YASHODA (ALIAS SODHAN) VERSUS SUKHWINDER SINGH AND OTHERS

YASHODA (ALIAS SODHAN)  VERSUS SUKHWINDER SINGH AND OTHERS


Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION 
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8247 OF 2009
YASHODA (ALIAS SODHAN)           ...APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
SUKHWINDER SINGH AND OTHERS    ...RESPONDENT(S)
J U D G M E N T
B.R. GAVAI, J.
1. The   appeal   challenges   the   judgment   dated   28th
January 2009 passed by the learned Single Judge of the
High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh in Regular
Second Appeal No. 3205 of 2007 (O&M), thereby dismissing
the appeal filed by the present appellant.
2. Brief facts giving rise to the present appeal are as
under:
1
As   per   Kartar   Singh,   the   original   plaintiff   (since
deceased), the grandfather of respondent Nos.1 and 2, he
had entered into an agreement to sell the agricultural lands
on 10th January 1993.  As per the said agreement, the sale
deed was to be executed before 15th March 1994. According
to the plaintiff, a family settlement also took place between
him and the appellant­defendant in the month of November
1993. It is to be noted that the plaintiff initially filed a suit for
declaration against the appellant­defendant being Civil Suit
No. 141 of 1994 on 10th February 1994.  The said suit was
filed on the basis of the said family settlement that took place
in   the   month   of   November   1993.     On   the   basis   of   the
application filed by the plaintiff, the said suit was dismissed
as withdrawn on 7th May 1994.
3. The plaintiff filed the present suit on 2nd June 1994
being Suit No. 536 of 1994 seeking specific performance on
the basis of alleged agreement to sell dated 10th  January
1993.   The appellant­defendant resisted the suit by filing
written   statement   on   29th  October   1994.     In   the   written
statement, the appellant­defendant categorically denied the
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existence and/or the execution of any agreement to sell.  It
was specifically contended by the appellant­defendant that
the second suit was not maintainable in view of withdrawal
of the first suit. The plaintiff filed his Replication on 14th
November 1994 contending that the first suit for declaration
was   filed   only   to   avoid   payment   of   stamp   duty   and
registration charges.
4. The learned Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division),
Sunam   (hereinafter   referred   to   as   the   “trial   court”)   vide
judgment and decree dated 6th  August 1997 dismissed the
suit for specific performance. Being aggrieved thereby, the
respondents,   i.e.,   the   legal   representatives   of   the   plaintiff
filed an appeal before the learned Additional District Judge,
Sangrur (hereinafter referred to as the “Appellate Court”).
The Appellate Court vide its judgment and decree dated 26th
July 2007 allowed the appeal and decreed the suit of the
plaintiff for specific performance of agreement to sell dated
10th  January 1993. Being aggrieved thereby, the appellantdefendant preferred an appeal before the High Court.   The
High   Court   vide   impugned   judgment   dated   28th  January
3
2009 dismissed the appeal.  Hence, the appellant­defendant
has approached this Court.
5. We have heard Shri Sidharth Luthra, learned Senior
Counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant­defendant and
Shri   Narender   Hooda,   learned   Senior   Counsel   and   Shri
Gagan Gupta, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
respondents­plaintiffs.
6. Shri Luthra, learned Senior Counsel submitted that
the trial court, finding that the plaintiff had suppressed the
fact with regard to filing of the earlier suit and further that
the plaintiff had resiled from the stand taken by him in the
earlier litigation and taken a contrary stand, had dismissed
the suit.  He submitted that however, the learned Appellate
Court   erroneously   accepted   the   stand   of   the   plaintiff   in
Replication that the earlier suit was filed only in order to save
the stamp duty and registration charges and allowed the
appeal.  
