Karnam Poodi Muniswami Pillai vs The Secretary Of State For India In … on 18 February, 1926

Madras High Court
Karnam Poodi Muniswami Pillai vs The Secretary Of State For India In … on 18 February, 1926
Equivalent citations: (1926) 51 MLJ 678
Author: Odgers


Odgers, J.

1. In this case the plaintiff is the appellant and he sued, as seen from the printed plaint, for a declaration that he is the legally appointed karnam of the Kilapathi group and for consequential reliefs. He was appointed by the Revenue Divisional Officer in April, 1912, Karnam of a new group of villages, the re-grouping of which took place earlier in 1912. He is admittedly no relation of one Guruswami Pillai who was in 1910 the karnam of one or more of the regrouped villages. On the 2nd of September, 1912, the plaintiff’s appointment was cancelled by higher authority and on the 27th of December, 1912, Guruswami Pillai was appointed karnam of the re-grouped villages in question and on the 21st of February, 1913, he took charge from the appellant of his office. From early in 1915 to February, 1917, the appellant was engaged in various proceedings before the Revenue authorities to establish his claim and the Board of Revenue finally dismissed his claim on the latter date. On the 19th of April, 1920, this suit was filed.

2. The question raised before me is one of limitation, i. e., whether Article 120 or Article 124 applies. The cause of action is stated by the plaintiff himself to have arisen on the 2nd of September, 1912, when the Collector of Chittoor set aside the plaintiff’s appointment as karnam. That, of course, was more than six years before the filing of the suit. The difficulty is caused in this way. The original plaint and the plaint is printed–is nothing but a suit for a declaration, and, if so, the suit is clearly barred under Article 120. The District Munsif, however, says that an application to amend the plaint was made and allowed on the 6th of November, 1920. The effect of the amendment is according to him that the plaint as amended asks that the plaintiff be put in possession of the office of karnam. Whether the amendment was actually made or not does not appear. On the materials before me and I have searched the records sent up to this Court from the Lower Appellate Court it would be sufficient to dismiss the appeal on the ground that it is merely a declaratory suit and therefore out of time. But a point has been taken that this is a suit for the possession of an hereditary office with reference to the terms of Section 15 of Act II of 1894 which reads as follows:

And new offices which shall be hereditary if any of the offices they replace were hereditary shall be created for the new village or villages.

3. Mr. Chandrasekhara Aiyar tor the appellant alleges that in order to come within the ambit of Article 124 it is not necessary for the plaintiff to put forward an hereditary claim to an hereditary office. As stated, the plaintiff here is admittedly not a descendant of any of the former holders of the office before the villages were re-grouped. He is thus seeking the office for the first time so to speak, not. on the ground of heredity, and it is a grave question to my mind whether he is seeking possession of an hereditary office within the meaning of the Explanation to Article 124. The Explanation is as follows:

An hereditary office is possessed when the profits thereof are usually received or (if there arc no profits) when the duties thereof are usually performed.

4. This clearly does not apply to the case of the plaintiff here. The office is entirely a new one. That it will or may become hereditary in the hands of the holder if and when appointed is undoubted under Section 15 of Act [1 of 1894, but I am not prepared to say that this, even if we assume the amendment to have been made, is a suit under Article 124. I think therefore that the plaintiff must fail on both these grounds.

5. A further point has been raised as to the exact effect of Section 21 of Act 111 of 1895 read with Section 13 of the same Act. It may be, as I expressed in my judgment in Alagiasundaram Pillai v. Midnapiir Zemindari Co., Ltd. (1919) 54 1 C 816 that Section 21 does not apply to any claim to be appointed in the first instance to any of the village offices set forth in the Act. In this I followed the judgment of Sadasiva Aiyar, J. in Krishnaswami Naidu v. Akkidammal (1919) M.W.N. 29. However it is not necessary to give any decision on this last point.

6. The second appeal must be dismissed with costs.

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