Lilachand Tuljaram Gujar & Ors Vs.
Mallappa Tukaram Borgavi & Ors  INSC 114 (11 September 1959)
DAS, SUDHI RANJAN (CJ) HIDAYATULLAH, M.
GUPTA, K.C. DAS
CITATION: 1960 AIR 85 1960 SCR (1) 693
Occupancy, relinquishment of-Registered
occupant surrendering occupancy-Such surrender, if and when can bind other
occupants -Bombay Land Revenue Code, 1879 (Bom. V of 1879) s. 74.
The suit out of which the present appeal
arose was one for redemption of some occupancy lands, owned and mortgaged by
two brothers, S and A, the Khata of the lands standing in the name of S as the
registered occupant under s. 74 of the Bombay Land Revenue Code, 1879. The
mortgage, which was a usufructuary one, was executed by S and A in 1888 in
favour of the predecessors-in-interest of the appellants. By a Rajinama filed
under s. 74 of the Code in 1900, S made an unconditional 88 694 surrender of
the occupancy. On the same day the mortgagees by a Kabuliyat prayed that the
occupancy in the mortgaged property might be granted to them. Both the Rajinama
and the Kabuliyat were granted by the Mamlatdar. By the Rajinama S did not,
however, purport to relinquish the occupancy on behalf of A. After the death of
S, A applied to the Mamlatdar for the cancellation of the transfer in favour of
the mortgagees and registering the mortgaged property in his name. That
application was rejected. The heirs of S, claiming also to be the heirs of A,
brought the suit for redemption. The defence of the appellants was that the
plaintiffs were not the heirs of A and that the right of redemption in the
entire occupancy had been extinguished by the Rajinama. The administrators of
the estate of A were then added as defendants but were later on transposed to
the category of co-plaintiffs. The courts below found against the appellants.
Hence this appeal by special leave. The question for determination was whether
the surrender by S amounted to a relinquishment of the entire occupancy
including the share of A.
Held, that the Rajinama could in no way
affect the right of A to his share, in the occupancy and the right of
redemption in respect of his share still subsisted.
Under s. 74 of the Bombay Land Revenue Code,
1879, rightly construed, the registered occupant had no inherent or independent
right, in the absence of any authority, express or implied, which must be
clearly pleaded and strictly proved, to give a notice of relinquishment so as
to affect the interest of other occupants as well. Although the section conferred
certain rights and imposed certain obligations on the registered occupant, it
was not intended to take away the rights of other occupants.
Lalchand Sakharam Marwadi v. Khendu Kedu
Ugbade, 22 Bom.
L.R. 1431, referred to.
Held, further, that even though A's
application to get the mortgaged property registered his name had failed, there
could be no question of adverse possession since the possession of the
mortgagees had a lawful origin in the usufructuary mortgage. Nor could a mere
assertion of adverse title affect the subsisting equity of redemption or
shorten the prescribed period of limitation for the suit.
Khiarajmal v. Diam, I.L.R. 32 Cal. 296,
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 24 of 1955.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
decree dated March 11, 1949, of the Bombay High Court, in Letters Patent Appeal
No. 22 of 1945, arising out of the judgment and decree dated August 3, 1944, of
the said High Court in Second Appeal No. 754 of 1942.
695 M. S. K. Sastri, for the appellants.
Naunit Lal, for respondents.
1959. September 11. The Judgment of the Court
was delivered by DAS C. J.-This appeal by special leave has arisen out of
Original Suit No. 582 of 1937 filed in the Court of the Subordinate Judge of
Chikodi by one Tukaram Shidappa Borgavi alias Teli (since deceased) and his son
Mallappa Tukaram Borgavi alis Teli (1st respondent herein) against the
appellants for the redemption of certain mortgaged property and possession
thereof free from encumbrances and for other ancillary reliefs. The mortgaged
property consists of R. S. No. 301 which is Devasthan Inam Lands burdened with
the obligation to supply oil for Nand Deep, i.e., keeping a lamp always burning
before Shri Tholaba Deity in the village of Nipani. The said property
originally belonged to two brothers Shiddappa and Annappa. The khata of the
land, however, stood in the name of Shiddappa as the registered occupant under
s. 74 of the Bombay Land Revenue Code, 1879 (Bombay Act V of 1879).