7. Shri   Luthra   submitted   that   the   perusal   of   the
evidence of the plaintiff would show that he had not stated
anything   regarding   the   earlier   suit   in   his   evidence.     He
4
submitted that, the learned Appellate Court has failed to take
into   consideration   that   all   the   witnesses   were   closely
associated with the plaintiff and therefore, their evidence was
not trustworthy.   He further submitted that the appellantdefendant had specifically put up a case that she was a
parda­nasheen lady and that the plaintiff was her cousin and
she   had   blind   faith   on   him.     He   submitted   that,   taking
disadvantage of such a blind faith, the plaintiff had taken her
thumb impression on some paper and used it to create an
agreement to sell.  He further submitted that, as a matter of
fact,   an   application   for   partition   was   also   filed   by   the
appellant­defendant   on   4th  July   1994.     He   therefore
submitted that the appeal deserves to be allowed and the suit
deserves to be dismissed.
8. Shri   Luthra   relied   on   various   judgments   of   this
Court in support of the submission that, since the act of the
respondents­plaintiffs   of   suppression   of   material   facts
amounted to fraud, he was not entitled to a discretionary
relief.
5
9. Shri Gupta, learned counsel appearing on behalf of
the respondents­plaintiffs submitted that all the three courts
have concurrently found that the execution of the agreement
to sell dated 10th  January 1993 was duly established.   He
submitted that the trial court as well as the Appellate Court
and   the   High   Court   have   also   found   that   the   appellantdefendant has failed to establish the fact that the agreement
to sell is a result of fraud or misrepresentation.   Having
decided these issues in favour of the respondents­plaintiffs,
the trial court had erred in non­suiting the respondentsplaintiffs on a technical ground.  Shri Gupta, relying on the
judgment of this Court in the case of  Arunima Baruah  v.
Union   of   India   and   Others1
, submitted that, unless the
suppression of filing of an earlier suit is a material fact, such
non­disclosure would not be fatal to the case of the plaintiff.
Relying on the judgment of this Court in the case of Harjas
Rai   Makhija   (Dead)   Through   Legal   Representatives   v.
Pushparani Jain and Another2
, he submitted that a mere
concealment   or   non­disclosure   of   relevant   facts   without
1 (2007) 6 SCC 120
2 (2017) 2 SCC 797
6
intent to deceive or a bald allegation of fraud without proof
and intent to deceive, would not render a decree obtained by
a party as fraudulent.   Shri Gupta submitted that in the
present case, the trial court itself has found that the plaintiff
had   failed   to   establish   fraud   and   as   such,   the   Appellate
Court has rightly allowed the appeal.  He also relies on the
judgment   of   this   Court   in   the   case   of  Svenska
Handelsbanken   v.   M/s   Indian   Charge   Chrome   and
Others3
.  Shri Gupta further relies on the judgment of this
Court in the case of Union of India v. M/s Chaturbhai M.
Patel and Co.4
in support of his submission that fraud has
to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
10. Shri Gupta further submitted that the earlier suit for
declaration   was   filed   on   the   claim   that   the   respondentsplaintiffs were owner in possession of the suit property on
the basis of settlement deed, whereas the second suit was
filed on the basis of agreement to sell dated 10th  January
1993.  He submitted that there is nothing on record to show
3 (1994) 1 SCC 502
4 (1976) 1 SCC 747
7
that the respondents­plaintiffs had any intention to defraud
the appellant­defendant.
11. Shri Hooda, learned Senior Counsel submitted that
after the Replication was allowed by the trial court, it became
a part of the plaint. As such, the respondents­plaintiffs had
sufficiently   proved   as   to   the   circumstances   in   which   the
earlier suit was filed.  He therefore submitted that the trial
court   had   erred   in   non­suiting   the   plaintiff   on   a   trivial
ground. Shri Hooda further submitted that after holding that
the respondents­plaintiffs had proved the agreement to sell,
that the appellant­defendant had failed to prove that any
fraud was played on her and that the issue under Order II
Rule 2 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 (for short, ‘CPC’)
was   also   in   favour   of   the   respondents­plaintiffs,   the   trial
court had grossly erred in dismissing the suit.  He submitted
that   the   said   error   has   been   rightly   corrected   by   the
Appellate Court.
