CIVIL

Badri Narain Jha and others Versus Rameshwar Dayal Singh and others[SC 1951 Feb]

Keywords : Tenancy – In- Common, lakhraj interest, Mokarrari interest

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In law, an inter se partition of the mokarrari interest could not affect the integrity of the lease and it could not be said that Bisheshwar Dayal Singh under the alleged partition became a mokarraridar under another contract of lease. Such partitions amongst several lessees inter se are usually made for convenience of enjoyment of the leasehold but they do not in any way affect the integrity of the tenancy or make each holder of an interest in it as a separate holder of a different tenancy.

AIR 1951 SC 186 : (1951) SCR 153

(SUPREME COURT OF INDIA)

Badri Narain Jha and others Appellant
Versus
Rameshwar Dayal Singh and others Respondent

(Before : Saiyid Fazl Ali, Mehr Chand Mahajan, B. K. Mukherjea And N. Chandrasekhara Aiyar, JJ.)

Appeal No. 40 of 1950, Decided on : 05-02-1951.

Transfer Of Property Act, 1882—Section 108(l)—Liability to pay rent—Tenancy in common—Partition amongst lessees intestate does not effect the integrity of lease—The liability of the tenant to pay the rent remains joint.

Mere purchase by Bisheshwar Dayal Singh of portions of the lakhraj interest could not bring about an extinction of the lease or break its integrity as he was only one of the several joint holders of the mokarrari interest. An inter se partition of the mokarrari interest amongst the mokarraridars as alleged by the plaintiffs could not affect their liability qua the lessor for the payment of the whole rent, as several tenants of a tenancy in law constitute but a single tenant, and qua the landlord they constitute one person, each constituent part of which possesses certain common rights in the whole and is liable to discharge common obligations in its entirety.

Partitions amongst several lessees inter se are usually made for convenience of enjoyment of the leasehold but they do not in any way affect the integrity of the tenancy or make each holder of an interest in it as a separate holder of a different tenancy.

Transfer of Property Act, 1882—Section 111(d)—Merger of interest—Purchase of lessee’s interest by the lessor—The lease stand extinguished as the same person cannot be landlord and the tenant at the same time—Where the purchase is only in respect of a part of the interest, the principle has no application and extinction of lease or break in its integrity cannot be inferred.

Counsel for the Parties:

Shri S.C. Misra, Advocate instructed by Shri S. P. Verma, Advocate for Applts

Shri N. C. Chatterjee, Sr. Advocate (Shri P. B. Gangoli, Advocate, with him) instructed by Shri P. K. Chatterjee, Agent for Resps.

JUDGMENT

Mahajan, J—This appeal arises out of suit No. 9 of 1939 instituted in the Ct. of Subordinate Judge of Palamau by the applts. against the respts. for a number of declarations in respect to their title to certain lands and for an injunction restraining the respts. from proceeding with a rent suit. The suit was decreed by the Subordinate Judge but on appeal this decision was revsd. by the High Court of Judicature at Patna and the applts’. suit was dismissed.

2. The salient facts of the case are as follows:

Village Darha belonged to a family of Pathaks as their ancestral lakhraj. Over a hundred years ago, the Pathaks granted the entire village in mokarrari to the ancestors of the family of Singhas (defts’. first and second parties) at an annual jama of ` 14. The mokarrari interest eventually devolved on three branches of the Singha family, each branch getting in the following proportions:Parameshwar Dayal and others, defts’. first party, to the extent of six annas; Bisheshwar Dayal Singh, defts’. second party, to the extent of eight anas; and Madhav Saran Singh, to the extant of two annas. Subsequently, the two anna share of Madho Saran Singh was purchased by Hiranand Jha, father of the pltfs. jointly with Durganand Jha and Dharam Dayal. Dharom Dayal was a mere benamidar for Hiranand Jha.

3. On 5-6-1916, Bisheshwar Dayal Singh purchased six anna share in the lakhraj interest from Deolal Pathak and others and on 9-2-1917 he purchased another two anna share from Mandil Pathak. By virtue of these purchases he came to own the lakharaj interest to the extent of eight anna share. He already held the mokarrari interest to the same extent which had devolved on him by inheritance.

4. Some time in the year 1917 or 1918 Hiranand Jha and Durganand Jha, who had acquired by purchase two anna mokarrari interest of Madho Saran Singh purchased in execution of a rent decree the raiyati interest in the whole village and came into possession of it. They thus became mokarraridars of two anna share and raiyats of sixteen annas of the village lands.

