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Nalini Bhusan Roy and ors. Vs. Hiralal Roy and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Subject Property
Decided On
Reported inAIR1930Cal225
AppellantNalini Bhusan Roy and ors.
RespondentHiralal Roy and anr.
Cases ReferredNanda Kumar Duly v. Ajodhya Sahu
- .....(who had two sons, monmohan and sanatan). defendant 1 alleging that she had purchased the suit lands from koilash's heirs dispossessed monmohan and sanatan in 1323 b.s. the plaintiffs purchased the lands from monmohan and sanatan and instituted a suit for declaration of title and possession to which defendant i was made a party defendant. it was suit no. 247 of 1918 and it finally ended in plaintiff's favour on 21st july 1920. there were two execution proceedings. the first one proved abortive, the peon having reported that the lands were not in possession of defendant 1 but of defendants 4 to 6 who are the sons and stepson of defendant 1. the second one terminated on 4th november 1922 when delivery of possession was made in favour of the plain tiffs as against defendant 1......

1. The suit but of which this appeal has arisen was one for declaration of title and recovery of possession with mesne profits. The claim for mesne profits was allowed to be withdrawn with liberty to institute a separate suit therefor. The prayers for declaration of title and recovery of possession were granted by the decree of the trial Court which has been upheld on appeal by the District Judge. The defendants have preferred this appeal.

2. The lands in suit together with other lands constituted the ryoti holding of one Ramratan Sil. Ramratan had a son named Koilas (who died during the lifetime of Ramratan leaving a widow named Nityabasi and a daughter named Brajabasi, who married one Bansi), and a daughter named Tirthabasi (who had two sons, Monmohan and Sanatan). Defendant 1 alleging that she had purchased the suit lands from Koilash's heirs dispossessed Monmohan and Sanatan in 1323 B.S. The plaintiffs purchased the lands from Monmohan and Sanatan and instituted a suit for declaration of title and possession to which defendant I was made a party defendant. It was Suit No. 247 of 1918 and it finally ended in plaintiff's favour on 21st July 1920. There were two execution proceedings. The first one proved abortive, the peon having reported that the lands were not in possession of defendant 1 but of defendants 4 to 6 who are the sons and stepson of defendant 1. The second one terminated on 4th November 1922 when delivery of possession was made in favour of the plain tiffs as against defendant 1. Defendants 2 and 3 are the sons of the brother of defendant 1's deceased husband. The plaintiffs' case was that they obtained actual possession through Court on 4th November 1922, and took the paddy crops that were standing on the land at the time, that they thereafter sowed kalai on the lands which were destroyed by the defendant's cattle on 5th February 1923, that they thereafter sowed the seeds on lands on 7th and 8th February 1923 but on the last mentioned date the defendants ploughed up the lands and destroyed the seeds. The plaintiffs instituted a criminal case which resulted in an acquittal of the accused who were made defendants 7 and 8 in the present suit. The suit was instituted on 3rd February 1925.

3. Defendants 2 to 6 who have preferred this appeal were the contesting defendants. Apart from the defences on the merits they pleaded that they were in possession as landlords since 1323, and so the plaintiffs' claim is barred by the special rule of two years limitation.

4. The first contention that has been urged on behalf of the appellants is that the findings arrived at by the Courts below in order to save the suit from the bar of two years' rule of limitation are not sufficient. Both the Courts below appear to have found it proved that the plaintiffs obtained actual possession of the lands by the delivery of possession made by the Court on 4th November 1922. The trial Court proceeded to observe that there being no evidence to show that the defendants were in possession between that day and 6th February 1923, i.e., prior to the sowing of til crops by the plaintiffs, the latter must be presumed to have been in possession, during this period. Now, there is no such presumption in law in respect of land which is capable of being possessed by exercise of acts of possession; and to the extent that the trial Court relied on the presumption it was not correct. The District Judge, however, has found, on a consideration of the probabilities of the case, that the plaintiffs held on the possession that they obtained on 4th November 1922 and the story of their graining kalai and til and of the same being destroyed and of the plaintiffs being dispossessed before 7th and 8th February 1923 was true. This portion of the judgment of the learned District Judge is not very happily worded, but the effect of what he has said is not open to any serious doubt. In our opinion the findings are sufficient.

