w w w . L a w y e r S e r v i c e s . i n



Rungama v/s Atchama


    Decided On, 03 July 1846

    At, Privy Council

    By, THE LORD PRESIDENT (THE DUKE OF BUOOLEUCH)
    By, LORD LANGDALE
    By, THE RIGHT HON
    By, DR. LUSHINGTON
    By, THE RIGHT HON. T. PEMBERTON LEIGH
    By, MEMBER OF THE JUDICIAL COMMITTEE; SIR E.H. EAST
    By, BART & SIR E. RYAN
    By, KNT
    By, PIVY COUNCILLORS-ASSESSORS

   



Judgment Text

The Right Hon. T. Pemberton LeighThe Question in these Appeals relates to a very large property in the Northern Circars, which, in the year 1798, belonged to a Zemindar, named Vencatadry.Vencatadry, being childless, on the 2nd of April 1798, adopted, as his son, a boy named Jaganadha. On this occasion he signed a paper, bearing date the 7th of April 1798. In this paper, after reciting the adoption, he proceeds to say, "Therefore be it believed, that I have executed this, my tutelar deity bearing witness, that Jaganadha Naidoo is huckdar, or heir, to my Zemindary, mirasy, to my wealth and debts; and that I have it not in my power, on any account whatever, to make over (the same) to any other person besides him (Jaganadha Naidoo)."Of the fact, or the validity of this adoption, no question is made. He afterwards became desirous of adopting another boy, named Ramanadha, and of dividing his property between them. It is said by the Appellants, and many witnesses have sworn, that he consulted certain Pundits, as to the validity of a second adoption, and was advised by them that a second adoption could not be legally made.It was contended by the Appellants, that upon the whole evidence it was to be inferred that, in consequence of this opinion, although he brought up Ramanadha, as his son, he never adopted him with those religious ceremonies which were necessary, in order to constitute a valid adoption, according to the Hindu law. We have no doubt, however, that he did whatever was necessary to constitute a valid adoption, if such second adoption could, by the Hindu law, be valid.This last adoption took place in 1807. Various steps seem to have been taken by Vencatadry, during the minority of both these boys, with a view to divide his property between them.In 1815, Jaganadha attained the age of eighteen, when, by the Hindu law, he came of age. After this, in 1816, Vencatadry made a new division, between his two sons, Ramanadha being still under age, and, as it seems, about nine years old. Jaganadha took possession of the property so allotted to him ; and Vencatadry seems to have remained in possession of what was allotted to Ramanadha. In the course of the year 1816, Vencatadry died. Jaganadha claimed the whole of the property of Vencatadry, alleging that the adoption of Ramanadha was invalid, and at all events did not constitute him a co-heir.Much dispute took place upon this subject, and various proceedings were had before the Board of Revenue, which had seized a large portion of the property, for payment of arrears of revenue. Suits were instituted for the purpose of determining the rights of the parties, into the particulars of which it is not necessary to enter.The first of the suits, now in controversy, began in 1820, being a suit instituted by Ramanadha against Jaganadha, to establish his right to that portion of the property which had been allotted to him in his character of adopted son, by Vencatadry. This suit was still pending when Jaganadha died.In 1824, a decision was pronounced against Ramanadha from which, however, he appealed; and before the appeal had been heard, and on the 28th of February 1825, Jaganadha died. He left no natural born issue, but two wives, Rungama and Atchama and a boy who had been brought up in his house, and who is said to be his adopted son, named Lutchmeputty.The question then arose, who was entitled to succeed to the estate of Jaganadha; the question of what the estate of Jaganadha consisted, that is, whether he was entitled to the whole, or only half of the estate of Vencatadry, still remaining unsettled. With respect to the right of succession to Jaganadha, it is not disputed that, if be left a son, whether natural born, or legally adopted, such son would be entitled to succeed. That if he left no son, but an undivided brother, such brother would be entitled to succeed. That if be left no son, nor undivided brother, the widow, or one of the widows, would be entitled to succeed.On the death of Jaganadha, Ramanadha set up a title to the whole estate of Vencatadry, alleging (not very consistently with his former claim), that he and Jaganadha were undivided brothers, and that Jaganadha had left no issue, natural born or adopted.Rungama at first acquiesced in the claim of Ramanadha, it being alleged by her that she was deceived by Ramanadha, who got authority to act for her, while it is alleged by other of the parties that she colluded with him.Lutchmeputty was a child of about six years old, and no claim was brought forward on his behalf. Atchama, however, instituted a suit, claiming the