RAMAN (DEAD) BY LRS. VERSUS R. NATARAJAN

RAMAN (DEAD) BY LRS.  VERSUS R. NATARAJAN

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO.  6554  OF 2022
(@ Special Leave Petition (C) NO.25554 OF 2018)
RAMAN (DEAD) BY LRS.       …APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
R. NATARAJAN     ...RESPONDENT(S)
J U D G M E N T
Leave granted.
2. The suit for specific performance of an Agreement of Sale of
an   immovable   property,   filed   by   the   respondent   herein,   was
decreed by the Trial Court but the said decree was reversed by the
First   Appellate   Court.   However,   the   High   Court   reversed   the
Judgment and decree of the First Appellate Court and restored the
decree   for   specific   performance   granted   by   the   Trial   Court.
Aggrieved by the same, the legal representatives of the original
defendant are on appeal.
3. We have heard Mr. G. Sivabalamurugan, learned counsel for
the appellants and Mr. S. Nandakumar, learned counsel for the
respondent.
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4. The respondent herein filed a suit in O.S. No.360 of 2008 on
the file of the First Additional District Munsif, Salem, for specific
performance   of   an   Agreement   of   Sale   dated   19.06.1993,
contending inter alia :
 that   the   appellants   agreed   to   sell   the   suit   property
which is a land of the extent of about 76 cents for a
total sale consideration of Rs.1,44,000; 
 that an advance of Rs.25,000 was paid at the time of
execution of the Agreement; 
 that   the   defendant   received   further   amounts   of
Rs.50,000/­   on   19.11.1995,   Rs.43,000/­   on
11.05.1998,   Rs.10,000/­   on   27.01.2001   and
Rs.16,400/­ on 10.07.2005;
 that   appropriate   endorsements   were   made   on   the
reverse   of   the   first,   second   and   third   pages   of   the
agreement; 
 that the entire sale consideration thus stood paid; 
 that   it   was   provided   in   the   Agreement   that   the
defendant   should   simultaneously   enter   into   an
agreement with his brother’s wife for the purchase of a
portion of her land, to be used as pathway for access to
reach the suit property; 
 that the time for performance of the obligations under
the Agreement was fixed as 11 months from the date of
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the   defendant   entering   into   an   agreement   with   his
brother’s   wife   for   the   purchase   of   the   land   for   the
pathway; 
 that however when the plaintiff issued a legal notice
dated 27.03.2007, the defendant sent a reply denying
everything; and 
 that therefore, the plaintiff was constrained to file the
suit.
5. The defendant filed a written statement denying everything,
including   the   execution   of   the   Agreement.   Therefore,   the   Trial
Court framed the following issues; 
“(i) Is the Agreement of Sale dated 19­8­93 real
and true?
(ii) Is the suit barred by limitation?
(iii)  Is the plaintiff eligible for the relief of specific
performance?
(iv) Any other relief?”
6. After trial, the Trial Court passed a Judgment and decree
dated 14.02.2012, holding  that  the Agreement dated 19.06.1993
was true and valid; that the suit was not barred by limitation; and
that the plaintiff was entitled to the relief of specific performance.
7. The First Appellate Court came to the conclusion,
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 that the endorsements made in the Agreement of sale
on   12.11.1995,   11.05.1998,   27.01.2001   and
10.07.2005  marked  as  Exhibit  A­2  to   A­5,  were   not
proved; 
 that the plaintiff could not prove that he was ready and
willing to perform his part of the obligations; 
 that the suit was barred by limitation; and 
 that, therefore, the plaintiff was not entitled to specific
performance.
8. The only substantial question of law framed by the High
Court   at   the   time   of   admission   of   the   second   appeal   was   as
follows:
“In the light of the finding of the trial Court that Ex.
A­1   –   sale   agreement   is   true,   whether   the   First
Appellate   Court   was   right   in   holding   that   the
endorsements made on Ex.A.1 under Exs.A.2 to A.5
have   not   been   proved   though,   according   to   the
plaintiff, it has been proved by the evidence of P.Ws. 2
and 3?”
9. The High Court recorded its opinion on the above substantial
question of law as follows:
“From   over   all   consideration   of   pleadings,   oral   and
documentary evidence and the judgment of the trial
Court,   it   is   clear   that   the   first   respondent   only
executed Exs.A.1 to A.5 and the First Appellate Judge
on erroneous consideration of pleadings and evidence
of P.Ws.2 to 3 held that the appellant failed to prove
the endorsements in Exs.A.2 to A.5 after holding that
Ex.A.1   was   executed   by   the   first   respondent   and
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relying   of   Ex.A.2   to   hold   that   suit   is   barred   by
limitation.”
10. What was recorded as above was not actually an answer to
the substantial question of law, even if we construe what was
framed, to be a substantial question of law. The above finding is
actually a finding of fact. Apart from that, the High Court also
went beyond the substantial question of law framed by it and
proceeded to hold that the suit was not barred by limitation. The
High Court opined that the time for performance of the obligations
under the Agreement was fixed as 11 months from the date on
which the defendant entered into an agreement with his brother’s
wife for the purchase of a land to be used as pathway. However,
the defendant did not enter into any agreement with his brother’s
wife. On the other hand, the defendant chose to deny the very
execution   of   Agreement   of   Sale   in   his   reply   notice   dated
04.04.2007. Therefore, the High Court held that limitation started
running   from   the   date   of   refusal   and   that   the   suit   filed   in
November, 2007 was within the period of limitation.
