Rajpal Singh vs Saroj (Deceased) Through LRs and Anr.

Rajpal Singh vs Saroj (Deceased) Through LRs and Anr.


Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3489 OF 2022
Rajpal Singh …Appellant
Versus
Saroj (Deceased) Through LRs and Anr. …Respondents
J U D G M E N T
M.R. SHAH, J.
1. Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned judgment
and order dated 29.09.2016 passed by the High Court of Punjab and
Haryana at Chandigarh in Second Appeal No. 4594 of 2009 by which the
High Court has allowed the said appeal preferred by the original plaintiff
and has quashed and set aside the judgment and order passed by the
First Appellate Court decreeing the suit for specific performance and
restoring the judgment and decree passed by the learned Trial Court
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dismissing the suit for specific performance of the agreement to sell, the
original respondent No.1 has preferred the present appeal.
2. The facts leading to the present appeal in nutshell are as under:-
2.1 That the respondent No.2 herein – original defendant No.2 was the
owner of the property in question being in the nature of agricultural land.
The original owner – original defendant No.2 entered into one
Agreement to Sell dated 04.04.1993 with the appellant agreeing to sell
the property in question for a sale consideration of Rs. 115,000/-. The
time for executing the sale deed was extended twice in writing on
account of request by original defendant No.1 – executant of the sale
deed – original owner.
2.2 According to the case of the appellant herein – original defendant
No.1, the original defendant No. 2 and the original plaintiff (husband and
wife) hatched a conspiracy. The original plaintiff – wife of the executant
of the agreement to sell filed a collusive suit for declaration (without
seeking any consequential relief) against her husband - original
defendant no. 2 being Civil Suit No. 1643 of 1994. The said suit was filed
on the premise that as per some alleged family settlement, the property
in question fell to the share of the original plaintiff - wife. However, no
family settlement was placed on record.
2.3 In the said collusive suit, the husband - original defendant No. 2
(executant of the agreement to sell in favour of the appellant) filed
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written statement admitting everything and praying for a decree in favour
of his wife – original plaintiff in the present case. Consequently, a
decree of declaration was passed on 01.02.1995. The said decree was
neither registered with Sub-Registrar’s Office, nor any entries were ever
mutated in the revenue records. Therefore, the appellant herein –
original defendant No.1 was kept in the dark as everything happened
behind his back.
2.4 On the strength of the Agreement to Sell dated 04.04.1993, the
original defendant No.2- original owner executed the registered Sale
Deed in favour of the appellant herein – original defendant No.1 on
19.04.1996. Necessary changes were consequently made in the
revenue records as well as entering the name of the appellant
immediately on 31.05.1996. The appellant herein – original defendant
No.1 remained in possession and cultivating the agricultural land in
question since then.
2.5 Almost after five years from the date of execution of the registered
sale deed in favour of the appellant, the original plaintiff (wife of the
original owner) filed the present suit being Civil Suit. No. 419/2007
seeking cancellation of Sale Deed dated 19.04.1996 and relief of
possession, claiming her title on the basis of the collusive decree dated
01.02.1995.
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2.6 The suit was resisted by the appellant herein – original defendant
No.1. The original defendant No.2 – respondent No.2 herein – the
original executant of the registered Sale Deed dated 19.04.1996
deliberately chose not to appear or file any written statement. That
solely based on the collusive decree dated 01.02.1995 between the
original plaintiff (wife) and the original defendant No.2 (husband), the
learned Trial Court decreed the suit vide judgment and decree dated
20.04.2009 observing that in view of the decree dated 01.02.1995 in
Civil Suit No.1643 of 1994, the day on which the original defendant No.2
executed the registered Sale Deed dated 19.04.1996 in favour of the
appellant herein – the original defendant No.1, he had no title and
therefore, the subsequent registered Sale Deed dated 19.04.1996 in
favour of the appellant is illegal and a nullity.