whole of the estate of Jaganadha, and insisted that she was entitled to inherit. Afterwards, Ramanadha and Rungama having quarrelled, the claim of Lutchmeputty was advanced. After long litigation, with various fortune, in the Indian Courts, the Sudder Adawlut decided that Jaganadha and Ramanadha were undivided brothers; and that Lutchmeputty was not the adopted son of Jaganadha; that consequently Ramanadha was entitled to the whole inheritance which had come from Vencatadry; and against this decree the present appeals are brought.The questions for our decision relate, first, to the estate of Vencatadry; and, secondly, to the succession of Jaganadha.The conflicting parties are,-First, Lutchmeputty, who claims the whole inheritance which came from Vencatadry, on the ground that Jaganadha was only adopted son of Vencatadry, and that he, Lutchmeputty, is the adopted son of Jaganadha. Secondly, Atchama, who insists that Lutchmeputty was not well adopted, and that she, as eldest widow, is entitled to succeed to the inheritance of Jaganadha. Thirdly, Rungama, who maintains the case of Lutchmeputty, but insists, that if he is not the adopted son, she is entitled to share with Atchama, in the succession of Jaganadha. Lastly, Ramanadha, who maintains the decree as it stands.A further question is made, in which all the other parties concur in contending against Ramanadha; that if he was well adopted, and, therefore, a brother of Jaganadha, they were divided, and not undivided, brothers; and, therefore, though Ramanadha might be entitled to his share of Vencatadry's property, he can have no right of succession to Jaganadha's.As far as concerns Ramanadha, his whole title depends on the validity of his adoption. If he was not well adopted, he was neither a co-heir with Jaganadha, nor heir to Jaganadha.The first question, therefore, is, as to the validity of a second adoption, the first adopted son still existing, and remaining in possession of his character of a son.This appears to have been long a point of great doubt in Hindu law, and is stated by the Judges in this case, to be unsettled.Three classes of authority have been referred to:-First, The opinions of the Pundits, appearing in the course of the proceedings; Secondly, The native authorities, as found in the Hindu treatises; and Thirdly, the European authorities.First, As to the Pundits; there is considerable difference of opinion amongst them. If the Appellant's evidence is to be believed, a number of Pundits, and learned men, gave their opinion against the validity of the adoption, to Vencatadry, in his lifetime, and this at a period when their bias would probably be, to favour the wishes of the powerful Raja who consulted them.On the death of Vencatadry, there is a certificate signed by 140 Brahmins that the adoption of Ramanadha was invalid. But as this was an opinion produced by Jaganadha, then in possession of the estate, but little weight is due to it.On the other hand, in 1818, before the institution of the suit, by Ramanadha, the Northern Provincial Court took the opinion of their own Pundit, and of the Pundits of the Centre and Southern Division of the Courts, on these questions :-"1. Is a person having, conjointly with a wife, adopted a son, and thereafter being displeased with her, and marrying a second wife, authorised by Hindu law, conjointly with her, the second wife, to adopt a son?"2. A person adopting a son, having for any reason adopted a second son, is the former or the latter heir to the estate of the adopting, or are both sons entitled to share the same?These Pundits, being at a distance from each other, giving separate opinions at some intervals of time, without, as it appears, any communication between them, all agree in holding, that the second adoption is good, and that both sons are equally entitled to inherit. These opinions seem to be as free, as any opinion can be, from suspicion of undue influence.When the case came before the Sudder Court, two of the Pundits consulted were in favour of the adoption, and one against it. The reasoning of the two Pundits in favour of the adoption is certainly very unsatisfactory; but still, so far as the law is to be collected from the opinion of Pundits, to be found in this case, the preponderance is in favour of the adoption.These opinions, however, are by no means conclusive, and the Appellants contend, that the native authorities, upon which they are founded, are strongly against the validity of a second adoption.These authorities, like the opinions of the Pundits, are not reconcileable with each other.In the Digest of Hindu Law, on Contracts and Successions, with a Commentary by Jagannatha, translated by Mr. Colebrooke, the question is discussed and treated as one on which a difference of opinion prevailed. The most material passages of the Treatise are found in pages 386, 389, 395, 397. The author holds the better opinion to be, that an adoption is valid, although a previously adopted son, or even a natural born son, be already in