The facts material for our present purpose
may now be stated. On January 23, 1888, Shiddappa and Annappa executed a
usufructuary mortgage (Ex.D-51) in favour of Lalchand Bhavanchand Gujar and
Tuljaram Bhavanchand Gujar for Rs. 1,300 made up of Rs. 1,100 due under a
previous mortgage and Rs. 200 presently advanced in cash. That deed provided
that the mortgage money would be repaid within a period of three years and that
the mortgagors would pay the judi and incur the expenses of the Nand Deep and
that on failure of the mortgagors to meet the said out goings, the mortgagees
would incur the said expenses and add the same to their claim on the mortgage.
On March 10, 1900, Shiddappa alone executed a simple mortgage (Ex. D-52) for
Rs. 600 in favour of the same mortgagees. A part of the consideration for this
simple mortgage consisted of moneys borrowed by both the brothers on bonds
executed by both of them. This simple mortgage deed provided 696 that the
mortgagees would bear the expenses of the Nand Deep and debit the same to the
mortgagors in the mortgage account. On March 22, 1900, before the simple
mortgage deed was presented for registration, Shidappa, who was the registered
occupant, gave a Rajinama under s. 74 of the Bombay Revenue Code recording his
desire to submit an unconditional surrender of the above mentioned khata of R. S.
No. 307 from the end of the then current year. On the same day, the mortgagees
by a Kabuliyat prayed that the occupancy in the mortgaged property may be
granted to them.
Both the Rajinama and the Kabuliyat were
sanctioned by the Mamlatdar on May 5,1900. Shiddappa having died, Annappa in
1905 applied to the Mamlatdar alleging that the mortgaged property was
Devasthan Inam and praying for the cancellation of the transfer in favour of
the mortgagees and for placing the mortgaged property in his name. This
application was rejected. In 1907 Shiddappa's son Tukaram (the original first
plaintiff herein)and Annappa, the brother of Shiddappa, filed suits against the
mortgagees for accounts to be taken under the Deccan Agriculturists' Relief
That suit having been dismissed, they
appealed to the District Court, Belgaum, but that appeal was dismissed on March
15, 1909. Annappa again applied for the lands being put in his possession, but
that application also was rejected on August 4, 1910. Thereafter, in 1911
Annappa and Tukaram, the brother and son respectively of Shiddappa, filed C. S.
No. 362 of 1911 under the same Deccan Agriculturists' Relief Act for the same
reliefs. That suit was also dismissed and the appeal there from met with a like
fate on March 17,1914. In 1922 Annappa died without any issue. The mortgagee
Lalchand died issueless and the mortgagee Tuljaram died leaving a son named
Lilachand Tuljaram who became entitled to the entire mortgage securities. On
November 1, 1937, Tukaram and, his son Ganpat, alleging that they were the
legal representatives of both Shiddappa and Annappa, filed Original Suit No.
586 of 1937, out of which this appeal arises, against the appellants Lilachand
and his three sons for the redemption of the mortgages. In the 697 written
statement the defendants-appellants pleaded that the deceased Shiddappa having
sold the mortgaged property to the mortgagees, the equity of redemption became
extinguished and that as Shiddappa alone was the registered occupant, the
Rajinama given by him, was valid and binding on Annappa.
They further alleged that the plaintiffs were
not the heirs of the deceased Annappa, for the latter had died after having
transferred his interests in the mortgaged properties to others. It transpires
that Annappa died in 1922 after having made and published his last will and
testament bequeathing his interest in the mortgaged properties to one Krishna
Kallappa, that Krishna Kallappa applied for Letters of Administration in
respect of Annappa's estate and that in spite of the opposition of Tukaram,
Letters of Administration with a copy of the will annexed was granted to
Krishna Kallappa. Krishna Kallappa having died, his four sons were added as
party defendants to this suit and then on their own application they were
transposed to the category of plaintiffs.
The trial Court held that the Rajinama
executed by Shiddappa did not extinguish the title of the mortgagors in the
mortgaged property, that the plaintiffs were agriculturists, that they were
bound to pay the amount also under the simple mortgage and that on taking
accounts the mortgages had redeemed themselves. Accordingly the trial court
passed a decree for possession declaring that both the mortgages had been satisfied.
