that the lapse of time has relieved him from paying at all.' The latter sentence bears special reference to the case then under trial, and as a mattes of fact, it was found, having regard to the Indian Contract and Limitation Acts that this plea was not open to a debtor of this description. But it was urged before us that the first sentence has general application, or as might be said from the trench of the argument, statutory force. No man need institute a vain suit, under peril of losing his property, if he does not. The Judicial Committee has not propounded any rule of this character, but has merely suggested certain circumstances which, if they existed, might constitute an inconvenient state of the law. At most, it would be an invitation to the legislature to take necessary action. Nor do the suggested circumstances bear any real resemblance to the facts of the case now before us. If the trustee does not accept the Munsif's findings that the right to collect has been validly based, and sets out to have that finding reversed on appeal, it cannot be said that the suit which he may bring meanwhile, for the recovery of those collections is 'perfectly vain.' It would be perfectly vain, if the Munsif's decree were unchallenged; but, then, there would be no thought of any such suit for recovery. As soon as the Munsif's decree is challenged, by way of appeal the concomitant suit is neither more nor less vain than the appeal itself. The only imaginable inconvenience would be the plaintiff's losing the Court fee in his suit, supposing the appeal to have been rejected but that is no fault of the law. It is plaintiff's fault for having preferred an unjustifiable appeal. In short, a party may accept a decree and renounce all claims which that decree directly or indirectly negatives; or, he may appeal against the decree, and press all claims, to which the reversal of that decree will show him to have been entitled.


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