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Seethakathi Trust Madras v. Krishnaveni

Specific Relief Act, 1963 – Section 19 (b) – Relief against parties and persons claiming under them by subsequent title – Bona fide purchaser long prior to the institution of the suit for specific performance – Specific performance could not be enforced against bona fide purchaser or transferees as they would fall within the exception of transferee for value who had paid money in good faith and without notice of the original contract.

It is not necessary to go into the issue of adverse possession as both parties are claiming title. The crucial aspect is the decree obtained for specific performance by the Respondent and the manner of obtaining the decree. The Respondent was fully aware of the prior registered transaction in respect of the same property originally in favour of Niraja Devi. This is as per the deposition of her manager. In such a scenario it is not possible for us to accept that a decree could have been obtained behind the back of a bona fide purchaser, more so when the transaction had taken place prior to the institution of the suit for specific performance.

Specific Performance – If a party to a suit does not appear in the witness box to state their own case and does not offer themselves to be cross-examined by the other side, a presumption would arise that the case set up is not correct. A plaintiff cannot examine his attorney holder in his place, who did not have personal knowledge either of the transaction or of his readiness and willingness in a suit for specific performance. Thus, a third party who had no personal knowledge cannot give evidence about such readiness and willingness, even if he is an attorney holder of the person concerned.

The Respondent did not even step into the witness box to depose to the facts. It is the manager who stepped into the witness box that too without producing any proper authorisation. What he deposed in a way ran contrary to the interest of the Respondent as it was accepted that there was knowledge of the transaction with respect to the same land between third parties and yet the Respondent chose not to implead the purchasers as parties to the suit. Thus, the endeavour was to obtain a decree at the back of the real owners and that is the reason, at least, in the execution proceedings that the original vendor did not even come forward and the sale deed had to be executed through the process of the Court. The case of Niraja Devi and the subsequent purchasers including the Appellant would fall within the exception set out in Section 19(b) of the Specific Relief Act, being transferees who had paid money in good faith and without notice of the original contract. There are also some question marks over the manner in which the possession is alleged to have been transferred.

Evidence Act, 1872 – Section 114 – Court may presume existence of certain facts.

A party’s right to own and possess a suit land could not have been taken away without impleading the affected party therein and giving an opportunity of hearing in the matter, as the right to hold property is a constitutional right in terms of Article 300-A of the Constitution of India. Thus, if a superior right to hold a property is claimed, procedure therefore must be complied with. In this context, it was urged that as per Section 3 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, a registered transaction operates as a notice to all concerned.

Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 – Section 100 – Question of Law – Even if the question of law had not been framed at the stage of admission, at least before the deciding the case the said question of law ought to have been framed.

Case Law Reference

  1. Surat Singh v. Siri Bhagwan, (2018) 4 SCC 562
  2. Man Kaur v. Hartar Singh Sangha, (2010) 10 SCC 512
  3. Lachhman Dass v. Jagat Ram, (2007) 10 SCC 448
  4. Vidyadhar v. Manikrao, (1999) 3 SCC 573

Case Number : Civil Appeal Nos. 5384 – 5385 of 2014; January 17, 2022

Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul pronounced the Judgment of the Bench comprising His Lordship and Hon’ble Mr. Justice M. M. Sundresh.

For Appellant(s) Mr. Chander Uday Singh, Sr. Adv. Mr. M. Yogesh Kanna, AOR Mr. Raja Rajeshwaran S., Adv. For Respondent(s) Mr. V. Ramasubramanian, AOR Mr. K. K. Mani, AOR Ms. T. Archana, Adv.

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