5. In the year 1918, title suit No. 59 of 1918 was instituted in the Ct. of the Subordinate Judge of Palamau for partition of the lands situate in several villages and belonging to the family of the defts’. 1st and 2nd parties. The jhas were impleaded as defts’. in the suit, being co-sharers in part of the property in suit. This suit was decreed in the year 1921 and in the final partition an allotment of two annas share in Darha village was made in their favour. The remaining fourteen anna share excluding khatian 1, 3 and 6 was-allotted to the defts’. first party. These three khatians were allotted to Bisheshwar Dayal Singh and in exchange for the remaining portions of his interest in that village he was given some property in village Holeya The result of the partition proceedings was that the defts’, first party came to hold fourteen annas mokarrari interest in village Darha, Bisheshwar Dayal Singh’s interest was limited to three khatians only, and the jhas got a separate allotment for their two anna share in the mokarrari. It appears that some time about the year 1926 the lakhraj interest holders, i. e., the Pathaks and Bisheswar Dayal Singh were in default in the payment of the cess due to Government. On 17-8-1926 proceedings were taken against them for recovery of the cess and their interest was sold in execution of a certificate on 18-10-1917 to one Bijainandan Sahay. The sale obviously was of the lakhraj interest. This was confirmed on 19-12-1927 and a sale certificate was issued on 10-3-1928. This was followed by delivery of possession on 15-7-1918. Possession was obtained by one Kamta Prasad who had acquired this interest from Bijainandan Sahay on 20-4-1928. On 1-5-1933 Kamta Prasad transferred his interest in the village to the pltfs. who thus became proprietors of sixteen-anna share in the village and mokarrairidars as to two anna share and raiyats of the entire sixteen annas in the whole village.

6. On 21-9-1934 the defts. first party as mokarraridars brought a suit against the pltfs. for arrears of raiyati rent for the years 1338-39 fasli to the extent of six annas share and for the years 1340-41 F. to the extent of fourteen annas share claiming that under the partition decree they got a fourteen-anna share in the mokarrari interest in the village. Pltfs. contested the suit alleging that Bisheshwar’s mokarrari interest had merged in the lakhraj interest that was purchased by him from the Pathaks in the years 1916-17, and that by the sale under the Government’s certificate his whole eight anna interest in the village including both the lakhraj and the mokarrari had passed on to the pltfs and that the defts’ first party could only claim rent from them to the extent of the six anna share in the mokarrari. This plea was disallowed and the deft’s first party’s claim for rent was decreed in full. The decree was upheld on appeal and second appeal. The question of title was, however, left open. In the year 1938 another suit for rent was filed by the ‘defts’. first party as mokarraridars to recover fourteen anna share of the rent for the years subsequent to fasli 1341. As a result of this suit, the pltfs. brought the present suit for declaration and injunction on the allegation that the eight anna mokarrari interest of Bisheshwar Dayal Singh had merged in his lakhraj interest, that by the certificate sale Bisheshwar Dayal Singh lost all his interest in the village both lakhraj and mokarrari by reason of merger, that the partition decree of the year 1921 was illegal and in any case, under that decree the defts’ first party got only six anna mokarrari interest and were entitled to realize rents from the tenants only to that extent. An injunction was also claimed restraining the defts. from proceeding with the rent suit. In the plaint, it was alleged that there was a private partition between the mokarraridars by virtue of which the lands of village Darha were divided between the three sets of mokarraridars, each set being in separate possession of its own separate and defined shares. It was also pleaded that there was another partition between the proprietors of the lakhraj interest, that is, between Bisheshwar Dayal Singh on the one hand and Deolal Pathak, Neman Pathak and Surajnath Pathak on the other, by virtue of which the lands that were in mokarrari parties of Parmeshwar Dayal Singh and others and Hiranand Jha and Durganand Jha fell in the patti of Deolal Pathak and others, while the lands that were in the mokarrari patti of the defts’ second party fell in his proprietary lakhraj patti and that as a result of these partitions the mokarrari interest of the defts’ second party merged in his lakhraj interest and under a certificate sale the whole of his interest passed to the pltfs.

7. The trial Judge held that both the partitions alleged by the pltfs. in paragraphs 5 and 8 of their plaint were proved and that the mokarrari interest of Bisheshwar Dayal Singh merged in his lakhraj interest and that at the certificate sale the purchaser acquired his complete interest both lakhraj and mokarrari along with the eight anna lakhraj interest of the Pathaks and that the dafts’. first party were mokarraridars of six anna interest in the village and to that extent were entitled to a decree in their rent suit and could not claim and decree for rent to the extent of fourteen annas share. The H. C. in appeal held that none of the partitions alleged by the pltfs. were proved and that the mokarrari interest of eight annas could not merge in the lakhraj interest of sixteen annas held jointly by Bisheshwar war Dayal Singh with the Pathaks. As a result of this decision the pltfs. suit was dismissed.

8. In this appeal it was contended by the learned counsel for the applts. that the H. C. had erroneously held that the two partitions set up by the pltfs. in paras. 5 and 8 had not been proved. It was argued that the evidence on the record both documentary and oral, fully established the fact of the two partitions and that in view of these partitions it should have been held that Bisheshwar Dayal Singh became separate owner of eight anna lakhraj interest and in that interest his mokarrari interest of eight annas merged, and that under the certificate sale the whole of this interest passed on to the purchaser in execution and that being so, the defts’. first party could only maintain a suit for recovery of rent from the raiyats to the extent of their six anna mokarrari interest.