5. The next argument that has been advanced on behalf of the appellants is that the question of the plaintiff's title has not been considered by the learned District Judge. On the question of title, the Munsif observed that it was 'practically admitted' that Monmohan and Sanatan, the plaintiffs' vendors were the legal heirs of Ramratan, that the sale was binding on both of them, and that the decree in Suit No. 247 of 1918 operated as res judicata as against defendant 1 and Monmohan and Sanatan. The District Judge has recorded some observations which indicate that he was inclined to the view that the interest of defendant 1 is in reality identical with' that of defendants 2 to 6, and it is the same battle which was once fought by defendant 1 that is being fought over again by defendants 2 to 6. The circumstances may not be sufficient to conclude defendants 2 to 6 by any principle of estoppel or res judicata, but at the same time, examining the materials on the record one finds it extremely difficult to make out whether defendants 2 to 6 have set up any title in themselves as against or in conflict with the title of defendant 1, and in the circumstances we think that what the plaintiffs have proved is sufficient to establish that they have acquired the interest of Ramratan to the lands in suit by their purchase from Monmohan and Sanatan. The appellants also as we understand them, do not seek to reopen this part of the decision, but the grievance that is made on their behalf is that the plaintiffs as purchasers of a non-transferable occupancy holding acquired no interest as against them, they being cosharer landlords. Now the plaintiffs' case is that the lands formed, only a part of the holding and did not constitute an entire holding, and the appellants never put the contention forward before the trial Court in the form of an issue that might be adjudicated upon. There was a ground; being ground 8 in the memo, of appeal, before the lower appellate Court which may be taken to cover this contention; but it does not appear that it was pressed. At this late stage they cannot be permitted to raise a contention which would necessitate an investigation into disputed facts.

6. The last contention that has been urged on behalf of the appellants is that they having dispossessed the plaintiff's vendors in 1323, and no suit having been brought against them within two years from that dispossession the title of the plaintiffs vendors as also of the plaintiffs was extinguished by virtue of Section 28, Lim. Act. The matter was canvassed in the trial Court which disposed of it in these words:

Admittedly their possession, if any, began in 1323, so there can be no question of general limitation in this case. As regards special limitation it must be stated here that possession by a landlord for over two years gives him no title though it bars the tenant's right to recover possession and if by chance, the tenant actually gets possession a fresh period of limitation starts from that point unless the tenants' title was completely extinguished by adverse possession for over 12 years prior to dispossession. In this view of the case it is quite immaterial in this suit as to whether defendant 1 possessed the land or defendants 2 to 6 prior to the plaintiffs taking delivery of possession through Court.

7. In our opinion this is not a correct view of the law. Under the law of limitation as it stood before the statute of 1859 the Privy Council enunciated the principle in the case of Ganga Gobinda Mondal v. Collector of the 24 Pargannas [1867] 7 W.R. 21, in these words:

As between private owners contesting inter se the title to the lands, the law has established a limitation of twelve years; after that time, it declares not merely that the remedy is barred, but the title is extinct in favour of the possessor.

8. The principle of that decision was frequently applied to cases governed by Act 14 of 1859, and Markby, J., in the case of Brindaban Chunder v. Tara Chand [1873] 11 B.L.R. 237, dealing with a case under that Act, observed:

It also appears to me to be the accepted doctrine in our Courts that, if a party who has been 12 years out of possession, and whose suit is therefore barred, should again get into possession he is not (to use an English phrase) remitted to his old title; our Courts adopting as pointed out by Sir Lawrence Peel in Shib Chunder v. Shib Kissen [1854] 1 Boul. 70, at p. 79, the English rule that there is no remitter to a right for which the party had no remedy by action at all.

