“Secular” Agrawala adoption is not distinct from regular Brahmanical “religious” adoption




( Before : N.H. Beg, J )

Second Appeal No. 1384 of 1951

Decided on : 17-01-1964

Second Appeal No. 1384 of 1951

Decided on : 17-01-1964

Evidence Act, 1872 – Section 101, Section 102, Section 103, Section 104, Section 31

Cases Referred

Sooratha Singa Vs. Kanaka Singa, (1920) ILR (Mad) 867 : 59 Ind. Cas. 585 : (1920) 12 LW 245
Narayan Bhagwantrao Gosavi Balajiwale Vs. Gopal Vinayak Gosavi and Others, AIR 1960 SC 100 : (1960) 1 SCR 773
Counsel for Appearing Parties

Brij Lal Gupta, for the Appellant; S.N. Misra, for the Respondent


N.H. Beg, J.—THIS is a defendant’s appeal arising out of a suit for a declaration that a deed of adoption executed on 21st of November, 1941, by the plaintiff-respondent, acknowledging the adoption of defendant No. 2, was invalid and inoperative on the ground that it was obtained by fraud perpetrated By defendant No. 1 upon the plaintiff. The plaintiff alleged that he was unable to manage his property and had, therefore, decided to appoint defendant No. 1 as his Nukhtaream by means of a deed. It was alleged that the defendant No. 1, taking advantage of his position, had obtained from the plaintiff what transpired, later on, to be a deed of adoption. The plaintiff also alleged that he had asked the defendants to get this deed cancelled, but, as they did not comply with this requirement, the plaintiff had to file his suit. The defendants pleaded that the deed of adoption was valid and executed after the performance of the necessary ceremonies without any fraud or undue influence. The plaintiff deposed that he was unwell at the time of the execution of the document and that it had not been read over to him at all. Similar was the evidence of Dular (P. W. 2) who was an attesting witness of the deed of adoption. The trial Court disbelieved the plaintiff’s version as it found that it did not tally with what was set out In the plaint and it relied upon the endorsement made by the Sub-Registrar on the deed of adoption which was registered, snowing that the plaintiff knew its contents full well. An attesting witness Bachan Chaubey had also supported the defendants’ version. The trial Court, therefore, dismissed the plaintiff’s suit. The lower appellate court has reversed the decision of the trial Court. It held that, although the plaintiff Knew and understood the contents or the deed fully and no fraud was practised upon him, yet, the mere execution of the deed of adoption by the plaintiff-respondent could not bring about the adoption of defendant No. 2 as satisfactory proof of the “Datta Homam” ceremony was wanting. Evidence given by the defendants, showing that all the ceremonies had been duty performed, was disbelieved by the lower appellate Court which decreed the plaintiff’s suit.

2. Three questions have been argued before me on behalf of the defendant-appellant; firstly, that the lower appellate Court has misplaced the burden of proof in allowing the plaintiff’s appeal after holding that the plaintiff had duty executed the deed of adoption; and, secondly, that the doctrine of factor valet is applicable in this case, but it was, erroneously, ignored by the lower appellate Court; and thirdly, that the ceremony of “Datta Homam” is not necessary at all to prove in the case of adoption of a son belonging to the same “gotra” as the adoptive father in the case of twice born classes.

3. On the first question, reliance is placed on behalf of the appellant upon Sooratha Singa Vs. Kanaka Singa, where it was held that the admission of an adoption in a deed amounts to an admission both of the fact and of the validity of the adoption which shifts the burden of proving the contrary to the party which made that admission. This view is in conformity with the general principle underlying Section 31 of the Evidence Act relating to admissions which Indicates the value to be attached to an admission made by a party. It is true that the value of an admission depends upon the circumstances in which it is made. Where it has been proved that the admission was made in a registered deed formally executed by a party with an endorsement showing that the executant was fully aware of the contents of the deed executed with due deliberation and full under-standing, the value of the admission is considerable unless it is explained satisfactorily, in the present case, the explanation of the deed of adoption attempted by the plaintiff has been disbelieved by both the Courts below. Hence, in my opinion, the admission contained in the deed ought to determine the result of the case even if one were to ignore) the oral evidence given by the defendants as against the oral evidence of the plaintiff.

4. It was held in Narayan Bhagwantrao Gosavi Balajiwale Vs. Gopal Vinayak Gosavi and Others,

“An admission is the best evidence that an opposite-party can rely upon, and though not conclusive, is decisive of the matter, unless successfully withdrawn or proved erroneous.”

