J. Venkatesan

On issue relating to recovery of dues for supply of jaggery

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has brought finality after 62 years to civil proceedings initiated originally in a sub court in Coimbatore before Independence and which passed through various stages of appeals in the Madras High Court and the apex court.

A Bench of Justices R.V. Raveendran and Aftab Alam dismissed an appeal and brought the curtains down to an original suit filed in 1946 on a petty issue relating to recovery of amount due for the supply of jaggery.

The original suit filed by Ammasai Gounder against A.T. Krishnasami Mudaliar and another person for the recovery of the amount was decreed on October 10, 1947 in favour of Ammasai. On appeal from Mudaliar, the Madras High Court directed him to deposit the decretal amount in the court and permitted Ammasai to withdraw the same after furnishing security.

One Ramaswami Gounder became the surety and gave his agricultural lands as security for the amount permitted to be withdrawn by Ammasai. However, on second appeal from Mudaliar, the High Court set aside the decree, but by that time Ammasai Gounder was said to have absconded with the decretal amount. Consequently, Mudaliar filed a suit for recovery of the amount by sale of lands offered as security by Ramaswami Gounder and the lands were sold in auction.

During the pendency of the said execution proceedings, the surety Ramaswami Gounder died and his widow Rajammal was impleaded as his legal representative. On December 14, 1960, Rajammal moved an application in the civil court for setting aside the auction sale, but it was rejected on September 17, 1966. She challenged the said dismissal before the High Court in 1966 which also dismissed her application on August 26, 1971.

Rajammal challenged the High Court order in a special leave petition in apex court in 1973.

During the pendency of the said appeal, Rajammal also moved an application in the sub court for scaling down the debt and for setting aside the auction sale under the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Agriculturists Relief Act, 1938. The apex court on November 7, 1986 dismissed Rajammal’s appeal, but remitted the matter back to the sub court, Coimbatore.

During the pendency of the suit, Rajammal sold the lands which had been offered as security, as also some other properties in favour of one Chinna Pappu Gounder, brother of her husband Ramaswami Gounder. As Rajammal and the legal heirs of Pappu Gounder filed several applications in the civil court and High Court, the matter kept pending for all these years before it came to the Supreme Court. The matter attained finality on October 24, when the apex court Bench upheld the auctioning of the property.