MANYAM JANAKALAKSHMI Vs. MANYAM MADHAVA RAO
HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
MANYAM MADHAVA RAO
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Chinnappa Reddy, J. -
(1.) Manyam Janakalakshmi, Plaintiff in O.S.No.7 of 1966 on the file of the District Court, East Godavari and the defendant in O.S. Nos. 24 and 28 of 1966 is the appellant in these three appeals. She is the widow of Manyam Venkatakrishna Papa Rao who died on 15-8-1965. Papa Rao had a first wife by the name Atchayamma, through whom he had three sons, Madhava Rao, Ramamohana Rao and Suryachandra Rao. They are defendants 1 to 3 in O.S. No. 7 of 1966. Rammohana Rao is the plaintiff in O.S.No.24 of 1966 and Madhava Rao is the plaintiff in O.S. No. 28 of 1966. Atchayamma died on 3-6-1955 on which date her youngest son Suryachandra Rao was a minor. On 3-6-1955 Venkatakrishna Paparao effected a partition between himself and his three sons by a registered deed Ex, A-15. By this deed the family properties were divided into four shares. One share was allotted to the father and the other three shares were allotted to the three sons by the first wife. Papa Rao was assessed to Income - tax in respect of certain money lending business carried on him. This business was treated as the separate property of Papa Rao and was excluded from the division. Papa Rao had also obtained certain properties under a will executed by his brother in law Ganeswara Rao. These properties were also treated as the separate properties of Papa Rao and excluded from the division. Express recitals to the effect that the money lending business and the properties obtained under the will of Ganeswara Rao were the separate properties of Papa Rao were made in the deed of partition. Ganeswara Rao was the husband of Papa Raos sister. He had no issue. He executed a will by which he bequeathed half of his property to a boy who be directed should be taken in adoption by his wife. The other half of his property was bequeathed to his wife Seshamma to be enjoyed by her during her lifetime and thereafter to go to his father in law Surayya with absolute rights. The will also provided that if Surayya pre-deceased Seshamma the half share was to go to Surayyas sons and grandsons. Surayya died in 1941 and Seshamma died in 1950. After Seshammas death a half share of the properties came to Papa Rao and his two brothers. As directed by the will of her husband Seshamma made an adoption. After Seshammas death, one Subba Rao. An agnate of Ganeswara Rao filed O.S.No. 11 of 1951 in the District Court, Rajahmundry, challenging the will and the adoption. The will and the adoption were upheld by the District Court, High Court and the Supreme Court in successive appeals. On the date of the partition between Papa Rao and his sons the litigation was still pending. As we said earlier the properties which Papa Rao received under the will of Ganeswara Rao were treated as the separate properties of Papa Rao and were not included in the partition. Shortly after the execution of the partition deed Madhava Rao and Ramamohana Rao, the two adult sons of Papa Rao raised disputes claiming a share both in the money lending business and in the properties bequeathed by Ganeswara Rao. At the intervention of elders Papa Rao executed a letter, Ex. B-23 dated 7-9-1955 agreeing to give a share to his sons. He, however, failed to do so. Therefore 1955 in the District Court, Rajahmundry, to reopened the partition and to make a fresh division after including the money lending business and the properties bequeathed by Ganeswara Rao in the properties available for partition. According to the allegations in the plaint the money lending business was of the tune of Rs.4laks. The suit was resisted by Papa Rao who contended that the money lending business was not joint business and that the properties bequeathed by Ganeswarao Rao were his separate properties. The suit was transferred to the Sub-Court and renumbered as O.S.No.11 of 1956. About an year after the institution of the suit Papa Rao married Janakalakshmi as his second wife and during the pendency of the suit a son and two daughters were born to him by the second wife. Notwithstanding the pendency of the suit, n 6-12-1957 Papa Rao executed a gift deed, Ex.A-1 giving to Janakalakshmi Ac.34-10 cents of land from the property which was bequeathed to him by Ganeswara Rao. After the execution of the settlement deed Janakalakshmi and her minor son were also impleaded as parties to O.S. No. 11 of 1956. The litigation was long drawn out and finally on 5-1-1965 the parties entered into a compromise and a compromise decree (Ex.A-8) was passed. The compromise was signed by Papa Rao, Madhava Rao, Ramamohana Rao, Janakalakshmi for herself and as guardian of her minor son. Under the terms of the compromise it was agreed that the three sons of Papa Rao by his first wife should be entitled to a 1/4 the share each in the properties bequeathed by Ganeswara Rao including the land which papa Rao had gifted to Janakalakshmi. It was also agreed that a total sum of Rs.60,000.00 should be paid to the three sons, towards their share of the profits from Ganeswara Raos properties which were in the possession of Papa