Mohamed Ali Versus V. Jaya & Ors

Mohamed Ali Versus V. Jaya & Ors

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO.  4113 OF 2022
Mohamed Ali    …Appellant(s)
Versus
V. Jaya & Ors.  …Respondent(s)
With 
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4114 OF 2022
J U D G M E N T
M.R. SHAH, J.
1. Feeling   aggrieved   and   dissatisfied   with   the   impugned
common judgment and order dated 19.11.2021 passed by
the   High   Court   of   Madras   at   Madurai   Bench   in   Civil
Revision Petition (NPD) No. 1054/2021 and Civil Revision
Petition   (PD)   No.   1301/2021,   by   which,   in   exercise   of
powers under Article 227 of the Constitution of India the
High Court has set aside the ex­parte judgment and decree
passed by the learned Trial Court, the original plaintiff has
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preferred the present appeals.   
2. The facts leading to the present appeals in a nutshell are
as under: ­ 
2.1 That the appellant herein – original plaintiff instituted a
suit being O.S. No. 15/2010 on the file of I Additional
District Judge (PCR), Trichy for specific performance of an
agreement to sell dated 17.07.2009. The said suit was filed
against four defendants. The defendants were placed exparte.   The   learned   Trial   Court   passed   an   ex­parte
judgment   and   decree   dated   31.10.2012.   That   original
defendant Nos. 2 to 4 filed an application to set aside the
ex­parte judgment and decree. There was a delay of 2345
days   in   filing   the   petition   to   set   aside   the   ex­parte
judgment and decree. Therefore, original defendant Nos. 2
to 4 filed an application requesting to condone the delay of
2345   days.   The   original   defendant   No.   1   also   filed   an
application to set aside the ex­parte judgment and decree.
There was a delay of 1522 days in filing the petition to set
aside the ex­parte judgment and decree. Therefore, original
defendant No. 1 also filed an application to condone the
delay of 1522 days in filing the petition to set aside the ex2
parte   judgment   and   decree.   The   learned   Trial   Court
dismissed   both   the   applications,   one   filed   by   original
defendant No. 1 and another filed by original defendant
Nos. 2 to 4. 
2.2 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the order passed by
the learned Trial Court refusing to condone the delay of
2345 days in filing the petition to set aside the ex­parte
judgment   and   decree,   original   defendant   Nos.   2   to   4
preferred Civil Revision Petition No. 1054/2021 before the
High   Court.   Though,   original   defendant   No.   1   did   not
challenge   the   order   passed   by   the   learned   Trial   Court
dismissing his application to condone the delay of 1522
days   in   filing   the   petition   to   set   aside   the   ex­parte
judgment and decree, filed revision petition before the High
Court under Article 227 of the Constitution of India being
Civil Revision Petition No. 1301/2021 to set aside the exparte   judgment   and   decree.   By   the   impugned   common
judgment   and   order,   the   High   Court   has   allowed   the
aforesaid   two   revision   petitions   and   has   set   aside   the
judgment and decree passed by the learned Trial Court by
observing that the judgment and decree passed by the
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learned Trial Court is on a total non­application of mind as
before   passing   the   decree   for   specific   performance,   the
learned   Trial   Court   has   not   considered   the   aspect   of
readiness and willingness on the part of the plaintiff. Thus,
by the impugned common judgment and order in exercise
of powers under Article 227 of the Constitution of India,
the High Court has set aside the ex­parte judgment and
decree   passed   by   the   learned   Trial   Court,   without
expressing anything on merits, whether the learned Trial
Court was justified in refusing to condone the delay of
2345 days in filing the petition to set aside the ex­parte
judgment and decree. Thus, the High Court has allowed
Civil   Revision   Petition   (CRP)   No.   1045/2021   filed   by
original  defendant Nos. 2  to  4.  Being aggrieved by  the
impugned judgment(s) and order(s) passed by the High
Court in CRP No. 1301/2021 (filed by original defendant
No. 1 to set aside the ex­parte judgment and decree) and
CRP No. 1045/2021 (filed by original defendant Nos. 2 to
4) challenging the order passed by the learned Trial Court
refusing to condone the delay of 2345 days in filing the
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petition to set aside the ex­parte judgment and decree, the
original plaintiff has preferred the present appeals.