existence; the main foundation of that opinion being an ancient text, "that many sons are to be desired, in order that one may travel to Gaya."It was attempted, in a most ingenious argument, on behalf of the Appellants, to reconcile this authority with others, apparently of a different tendency, by showing that the author intended, not that many sons of the same description might be adopted, but that he referred to sons of different descriptions, of which they were twelve, recognised in the remote ages of Hindu antiquity, though only two are now allowed; the son given and the legitimate son. Another suggestion was, that the author intended only that the second adopted son may have the rights of a son, in the event of the failure of the existing issue, natural or adopted.We find great difficulty in adopting either of these suggestions. At the same time it must be owned, that the doctrine is not very clearly stated, nor very easily to be reconciled with some of the authorities to which it refers; and with respect to the right of inheritance of the second son, we rather collect the author's opinion to be, that the second son would succeed, as in the case of a son well adopted, by one having no issue, to whom a son is afterwards born, viz. to one third only of his father's estate.Whatever, however, may be the effect of this practice, its authority is far outweighed by two other Hindu works, expressly on the subject of adoption, the Dattaka Mimamsa and the Dattaka Chandrika.The first passage, sec. i., plac. 3, in the former of these works, is the citation of a text of an ancient sage, Atri, in these words, "By a man destitute of a son, only, must a substitute for the same always be adopted." This, perhaps, standing alone, may be held to mean that upon such a one only was it incumbent to adopt a son. The commentary, however, excludes this construction, for it says, sec. i., plac. 6, "By a man destitute of a son only. The incompetency of one having male issue is signified by the term 'only' in this passage." The author then after quoting a text from Menu, much to the same effect with that cited from Atri, observes, that the instances of adoption, by certain illustrious persons, of sons, although they already had male issue, must be considered as exceptional cases, and not as generally authorising the act. In the next paragraph the author seems to concede, that a second son may be adopted, with the sanction of the existing issue.The Dattaka Chandrika (sec. i., plac. 3) cites the same text from Atri and Menu, and puts the same construction on them, as the Dattaka Mimamsa.We think that these treatises are more distinct than the work of Jagannatha: they are written on the particular subject of adoption; they enjoy, as we understand, the highest reputation throughout India; and their weight is strong against a second adoption.In the Ordinances of Menu, translated by Sir William Jones, we find this passage, in page 313: "He, whom his father, or mother with her husband's assent, gives to another as his son, provided that the donee have no issue, is considered as a son given."In the Viva Darnava Setu, translated by Mr. Halhed, ch. xxi., sec. ix., the proposition is distinctly stated, "He who has no son, or grandson, or grandson's son, or brother's son, shall adopt a son; and while he has one adopted son, he shall not adopt a second."If we are to form our opinion of the law, from the effect of these authorities, we can have no hesitation in coming to a conclusion adverse to the validity of a second adoption.At the same time it is quite impossible for us to feel any confidence in our opinion, upon a subject like this, when that opinion is founded upon authorities to which we have access only through translations, and when the doctrines themselves, and the reasons by which they are supported, or impugned, are drawn from the religious traditions, ancient usages, and more modern habits of the Hindus, with which we cannot be familiar.It is satisfactory, therefore, to find that, under the third head to which we have adverted, the European authorities, there is much assistance to be derived from the labours of those who have investigated this subject, with all those advantages of familiarity with the laws and languages of Hindustan, in which we are necessarily deficient.Here, unfortunately, as everywhere else, there is some discrepancy in the authorities.Sir Thomas Strange, in his Elements of Hindu Law, Vol, I., p. 78 (2nd edit.), expresses himself as follows :-- "In general it is in default of male issue that the right is exercised, issue here including a grandson, or great grandson. But as there exists nothing to prevent two successive adoptions, the first having failed, whether effected by a man himself, or by his widow or widows after his death, duly authorised; so, even where the first subsists, a second may take place, such having been the pleasure and will of the husband; upon the principle of many sons being desirable, that soms (sic) one of them may travel to Gaya, a pilgrimage considered to be particularly efficacious in forwarding departed spirits beyond their destined place of torture." In support of these propositions, he refers as to two cases, Shamchunder v. Narayni Dibeh (1 Ben. Sad, Dew. Rep., 269), which was decided in 1807; and Gooreepershaud Rai v. Mussummaut Jymala (2 Ben. Sud.