2.7 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the judgment and decree
passed by the learned Trial Court, the appellant herein – original
defendant No.1 filed the appeal before the First Appellate Court. By a
detailed judgment and order dated 31.07.2009, the learned First
Appellate Court allowed the said appeal and set aside the judgment and
decree passed by the learned Trial Court on merits as well as on the
ground that the suit was barred by limitation. At this stage, it is required
to be noted that prior thereto and having come to know about the
cheating and fraud committed by the plaintiff and the original defendant
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No.2 (husband and wife), the appellant herein had filed a complaint case
for the offence under Section 420 and 120B IPC and the same is
reported to be pending.
2.8 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the judgment and order
passed by the First Appellate Court, the original plaintiff (wife) through
her legal heirs filed the present second appeal before the learned Single
Judge of the High Court. By the impugned judgment and order, the
learned Single Judge of the High Court has allowed the said appeal and
has quashed and set aside the judgment and order passed by the First
Appellate Court and consequently has restored the judgment and decree
passed by the learned Trial Court decreeing the suit preferred by the
original plaintiff and granting the declaration that the registered Sale
Deed dated 19.04.1996 in favour of the appellant executed by the
original defendant No.2 (original owner – husband) is null and void.
2.9 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied by the impugned judgment and
order passed by the High Court in allowing the second appeal and
quashing and setting aside the judgment and order passed by the
learned First Appellate Court and restoring the decree passed by the
learned Trial Court, the purchaser – the appellant herein - the original
defendant No.1 has preferred the present appeal.
3. Shri Ankur Mittal, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
appellant has vehemently submitted that as such, the appellant is the
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victim of the fraud played by the original plaintiff as well as the original
defendant No.2 (wife and husband).
3.1 It is vehemently submitted that after having obtained the collusive
decree in favour of the original plaintiff – wife, the original owner –
husband executed the registered sale deed in favour of the appellant by
taking the full sale consideration, i.e., Rs.1,15,000/- without disclosing
the appellant about any decree dated 01.02.1995 passed in Civil Suit
No.1643 of 1994.
3.2 It is submitted that both the learned Trial Court as well as the High
Court have not properly appreciated the fact that: -
(i) The appellant is the victim of fraud;
(ii) That the original plaintiff obtained a collusive decree in her
favour in Civil Suit No.1643 of 1994 and the decree was
without any contest by the original owner;
(iii) That the collusive decree in Civil Suit No.1643 of 1994 was
obtained on the basis of the so-called family settlement,
which never came on record;
(iv) That even after obtaining the original decree dated
01.02.1995 in Civil Suit No.1643 of 1994, neither the same
was registered before the Office of Sub-Registrar nor any
mutation entry in the revenue record was made. It is
submitted that thereafter the original owner – original
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defendant No.2 – husband of the original plaintiff executed
the Sale Deed dated 19.04.1996 by accepting the full sale
consideration of Rs.1,15,000/-;
(v) That immediately the appellant was put in possession and
since then he has been in possession and cultivating the
land in question;
(vi) That immediately after the registered sale deed in favour of
the appellant, the same was mutated in the revenue record
on 31.05.1996 and despite the same, the present suit has
been filed after a period of five years, which is beyond the
period of limitation, i.e., three years.
3.3 It is submitted therefore that when on appreciation of evidence, the
First Appellate Court by a detailed judgment and order set aside the
judgment and decree passed by the learned Trial Court and
consequently dismissed the suit, the same was not required to be
interfered with by the High Court in exercise of the very limited
jurisdiction while deciding the second appeal.
3.4 Making above submissions, it is prayed to allow the present
appeal.
4. Present appeal is opposed by Shri Rudra Pratap, learned counsel
appearing on behalf of the respondents herein.
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At this stage, it is required to be noted that the heirs of the original
plaintiff (wife) and the original defendant No.2 (husband) are represented
by the same counsel. At this stage, it is also required to be noted that as
such the original defendant No.2 never contested the suit and/or filed the
written statement.
