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Nagaraja Iyer and ors. Vs. Natesa Iyer Alias Nataraja Iyer - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported in85Ind.Cas.993
AppellantNagaraja Iyer and ors.
RespondentNatesa Iyer Alias Nataraja Iyer
Cases ReferredLal Ram Singh v. Deputy Commissioner of Partabgarh
Excerpt:
construction of document - gift--estate taken--principles applicable. - .....sale so far as it concerned his one fourth share. the. plaintiff's case-is that, under the deed of gift, mangalathammal had only a life-estate and that he and his brothers had a vested remainder after her death, and consequently the sale was not valid and binding on his share. the suit was resisted mainly on the ground that the properties belonged to mangalathammal absolutely under the deed of gift from her father. it was also contended that, in any event, the title under the deed of gift vested in mangalathammal and defendants nos. 2 to 4 who were the only sons then alive, and not with the plaintiff who was not born at the time of the deed of gift.2. the district munsif upheld the contention of the defendants while the lower appellate court took the view that mangalathammal had only a.....
Judgment:

Madhvan Nair, J.

1. Defendants Nos. 6 to 10 are the appellants in this second appeal. Their predecessor-in-interest, the 1st defendant purchased the suit properties tinder a sale-deed executed by one Mangalathammal since deceased and her sons defendants Nos. 2 to 4. The present plaintiff who is also her son, was a minor at the time of execution of the said sale-deed, and the 2nd defendant his eldest brother purported to execute the sale-deed for himself and in his capacity as the guardian of his minor brothers, the present plaintiff. Mangalathammal obtained the properties under a deed of gift, Ex. I, executed in her favour by her father. After he attained his majority, the plaintiff has instituted the present suit to set aside the sale so far as it concerned his one fourth share. The. plaintiff's case-is that, under the deed of gift, Mangalathammal had only a life-estate and that he and his brothers had a vested remainder after her death, and consequently the sale was not valid and binding on his share. The suit was resisted mainly on the ground that the properties belonged to Mangalathammal absolutely under the deed of gift from her father. It was also contended that, in any event, the title under the deed of gift vested in Mangalathammal and defendants Nos. 2 to 4 who were the only sons then alive, and not with the plaintiff who was not born at the time of the deed of gift.

2. The District Munsif upheld the contention of the defendants while the lower Appellate Court took the view that Mangalathammal had only a life-estate under the deed of gift and that the sale did not consequently bind the plaintiff's share in the suit properties.

3. Thus the important question for consideration is, what is the nature of the estate taken by Mangalathapimal under the deed of gift. The material terms of the deed of gift are as follows: 'Deed of gift executed on 16th June 1891 in favour of Mangalathammal daughter of Ramasamy Iyer.... As we have this day gifted away to you and put you in possession of the following, viz.,...so, you and your male issue shall enjoy the said lands with all kinds of rights as per the terms contained in the said registered document as aforesaid. We have delivered to you in support of this document the two: registered deeds referred to herein and the other documents relating to the said lands. You shall yourself pay the sirkar kist due for the lands.... To this effect we...executed this deed of gift in favour of Mangalathammal.

4. Numerous decisions have been cited on either side as tending to throw light on the proper construction of instruments of this description executed in favour of females; but I think it would serve no useful purpose to examine each case separately, or to attempt to reconcile one decision with the other. The proper construction of each document to my mind, essentially depends on the words used therein and the special circumstances under which it came into existence.' The true guide in all cases is the intention of the donor to be gathered from the, language used by him. If the words employed are clear and unambiguous, whether the donee is a male or a female, effect must be given to their plain meaning, and it may be taken that the rule of construction in Moulvie Mohamed Shumsool Hooda v. Shewakram22 W.K. 403 : 11 B.L.R. 226 is only to be applied where there is some uncertainty in the terms, of the instrument--vide Mayne's Hindu Law, 9th Edition, Section 396 and Ramachandra Rao v. Rumachandra Rao 59 Ind. Cas. 94 : 36 M.L.J. 306.

5. In the present case the deed begins, and. ends by saying that it is 'executed in favour of Mangalathammal.' There are no words as such limiting her estate. It contains recitals to the effect that possession had been transferred to her and that, she was to pay the last. These unmistakably point to the grant of an absolute estate in favour of Mangalathammal. In the body of the deed, it is true, there are words to the effect that she and her male issue were to enjoy the properties. The question is, do these words operate to derogate from the grant of an absolute estate in her favour? I do not think so. These are not the operative words of the grant. These are merely concerned with what may be regarded as a non-essential point of detail. The operative words are at the commencement, viz., 'As we have this day gifted to you and put you in possession.... Further, if the provision as to the enjoyment were considered vital and so important as to invest the male issue with the character of joint grantees or holders of vested remainder, why were they not mentioned in connection with the delivery of the deeds, possession of the properties and the payment of the kist? Defendants Nos. 2 to 4 were admittedly majors then, and, if it was intended to convey any manner of interest in their favour I think mention would have been made of them as joint donees, or at least, as joint transferees of possession. The inference is irresistible that the donor did not regard them in that light. As observed by the District Munsif, the provision as to enjoyment of male issue, coming as it did after a complete disposition of the properties in favour of Mangalathammal, can only be treated as a mere recommendation and nothing more. When the operative words of a document are clear and unambiguous, the fact that in the later parts of the document there are additions or omissions cannot warrant the deed being construed in such a way as to render the operative words ineffective. Muthumeenakshi Ammal v. Chendra Sekhara Ayyar 27 M. 498 at p. 502. In the words of the Privy Council in Lal Ram Singh v. Deputy Commissioner of Partabgarh 76 Ind. Cas. 922 : (1323) M.W.N. 591 : A.I.R. (1923) (P.C.) 160 : 33 M.L.T. 355: 29 C.W.N. 86 the provision about enjoyment with male issue in the present deed of gift may be rejected at most as an idle attempt, if at all, to derogate from the grant.

6. In the result, after a careful consideration of the actual words used in Ex. 1, I am of opinion that the donors intended that Mangalathammal should take an absolute estate and that she did, in fact, take an absolute estate under Ex. I. In this view, the second question raised on behalf of the appellants that, in any event, Ex. I operated to convey an estate only in favour of Mangalathammal and defendants Nos. 2 to 4, and not in favour of the plaintiff who was not born at the time of the gift does not require investigation. If, however, I should be inclined to hold that the Madras Act I of 1914, applied which would necessitate a finding as to whether, the first defendant under whom the plaintiff claimed was a bona fide transferee, this aspect of the case, need not be investigated further, in view of the conclusion arrived at by me to the effect that Mangalathammal took, an absolute, estate under, Ex. I. and that it did not operate to convey any interest in favour of any one else.

7. The plaintiff did not thus, in my view, ever derive any interest in the properties involved in the suit under Ex. 1. They vested with Mangalathammal absolutely, and the appellants who claim through her have a perfect and indefeasible title which is not open to attack by the plaintiff. The second appeal is, therefore, allowed and the plaintiff's suit is dismissed. The respondent must pay the costs of the appellants in this and in the lower Courts.


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