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Madras High Court
Rajah Of Venkatagiri vs Rachapoody Chinna Subbadu And … on 23 November, 1908
Equivalent citations: 4 Ind Cas 1114 a
Bench: Miller, Pinhey


1. The lands in suit are “tank maniyams” and both the lower Courts have found that they have been held rent free by the defendants’ family for 40 or 50 years prior to 1897 on condition that they spent the nominal rent (i.e., Rs. 40 per annum) in repairs to the village tank. The District Judge has further found that the defendants’ story is true, viz.,that in 1897 the plaintiff’s tahsildar having received an offer of Rs. 60 per annum for the lands, without any right to do so auctioned the lands with the result that the defendants in order to retain their possession had to bid for an annual rent of Rs. 80-2-0, and execute a qabuliyat for 10 years in those terms. The plaintiff who is the Rajah of Venkatagiri sues to recover the rent with arrears and interest due under the qabuliyat. The defendants plead that the contract was induced by “undue influence”

2. The District Judge finds the defendants’ pleas proved and has dismissed the suit.

3. On the facts found we are unable to say that the District Judge is wrong. It is clearly impossible to rule that the Venkatagiri Raja or his tahsildar did not hold a real or apparent authority over the defendants. They clearly do so and must be deemed to be in a position to dominate the will of the defendants.

4. The next question is whether the contract entered into appears on the face of it to be unconscionable. It seems to us this is also clearly the case. By virtue of the contract the defendants give up the status of inamdars and agree to a money rent of double the amount formerly payable for the land and this apparently for no consideration whatever.

5. In the circumstances the burden of proving that the contract was not induced by undue influence lies upon the plaintiff (vide Section 16 of the Indian Contract Act). We cannot say that he has discharged the onus.

6. The decision of the lower appellate Court must be affirmed and the appeal dismissed with costs.

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