Rao as party - receiver. It was recited that out of the sum of Rs.60,000.00 a sum of Rs.18,000.00 was paid in cash and that the balance of Rs.42,000.00 may be withdrawn by the three sons from the amounts lying in deposit in Court to the credit of the suit. It was also agreed that the money lending business carried on by Papa Rao was the separate business of Papa Rao in which the sons had no share. Papa Rao died on 11-8-1965 and O.S.No. 11 of 1956 in so far as it affected her right to the properties figted to her by her husband and for possession of those properties. She pleaded that the properties bequeathed by Ganeswara Rao were the separate properties of Papa Rao and that Papa Rao had the right to deal with the properties absolutely. In exercise and assertion of that right he made a gift of Ac. 34-10 cents to the plaintiff. Though she was impleaded as a party to O.S. No. 11 of 1956 there was no issue in regard to the gift in her favour. She pleaded that Papa Rao was seriously ill for some time prior to the compromise. He was suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure kidney trouble, albuminuria and enlargement of the heart. He was almost prostrate. He was taken to Rajahmundry at the time of the compromise. His physical and mental condition was such that he was not in a position to exercise any will or judgment of his own. He had no independent advice and his sons were in a position to dominate his will. They used the opportunity to secure an advantage to themselves and made Papa Rao agree to the compromise under duress, coercion and undue influence. The plaintiffs signature to the compromise was obtained without the terms of the compromise being explained to her. She did not know the implications of the compromise or the effect of the compromise upon her rights under the deed of the gift. She had none to advise her and was in a helpless position. She put her signature because of the desire of Papa Rao. Her signature to the compromise was not the result of any free and voluntary exercise of her own will. It was the result of coercion, pressure and undue influence exercised by the defendants directly and through her husband.
(2.) The suit was resisted by defendants 1 to 3. They pleaded that under the will of Ganeswara Rao the property was bequeathed to the sons and grand sons of Surayya and therefore, the property was ancestral property in the hands of Papa Rao. Papa Rao himself treated the property as the joint family property by his letter dated 7-9-1955. The deed of gift executed in favour of the plaintiff was after the institution of the suit O.S.No. 11 of 1956. It was apparently brought into existence with a view to create trouble for the defendants. The defendants denied that Papa Rao was seriously ill form some time prior to the compromise. They admitted that he had a diabetic tendency form some years before his death and that he suffered from albuminuria for a month or two before his death. They however, pleaded that he was quite all right at the time of the compromise and that he was not a patient in any hospital at the time of the compromise. It was only long subsequent to the compromise that he was admitted into the hospital at Vellore. Papa Rao was always a strong willed person and was in no need of any advice from any one. The defendants were never in a position to dominate Papa Rao or his wife. Papa Rao and the plaintiff willingly entered into the compromise as it was to their advantage and to the advantage of their branch of the family. The suit filed by the first defendant had already been pending for nearly nine years. Papa Rao wanted to give a quietus to the litigation. He himself had produced the letter. Ex B-7 and he was conscious of its contents. He was unwilling to go into the witness box as he was apprehensive of cross-examination regarding his money lending business. Papa Rao and the plaintiff were anxious to save for themselves and their children the entire cash of Rs. 4 to 5lacs with which Papa Rao was carrying on the money landing business. By the terms of the compromise the money lending business was secured for Papa Rao and his children by the plaintiff. It was, therefore, very much for the benefit of the plaintiff. The suit was unjustly filed as defendants 1 and 2 from each of whom the plaintiff had borrowed Rs.15,000.00 under promissory notes were pressing for repayment of the debts due to them.
(3.) The plaintiff filed a rejoinder in which she stated that shortly prior to the date of the compromise defendants 1 and 2 used to visit their ailing father on the pretext of the latters illness. On the date of the compromise they took the plaintiff in a car to Rajahmundry saying that they would take him to a hospital. At Rajahmundry they got him to execute the compromise petition at a time when he had no independent advice. After obtaining the signature of Papa Rao in the compromise petition they returned to Torredu and obtained the plaintiffs signature to the compromise petition and to some other papers under compulsion and coercion. She signed at the behest of her husband. She denied that she had even borrowed any money from defendants 1 and 2.;
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