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1965 (9) TMI 66 - Supreme Court Of India

1965 (9) TMI 66 - Supreme Court Of India - 1966 AIR 629, 1966 (1) SCR 831 - C.A. 452 Of 1963 - Dated:- 20-9-1965 - Sarkar A.K., Hidayatullah M., Dayal Raghubar, Mudholkar J.R. And Bachawat R.S., JJ. A. V. Viswanatha Sastri, K. Rangachari and T. V. R. Tatachari, for the appellants. A. Ranganadham Chetty and T. Satyanarayana, for the respondents. JUDGMENT: Bachawat R.S., This appeal arises out of a suit instituted by Atyam Veerraju as trustee of Sri Janardhana Swami Varu of Penugonda, a Hindu deit .....

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f the first defendant, that the latter would supply one- Fourth seer of gingili oil every day to the temple and instead of receiving the price of the oil would enjoy the income of the lands. The arrangement was reduced into writing. The first defendant and his predecessors have been in possession of the lands under this arrangement. The arrangement did not amount to an alienation; it gave only a license to receive the income and appropriate it towards the price of the oil. Even if the arrangemen .....

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dant is entitled to the suit lands subject only to the burden of supplying one-fourth seer of gingili oil every day to the temple out of its income. In 1851, there was an arrangement between Peda Narasimhulu, the great grandfather of the first defendant and Ponnuri Anandu, the then Archaka of the temple that Peda Narasimhulu would provide one-fourth seer of gingili oil every day to the temple out of the P. C. I./65-10 income of the suit lands. This arrangement was reduced to writing. When this a .....

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e oil. The arrangement is binding on the deity. In any event, Peda Narasimhulu and his successors-in-interest have been in uninterrupted possession and enjoyment of the lands for over a century and have acquired title to the lands by adverse possession subject only to the burden of supplying the oil. The suit filed a century after the death or termination of office of Ponnuri Anandu is barred by time. Pending the suit, the first defendant died, and his legal representatives, the third and fourth .....

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irst defendant and his predecessors-in-interest have acquired title to the lands by adverse possession burdened with this condition. On these findings, he dismissed the suit. This decree was confirmed by the High Court on appeal. Without expressing any opinion on the first two questions, the High Court agreed with the finding of the trial Court on the question of adverse possession. The plaintiff and two other persons now appeal to this Court by special leave. In this appeal, the following quest .....

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ords of the village of Cherukuvada, the deity is shown as the inamdar of the suit lands. The Inam Fair Register of Cherukuvada village (Ex. A-4) shows that since fasli 1203 corresponding to 1795 one Subnivas Raghoji Pantulu was the inamdar and in 1835, he sold the suit lands to one Murari Venkatarao, who, in his turn, sold the lands in 1851 to Penugonda Sri Janardhana Swami Veru for ₹ 120. By an order of the Inam Commissioner dated October 27, 1859, the title of the deity as inamdar of the .....

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had any ,interest in the suit lands. By an order dated October 26, 1931, the Hindu Religious Endowments Board, Madras framed a scheme for the temple under ss. 18 and 57 of the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act (Madras Act 2 of 1927) in the presence of Nuli Subbt Rao, the then successor-in-interest of Peda Narasimhulu. In the schedule to the scheme, the suit lands are shown to be the property of the deity in the possession and enjoyment of Nuli Subba Rao. Subject to certain modifications, whi .....

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u, Ex. B-2 dated April 7, 1902 discloses a mortgage and lease by Sriramulu, Exs. B-3, B-4, B-5 and B-6 show a mortgage and lease for five years by Sriramulu on March 1, 1910 and Ex. B-7 dated March 10, 1938 and Ex. B-8 dated August 19, 1942 are leases oil the suit lands for five years and eight years executed by Subba Rao. These documents and particularly Exs. 13-3, B-4 and B-5 recited that the lands were entered in the name of the deity in the village accounts of Cherukuvada and from generation .....

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e deity. By a notice dated June 16, 1929, the Hindu Religious Endowments Board demanded from Nuli Subba Rao annual contribution for the expenses of the temple. By his reply dated October 25, 1929, Nuli Subba Rao denied liability for the payment of the contribution and alleged that the lands were granted to his great grandfather, Peda Narasimhulu, by Ponnuri Anandu under the Sanad dated November 10, 1851, subject to the condition of supplying one-fourth seer of oil every day to the deity, and und .....

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deity is the registered inamdar and the pattas were issued to the deity. We are satisfied that the deity is the owner of the lands. We reject the claim of the defendants that in 1851 either Peda Narasimhulu or Ponnuri Anandu was the owner. We also reject the claim of the defendants that by the Sanad dated November 10, 1,851, the lands were conveyed to Peda Narasimhulu subject to the burden of supplying oil for evening lighting purposes. Had the properties been conveyed by the Sanad to Peda Naras .....