11. The mistakes committed by the High Court were manifold.
First,   the   High   Court   framed   a   question   which   was   actually   a
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question of fact which involved appreciation of evidence and not a
substantial question of law. As a consequence, the answer given by
the High Court was only a finding of fact. Next, the High Court
reversed the finding of the First Appellate Court on the question of
limitation,   without   framing   a   substantial   question   of   law   and
without even referring to the statutory provisions.
12. As   we   have   pointed   out   earlier,   the   Agreement   is   dated
19.06.1993. The Agreement contains four endorsements which are
dated 12.11.1995, 11.05.1998, 27.01.2001, 10.07.2005. 
13. The defendant raised the question of limitation, on the basis of
the fact that the fourth endorsement was made beyond a period of
three years from the date of the third endorsement. Such a defence
was based upon Section 18(1) of the Limitation Act, 1963.
14. But as a matter of fact, the limitation for filing a suit for
specific performance, in terms of Article 54 of The Schedule to the
Limitation Act, 1963 is three years, “from the date fixed for the
performance or if no such date is fixed, when the plaintiff has notice
that the performance is refused.”
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15. But in the entire memorandum of grounds of second appeal
filed by the respondent­herein before the High Court, there was no
whisper or reference to Article 54 of the Schedule to the Limitation
Act, 1963. The only substantial question of law framed by the High
Court at the time of entertaining the second appeal was not about
limitation   revolving   around   Article   54   of   the   Schedule   to   the
Limitation Act. Therefore, the High Court could not have answered
the   question   of   limitation   in   favour   of   the   respondent   herein,
(i) without framing any substantial question of law; and (ii) without
even a reference to Article 54.
16. In any case, the High Court ought to have seen that a Court
cannot grant the relief of specific performance against a person
compelling him to enter into an agreement with a third party and
seek specific relief against such a third party. In other words, the
specific performance of the agreement by the appellants herein,
depended upon (i) the appellants entering into an agreement with a
third party; and (ii) appellants being in a position to compel such
third party to perform her obligations under such agreement. 
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17. The   High   Court   ought   to   have   seen   that   the   specific
performance of the Agreement in question comprised of two parts
namely,  (i)  the   defendant   entering   into   an   agreement   with   his
brother’s wife for the purchase of a land for providing access to the
land agreed to be sold under the suit Agreement of Sale; and (ii) the
defendant thereafter executing a sale deed conveying the property
covered by the suit Agreement of Sale.
18. Since the defendant’s brother’s wife was not a party to the suit
agreement of sale, the Court cannot compel her to enter into an
agreement with the defendant. In other words, the performance of
the first part of the obligation, which we have indicated in the
preceding   paragraph,   cannot   be   compelled   by   the   Court,   as   it
depended upon the will of a third party. As a consequence, the
performance of the second part of the obligation, may be hit by
Section   12(1)   of   the   Specific   Relief   Act,   1963   which   reads   as
follows:­
“12.    Specific  Performance  of  part  of  contract.­(1)
Except   as   otherwise   hereinafter   provided   in   this
section   the   court   shall   not   direct   the   specific
performance of a part of contract.
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        xxx                             xxx                          xxx”
19. From the pleadings on record, it appears that the case on
hand will not even be covered by sub­sections (2), (3) & (4) of
Section 12 of the Specific Relief Act. Since it is stated very clearly in
the suit Agreement of Sale that the land covered by the Agreement
will not have any access, unless the defendant entered into an
agreement   with   his   brother’s   wife,   it   is   clear   that   none   of   the
exceptions contained in sub­sections (2), (3) and (4) of Section 12
will apply.
20. Even the limited rights conferred by Section 13(1)(b) of the
Specific Relief Act are not available to the respondent, as there was
no legal right in the defendant to compel 3rd parties to convey their
land to him for the purpose of providing a pathway to the land
agreed to be sold to the respondent herein. Section 13(1)(b) reads as
follows:
“13.  Rights  of  purchaser  or   lessee   against  person
with no title or imperfect title.—(1)  Where a person
contracts   to   sell   or   let   certain   immovable   property
having no title or only an imperfect title, the purchaser
or   lessee   (subject   to   the   other   provisions   of   this
Chapter), has the following rights namely:-
(a)      xxx                  xxx xxx
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(b) where   the   concurrence   of   other   persons   is
necessary for validating the title, and they are bound
to concur at the request of the vendor or lessor, the
purchaser or lessee may compel him to procure such
concurrence, and when a conveyance by other persons
is necessary to validate the title and they are bound to
convey   at   the   request   of   the   vendor   or   lessor,   the
purchaser or lessee may compel him to procure such
conveyance;”
21. Therefore, the High Court committed a grave error in law in
granting a decree for specific performance. Hence the appeal is
allowed, the impugned judgment of the High Court is set aside and
the   relief   of   specific   performance   claimed   by   the   respondent   is
rejected. However, there will be a decree directing the appellants to
pay to the respondent, the amount of Rs.1,44,400/­ paid by the
respondent, with interest @ 9% p.a. from the date of filing of the
suit,   till   the   date   of   repayment.   The   parties   shall   bear   their
respective costs throughout.
…………………………….J.
(Indira Banerjee)
…………………………….J.
(V. Ramasubramanian)
New Delhi
September  13,  2022
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