9. The principle was first introduced by the Indian Legislature in Section 29, Lim. Act 9 of 1871 which corresponds to Section 28 present Act. There is considerable authority for the view that Section 28 of the Act lays down a rule of substantive law: see Parmanand v. Sahebali [1889] 11 438 (F.B.). It has also been held that even in ease to which the Limitation Act by its terms would not apply, the principle of the section would still be applicable. In the case of Dalip Rai v. Deoki Rai [1899] 21 204 in which a tenant had failed to apply under the North Western Provinces Rent Act 1881 for the recovery of the occupancy of land of which he had been wrongfully dispossessed within the prescribed period it was held that this failure had the effect not only of barring the tenant's remedy but of extinguishing the tenant's right to the occupancy of the land. In this case Stratchey, C.J. observed:

The cases, however, so far assist us that they establish, first that a provision as to limitation which in terms merely bars the remedy may have the further effect of extinguishing the right, and secondly, that as regards the possession and dispossession of immoveable property or an interest therein, the latter effect generally follows. It this view is correct the presumption appears to be that on the lapse of the six month's period proscribed by Section 96(e), Rent Act, the defendants' right to the occupancy of the land in suit was extinguished and that the possession which he afterwards forcibly obtained was not that of a tenant who could only be ejected through a revenue Court, bat that of a trespasser who might be ejected through a civil Court. If on the other hand, this view is not correct the result would seem to be that there is no limit of time within which the defendant might not forcibly re-occupy the land and assert the continuance of his tenancy. Such a state of things would load to great insecurity in the occupancy of land by tenants holding under the landholder in good faith and in ignorance of the dispossessed tenant's claim, and to the substitution of irregular and violent methods of recovering possession for the method which the legislature has provided for a dispossessed tenant's benefit.

10. So far as Article 3, Schedule 3, Ben. Ten. Act, is concerned there is authority for the view that where a landlord keeps a ryot out of possession of his holding for the period specified in that article the ryot's title in the holding is extinguished by adverse possession on general principles, if not under Section 28, Lim. Act : Nanda Kumar Duly v. Ajodhya Sahu [1912] 16 C.W.N. 351. The view taken by the learned Munsiff therefore is not correct. It follows therefore that matters could not be permitted to be left at the point at which the learned Munsiff purported to leave them. The learned District Judge does not appear to have considered the question at all. Whether he was expressly invited to deal with the matter is not at all clear, but there is a ground in the memorandum of appeal, being ground 6, which directly raises the question.

11. It would therefore be necessary to consider whether the case should be sent back to the lower appellate Court in order to deal with the question whether defendants 2 to 6 were in possession of the lands in suit after dispossessing the plaintiffs or their vendors, for a period of two years prior to 4th November 1922. It appears that there are certain findings in the judgment of the District Judge which have a good deal of bearing on this question. In the first place there is the fact that of the five defendants 2 to 6, three are the sons and two are the nephews of defendant 1. The District Judge has found that it has not been shown that the interest of these defendants was not identical with that of defendant 1. He appears also to have found that the story of defendants 2 to 6 having been in possession was not credible, because he says thus:

The failure to prove that the interest of the mother and the rest of the defendants are divergent seems to me to be fatal to the theory of possession set up by the contestants. If anything further were needed it would be found in para. 7 of the written statement Ex. 2 in the previous suit, where Taramoni is made to say that there is litigation between plaintiffs and. defendants 2 to 6, that because she had purchased the property, the plaintiffs had taken a kobala from Monmohan and Sanatan. She has missed the opportunity of saying that defendants 2 to 6 were in possession then, and there is no reason why the mother should hide the true state of things as they now allege namely the possession at that time of her sons who were no parties.

12. The learned District Judge has also found that the plea of defendants 2 to 6 to have been in possession for 8 or 9 years untenable. In the face of these findings we are not satisfied that any useful purpose would be served by making an order fore remand, and we think that we may safely take the aforesaid findings as implying that defendants 2 to 6 have failed to show that they had dispossessed the plaintiffs' vendors or were in possession for the requisite period.

13. We accordingly dismiss the appeal with costs.

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