4.1 Shri Rudra Pratap, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
respondents has vehemently submitted that in the facts and
circumstances of the case, the High Court has not committed any error
in quashing and setting aside the judgment and order passed by the
First Appellate Court and restoring the judgment and decree passed by
the learned Trial Court.
4.2 It is vehemently submitted by learned counsel appearing for the
respondents that as rightly observed and held by the learned Trial Court
as well as the High Court in second appeal that at the time when the
original defendant No.2 executed the registered sale deed in favour of
the appellant, he had no valid title in view of the decree passed in favour
of the original plaintiff – wife in Civil Suit No. 1643 of 1994. It is
submitted that when it was found that the registered Sale Deed Dated
19.04.1996 in favour of the appellant was by a person, who had no title,
the same was a nullity and therefore, the learned Trial Court rightly
decreed the suit for declaration declaring the registered Sale Deed dated
19.04.1996 in favour of the appellant as null and void.
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4.3 Now, so far as the submission on behalf of the appellant that the
suit was barred by limitation is concerned, it is submitted that in the suit,
the original plaintiff also prayed for the relief of possession. It is
contended that the suit for relief of possession can be filed within a
period of twelve years. Therefore, as the suit was filed within a period of
twelve years and the same cannot be said to be barred by limitation.
4.4 Making above submissions, it is prayed to dismiss the present
appeal.
5. We have heard learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
respective parties.
6. The original plaintiff instituted the Civil Suit No. 419/2007 claiming
cancellation of the Sale Deed dated 19.04.1996 in respect of the suit
property on the basis of the decree obtained by her in Civil Suit No.1643
of 1994 dated 01.02.1995. It is required to be noted that in the earlier
said suit filed by the original plaintiff being Civil Suit No.1643 of 1994,
which was filed against her husband – original defendant No.2, there
was no contest by the original defendant No.2 – original landowner and
in the written statement, he admitted everything averred in the plaint and
on the basis of which the decree came to be passed in favour of the
original plaintiff on 01.02.1995. It is also required to be noted that the
case on behalf of the original plaintiff in the earlier Civil Suit No.1643 of
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1994 was based on an alleged family arrangement, which was never
produced before the court and/or even thereafter also. At this stage, it is
required to be noted that prior thereto, there was already an agreement
to sell executed by the original defendant No.2 – husband of the original
plaintiff dated 04.04.1993 in favour of the Appellant herein and the time
for executing the sale deed was extended twice in writing on requests
made by the original defendant No.2 – original owner on 02.04.1994 and
01.04.1995. After the aforesaid agreement to sell dated 04.04.1993 and
after the first extension, the original plaintiff filed the aforesaid collusive
suit being Civil Suit No.1643 of 1994 and obtained the collusive decree
dated 01.02.1995.
Thereafter, on the strength of the agreement to sell dated
04.04.1993 and without disclosing the decree passed against him in Civil
Suit No.1643 of 1994 dated 01.02.1995, the original defendant No.2 –
husband of the original plaintiff – original landowner executed the
registered Sale Deed dated 19.04.1996 and accepted the balance sale
consideration. Necessary changes were consequently made in the
revenue records as well, entering the name of the original defendant
No.1 – appellant herein in the year 1996 itself. At this stage, it is to be
noted that there was no mutation in the revenue records pursuant to the
decree dated 01.02.1995 in Civil Suit No.1643 of 1994. It has also come
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on record and even as admitted by the original plaintiff in the present
suit, the appellant herein - original defendant No.1 continued to be in
possession and cultivating the land from 1996 onwards and despite the
above she filed the suit for cancellation of the Sale Deed dated
19.04.1996, which was in favour of the appellant - original defendant
No.1 executed by her husband – original defendant No.2 in the year
2001.