3. Shri   R.   Balasubramanian,   learned   Senior   Advocate,
appearing   on   behalf   of   the   appellant   has   vehemently
submitted that in the facts and circumstances of the case
the High Court has committed a grave error in setting
aside the ex­parte judgment and decree in revision petition
in exercise of powers under Article 227 of the Constitution
of India.
3.1 It   is   vehemently   submitted   by   learned   Senior   Advocate
appearing   on   behalf   of   the   appellant   that   the   ex­parte
judgment and decree passed by the learned Trial Court
was an appealable order and therefore, defendant No. 1
ought to have preferred an appeal rather than filing the
revision petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of
India.   It   is   submitted   that   therefore,   when   a   statutory
appeal   was   provided   against   the   judgment   and   decree
passed by  learned Trial Court, the High Court ought not
to have entertained the revision petition under Article 227
of the Constitution of India and ought not to have set aside
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the   judgment   and   decree   in   exercise   of   powers   under
Article 227 of the Constitution of India.    
3.2 It is further contended that even otherwise the impugned
judgment and order passed by the High Court setting aside
the ex­parte judgment and decree is unsustainable. It is
submitted that the High Court has recorded the findings
on legality and validity of the judgment and decree passed
by   the   learned   Trial   Court   as   if   the   High   Court   was
considering the appeal against the judgment and decree
passed by the learned Trial Court. It is further submitted
that the High Court has not at all considered and/or given
any   findings   on   whether   the   learned   Trial   Court   was
justified in passing the ex­parte judgment and decree or
not. It is submitted that only in a case where the ex­parte
judgment and decree is set aside after giving the specific
findings   that   the   learned   Trial   Court   was   not   justified
and/or right in passing the ex­parte judgment and decree
that the merits of the judgment and decree was required to
be considered. 
3.3 It   is   further   submitted   by   learned   Senior   Advocate
appearing on behalf of the appellant – original plaintiff that
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even otherwise the High Court has not properly considered
the fact that there was a delay of 1522 days in filing the
petition by original defendant No. 1 seeking to set aside
the ex­parte judgment and decree. It is submitted that the
learned Trial Court dismissed the application and refused
to condone the delay of 1522 days. That the order passed
by the learned Trial Court refusing to condone the delay of
1522 days in filing the petition seeking to set aside the
judgment and decree, had attained finality as the same
was   not   challenged   by   original   defendant   No.   1.   It   is
contended that therefore in the absence of any challenge to
the order passed by the learned Trial Court refusing to
condone   the   delay   of   1522   days,   the   revision
petition/application filed by defendant No. 1 challenging
the ex­parte judgment and decree was not required to be
entertained. 
3.4 It is further submitted that even otherwise while setting
aside   the   ex­parte   judgment   and   decree   in   exercise   of
powers under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, the
High Court has not exercised its discretion judiciously and
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has   acted   beyond   the   scope   and   ambit   of   exercise   of
powers under Article 227 of the Constitution of India. 
3.5 It is further urged by learned Senior Advocate appearing
on behalf of the appellant – original plaintiff that even
otherwise there are no findings recorded by the High Court
on whether the learned Trial Court was justified in not
condoning the delay of 2345 and 1522 days in filing the
petition for setting aside the ex­parte judgment and decree.
That when there was a huge delay of 2345 and 1522 days
in filing the petition for setting aside the ex­parte judgment
and decree filed by original defendants No. 2 to 4 and
defendant No. 1, respectively and when the learned Trial
Court by a detailed order refused to condone the delay, the
same ought not to have been set aside by the High Court,
that too, without considering the legality and validity of the
order refusing to condone the delay.                    
3.6 It   is   further   submitted   by   learned   Senior   Advocate
appearing on behalf of the original plaintiff that the High
Court has set aside the ex­parte judgment and decree in
exercise of powers under Article 227 of the Constitution of
8
India as if the High Court was exercising the appellate
jurisdiction. 
3.7 Making the above submissions, it is prayed to allow the
present appeals.  
4. Present   appeals   are   vehemently   opposed   by   Shri   M.
Karpagavinayagam, learned Senior Advocate, appearing on
behalf of the respondents – original defendants. 