9. In our opinion, this appeal can be disposed on a short point without taking into consideration the respective contentions of the parties raised before us or urged in the two Cts. below. The pltfs. case rests solely on the allegation of merger of the eight anna lakhraj interest of Bisheshwar Dayal Singh with his mokarrari interest to the same extent. It however, seems to us that there was no scope for the application of the doctrine of merger to the facts disclosed by the pltfs. in their plaint. If the lessor purchases the lessee’s interest, the lease no doubt is extinguished as the same man cannot at the same time be both and landlord and a tenant, but there is no extinction of the lease if one of the several lessees purchases only a part of the lessor’s interest. In such a case the leasehold and the reversion cannot be said to coincide. It was the pltfs.’ case that mauza Darha was originally granted in mokarrari under a single contract of lease and it was by inheritance that the lessee’s interest devolved on three branches of the family, Bisheshwar Dayal Singh getting an interest of eight annas in the whole of the leasehold. He then purchased a six anna interest in the entire reversion in the year 1916 and another two anna interest in it in the year 1917. By these purchases he became a joint owner in the entire lakhraj holding to the extent of a moiety. He, however, never came to own the entire lakhraj interest in the village or the entire mokarrari interest therein. There was thus no coalescence of the interest of the lessor and the lessee in the whole of the estate which was subject to lakhraj and mokarrari interests and that being so, mokarrari interest of Bisheshwar Dayal Singh did not merge in his lakhraj interest.

10. Mere purchase by Bisheshwar Dayal Singh of portions of the lakhraj interest could not bring about an extinction of the lease or break its integrity as he was only one of the several joint holders of the mokarrari interest. An inter se partition of the mokarrari interest amongst the mokarraridars as alleged by the pltfs. could not affect their liability qua the lessor for the payment of the whole rent, as several tenants of a tenancy in law constitute but a single tenant, and qua the landlord they constitute one person, each constituent part of which possesses certain common rights in the whole and is liable to discharge common obligations in its entirety. In the words of Lord Halsbury in White v. Tyndall, (1888) 13 A. C. 263, the parties to whom a demise is made hold as tenants in common but what they covenant to pay is one rent, not two rents and not each to pay half a rent but one rent. There is a privity of the estate between the tenant and the landlord in the whole of the leasehold and he is liable for all the covenants running with the land. In law, therefore, an inter se partition of the mokarrari interest could not affect the integrity of the lease and it could not be said that Bisheshwar Dayal Singh under the alleged partition became a mokarraridar under another contract of lease. Such partitions amongst several lessees inter se are usually made for convenience of enjoyment of the leasehold but they do not in any way affect the integrity of the tenancy or make each holder of an interest in it as a separate holder of a different tenancy. In the present ease, there was not even an allegation that the tenancy was severed and the several tenancies came into existence as a result of the partition qua the landlord. Similarly,the allegation of partition inter se among the several owners of the lakhraj holding subject to mokarrari interest could not in any way affect the integrity of the lease in the absence of an allegation of a fresh contract between the split up owners of the holding it the different owners in the mokarrari interest. The lakhraj holding in the village still remains a single holding and it was not alleged that it was split up in different holdings. All owners of the lakhraj interest are jointly responsible for payment of the cess to Govt. and it was because of their default in payment of the cess that the whole lakhrai interest was sold in the certificate sale. In this situation none of the conditions necessary for the application of the doctrine of merger can be said to have been made out by the allegations made in the plaint. On the pltfs.’ own case the lease is still a live one in respect of the six anna interest of the defts.’ first part and in these circumstances it is not possible to hold that it has become extinct to the extent of eight anna interest of Bisheshwar Dayal Singh in the absence of any allegation that any fresh contract, express or implied, was arrived at between the parties. The leasehold has not in any way been drowned in the reversion and both lakhraj and mokarrari interest are still intact.

11. For the reasons given above, we agree with the decision of the H. C. that Bisheshwar Dayal Singh’s interest in the mokarrari did not merge in his lakhraj interest and that under the certificate sale it did not pass to the execution purchaser, on the other hand, it vested in the defts.’ first party by reason of the family partition and they became entitled as mokarraridars to recover rent from the pltfs.’ raiyats to the extent of fourteen annas share. All that passed at the certificate sale to the execution purchaser and subsequently to the pltfs. was merely the lakhraj interest of the Pathaks and of Bisheshwar Dayal Singh and it could not be that at this sale qua one judgment-debtor a large interest passed to the execution purchaser than in respect of the other debtor. In view of our decision that the doctrine of merger has no application to the facts of the case, the pltfs.’ case is bound to fail. We accordingly hold that there is no substance in this appeal and we dismiss it with costs.