(sic) Dew. Rep., 136), which was decided in 1814.Now, the first of these cases decided only that a second adoption is valid, when the first adopted son has died without issue; a point of law which is not disputed. In the second case, a man having two wives, gave authority to each of them, to adopt a son. One of them made the adoption. He himself, together with the other wife, afterwards made an adoption; and it was finally held, that the two sons were entitled equally to inherit to the husband.This was a very peculiar case; it certainly seems to assume the validity of a double adoption; but the doubts in the case seem to have been, rather as to the effect of the second adoption, by the husband himself, in revoking the authority given to the wife, than on the validity of a second adoption, while a first adopted son is living. This decision is also stated by the Court, to be in conformity with the preceding case of Shamchunder v. Narayni Dibeh, which, in truth, for the reason already mentioned, it in no degree supports.These, we believe, are the only European authorities referred to, on behalf of Ramanadha. With reference to these cases, it may be observed that they have never been considered as settling the law upon this subject. In a note to the case of a Narainee Dibeh v. Hirkishor Rai (1 Ben. Sud Dew. Rap., 42), which, it seems, was supplied to the Reporter, by Mr. Colebrooke, the translator of Jagannatha's Digest; he states the point as one of doubt, and on which, although the authority of Jagannatha was in favour of the adoption, the weighty authority of the Dattaka Chandrika was the other way.Every European, without any exception, as far as we have any information, who has since examined the subject, has come to a conclusion adverse to the second adoption. In a note to Strange's Elements of Hindu Law, Vol. II, p. 85 (2nd edit.), the law is thus stated by Mr. Sutherland, a very high authority :- "A Hindu cannot have legally adopted children; a son legitimate or adopted existing, any subsequent adoption would be invalid; at least the son so adopted would not inherit."In Mr. Sutherland's Synopsis of the Hindu Law of Adoption, p. 212, he thus expresses himself:- "The primary reason for the affiliation of a son, being the obligatory necessity of providing for the performance of the exequial rites, celebrated by a son for his deceased father, on which the salvation of a Hindu is supposed to depend, it is necessary that the person proceeding to adopt, should be destitute of male issue capable of performing those rites. By the term issue, the son's son and grandson are included. It may be inferred, that if such male issue, although existing, were disqualified by any legal impediment (such as loss of caste), from performing the rites in question, the affiliation of a son might legally take place."In Mr. Steele's Synopsis of the Law of Hindu Castes, he states, p. 48 :- "An adoption can take place only where no begotten son or grandson exists, or where the begotten son has lost caste." Again at p. 52: "In the case of the death of an adopted son (and total lost of caste is considered equivalent to death), another may be selected and given in the same manner; but a man, after adopting one boy, cannot adopt another, at the desire of a second wife, & c. Only one adopted son can subsist at one time, B. S. (Mit.)". It is true that the treatise purports to relate to the customs of the Provinces of Bombay; but we are not aware of a difference between the different Provinces, on this point, though there appears to be some minor differences, on other points of the law of adoption, and for this the last section of the Mitacshara is referred to. The last paragraph, in this page, seems to be the statement of different opinions collected from different quarters, and, as might be expected, not very well agreeing with each other.But by far the most important authority is Mr. William Macnaghten, whose Principles and Precedents of Hindu Law were composed, as appears from the preface, after collecting all the information that could be procured, from all quarters, and after a careful examination of all the original authorities, and of all the opinions of the Pundits, recorded in the Supreme Court, for a series of years.This work was published after his report of the two cases already referred to, and of course he could not but be acquainted with them; indeed, he refers to one of them. Now, Mr. Macnaghten states the law, as he considers it be, without the slightest doubt or hesitation. He says, Vol. I. p. 80, "It is clear that a man having adopted a boy, and that boy being alive, he cannot adopt another." And he examines the text, that "many sons are to be desired, in order that one may travel to Gaya," and says that it applies only to natural born sons.We are informed by our very learned Assessor, Sir Edward Ryan, that this work of Mr. Macnaghten's is constantly referred to the Supreme Court, as all but decisive of any point of Hindu law, contained in it, and that much more respect would be paid to it, by the Judges there, than to the opinions of the Pundits. Upon the particular point in question, Sir Edward adds all the weight of his own high authority, concurring as be does entirely in the law, as stated in Macnaghten.The Judges in the Sudder Court state, that they are aware that this has been long considered a doubtful point, and they seem to proceed entirely on the opinion of the Pundits, who favour the second adoption.On examining the reasons assigned by those Pundits, they rest upon two main points :-First. The text that "many sons are to be desired, in order that one may travel to Gaya,"Second. Upon the doctrine, that he who has only one son is to be considered as childless.Now, the first of these texts is evidently out of the case, if Mr. Macnaghten's explanation be correct and as to the second, in referring to the passages on which the Pundits rest, they manifestly relate, not to a person who receives a child, but to one who gives a child, in adoption.Upon the whole, therefore, for these reasons, (which, as the point is of great general importance, we have thought it advisable to explain very fully,) we have come to the conclusion, that the adoption of Ramanadha was not valid, and that the judgment of the Sudder Court upon that point must be reversed.If we had come to a different conclusion on this subject, it would have been necessary for us to examine into the effect of the deed, alleged to have been executed by Vencatadry, on the adoption of Jaganadha, and upon which one of the Courts below held that the subsequent adoption was invalid, as far as regarded the right of inheritance; but our view of the first point makes this unnecessary, and also removes all question as to the alleged division between the supposed brothers.Feeling the hardship of this case on Ramanadha, we have looked with some anxiety to see whether his title could be maintained, on the ground, that it was subsequently recognised by Jaganadha, and that such subsequent recognition might be considered equivalent to previous assent.We think it, however, impossible to maintain his right upon this ground. Supposing Jaganadha to have acquiesced, after he came of age, in the division of property made by Vencatadry, it was an acquiescence on the footing of a right already asserted by the father, to exist in Ramanadha and it does not appear that Jaganadha possessed all the knowledge, or was placed in the circumstances which must exist, in order to make his ratification binding, even if we assume, what is not by any means clear, that such subsequent ratification would be equivalent for that purpose, in Hindu law, to previous consent. It appears, however, that there was some property, both real and personal, of which Vencatadry had the power of disposing ; and by an act, inter vivos, without the consent of Jaganadha; and we think that he made a gift, as far as he could, of his property between his two sons. Applying, then, to this case, a principle not peculiar to English law, but common to all law, which is based on the rules of justice, namely, the principle, that a party shall not, at the same time, affirm and disaffirm the same transaction,-affirm it as far as it is for his benefit, and disaffirm it as far as it is to his prejudice,- we think, that; effect must be given against the estate of Jaganadha, to the intentions of Vencatadry, as far as he had the power of effecting them. If Jaganadha takes, as we think he is entitled to do, the whole ancestral property, which the father could not dispose of, without his consent, we think he must give up, for the benefit of Ramanadha, the whole property included in the division, to the disposition of which, his consent was not necessary.Ramanadha, being removed from the contest, as to the succession of Jaganadha, the question as to that succession is in dispute between Lutchmeputty and Atchama; for Rungama, though she may have the same interest with Atchama, in opposing Lutchmeputty, supports his title.This is a mere question of fact, upon which, as in almost all cases from India, the evidence is contradictory, and the decision must turn very much upon the probabilities of the case, to be collected from those facts, which are sufficiently established.In the year 1819, the situation of Jaganadha was as follows: He had married two wives; but had never had any issue by either of them. He is stated by some of the witnesses to have been, from bodily infirmity, very unlikely to have issue. This is so far confirmed by undisputed facts, that he lived for six years afterwards with Rungama, and never had any issue. He might, therefore, reasonably presume, or perhaps knew, that