12. It is not in dispute that the plaintiff had filed a suit
for declaration being Civil Suit No. 141 of 1994.   It will be
relevant to refer to some of the averments in the said plaint:
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1. “That previously the defendant was owner to the
extent   of   1/3rd  share   in   land   measuring   205
Kanal   4   Marla   mustatil   &   killa   numbers   as
detailed   in   the   heading   of   the   plaint.   Copy   of
Jamabandi is attached herewith. 
2. That previously the defendant was also owner to
the extent of 1/6 share in land measuring 139
Kanal   2   Marla   and   land   gair   mumkin   plot
measuring   9   Kanal   2   Marla   mustatil   &   kiolla
numbers as detailed in the heading of the plaint.
Copy of Jamabandi is attached herewith. 
3. ………
4. That   about   three   months   ago   and   a   family
settlement took place between the plaintiff and
defendant and the land in dispute fallen into the
share   of   the   plaintiff   and   the   defendant   had
delivered the possession of the suit property to
the plaintiff after visiting the spot. In this now the
plaintiff   is   continuous   in   possession   over
disputed   property   as   owner   since   last   three
month. The defendant has remained no concern. 
5. That the defendant was requested to admit the
claim   of   the   plaintiff   and   to   get   corrected   the
name of the plaintiff in revenue record as owner
but the defendant after dilly­dallying the matter
had refused yesterday to do so from which cause
of   action   accrued   to   the   plaintiff   against   the
defendant.”
13. The   said   suit   for   declaration   was   filed   on   10th
February   1994.     It   is   to   be   noted   that   according   to   the
respondents­plaintiffs,   the   alleged   agreement   to   sell   was
executed on 10th January 1993.  As such it is prior in point
9
of time to the date of filing of the suit for declaration i.e. 10th
February 1994.   There is no mention with regard to the
alleged agreement to sell in the said plaint.
14. The plaintiff filed an application on 7th May 1994 for
withdrawal of the said suit for declaration.  Vide order of the
same date, the trial court, after recording the statement of
the plaintiff that he did not want to proceed with the case,
dismissed the same as withdrawn. 
15. Within a period of one month, the plaintiff filed the
present suit for specific performance.   It will be relevant to
refer to some of the averments in the plaint:
“2. That the defendant agreed to sell the above said
suit land to the plaintiff for a consideration of Rs.
6,50,000/­   and   the   defendant   executed   an
agreement on dated 10.1.1994 at Patran in favour
of the plaintiff and received a sum of Rs. 50,000/­
from the plaintiff as earnest money and remaining
amount   was   to   be   paid   by   the   plaintiff   to   the
defendant at the time of sale deed before the SubRegistrar.   The   agreement   was   read   over   to   the
defendant   who   after   admitting   the   same   to   be
correct put her thumb impressions in the presence
of Lal Singh Lamberdar, Amolak Singh s/o Jagroop
Singh   and   Bhagwant   Singh   S/o   Krishan   Singh
resident of Shadihari and witnesses also attested
the said agreement in the presence of defendant.
The plaintiff put his thumb impression in token of
correctness of the above said agreement.
10
……….
15. That there is no litigation pending or decided
between the parties with regard to the agreement in
question.”
16. It could thus clearly be seen that, the present suit
bases   its   claim  only   on   the   agreement  to   sell   dated   10th
January 1993.  Leave aside there being any reference to the
earlier   suit,   the   plaintiff   baldly   stated   that   there   was   no
litigation pending or decided between the parties with regard
to the agreement in question.  No doubt that it is sought to
be   argued   by   the   learned   counsel   for   the   respondentsplaintiffs that the statement in paragraph (15) of the plaint is
only   with   regard   to   the   litigation   with   respect   to   the
agreement in question.  It is stated that the said paragraph
does   not   mention   litigation   with   regard   to   the   land   in
question and as such, there is no suppression of material
fact.
