Ker HC | When can an encumbrance be lifted from an immovable property under S. 57 of the Transfer of Property Act? [Exhaustive Brief]

A very efficacious, substantive and procedural mechanism to facilitate the realisation of deserving and intrinsic value of encumbered estates and other immovable properties – within the annals of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 — strangely appears very rarely to have been invoked in Courts, which impression is inevitable because the case law on it is scarce, if not, none.

— Kerala High Court

Kerala High Court: Devan Ramachandran, J., addressed matter surrounding Section 57 of the Transfer of Property Act, which has attracted very little or no reported Judgments in India.

Section 57 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 enables any party to the sale of immovable property burdened by an encumbrance, to apply to Court for a declaration that the said property is freed from such encumbrance on deposit of sums to be adjudged by it; and for the issuance of a conveyance order or vesting order, proper for giving effect to the sale.

Bench examined the above-stated Section of the TP Act vigilantly from both academic and practical ambit.

Purpose of Section 57 of the TP Act

Intended to assist any party to the sale of immovable property, which is subject to an encumbrance, to fructify the sale for its fair value after receiving in deposit — for payment to the incumbrancer — the capitalised value of the periodical charge, or capital sum charged on the property, together with incidental charges.

Thus, the said Section enables the parties to a sale to invoke the jurisdiction of the Court for the purpose of fulfilling their contracts, notwithstanding the encumbrances on the property.

Section 57 of TP affirmatively provides that on the application of a party to a sale, the Court may, if it thinks fit, direct or allow payment into Court.

This section is intended to facilitate sale out of court, as much as it is for sale by a court or in execution of a decree.

When can Section 57 of TP Act not be applied? | Golden Rule 

In the Madras High Court decision of  Mallikarjuna Sastri v. Narasimha Rao, (1901) ILR 24 Mad 412, held that the said Section,

cannot be applied when it comes to a charge or encumbrance already adjudicated by a court and which has become part of a decree or even in a case of adjustment of a decree out of court.

Facts of the Case

Appellant and Respondents are siblings and their father’s property was partitioned in the year 1980, through a partition deed.

Partition Deed consisted of a covenant that both he and his brother must pay Rs 500 each to their sister within a year, failing which she can recover it, for which the said amounts would stand charged on the respective properties.

Contentions

The Sister, who is also the first respondent in the present matter refused to accept the stated amount when offered by the appellant, due to which he is still obligated and burdened with the same.

Appellant due the stated obligation has been unable to execute the sale deed and in view of the circumstances, he approached the District Court under Section 57 of the TP Act volunteering to deposit the amount of Rs 500 in favour of the first respondent in order to obtain the declaration that the property is free from any encumbrance.

Though, the above-stated application to the District Court was dismissed on grounds of maintainability.

By the present appeal, the appellant has assailed the District Court’s Order.

Developments in the present appeal

Bench in an earlier order had directed the first respondent to file an affidavit stating that she is unwilling to take the money from the appellant with reasons.

The first respondent filed the affidavit stating that she is unwilling to take the said amount but the reasons placed by her were that due to personal issues with appellant along with the said amount not being offered within the stipulated time as stated in the Partition Deed she refused the said amount.

Counsels for Appellant and First Respondent are P. Thomas Geeverghese and Shiju Varghese, respectively.

Decision

On perusal of the facts and circumstances of the matter, Court stated that when the amount of Rs 500 alone stands charged on the property as a capital sum, without any further obligation on the appellant towards interests or other incidental expenses, it is irrefragible that if the appellant pays it to the first respondent or deposits it in the Court, the said encumbrance would stand extinguished.

In the affidavit filed by the first respondent, she only asserted that her refusal for the payment is for personal reasons.

Looking at the above stated, Court determined whether the appellant was justified in invoking Section 57 of the TP Act or not?

Bench stated that in light of the circumstances of the present case, there can be little divergence that the provisions of Section 57 of the TP Act would come to play.

Court noted that the first respondent only says that ‘her conscience is not willing to accept the money’ without showing any cause against its tender or deposit by the appellant.

Hence, in view of the above circumstances, Court finds the decision of District Court erring, since the appellant has clearly averred that he intends to sell his property as per the sale agreement submitted by him.

Since the first respondent failed to show any legally acceptable cause, the appellant is entitled to a declaration under Section 57 of the TP Act.

Therefore, the District Court’s decision is set aside and the appeal is allowed while permitting the appellant to tender the amount of Rs 500 to the first respondent by depositing it in the District Court.

In view of the above, the property will stand free from any charge, created by the Partition Deed. [M.P. Varghese v. Annamma Yacob, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 3321, decided on 05-08-2020]

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