he should have no natural born son, or, at all events, no such son, by Rungama.With Atchama he had quarrelled, in April 1819; and previously to the alleged adoption, she had quitted his house, to which she never seems to have returned, till after his death. Under these circumstances, it cannot but be held probable, that he should choose to adopt a son. But this probability is much confirmed, when we consider the relation in which he stood towards them, who, if be left no issue, natural or adopted, would succeed to his great possessions. Either Atchama, with whom he had quarrelled, would take alone, or jointly with Rungama; or Ramanadha, with whom he was at law, and whose character of a brother he denied, would succeed. Nothing is more natural than that he should desire to disappoint these parties.Now, it is proved, beyond all question, by the evidence of Mr. Roberts, the Collector at Masulipatam, that in the course of the years 1824 and 1825, a boy of an age corresponding with that of Lutchmeputty, and who, by other evidence, is shown to have been Lutchmeputty, was brought by Jaganadha, upon several occasions on which be paid a visit at the Collector's office, and that the boy was treated by Jaganadha and considered by him, the Collector, as his adopted son; be says that the boy accompanied Jaganadha upon every visit except the first; that he had frequent communication with Jaganadha on the subject; that he considered the boy was brought, in order that he might be recognised as an adopted son; and that so satisfied was he, Mr. Roberts, of the facts, that on Jaganadha's death, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, he should have considered him as heir.The question then is, was this boy well adopted or not?The account given by the Appellant is this, that in March 1819, Chava Naidamah, a relation of Jaganadha, had a son born to him; that Rungama, by the desire of Jaganadha, applied to the grandfather of the child, to know if the family would give this child in adoption to Jaganadha; that difficulties were suggested as to the right of Jaganadha to adopt any of the Soodra class; that he consulted the Pundits, who gave an opinion in favour of such adoption, on the 23rd of April; that this opinion was communicated to Chava Naidamah, who, on the 26th of April, signed an instrument giving his son to Jaganadha, who signed an instrument accepting the boy in adoption; and that on the 18th of August 1819, all the necessary ceremonies of adoption were performed, and a certificate of the performance endorsed on the instrument, containing the opinion of the Pundits, and signed by twelve persons present at the adoption.These instruments are produced, and the facts tending to this conclusion are sworn to, by a vast number of witnesses. There appears to us to be no objections to this testimony, beyond the observation, which may be made on all Hindu testimony, that perjury and forgery are so extensively prevalent in India, that little reliance can be placed on it.But the important fact, that this boy was brought up and treated as an adopted son, does not depend merely on Hindu testimony. That there was such a boy, and that he was considered as likely to succeed, is proved, not only by Mr. Roberts and his clerk, who, though, from his name, (Custoory Setaputty,) we presume is a Hindu, appears to give evidence without the slightest bias, but also by a letter written, or rather forged, by, or on behalf of, Atchama, in the name of Jaganadha, dated just before his death.In this letter, Jaganadha is made to state, that Rungama was teasing him to leave his estate to Lutchmeputty. The words are:- "Rungama troubles me much to leave, by writing the take look, &c., to Chava Lutchmeputty, of another gotrum, whom she, Rungama, has been taking care of; but I have not consented to it." This document, together with the forged Will in favour of Atchama, were produced in Court, on the 12th of May, 1825, immediately after Jaganadha's death.Now, the case made by Atchama is, that Lutchmeputty was a boy first brought forward some time after the death of Jaganadha, and that he never was at Amaravaty, the residence of Jaganadha, in his lifetime. This is clearly contrary to the fact, and contrary to the fact, as known to Atchama, and yet many of her witnesses, who say that they were in Jaganadha's house at the time when the alleged ceremonies of adoption took place, and that no such ceremonies in fact took place, swear also that Lutchmeputty was never at Amaravaty, till after the death of Jaganadha. Such evidence can go for nothing.There are two circumstances, and only two, which, no doubt, are much against the adoption.First. The conduct of Rungama, who now brings forward this claim of Lutchmeputty, but who suppressed all mention of it, as it is said, till the quarrel between Rungama and Ramanadha, in 1826. Secondly. The absence of proof of any formal notification to the Government, and of that degree of notoriety which might be expected of a fact of so much importance, in