17. After the suit for specific performance was filed, the
written statement was filed by the appellant­defendant on
29th October 1994.  In the written statement, the appellantdefendant has stated thus:
11
“3. That the plaintiff file the said suit no.141 dt.
10.2.1994 in the Court of P.C.S. Sub Judge First
Class Sunam on 10.2.1994 which was dismiss on
7.5.1994,   but   the   plaintiff   ending   between   the
parties, on this ground only the suit of the plaintiff
is liable to be dismissed. In case any agreement
executed earlier between the parties, the plaintiff
must mention about this in the suit, hence on this
alone ground the suit is liable to be dismissed. 
4) That the plaintiff on 10.2.1994 in regard to the
land  filed Suit for  pre­emption Right  against the
defendant   in   which   the   plaintiff   shown   himself
owner in possession of the land in question, the
said suit was consigned to record on 7.5.1994. In
the   said   suit   the   defendant   did   not   mention
anything in regard to the agreement DT 10.1.1994.
5) That the plaintiff did not come before the Hon'ble
Court   in   clean   hand   and   he   has   concealed   the
matter before the Hon'ble Court, hence the suit is
liable to be dismissed. 
6) That the plaintiff and Defendant are having close
relations with each other. The plaintiff is uncle's son
of Defendant. Defendant has no brother, hence he
treated plaintiff as her real brother and believe upon
him. Defendant is aged lady her eye sight is very
week and villager lady, she has no legal knowledge.
The plaintiff getting the wrongful gain of her believe
with the intention to grab her share has taken the
thumb   impression   on   the   writing   by   committing
cheating and fraudulent means.”
18. After   the   appellant­defendant   took   objection   with
regard to the earlier suit being withdrawn, the plaintiff came
with the Replication application wherein, for the first time, he
12
came up with a story that the earlier suit was filed only to
save   the   stamp   duty   and   registration   fee   and   since   the
appellant­defendant became dishonest later on, the plaintiff
withdrew the suit.  It is thus clear that the Replication was
filed as an after­thought only to cure the lacuna as pointed
out in the written statement.   The trial court found that a
person cannot be permitted to assume inconsistent positions
in the court of law to play fast and loose and to blow hot and
cold.  The trial court, relying on the judgment of the Punjab
and Haryana High Court in the case of  Jaspal   Singh   v.
Sardul   Singh5
, held that a party cannot be permitted to
approbate and reprobate and resile from that position.  The
trial court has also found that the explanation submitted by
the plaintiff with regard to the circumstances under which
the earlier suit was filed, speaks volumes of the dishonest
intention of the plaintiff.  The trial court also found that the
plaintiff has made an attempt to defraud the State of its
revenue.  The trial court found that the past litigation has a
direct bearing on the merits of the present controversy.   It
observed that the plaintiff was duty bound to plead the same
5 1994 (3) Recent Revenue Reports 106 (Punjab and Haryana)
13
in the plaint.  The trial court found that under Order VII Rule
1 (j) of the CPC (as applicable in Punjab), the statement with
regard to earlier litigation has to be made in the plaint.  It
will be relevant to refer to the said provision:
“ORDER VII
PLAINT
1. Particulars to be contained in plaint.
………….
(j)  a statement to the effect that no suit between
the same parties, or between the parties under
whom they or any of them claim, litigating on the
same grounds has been previously instituted or
finally   decided   by   a   Court   of   competent
jurisdiction or limited jurisdiction, and if so, with
what results.” 
19. The trial court therefore, relying on the judgment of
this Court in the case of S.P. Chengalvaraya Naidu (Dead)
By   LRs.   v.   Jagannath   (Dead)   By   LRs.   and   Others6
,
dismissed the suit, though it had answered the other issues
in favour of the respondents­plaintiffs.
20. This well­reasoned judgment of the trial court came
to   be   reversed   by   the   Appellate   Court.     Accepting   the
6 (1994) 1 SCC 1
14
explanation of the respondents­plaintiffs in Replication that
the earlier suit was filed in order to save the registration fee
and the stamp duty, the Appellate Court held that the nondisclosure of the plaintiff about earlier litigation in the plaint
but clarifying it later in  the Replication, was not  such a
crucial point on the basis of which he could be non­suited in
toto.