4.1 It   is   vehemently   submitted   by   learned   Senior   Advocate
appearing on behalf of original defendants that the High
Court   has   rightly   set   aside   the   ex­parte   judgment   and
decree   on   the   ground   that   the   ex­parte   judgment   and
decree for specific performance of the agreement to sell
was   not   in   consonance   with   the   procedure   enunciated
under Order XII of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC). It is
submitted that the High Court has set aside the ex­parte
judgment and decree by observing that while passing the
decree for specific performance, the requirement of proving
readiness   and   willingness   was   not   considered   by   the
learned   Trial   Court.   It   is   submitted   that   even   the
respondents – original defendants filed written submission
before the learned Trial Court. However, the learned Trial
9
Court did not consider the said aspect while passing the
ex­parte judgment and decree. 
4.2 Now so far as the submissions made by the learned Senior
Advocate   appearing   on   behalf   of   the   appellant   on   the
maintainability of the revision petition under Article 227 of
the   Constitution   of   India,   the   learned   Senior   Advocate
appearing   on   behalf   of   the   respondents   –   original
defendants, has heavily relied upon the decisions of this
Court in the case of Radhey Shyam and Anr. Vs. Chhabi
Nath and Ors.; (2015) 5 SCC 423 as well as in the case of
K.P.   Natarajan   and   Anr.   Vs.   Muthalammal   and   Ors;
(2021)   SCC   Online   SC   467.  Relying   upon   the   said
decisions, it is submitted that as held by this Court in the
aforesaid decisions, challenge to the judicial orders could
lie by way of statutory appeal or revision or under Article
227 but not by way of writ under Article 226 or 32. It is
submitted that in the present case, the defendants invoked
the jurisdiction of the High Court under Section 115 of
CPC as well as Article 227 of the Constitution of India by
way   of   two   different   revision   petitions   and   on   different
10
grounds.   That   therefore,   having   found   the   ex­parte
judgment and decree of specific performance of agreement
to   sell   passed   by   the   learned   Trial   Court   was   not   in
consonance with the procedure to be followed under the
CPC and the relevant aspects, which were required to be
considered under the provisions of the Specific Relief Act,
were not considered, the High Court has not committed
any   error   in   setting   aside   the   ex­parte   judgment   and
decree. 
4.3 Making the above submissions and relying upon the above
decisions of this Court, it is prayed to dismiss the present
appeals.                   
5. We   have   heard   learned   Senior   Advocates   appearing   on
behalf of the respective parties at length. We have also
gone through the impugned common judgment and order
passed by the High Court.
6. At the outset, it is required to be noted that the learned
Trial Court passed the ex­parte judgment and decree in
the year 2012. That after a period of 1522 and 2345 days,
original   defendant   No.   1   and   defendants   No.   2   to   4,
respectively, filed the applications to set aside the ex­parte
11
judgment and decree. The learned Trial Court by a detailed
order refused to condone the delay of 1522 and 2345 days
by specifically observing that no sufficient cause has been
shown   in   explaining   the   huge   delay   in   filing   the
applications to set aside the ex­parte judgment and decree.
The   defendant   Nos.   2   to   4   alone   filed   the   revision
application before the High Court challenging the order
passed by the learned Trial Court refusing to condone the
delay   of   2345   days.   Defendant   No.   1   did   not   file   any
revision application before the High Court challenging the
order   passed   by   the   learned   Trial   Court   refusing   to
condone the delay in filing the application to set aside the
ex­parte judgment and decree. Instead, defendant No. 1
directly filed the revision application before the High Court
under Article 227 of the Constitution of India challenging
the ex­parte judgment and decree and without considering
the legality and validity of the order/orders passed by the
learned Trial Court refusing to condone the huge delay of
1522/2345 days, by the impugned common judgment and
order, the High Court has set aside the ex­parte judgment
12
and decree in exercise of powers under Article 227 of the
Constitution of India. 