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not in possession of the Sanad. They have produced other ancient documents. A perusal of Exs. B-3 to B-7, A-9 and the written statement -,how,.; that up to the date of the filing of the written statement the Sanad was in the possession of the successors of Peda Narasimhulu. We are satisfied that the legal representatives of Nuli Subba Rao are, still in possession of the Sanad and that they have deliberately withheld it. We must now examine the claim of the defendants that under the Sanad dated N .....

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ct of the parties, for an instance, see Sivayogeswara Cotton Press, Devangere v. M. Panchaksharappa([1962] 3 S.C.R. 876). If the origin of the tenancy is not known, the tenant may lead circumstantial evidence to establish his permanent right of occupancy.The evidence of long possession coupled with other circumstances such as uniform payment of rent, construction of permanent structures, successive devolutions of property by transfer and inheritance may lead to the inference that the tenancy is .....

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yar v. Ramanathan Chettiar([1953] S.C.R. 930). But the disability of the manager to grant a permanent lease at a fixed rent is not absolute; he may grant such a lease for legal necessity. If by the production of the original grant or by other cogent evidence the tenant establishes the grant of a permanent by him and the validity of the lease comes in question after a long lapse of time when direct evidence of the circumstances under which the grant was made is no longer available, the Court will .....

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have been in continuous and uninterrupted possession of the suit lands for over a century since 1851. They supplied to the temple one-fourth seer of gingili oil every day for the evening lighting of the temple during all these years In 1851, the lands were dry, fetching very, little income, and it is possible that one-fourth seer of gingili oil daily was then a reasonable rent. Subsequently, the lands were converted into wet lands, and they are now fetching a large income. In spite of the incre .....

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, the origin of the tenancy is known. The tenancy was granted by the Sanad dated November 10, 1851. Whether or not a permanent tenancy was granted is a question of construction of the Sanad. Only the Sanad could show what interest was ranted by it. The most striking feature of this case and the thing which tilts the scales against the defendants is the non-production of this Sanad. The defendants have deliberately withheld this document. We should, therefore, make every presumption against them .....

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ring one-fourth seer of gingili oil every day to the temple. The next question is whether the suit is barred by limitation and adverse possession. The manager of the temple had no authority to grant a permanent lease of the temple lands at a fixed rent without any legal necessity and had he granted such a lease, it would have endured for the tenure of his office only. See Vidya Varuthi Thirtha v. Baluswami Ayyar(1921) L.R. 48 I.A. 302). But he had ample power in the course of management to grant .....

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ctober 25, 1929 when by a notice (Ex. A-9) of that date he asserted a hostitle title. This notice was addressed to the President, Hindu Religious Endowments Board, Madras. The object of the notice was to deny the liability of Subba Rao to pay any contribution to the Board in respect of the temple. Incidentally, Subba Rao claimed title to the suit lands under the Sanad dated November 10, 1851, subject only to the burden of supplying gingili oil to the temple daily. This claim was based on the San .....

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of the temple were not served by Nuli Subba Rao with the notice of his claim of absolute right to the suit lands. It is not shown that since October 25, 1929 Nuli Subba Rao continued to be in possession of the suit lands on the basis of a notorious claim of a hostitle title,. Having regard to s. 116 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, during the continuance of the tenancy, a tenant will not be permitted to deny the title of the deity at the beginning of the tenancy. In Bilas Kunwar v. Desraj Ranj .....

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the landlord. See Mohammad Mumtaz Ali Khan v. Mohan Singh(L.R. 50 I.A. 202), Madhavrao Waman Satindalgekar v. Raghunath Venkatesh Deshpande (L.R. 50 I.A. 255) , Naini Pillai Marakayar v. Ramanathan Chettiar(L.R. 51 I.A. 83). In the last case, Sir John Edge said : "No tenant of lands in India can obtain any right to a permanent tenancy by prescription in them. against his landlord from whom he holds the lands." These decisions received the approval of this Court in Patna Municipal Corpo .....

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to the knowledge of the owner. The acceptance of rent by the owner on the basis of the lessee s claim as a permanent tenant will not prevent the acquisition of such a right by the, lessee." As we did not hear any argument on that point, we do not also decide whether this passage lays down the correct law. This passage must be read with the following observation of the Patna High Court in the same case : "If once a tenancy of some kind comes into existence either under an express lease .....

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solute title or a permanent tenancy, or that he supplied oil to the temple on the basis of such a claim. It follows that during the period from 1851 to 1949 the possession of Peda Narasimhulu and his successors-ininterest was not adverse to the deity. During the period from 1851 to 1929 the title of the deity was not extinguished by adverse possession under S. 28 read with Art. 144 of the Indian Limitation Act, 1908 (Act IX of 1908) and the corresponding s. 28 and Art. 144 of the Indian Limitati .....

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