SISTA VENKATACHALAM Vs. BHAMIDIPALLI SARAMMA
HIGH COURT OF MADRAS
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Rajagopalan, J. -
(1.) THE plaintiff -respondent in, second appeal is the mother of the late Venkatanarayana who died without issue on 21 -11 -1937. Subhadramma was the widow of Venkatanarayana. On his death, she succeeded to his separate properties which consisted of (1) the amount payable under an insurance policy which Venkatanarayana had taken out and (2) the amount lying to the credit of Venkatanarayana in his provident fund account. Subhadramma acquired two items of Immovable properties. The finding of the lower appellate Court was that item 1 of the two items shown in the schedule to the plaint was acquired by Subhadramma with the money she got from the insurance company and that item 2 was purchased with the monies drawn from the provident fund. Before Subhadramma died she executed the Will under which the defendants -appellants in the second appeal claimed the properties. On the death of Subhadramma Venkatanarayana's mother as the reversioner to the estate of Venkatanarayana sued the defendants for recovery of possession of these properties. Both the Courts held that the will was a genuine document. But the learned District Munsif dismissed the plaintiff's claim holding that the two items of properties should be treated as the absolute properties of Subhadramma. On appeal, the learned Subordinate Judge held that while the amount in the provident fund of the late Venkatanarayana had become the absolute property of Subhadramma when it came to her, she had only a widow's estate in the amount paid under the policy of insurance. Since it was with that amount that item 1 had been purchased, the learned Subordinate Judge held that the plaintiff was entitled to recover possession of item 1 as reversioner to the estate of the late Venkatanarayana after the death of Subhadramrna. The defendants preferred the second appeal.
(2.) THE only question for determination in this second appeal is whether the learned Subordinate Judge was right in holding that the amount paid under the insurance policy had not become the absolute property of Subhadramma which she could dispose of by her will. Venkatanarayana was in the service of the District Board as a school teacher. He contributed to the provident fund. He took out a policy No. 24706 in the Lakshmi Insurance Co. It was common ground that contributions to this policy were made out of the amounts lying to the credit of Venkatanarayana in his provident fund. Venkatanarayana assigned this policy to the President, District Board, East Godavari "as security for payment of all sums which under the Local Boards Provident Fund Rules I may hereafter become liable to pay to that fund", Ex. B. (l)(a). On the death of Venkatanarayana, the President of the District Board assigned the policy to Venkatanarayana's heir and widow Subhadramma under Ex. B. 1(b) which ran,
"I, President, District Board, Rajahmundry, the assignee of the within policy, hereby assign all the benefits of the within policy to Bhammidipalli Subhadrammagaru......"
Rule 10(1) of the Provident Fund Rules framed by the Government under Section 71(g) and Section 199(2)(a) of the Madras Local Boards Act, 1920 ran:
"At the request in writing of any subscriber, and with the consent of the District Board, any portion or whole of his subscriptions with interest thereon may be invested by the District Board in a policy of life assurance in such office and for such amount and on such terms as may be mutually agreed upon in writing between such subscriber and the District Board."
It was under this rule that the premia for the policy taken out by Venkatanarayana were paid out of the amounts to his credit in his provident fund. Clause 2 of Rule 10 ran :
"Such policy so arranged shall be effected in the name of the subscriber who shall assign the same in favour of the President, District Board, it shall be held and unless reassigned over as provided for in Clause (c) or Clause (d) of the proviso, shall be realised by the District Board and the net proceeds on realisation shall be credited to the account of each subscriber."
Clause (c) of the proviso did not apply; it provided for the contingency of retirement of the subscriber from service; Venkatanarayana died while still in service. Clause (d) of the Proviso to Rule 10 ran :
"On the death of a subscriber while in service, the policy effected on his life shall be reassigned to the, nominee appointed by him under Rule 5 or to all the nominees appointed by him under that rule jointly specifying the shares to which each of the nominees is entitled."
it was common ground that Subhadramma was the nominee. It was under Clause (d) of the proviso to Rule 10 that the President, District Board, executed Ex. B. l(b) assigning the policy and the benefits accruing thereunder to Subhadramma.
(3.) THE real question is, did the money payable under the policy become part of the provident fund of Venkatanarayana? If that question is to be answered in the affirmative Subhadramma as the nominee would be absolutely entitled to all the amounts that had been credited to the provident fund of Venbatanarayana. If, however, the question is answered in the negative, the amount collected under the policy of insurance will have to be treated as an item of the estate of the late Venkatanarayana distinct from the amount which lay to his credit in his provident fund, and the nomination under the rules of the provident fund would not govern a devolution of interest in this part of the estate of Venkatanarayana, that is the amount paid under the policy of insurance.;
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