Case: Konammal Vs Annadana Jadaya Gounder. Bombay High Court

Party Name:Konammal Vs Annadana Jadaya Gounder
Judges:Viscount Sumner, Atkinson, Sinha, John Wallis and Lancelot Sanderson, JJ.
Issue:Joint Hindu family
Citation:1928 (30) BomLR 802
Judgement Date:December 15, 1927
Court:Bombay High Court
 
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Judgment:

John Wallis, J.

  1. This litigation is concerned with the right of succession to the Jadaya Gounder Jaghir or Chinna Tiruppadi Hill Polliem, as it was formerly known, in the South Arcot District of the Madras Presidency. These ancient polliems in Southern India have always been held to be impartible, and this estate has now been included in the schedule of impartible estates to the Madras Impartible Estates Act II of 1904.

  2. It is therefore according to the definition in Section 2 of the Act "an estate descendible to a single heir and subject to the other incidents of impartible estates in Southern India," and the proprietor of the estate ia "the person entitled to the possession thereof as single heir under the special custom of the family or locality in which the estate is situated, or if there be no such family or local custom under the general custom regulating the succession to impartible estates in Southern India."

  3. This statutory definition would appear to be in entire accordance with what has often been laid down by this Board, that these impartible estates are the creatures of custom, and with the decision in Katama Natchiar v. The Rajah of Shivagunga (the Shivagwnga case (1863) 9 M.I.A. 539 that where no special custom is proved, the customary law of succession is to be found in the Mitakshara, which is the general customary law in this part of India, "with Much qualifications only as flow from the impartible nature of the subject," and that consequently, in applying this law the impartible estate, though in the sole enjoyment of the holder, is to be regarded for the purposes of succession as the joint property of the holder and his family and as passing by survivorship, unless it is shown to be the separate property of the holder or his branch, in which case it is descendible according to the roles of the Mitakshara as to separate property.

  4. In this case the first plaintiff, who is the mother of the last holder, claims the estate as the nearest heir to his separate property, whereas the defendant, who is a distant male agnate, claims to succeed to it as joint family property.

  5. The plaint included an alternative claim by the second plaintiff', who is the son of the first plaintiff's sister under a will made by the last holder. This claim has been rejected rightly in both the lower Courts as Section 4 of the Impartible Estates Act restrains the proprietor from making any alienations to ensure beyond his own lifetime except for necessary purposes, except in so far as Sub-section (3) preserves his right to provide for the succession to the estate in default of heirs.

  6. As regards the first plaintiff's claim, the District Court held that the estate was the separate property of the last holder and decreed her suit, but this decree was reversed by the High Court of Madras, who held that the first defendant was entitled to succeed, as the estate had not ceased to be the joint property of the family of the last holder and the first defendant.

  7. It will be convenient in the first place to refer briefly to the history of the estate, to set out the pedigree showing the descent from a common ancestor, and to show how the present case arose.

  8. It appears, as the result of inquiries made by the Inam Com" mission in the sixties of the last century, the results of which are embodied in the Jnatn Register, Ex. 8, that the estate consists of forty villages in the hilly tracts of the Kallikuriehi taluq of South Arcot, and had been granted by a former government for services rendered to one Eamappa Jadaya Goundei a remote ancestor of the then Poiigar Lakshtnanappa Jadaya Gounder.

  9. It is also recorded in the Register that in 1813, shortly after the introduction of British rule, the then Poiigar was recognised as exempt from paymemt of revenue. In view of this fact and of the long and undisturbed enjoyment of the family, it was recommended that the forty villages, which are described in the Register as serva or tax free inam, should be enfranchised subject to the imposition of an annual quit rent of one-eighth of the income then derived from them by the Poiigar, which was treated as the assessment in view of the fact that the villages had never been surveyed or assessed, Under the very primitive conditions, which still exacts, the income of Eh. 1800 was shown to be derived from a plough tax, certain poll taxes, and jungle rent and tree tax. The recommendation was adopted by the Inam Commissioner on October 22, 1868, and an in am patta or permanent grant was accordingly issued to the Poiigar.

  10. The following pedigree taken from the judgment of Kamesatu J., in the High Court, shows the descent of the family from the common ancestor, the Poiigar Lakshmanappa Jadaya Gounder, who died in 1822.

  11. The letters R. 1, R. 2 show the persons entered under the heading "Surviving heirs of the present incumbent" in the order mentioned in the Inam Register already mentioned.

  12. Lakshinanappa 1, who died in 1822, was succeeded by his second son Annadana I, described as the 30th Jaghirdar, who died in 1860. The circumstances under which his elder brother Ram-appa was set aside were investigated in the suit brought in 1875 by Annadana's grandson Annadana IT. the 2nd Jaghirdar to recover the estate from his cousin Lakshmanappa who was the grandson of...

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