21. Though the suit was dismissed by the trial court and
decreed by the Appellate  Court, the High Court observed
thus:
“The learned trial Court came to the conclusion
that the agreement to sell and the default on the
part   of   the   appellant   has   been   established   and
therefore directed the agreement to be enforced by
way of execution of the sale deed. 
In appeal, the findings of the learned trial Court
were affirmed.”
22. It   could   thus   be   seen   that   there   is   total   nonapplication of mind by the High Court.  The High Court did
not even care to refer to the grounds raised in the appeal
with   regard   to   the   effect   of   non­disclosure   of   filing   and
withdrawal of the earlier suit.  The High Court dismissed the
15
suit on the basis that it arises out of the concurrent findings
of fact and no question of law is involved.
23. What would be the effect of suppression of earlier
proceedings has been considered by this Court in the case of
S.P.   Chengalvaraya   Naidu  (supra).   The Court observed
thus:
“5. The   High   Court,   in  our  view,   fell  into   patent
error. The short question before the High Court was
whether in the facts and circumstances of this case,
Jagannath   obtained   the   preliminary   decree   by
playing   fraud   on   the   court.   The   High   Court,
however,   went   haywire   and   made   observations
which are wholly perverse. We do not agree with the
High Court that “there is no legal duty cast upon
the plaintiff to come to court with a true case and
prove it by true evidence”. The principle of “finality
of litigation” cannot be pressed to the extent of such
an absurdity that it becomes an engine of fraud in
the hands of dishonest litigants. The courts of law
are meant for imparting justice between the parties.
One who comes to the court, must come with clean
hands. We are constrained to say that more often
than   not,   process   of   the   court   is   being   abused.
Property­grabbers,   tax­evaders,   bank­loan­dodgers
and other unscrupulous persons from all walks of
life   find   the   court­process   a   convenient   lever   to
retain   the   illegal   gains   indefinitely.   We   have   no
hesitation to say that a person, who's case is based
on falsehood, has no right to approach the court. He
can be summarily thrown out at any stage of the
litigation.
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6. The facts of the present case leave no manner of
doubt   that   Jagannath   obtained   the   preliminary
decree by playing fraud on the court. A fraud is an
act   of   deliberate   deception   with   the   design   of
securing something by taking unfair advantage of
another.   It   is   a   deception   in   order   to   gain   by
another's loss. It is a cheating intended to get an
advantage. Jagannath was working as a clerk with
Chunilal Sowcar. He purchased the property in the
court auction on behalf of Chunilal Sowcar. He had,
on his own volition, executed the registered release
deed   (Ex.   B­15)   in   favour   of   Chunilal   Sowcar
regarding the property in dispute. He knew that the
appellants had paid the total decretal amount to his
master   Chunilal   Sowcar.   Without   disclosing   all
these facts, he filed the suit for the partition of the
property on the ground that he had purchased the
property on his own behalf and not on behalf of
Chunilal   Sowcar.   Non­production   and   even   nonmentioning   of   the   release   deed   at   the   trial   is
tantamount to playing fraud on the court. We do
not agree with the observations of the High Court
that   the   appellants­defendants   could   have   easily
produced the certified registered copy of Ex. B­15
and   non­suited   the   plaintiff.   A   litigant,   who
approaches the court, is bound to produce all the
documents executed by him which are relevant to
the litigation. If he withholds a vital document in
order to gain advantage on the other side then he
would be guilty of playing fraud on the court as well
as on the opposite party.”
24. Again   in   the   case   of  A.V.   Papayya   Sastry   and
Others  v.  Govt.  of  A.P.  and  Others7
, this Court observed
thus:
7 (2007) 4 SCC 221
17
“21. Now, it is well­settled principle of law that if
any   judgment   or   order   is   obtained   by   fraud,   it
cannot be said to be a judgment or order in law.