such a family.As to the first point, there is no doubt, that for several months after the death of Jaganadha Rungama not only was silent as to the title of Lutchmeputty, but she acquiesced in that of Ramanadha, and signed several instruments, quite inconsistent with the case which she now sets up.It is attempted to remove the effect of these acts by saying, that she was under the influence of Ramanadha, and signed whatever papers were laid before her, in ignorance of there contents, or even blank papers to be afterwards filled up.There is some evidence that she did sign blank papers; and the fact, that if Lutchmeputty was not entitled, she had herself a strong claim to participate with Atchama, in the succession of Jaganadha, affords a strong inference that, in supporting the claim of Ramanadha, she was deceived by him, unless she was acting in collusion with him, under some secret arrangement.We cannot say, that we are satisfied as to the imposition alleged to have been practised upon her; and if we were dealing with her rights, we should attribute much weight to this part of the case; but we cannot attribute much weight to it: perhaps, in strictness, we ought not to attribute any, when we are dealing with the rights of Lutchmeputty, and when the effect of the acts relied on, is removed, alike by supposing collusion with Ramanadha, or imposition by him.Secondly. With respect to the absence of any formal notification to the Government, it is admitted, on all hands, not to be necessary. At the same time, it affords so easy a mode of preserving unquestionable evidence, of a most important fact, that, in the case of a great family like this, some written communication would, most probably, be made either on the occasion of the adoption itself, or on some subsequent occasion: and we find, accordingly, that communications were made to the Government, by Vencatadry, with respect to the adoption, both of Jaganadha and Ramanadha, and that he endeavoured to have their title recognised. The absence of any such communication in the case of Lutchmeputty is, therefore, important.There are, however, circumstances in evidence, by which the weight of the objection is very considerably diminished. The adoption was resolved upon in April 1819, Amaravaty was in the Collectorship of Guntoor; and, at this time, Jaganadha was at law with the Collector of Guntoor, who refused to deliver up possession of some portions of the property of Vencatadry, claimed by Jaganadha.It is not, perhaps, very unnatural to suppose that, under such circumstances, Jaganadha would not, willingly, have any communication with the Collector, not absolutely necessary. But there were other dispute at this time, between Jaganadha and the Government authorities, Atchama, or her brothers, on her behalf, had complained to the civil magistrate of the conduct of Jaganadha towards her, and he had been fined.From some of the documents, there seem to have been other differences subsisting between them. That, at a subsequent time, there was some written communication to the Collector of Masulipatam, in which district a portion of this large estate was situated, there is much reason to believe. A most important letter upon this subject, purports to be a letter from Jaganadha to his wife, and has much internal evidence of authenticity. It is dated 13th of July 1819, and is in these words;- "As Puntooloo has sent me a letter, enclosing a foul arzee to the authority, on the subject of our adoption of a boy, I caused it to be copied fair, and despatched it this day through the Vakeel, because I thought it is proper; and the said arzee was received by the junior gentleman, who is vested with the authority of magistrate. There was enmity before between us and certain persons in this place, owing to one's malevolence against us and it has now occasioned enmity between us and another man, as well as between us and the authorities of this place, in consequence of the authorities of the Circuit Court having been pleased to expose the calumny used by the persons in this place against us; consequently there will happen obstacles to our affair; but I am not uneasy, as there does not appear anything that can be supported by the said persons regarding the circumstances, which is not intimated to us. I herewith send the copy of the said arzee, and will inform you the remaining circumstances on my arrival at the place."If this letter be genuine, it is almost conclusive. I observe that one of the Judges below states that the handwriting of this letter is not proved; but that, at all events, it is of no consequence, because in fact it is before the adoption, and could not prove that the adoption had taken place. In the enormous mass of documentary and parol evidence, to be found in this case, far exceeding anything which, in our experience, has been brought before this Committee, it may be difficult to say, whether it is or not regularly proved; but it seems to have been produced in evidence, without any objection