The mortgagees, defendants 1 to 4, appealed to the District Court, Belgaum, in
Regular Civil Appeal No. 322 of 1940. The District Court held that by the
Rajinama, Shiddappa intended to convey the title in the suit land to the
mortgagees and hence Shiddappa's heirs, the plaintiffs 1 and 2, could not claim
redemption of Shiddappa's one half share in the suit land. As regards Annappa's
share, the learned Judge held that the Rajinama had not the effect of
transferring the interest of Annappa to the mortgagees and that inasmuch as the
mortgages were subsisting, the defendants could not acquire title by adverse
In this view he allowed the appeal in part
with the result that 698 the suit was dismissed so far as the claims of
plaintiffs 1 and 2 were concerned but the claims of plaintiffs 3 to 6 as the
legal representatives of Annappa were upheld and they were allowed to redeem
Annappa's one half share of and in the mortgaged property on payment of one
half of the amounts due under the two mortgages. The mortgagee-defendants 1 to
4 appealed to the High Court in Second Appeal No. 754 of 1942 against that part
of the decree which rejected their claim to Annappa's share and the plaintiffs
1 and 2 also filed Second Appeal No. 1011 of 1942 against the dismissal of
their claim for redemption of one half share of Shiddappa in the mortgaged
property. Both the appeals were disposed of by a common judgment by Weston, J.
The learned Judge held that, so far as Shiddappa's share was concerned, the
Rajinama was a complete relinquishment of his interest, but as regards
Annappa's share, he agreed with the District Judge's conclusion that Shiddappa
could not bind Annappa's share by the Rajinama and in this view of the matter
he dismissed both the appeals. Against this decree both the parties preferred
Letters Patent Appeals, namely, L.P.A. No. 22 of 1945 which was filed by
defendants 1 to 4 and L.P.A. No. 16 of 1945 which was filed by plaintiffs 1 and
2. The Division Bench dismissed both the appeals. The present plaintiff No. 1,
the son of Tukaram (the deceased son of Shiddappa who was the original
plaintiff No. 1) has not come up to this Court and, therefore, the decision of
the Division Bench has become final so far as he is concerned.
The High Court having refused to grant leave
to appeal to this Court, the mortgagees defendants 1 to 4 applied to and
obtained from this Court special leave to appeal against the decision of the
Division Bench in so far as it upheld the rejection of their claims to
Annappa's half share in the mortgaged property. Hence the present appeal. The
plaintiffs respondents, who are the legal representatives of Annappa and
against whom the present appeal is directed, have not entered appearance in
Learned advocate appearing in support of the
appeal urges that the Rajinama and the Kabuliyat taken 699 together evidenced a
transfer of title from the mortgagors to the mortgagees and, therefore,
operated to extinguish the equity of redemption not only of Shiddappa but also
of Annappa, for there is sufficient evidence on record that Shiddappa was the
manager and karta of the joint family and that in the matter of passing the
Rajinama he had acted in that capacity and, therefore, the Rajinama was binding
on his brother Annappa. As pointed out by the Division Bench in their judgment
in the Letters Patent Appeal, this case of Shiddappa having acted as karta was
nowhere made by the defendants-appellants in their written statement and, in
agreement with the High Court, we declined to allow learned advocate for the
appellants to make out such a new case.
This case being thus out of the way, learned
advocate for the appellants urges that under s. 74 of the Bombay Land Revenue
Code, as Shiddappa was the registered occupant, the Rajinama filed by him
operated upon the entire occupancy and amounted to a relinquishment of the
rights of both the brothers Shiddappa and Annappa. Section 74 of the Bombay
Land Revenue Act, as it stood at all material times, ran as follows :
" An occupant may, by giving written
notice to the Mamlatdar or Mahalkari, relinquish his occupancy, either
absolutely or in favour of a specified person; provided that such
relinquishment applied to the entire occupancy or to whole survey numbers, or
recognized shares of Survey Numbers.
An absolute relinquishment shall be deemed to
have effect from the close of the current year, and notice thereof must be
given before the 31st March in such year, or before such other date as may be
from time to time prescribed in this behalf for each district by the Governor
A relinquishment in favour of a specified
person may be made at any time.