Before three centuries, Chief Justice Edward Coke
proclaimed:
“Fraud   avoids   all   judicial   acts,
ecclesiastical or temporal.”
22. It   is   thus   settled   proposition   of   law   that   a
judgment, decree or order obtained by playing fraud
on the court, tribunal or authority is a nullity and
non est in the eye of the law. Such a judgment,
decree or order—by the first court or by the final
court—has to be treated as nullity by every court,
superior   or   inferior.   It   can   be  challenged   in  any
court, at any time, in appeal, revision, writ or even
in collateral proceedings.
23. In   the   leading   case   of Lazarus   Estates
Ltd. v. Beasley [(1956) 1 All ER 341 : (1956) 1 QB
702   :   (1956)   2   WLR   502   (CA)]   Lord   Denning
observed : (All ER p. 345 C)
“No judgment of a court, no order of a
Minister, can be allowed to stand if it has
been obtained by fraud.”
24. In Duchess of Kingstone, Smith's Leading Cases,
13th Edn., p. 644, explaining the nature of fraud,
de Grey, C.J. stated that though a judgment would
be res judicata and not impeachable from within, it
might be impeachable from without. In other words,
though it is not permissible to show that the court
was   “mistaken”,   it   might   be   shown   that   it   was
“misled”. There is an essential distinction between
mistake and trickery. The clear implication of the
distinction is that an action to set aside a judgment
cannot be brought on the ground that it has been
decided wrongly, namely, that on the merits, the
decision   was   one   which   should   not   have   been
18
rendered, but it can be set aside, if the court was
imposed upon or tricked into giving the judgment.
25. It has been said : fraud and justice never dwell
together (fraus et jus nunquam cohabitant); or fraud
and  deceit ought to benefit  none  (fraus   et   dolus
nemini patrocinari debent).
26. Fraud may be defined as an act of deliberate
deception with the design of securing some unfair or
undeserved benefit by taking undue advantage of
another. In fraud one gains at the loss of another.
Even most solemn proceedings stand vitiated if they
are actuated by fraud. Fraud is thus an extrinsic
collateral act which vitiates all judicial acts, whether
in rem or in personam. The principle of “finality of
litigation” cannot be stretched to the extent of an
absurdity that it can be utilised as an engine of
oppression by dishonest and fraudulent litigants.”
25. As   observed,   there   is   an   essential   distinction
between mistake and trickery.   In the present case, it is
sought to be argued on behalf of the respondents­plaintiffs
that the averment in paragraph (15) of the plaint was with
regard to a lis on the basis of the agreement.  It is submitted
that the earlier suit was not based on the agreement and as
such, there was no suppression.  We find the argument to be
unsustainable.  We are of the view that such a statement was
19
made   as   a   trickery   so   as   to   obtain   the   judgment   by
misleading the court.  
26. In the case of H.N. Jagannath and Others v. State
of Karnataka and Others8
, the land owners filed civil suits
one after other in respect of acquired lands.  The said suits
were withdrawn without liberty to approach the court again.
Simultaneously,   land   owners   also   filed   writ   petitions
challenging the acquisition on different grounds.  The same
were dismissed.   Thereafter, the land owners submitted an
application to the State Government for denotification of the
land.   Since it was not considered, one more writ petition
came   to   be   filed   in   which   a   direction   was   issued   for
consideration of the representation.  The said representation
was rejected in the year 1992.  The land owners filed another
writ petition questioning the rejection of its representation.
The same was also dismissed.   Thereafter, six more writ
petitions   were   filed   again   questioning   the   validity   of
acquisition proceedings and yet again, they were dismissed.
In an intra­court appeal, the Division Bench relegated the
parties   to   the   civil   court   to   work   out   their   remedies.