Therefore, the subsequent present suit filed by the original plaintiff
in Civil Suit No. 419/2007 can be said to be clearly barred by the law of
limitation. The suit seeking cancellation of the sale deed was required to
be filed within a period of three years from the date of the knowledge of
the sale deed. Therefore, when the name of the appellant herein -
original defendant No.1 was mutated in the revenue records in the year
1996 on the basis of the registered Sale Deed dated 19.04.1996 and
when he was found to be in possession and cultivating the land since
then, the suit was required to be filed by the original plaintiff within a
period of three years from 1996. The submission on behalf of the
original plaintiff (now represented through her heirs) that the prayer in
the suit was also for recovery of the possession and therefore the said
suit was filed within the period of twelve years and therefore the suit has
been filed within the period of limitation, cannot be accepted. Relief for
possession is a consequential prayer and the substantive prayer was of
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cancellation of the Sale Deed dated 19.04.1996 and therefore, the
limitation period is required to be considered with respect to the
substantive relief claimed and not the consequential relief. When a
composite suit is filed for cancellation of the sale deed as well as for
recovery of the possession, the limitation period is required to be
considered with respect to the substantive relief of cancellation of the
sale deed, which would be three years from the date of the knowledge of
the sale deed sought to be cancelled. Therefore, the suit, which was
filed by the original plaintiff for cancellation of the sale deed, can be said
to be a substantive therefore the same was clearly barred by limitation.
Hence, the learned Trial Court ought to have dismissed the suit on the
ground that the suit was barred by limitation. As such the learned First
Appellate Court was justified and right in setting aside the judgment and
decree passed by the learned Trial Court and consequently dismissing
the suit. The High Court has committed a grave error in quashing and
setting aside a well-reasoned and a detailed judgment and order passed
by the First Appellate Court dismissing the suit and consequently
restoring the judgment and decree passed by the Trial Court.
7. Even the High Court has also not properly appreciated and
considered the fact that the appellant herein - original defendant No.1
can be said to be a bona fide purchaser and that the decree obtained by
the original plaintiff in the earlier Civil Suit No.1643 of 1994 was a
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collusive decree and everything was done behind the back of the
appellant herein - original defendant No.1. After pocketing the money
and receiving the full sale consideration, the original defendant No.2 as
such did not contest the present suit and now in the present appeal,
both, the heirs of the original plaintiff as well as the original defendant
No.2 are represented by the same Advocate contesting the present
appeal. Be that as it may, when the original plaintiff – wife of the original
defendant No.2 (original landowner) obtained the collusive decree dated
01.02.1995 in Civil Suit No.1643 of 1994, there was already an
agreement to sell in favour of the appellant herein – original defendant
No.1 by which the original owner – original defendant No.2 agreed to sell
the land in question and a sum of Rs.40,000/- was paid as earnest
money at the time of agreement and subsequently the appellant herein –
original defendant No.1 paid the entire balance sale consideration, which
was accepted by the original defendant No.2 – husband of the plaintiff,
the High Court has erred in allowing the Second Appeal. All these
aspects have not at all been considered by the High Court, which were
considered by the First Appellate Court. The High Court has also not at
all considered whether the suit was barred by limitation or not, which
ought to have been considered by the High Court. Under the
circumstances, the impugned judgment and order passed by the High
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Court is unsustainable and the same deserves to be quashed and set
aside.
8. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the present
appeal succeeds. The impugned judgment and order passed by the
High Court dated 29.09.2016 passed in Second appeal No. 4594 of
2009 is hereby quashed and set aside. The judgment and order passed
by the First Appellate Court is hereby restored and consequently the suit
filed by the original plaintiff stands dismissed.
Present appeal is accordingly allowed. However, in the facts and
circumstances of the case, there shall be no order as to costs.
…………………………………..J.
[M.R. SHAH]
NEW DELHI; …………………………………..J.
MAY 18, 2022. [B.V. NAGARATHNA]
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