When there are more occupants than one, the
notice of relinquishment must be given by the registered occupant; and the
person, if any, in whose favour an occupancy is relinquished, or, if such 700
occupancy is relinquished in favour of more persons than one, the principal of
such persons, must enter into a written agreement to become the registered
occupant, and his name shall thereupon be substituted in the records for that
of the previous registered occupant." Reliance is placed on the concluding
paragraph of the section which provides that when a relinquishment is made in
favour of more persons than one the principal one of such persons must enter
into a written agreement to become the registered occupant and his name shall
thereupon be substituted in the records for that of the previous registered
occupant. This provision, it is said, makes it clear that so far as the revenue
authorities are concerned, it is the registered occupant who represents the
entire occupancy and the fact that the notice of relinquishment must, under the
section, be given by the registered occupant also supports the contention that
the Rajinama passed by the registered occupant binds all the occupants. We are
unable to accept this argument as correct. The concluding paragraph of the
section clearly recognises that a relinquishment may be in favour of more
persons than one.
It is true that the principal one of such
persons must enter into a written agreement to become the registered occupant.
This is for facilitating the purpose of the
Code but it does not mean that the other persons in whose favour the occupancy
is relinquished cease to have any right. That their right as occupants remains
is clearly recognised by the opening paragraph of the section which gives an
occupant a right to relinquish his occupancy either absolutely or in favour of
a specified person. This right is given to all occupants, if there are more than
one, for the singular includes the plural. It is true that where there are more
occupants than one, the notice of relinquishment on behalf of any occupant must
be given by the registered occupant.
That does not mean, in the absence of any
specific pleading and cogent proof, that a notice of relinquishment given by
the registered occupant must necessarily be a notice on behalf of all occupants
or any particular occupant other than the 701 registered occupant, or that the
registered occupant has the right to give such a notice without reference to
the other occupants so as to effect their interest in the occupancy.
Turning to the Rajinama, it is clear that
Shiddappa did not purport to file, the same on behalf of Annappa nor had he any
right to do so; by reason only of his being the registered occupant. In
Lalchand Sakharam Marwadi v. Khendu Kedu Ughade (1) one out of four brother
mortgagors, who was the registered occupant of the mortgage land, passed a
Rajinama of the land in favour of the mortgagee, who executed a Kabuliyat for
the same. The remaining three mortgagors sued to redeem the mortgage alleging
that the Rajinama passed by their brother conveyed only his interest and
nothing more. It was held that though the conveying brother was a co-mortgagor
with the plaintiffs, he had no right to sell their interest in the equity of
redemption and that, so far' as they, were concerned, he was in the same
position as an outsider. It is true that no specific reference was made in the
judgment to s. 74 of the Bombay Land Revenue Code, but the actual decision in
that case, the facts of which are very similar to those of the instant case,
quite clearly indicates the court's understanding of the law applicable to
those facts and that law was nothing but the provisions of s. 74 of the Code.
In our opinion, on a correct interpretation of s. 74, where there are more
occupants than one in respect of the same occupancy each occupant has his own
rights and the fact of registration of one of them as the registered occupant attracts
the operation of the Code and confers certain rights or imposes certain
obligations on the registered occupant as laid down in the Code but does not
take away the rights of other occupants. It is true that if any of the
occupants other than the registered occupant desires to relinquish his
occupancy. he cannot himself give a notice of relinquishment but must give it
by and through the registered occupant Nevertheless the registered occupant, in
the absence of any authority, express or implied, to be clearly pleaded and
strictly proved, has no inherent or independent (1) 22 Bom L.R. 1431, 89 702
right to give any such notice so as to affect the interests of the other
occupants. In our opinion the Rajinama passed by Shiddappa did not affect the
right of Annappa and his equity of redemption subsisted at all material times.
In our judgment the conclusion of the Division Bench of the High Court in the
Letters Patent Appeals was correct and the principal contention urged before us
must be repelled.
Learned Advocate for the appellant then
faintly urges that Annappa's interest in the property was extinguished by
reason of the adverse possession exercised by the mortgagees Since at least
1905 when the claim of the Annappa to get the mortgaged property registered in
his name failed. It should be remembered that the mortgagees came into
possession of the property pursuant to the usufructuary mortgage.
Therefore their possession had a lawful
origin. A mere assertion of an adverse title on the part of the appellants
cannot affect the subsisting equity of redemption of the mortgagors or operate
to shorten the period of limitation prescribed for a suit for redemption. In
view of the observation of the Judicial Committee in Khiarajmal v. Daim (1),
the learned advocate for the appellants did not seriously press the point of
limitation any further.
No other point having been urged before us in
this appeal, the appeal must, for reasons stated above, be dismissed. As the
respondents did not appear, there will be no order as to costs.
(1) (1904) L. R. 32 Ind. App. 23.