8 (2018) 11 SCC 104
20
Criticizing the approach of the Division Bench, this Court
observed thus:
“14. It is not in dispute that the property in question
along with other properties was acquired by the BDA in
accordance   with   law   by   issuing   notifications   under
Sections 17(1) and 19(1) of the BDA Act as far back as
in the year 1977 and in the year 1979. BDA has formed
and   allotted   the   sites.   Most   of   the   allottees   have
constructed   houses   and   are   residing   peacefully.
However, Respondent 4 still contends that possession
has   remained   with   it   and   therefore   the   acquisition
needs   to   be   set   aside   and   that   the   land   should   be
denotified. As detailed supra, Respondent 4 has already
approached the civil court thrice and High Court on six
occasions.   Whenever   the   suits   are   withdrawn,
Respondent 4 has not sought any liberty to approach
the civil court once again. Thus, it was not open for
Respondent 4 to approach the civil court repeatedly for
the very same reliefs. Consistently, the civil court on
three   occasions   has   negatived   the   contention   of   the
appellant.
15. Even   when   Respondent   4   approached   the   High
Court of Karnataka by filing the writ petitions and writ
appeals, it has failed. Futile attempts have been made
by   Respondent   4   only   to   see   that   the   allottees   are
harassed and to keep the litigation pending. After the
final   notification,   an   award   was   passed   and
compensation was deposited. Possession was taken and
the same was evidenced by the panchnama prepared as
far   back   as   on   23­9­1986.   The   notification   under
Section 16(2) of the Land Acquisition Act was issued on
20­1­1987 disclosing the factum of taking possession of
the land in question. Attempt made by Respondent 4 for
getting the disputed land denotified has also failed as
far back as on 15­1­1993, when the State Government
had rejected the representation of Respondent 4 seeking
21
denotification. The writ petition filed by Respondent 4
challenging   such   order   of   dismissal   of   the
representation was also dismissed. Despite the same,
Respondent   4   is   pursuing   the   matter   by   filing   writ
petition after writ petition. It is a clear case of abuse of
process of law as well as the court.
16. We do not find any reason to interfere in the finding
of   fact   rendered   by   the   learned   Single   Judge   that
possession was taken by BDA on 23­9­1986. There is
nothing to be adjudicated further in respect of the title
or possession of the property. The title as well as the
possession   of   the   property   has   vested   with   BDA   for
about more than 30 years prior to this day and sites
were formed and allotted to various persons including
the appellant herein. In the light of such voluminous
records and having regard to the fact that Respondent 4
has   been   repeatedly   making   futile   attempts   by
approaching   the   courts   of   law   by   raising   frivolous
contentions,   the   Division   Bench   ought   not   to   have
granted liberty to Respondent 4 to approach the civil
court once again for the very same relief, for which it
has failed earlier. In view of this, the learned counsel for
the appellant is justified in contending that the Division
Bench   has   completely   erred   in   reviving   the   dispute
which had long been given a legal quietus after a series
of litigations. The judgment of the Division Bench, if
allowed to stand, will unsettle the settled state of affairs
involving   hundreds   of   allottees   of   sites   who   have
constructed the houses and are residing therein. The
impugned judgment of the Division Bench virtually sets
at naught a number of judgments rendered by the civil
court as well as the High Court in the very matter (and
was given without any reason much less a valid reason).
17. ……..
18. ……..
19. Having regard to the discussion made supra, in our
considered   opinion,   it   is   a   clear   case   of   contempt
22
committed by Respondent 4 by repeatedly approaching
the courts of law for almost the same relief which was
negatived by the courts for three decades. However, we
decline to initiate contempt proceedings and to impose
heavy costs, under the peculiar facts and circumstance
of this case.”
27. We find that the Appellate Court has grossly erred in
reversing the judgment and decree of the trial court which
had dismissed the suit taking into consideration the conduct
of the respondents­plaintiffs.  