6.1 Having gone through the impugned common judgment and
order passed by the High Court, it can be seen that as
such the High Court has not at all considered whether the
learned Trial Court was justified in refusing to condone
such a huge delay of 2345 days. The High Court has also
not appreciated and considered the fact that as such the
order   passed   by   the   learned   Trial   Court   refusing   to
condone   the   delay   of   1522   days   in   so   far   as   original
defendant   No.   1,   had   attained   the   finality.   Original
defendant   No.   1   straightway   challenged   the   ex­parte
judgment and decree passed by the learned Trial Court by
way   of   revision   application   under   Article   227   of   the
Constitution   of   India.   Whether   the   revision   application
before the High Court under Article 227 of the Constitution
of India can be said to be maintainable or not has not at
all been considered. Even otherwise, the remedy against
an   ex­parte   judgment   and   decree   available   to   the
defendants was, either to file an application under Order
IX Rule 13 of CPC or to prefer an appeal before the First
13
Appellate Court. The defendants availed the first remedy
by way of filing the applications under Order IX Rule 13 of
CPC. However, there was a huge delay of 1522 and 2345
days, which was not condoned by the learned Trial Court.
Without expressing anything on whether the learned Trial
Court was justified in refusing to condone the delay, the
High Court has simply set aside the order passed by the
learned Trial Court refusing to condone the delay in so far
as original defendant Nos. 2 to 4 are concerned. The High
Court   ought   to   have   dealt   with   and   considered   the
question, whether, the learned Trial Court was justified in
refusing   to   condone   the   delay   or   not.   There   is   no
discussion at all on the order passed by the learned Trial
Court refusing to condone the delay.             
6.2 Even otherwise and as observed hereinabove, against the
ex­parte judgment and decree, the remedy by way of an
appeal   before   the   First   Appellate   Court   was   available.
Therefore, the High Court ought not to have entertained
the revision application under Section 115 of CPC and
under Article 227 of the Constitution of India. The High
Court   ought   not   to   have   entertained   such   a   revision
14
application challenging the ex­parte judgment and decree.
Once there was a statutory alternative remedy by way of
an   appeal   available   to   the   defendants,   the   High   Court
ought not to have entertained a writ petition or revision
application under Article 227 of the Constitution of India.
7. At this stage, the decision of this Court in the case of
Virudhunagar Hindu Nadargal Dharma Paribalana Sabai
and   Ors.   Vs.   Tuticorin   Educational  Society   and   Ors.;
(2019) 9 SCC 538, is required to be referred to. In the said
decision,   it   is   observed   and   held   by   this   Court   that
wherever   the   proceedings   are   under   the   Code   of   Civil
Procedure and the forum is the civil court, the availability
of a remedy under CPC, will deter the High Court and
therefore, the High Court shall not entertain the revision
under Article 227 of the Constitution of India especially in
a case where a specific remedy of appeal is provided under
the CPC itself. While holding so, it is observed and held in
paragraphs 11 to 13 as under: ­ 
“11. Secondly, the High Court ought to have seen that when
a remedy of appeal under Section 104(1)(i) read with Order
43,   Rule   1(r)   of   the   Code   of   Civil   Procedure,   1908,   was
directly available, Respondents 1 and 2 ought to have taken
recourse to the same. It is true that the availability of a
15
remedy of appeal may not always be a bar for the exercise of
supervisory   jurisdiction   of   the   High   Court.   In A.
Venkatasubbiah Naidu v. S. Chellappan [A. Venkatasubbiah
Naidu v. S. Chellappan, (2000) 7 SCC 695] , this Court held
that “though no hurdle can be put against the exercise of the
constitutional   powers   of   the   High   Court,   it   is   a   wellrecognised principle which gained judicial recognition that
the High Court should direct the party to avail himself of
such remedies before he resorts to a constitutional remedy”.
