ADDANKI RAMALINGAMMA Vs. BHIMAVARAPU VENKATASUBBAYYA
HIGH COURT OF MADRAS
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Krishnaswami Nayudu, J. -
(1.) THIS appeal is against the judgment of the Subordinate Judge of Bapatla dismissing the plaintiff's suit in appeal on the ground that Civil Courts have no jurisdiction to entertain the claim. The plaintiff, who is the appellant, is the widow of one Venkatappa, who was the son of Addanki Lingadu 1. Addanki Lingadu 1 married Venkata Ramamma. Venkatappa had a brother Ragadu, who died leaving a widow Ragi. She also died. Venkatappa and the plaintiff had a son Lingadu 11. Venkatappa died about 25 years prior to suit and Lingadu 11 also died three months after his father's death. The plaintiff claims to be the heir entitled to possession of the suit properties, which consist of certain lands relating to washerman service 'inam' in the Addanki village, Guntur district.
The plaintiff's case in the plaint is that the land was acquired by the plaintiff's husband as a service tenure 'inam' with hereditary rights and he was enjoying the said property by rendering the said service and he died 20 years prior to the date of the suit, that thereafter his only son Lingadu 11, who was aged about 4 years also died, that the suit property passed to the plaintiff by heirship and she has been enjoying the property since then free from disputes by rendering the said service and that the defendant who had no manner of interest to the property about 5 months prior to the suit unlawfully entered into the said field and stealthily carried away the plaintiff's crop and also trespassed on a portion of the property and refused to deliver possession. The suit is for recovery of possession of the land, which is of the extent of 1 acre and 50 cents.
(2.) THE main defence to the suit is that the property being washerman service 'inam' land, a suit for recovery of possession of that land could only be heard by the Revenue Court under the Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act (3 of 1895) and a civil court has no jurisdiction. On the merits, the defendant contended that he had become entitled to possession of the property under a family arrangement. His case is that his father and Addanki Lingadu 1 were sons of sisters and besides he is the sister's son of Venkata Ramamma, wife of Addanki Lingadu 1, that while he was an infant his mother died and as his father was blind Lingadu affiliated the defendant and his father into his family and vested them with rights in his properties, that after the death of Venkatappa, husband of the plaintiff and Ragadu, sons of Lingadu 1, the defendant had been rendering washerman service, and that Venkata Ramamma, widow of Lingadu 1, and also the mother's sister of the defendant brought one Bapadu from another village Bommanampadu to assist this defendant In rendering service and, in pursuance of a family arrangement then effected the defendant and the said Bapadu had been enjoying the property of Lingadu with equal rights and the arrangement was approved of and acquiesced in by Venkata Ramamma as well as by the plaintiff and Ragi, the widow of Ragadu. A number of issues were raised In that suit and apart from the issue relating to the jurisdiction of the civil Courts, there were issues as to whether the family arrangement pleaded by the defendant was true and whether the trespass alleged by the plaintiff was true. The learned District Munsif who heard the suit granted & decree holding in favour of the plaintiff on all the issues finding that there was absolutely no evidence to prove the family arrangement, that the defendant had trespassed into the land held by the plaintiff and removed the crop raised by her. In appeal the learned Subordinate Judge of Bapatla, without considering the other issues on which findings were given by the first Court, dealt with the issue relating to jurisdiction and held that the Suit came within the scope of Sections 13 and 21 of Act 3 of 1895, which barred the jurisdiction of the civil Court, to entertain such a suit.
(3.) THE only question therefore for determination in this appeal is whether the conclusion of the learned Subordinate Judge that the civil Court has no jurisdiction is correct. Under Section 13(1) of Act 3 of 1895,
"any person may sue before the Collector for any of the village offices specified in Section 3 (which includes the office of the village washerman) or for the recovery of the emoluments of any such office, on the ground that he is entitled under Sub -sections (2) or (3) of Section 10, Madras Proprietary Estates Village Service Act, 1894, or under Sub -sections (2) or (3) of Section 10 or Sub -section (2) or (3) of Section 11 or Section 12 of this Act, as the case may be, to hold such office and enjoy such emoluments."
Sub -sections (2) and (3) of Section 10 of the Act relate to the devolution of the service 'inams' when a vacancy arises. Sub -section (2) recites that the succession shall devolve on a single heir according to the general custom and rule of primogeniture governing succession to impartible zamindaries in southern India. Subsection (3) gives the power to the Collector where the next heir is not qualified under Sub -section (1) of Section 10, to appoint the person next in order of succession who is so qualified.;
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