With great respect, I follow what was laid down by their Lordships the Supreme Court, and I accept the contention of the appellant as against the contention advanced on behalf of the respondent who relied on AIR 1930 79 (Privy Council) where it was laid down “that a very grave and serious onus rests upon a person who seeks to displace the natural succession of property by the act of adoption.” The case relied upon by the respondent was not a case of an admission of an adoption in a deed challenged by its executant whose version was found to be incorrect. The observation was made by the Privy Council in the course of weighing various pieces of evidence other than an admission contained in a formally drawn up deed; and, it does not touch the principle upon which I have based my decision on the question of burden of proof.

5. The next question which hag been argued relates to the validity of the adoption after assuming that the burden was upon the plaintiff to disprove the admitted fact of adoption. It was argued that the admission contained in the deed of adoption could not alter the law relating to adoption which required the performance of all the ceremonies relating to adoption. It was contended for the respondent that it had been proved, by the evidence in the case, that the ceremonies required for a valid adoption had not been performed. It is in this connection that the appellant relies upon the doctrine of factor valet and supports the contention that this doctrine is applicable to parties governed by the Mitakshara School of Hindu Law by citing a very exhaustive discussion of the subject contained in the judgment of Mahmood, J. in Ganga Sahai v. Lekhraj Singh ILR All 253. It is argued that if the substantial requirements for a valid adoption are shown to exist, or, in other words, the capacity to give, the capacity to take, and the capacity to be the subject of adoption are present in the case, minor defects could not invalidate the adoption which had taken place. It is only when the purported adoption is a nullity, because the defect is basic and incurable, that an application of the maxim “quod fieri non debet, factum valet” could not validate what has been done imperfectly. It was held by the Privy Council in Wooma Dee v. Gokoolanund Dass 5 Ind App 40: ILR Cal 687 (PC) that the proposition that the doctrine of factum valet is only applicable to adoptions in Bengal and not recognized at all by the Benares School is not merely contradicted by Sri Willam MacNaghten’s view but by decided case. I, therefore, accept the contention advanced by the defendant-appellant on this question also.

6. The last question argued was that the performance of “Datta Homam” ceremony was not essential to the validity of an adoption among the twice born classes where the adopting father and the adopted son belong to the same “gotra”. Reliance was placed upon Atma Ram v. Madho Rao ILR All 276 (FB) which was a case of “dakhini Brahmins”. Here it was held that giving and taking of a child was sufficient for the purpose of completing an adoption, and that “Datta Homam” was not essential. In B. G. Tilak v. Shrinivas AIR 1915 PC 7 the Privy Council held, as a general rule of Hindu Law, that “the law of India is that the celebration of the ceremony of Datta Homam is not an essential to the legal validity of an adoption, where the child to be adopted belongs to the same ‘gotra’ as that of the adoptive father.” In Maynes’s Hindu Law, 11th edition, p 233 paragraph 184, the rule that amongst the twice born classes the performance of “Datta Homan” ceremony is not required where the adoptive father and the adopted child belonged to the same “gotra” is stated as a general rule of Hindu Law which 13 not confined in its application to South India although the position is different in Bengal. The appellant also relied on Govindayyar v. Porasami ILR Mad 5 (FB) where this rule was held applicable to Brahmins in South India. On behalf of the respondent the only authority cited in reply to this argument was the case of AIR 1925 118 (Privy Council) where it was observed, in the course of a discussion of an adoption among Agrawala, that the “story about a regular Hindu or, rather Brahmanical adoption in 1903 was invented with the object of giving to an ordinary Agrawala adoption the right of collateral succession.” it was argued that this observation by the Privy Council Implied that the Brahmanical adoption was the most comprehensive and fullest in Hindu Law. I do not think that this case, which dealt with the incidents of what is called a “secular” Agrawala adoption as distinct from the regular Brahmanical “religious” adoption, has any bearing upon the rule relied upon by the defendant-appellant. NO authority has been cited which rung counter to the view that the rule relied upon by the defendant-appellant is applicable to the present case, it is admitted that the plaintiff Man Matun Chaube, the issueless Brahman adoptive father, belonged to the same “gotra” as Pran Pat Chaube, the adopted son and defendant No. 2, so that the above mentioned rule was applicable to this case in view of the authorities cited above. The lower appellate Court erred is ignoring this rule altogether.

7. In the result, this second appeal is allowed. The judgment and decree of the lower appellate Court are set aside and the plaintiff’s suit is dismissed with costs.

Final Result : Allowed

(1965) AIR(Allahabad) 258


Brahmanical – Gotra – Datta Homa – Twice-born – Dakhini Brahmin – Mitakshara

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