12. But  courts  should always bear in mind  a distinction
between (i) cases where such alternative remedy is available
before civil courts in terms of the provisions of Code of Civil
Procedure, and (ii) cases where such alternative remedy is
available under special enactments and/or statutory rules
and the fora provided therein happen to be quasi­judicial
authorities and tribunals. In respect of cases falling under
the   first   category,   which   may   involve   suits   and   other
proceedings   before   civil   courts,   the   availability   of   an
appellate remedy in terms of the provisions of CPC, may
have to be construed as a near total bar. Otherwise, there is
a danger that someone may challenge in a revision under
Article 227, even a decree passed in a suit, on the same
grounds   on   which   Respondents   1   and   2   invoked   the
jurisdiction  of  the  High Court.  This  is why,  a  3­member
Bench of this Court, while overruling the decision in Surya
Dev Rai v. Ram Chander Rai [Surya Dev Rai v. Ram Chander
Rai,   (2003)   6   SCC   675]   ,   pointed   out   in Radhey
Shyam v. Chhabi   Nath [Radhey   Shyam v. Chhabi   Nath,
(2015) 5 SCC 423 : (2015) 3 SCC (Civ) 67] that “orders of
civil   court   stand   on   different   footing   from   the   orders   of
authorities or tribunals or courts other than judicial/civil
courts”.
13. Therefore wherever the proceedings are under the Code
of   Civil   Procedure   and   the   forum   is   the   civil   court,   the
availability of a remedy under the CPC, will deter the High
Court, not merely as a measure of self­imposed restriction,
but as a matter of discipline and prudence, from exercising
its power of superintendence under the Constitution. Hence,
the High Court ought not to have entertained the revision
under   Article   227   especially   in   a   case   where   a   specific
remedy   of   appeal   is   provided   under   the   Code   of   Civil
Procedure itself.”  
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7.1 Applying the law laid down by this Court in the aforesaid
decision to the facts of the case on hand, the High Court
ought not to have entertained the revision petition under
Article 227 of the Constitution of India against the ex­parte
judgment and decree passed by the learned Trial Court in
view of a specific remedy of appeal as provided under the
Code of Civil Procedure itself. Therefore, the High Court
has committed a grave error in entertaining the revision
petition   under   Article   227   challenging   the   ex­parte
judgment and decree passed by the learned Trial Court
and in quashing and setting aside the same in exercise of
powers under Article 227 of the Constitution of India.     
7.2 Even   otherwise   considering   the   impugned   common
judgment and order passed by the High Court, it appears
that while setting aside the ex­parte judgment and decree,
the   High   Court   has   commented   upon   the   legality   and
validity of the judgment and decree passed by the learned
Trial   Court   as   if   the   High   Court   was   exercising   the
appellate   jurisdiction   against   the   judgment   and   decree
passed by the learned Trial Court. Before considering the
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judgment   and   decree   on   merits   and/or   expressing
anything   on   merits   on   the   legality   and   validity   of   the
judgment   and   decree   (ex­parte),   the   High   Court   was
required to consider whether the learned Trial Court was
justified in passing the ex­parte judgment and decree or
not. The High Court was also required to consider whether
the learned Trial Court was justified in refusing to condone
the delay of 1522 and 2345 days in filing the petition
challenging the ex­parte judgment and decree. Therefore,
in the facts and circumstances of the case, the impugned
common judgment and order passed by the High Court is
unsustainable, both, on law as well as on facts. The High
Court has exceeded in its jurisdiction while setting aside
the ex­parte judgment and decree in exercise of powers
under   Article   227   of   the   Constriction   of   India.   The
impugned   common   judgment   and   order   passed   by   the
High Court is on irrelevant considerations and the relevant
aspects as observed hereinabove have not been considered
and   dealt   with   by   the   High   Court.   Under   the
circumstances,   the   impugned   common   judgment   and
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order passed by the High Court deserve to be quashed and
set aside. 
      
8. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the
present   Appeals   Succeed.   The   impugned   common
judgment and order dated 19.11.2021 passed by the High
Court in Civil Revision Petition (NPD) No. 1054/2021 and
Civil   Revision   Petition   (PD)   No.   1301/2021,   is   hereby
quashed and set aside. The ex­parte judgment and decree
passed by the learned Trial Court as well as the order(s)
passed by the learned Trial Court refusing to condone the
delay of 2345 days in preferring the revision petition(s)
challenging   the   ex­parte   judgment   and   decree   filed   by
original   defendant   Nos.   2   to   4   is/are   hereby   restored.
Present appeals are allowed accordingly. In the facts of the
case, there shall be no order as to costs.
………………………………….J.
[M.R. SHAH]
NEW DELHI; ………………………………….J.
July, 11th 2022 [B.V. NAGARATHNA]
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