being made to its authenticity.The objection which is made to it by the Judge, certainly is not well founded. The transaction of the adoption might not have been completed, at the date of the letter, because the usual ceremonies had not been performed, which are represented to have taken place in the following August; but the transaction was inchoate: the child had been given in adoption and received in adoption, in the preceding April, and the terms of the letter are, therefore, perfectly applicable to the state of circumstances which existed at the date.Upon this state of the evidence, the probability of the adoption, certainly of a child being brought up in the family, and introduced to the European authorities, with the same state and pomp as if he were an adopted son, with documents and witnesses in great numbers, confirming the account?, which documents and witnesses are open to no other suspicion than attaches to all Hindu evidence,

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we should have had no hesitation in affirming the fact of adoption, if the case had come before us as an original cause.We have been pressed, however, and very properly pressed, with the argument that this is a mere question of fact, to be proved by evidence; that all the Judges before whom the case has come, have disbelieved the evidence; that they had some advantages in coming to a conclusion which we have not, and that their judgments are to be considered, as verdicts of a jury, which ought not to be disturbed, except upon very strong grounds.It is impossible not to feel that there is great weight in these observations, and they have occasioned one of the principal difficulties which we have felt, in this most difficult case; we have, however, the same evidence which was in the Court below. We have had the advantage of a most full and able discussion, at the Bar; and this Court is more accustomed to the examination of evidence, than the civil servants of the East India Company, who preside in the native Courts, can be supposed to be. We have further the great advantage of having the grounds on which these judgments proceeded. We cannot say that they are at all satisfactory to our minds. By far the most important evidence in the case, the evidence of Mr. Roberts, is disposed of, by assuming that this gentleman, in his deposition, and in a communication which he made to the Board of Revenue, entirely in the same sense, immediately on the death of Jaganadha, lay under a misconception of what had passed in a conversation, in a language which was not vernacular to either party.This appears to us a purely gratuitous assumption: it would have been a strong assumption if Mr. Roberts's opinion had been formed from a single conversation; but he states, that he had frequent communications with Jaganadha, upon the subject; that the boy was brought to him by Jaganadha, four or five times; was treated by the Raja, as his son and was brought, as he considered, in order that his title as such might be known and recognised. His opinion is founded, not merely on what he heard, but what he saw, not on one, but on several occasions.Supposing the fact of adoption to be proved, some objections were made to its validity, in point of law; but they do not appear to us to be of any value.Upon the whole, after a very long and anxious consideration of the subject, we feel ourselves called upon to differ upon this point also, with respect to the adoption, from the judgment of the Court below, and to hold that Lutchmeputty was well adopted, and is entitled to succeed to the whole estate of Jaganadha, subject to such maintenance, as his widows may by law be entitled to.Our report to Her Majesty will be, that as to Puttoory Caly Doss, (who seems to have been very improperly made a party to the proceedings,) the Appeal ought to be dismissed, with costs. That the decree of the Court below ought, in other respects, to be reversed. That it should be declared, that the adoption of Ramanadha was invalid, and that he was not entitled to be considered as a co-heir with Jaganadha to Vencatadry; but that, under the circumstances appearing in evidence, he was entitled to such property included in the gift made by Vencatadry, after Jaganadha came of age, as Vencatadry had the power to dispose of. That Ramanadha was entitled to retain those portions of such property which came into his possession, and to have restored to him such portions thereof as came into the possession of Jaganadha, or to have compensation made for them, out of the estate of Jaganadha. That the adoption of Lutchmeputty by Jaganadha was well proved, and that Lutchmeputty was entitled to succeed to the whole estate of Jaganadha, That with these declarations, the cause should be remitted to the Court below, with directions to do what may be necessary for giving them effect. That no costs ought to be given in these Appeals, or in the suits below, except to Puttoory Caly Doss.
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