28. Insofar as the reliance placed by Shri Gupta on the
judgment  of  this   Court  in   the  case  of  Arunima   Baruah
(supra) is concerned, the Court observed thus:
“12. It is trite law that so as to enable the court to
refuse   to   exercise   its   discretionary   jurisdiction
suppression must be of material fact. What would
be   a   material   fact,   suppression   whereof   would
disentitle   the   appellant   to   obtain   a   discretionary
relief,   would   depend   upon   the   facts   and
circumstances   of   each   case.   Material   fact   would
mean material for the purpose of determination of
the lis, the logical corollary whereof would be that
whether the same was material for grant or denial of
the relief. If the fact suppressed is not material for
determination  of  the  lis  between  the  parties,  the
court may not refuse to exercise its discretionary
jurisdiction. It is also trite that a person invoking
the discretionary jurisdiction of the court cannot be
allowed to approach it with a pair of dirty hands.
But even if the said dirt is removed and the hands
23
become   clean,   whether   the   relief   would   still   be
denied is the question.”
29. It could thus be seen that this Court has held that
what would be a ‘material fact’ would depend upon the facts
and circumstances of each case. It has also been held that
‘material   fact’   would   mean   material   for   the   purpose   of
determination of the lis. It has also been held that a person
invoking the discretionary jurisdiction of the court cannot be
allowed to approach it with a pair of dirty hands.   In the
present case, filing of the earlier suit and withdrawal thereof
without   liberty   to   file   another   suit   was   a   material   fact.
Undisputedly,   the   respondents­plaintiffs   had   failed   to
approach the court with clean hands.  As such, we find that
the said judgment would be of no assistance to the case of
the respondents­plaintiffs. 
30. Insofar as the judgment in the case of  Harjas Rai
Makhija (supra) is concerned, in the facts of the said case,
the Court held that though the appellant Makhija had an
opportunity to prove the allegation of fraud when he filed an
application under Order XLI Rule 27 of the CPC, he missed
24
that opportunity right up to this Court.   He took a second
shot at alleging fraud and filed another suit.   However, he
failed in the trial court as well as the High Court as he could
not produce any evidence to prove that fraud was committed
by the respondent when she obtained the decree dated 4th
October 1999.   As such, the said judgment would not be
applicable to the facts of the present case.
31. Insofar   as   the   judgment   in   the   case   of  M/s
Chaturbhai M. Patel and Co.  (supra) is concerned, it was
the case of defendant that some amount of fraud had been
played on the defendant by the collusion of the plaintiff with
his father.   This Court, concurring with the findings of the
High Court, found that the circumstances relied on by the
appellant were not at all conclusive to prove the case of
fraud.     The   present   case   is   a   case   of   suppression   of   a
material fact with regard to filing and withdrawal of earlier
proceedings.     As   such,   the   said   judgment   would   not   be
applicable to the facts of the present case.
32. Similarly,   the   facts   in   the   case   of  Svenska
Handelsbanken  (supra) were also totally different and as
25
such, reliance on the said judgment is also of no assistance
to the case of the respondents­plaintiffs in the present case.
33. In that view of the matter, we find that the Appellate
Court   has   grossly   erred   in   reversing   the   well­reasoned
judgment and decree of the trial court.  As already observed
hereinabove,   the   judgment   of   the   High   Court   is   passed
without application of mind.  The High Court has gone on a
premise that the trial court had decreed the suit and the
Appellate Court has dismissed the appeal.  This is factually
erroneous.
34. In the result, we pass the following order:
(i) The appeal is allowed;
(ii) The   judgment   and   decree   dated  26th  July   2007
passed by the Appellate Court in Civil Appeal No. 191
of 2006 and the judgment passed by the High Court
dated 28th January 2009 in R.S.A. No. 3205 of 2007
(O&M) are quashed and set aside; and
(iii) The   judgment   and   decree   dated   6th  August   1997
passed by the trial court in Suit No. 536 of 1994
26
thereby   dismissing   the   suit   of   the   respondentsplaintiffs is upheld. 
35. Pending application(s), if any, shall stand disposed of
in the above terms. No order as to costs.
…..….......................J.
[B.R. GAVAI]
 …….......................J.       
[C.T. RAVIKUMAR]
NEW DELHI;
SEPTEMBER 12, 2022.
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