Clever drafting cannot result into Plaintiff getting relief indirectly which otherwise cannot be given: Supreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where a plaintiff had sought for permanent injunction without applying for the substantive relief of specific performance of the unregistered agreement to sell, the bench of MR Shah* and Krishna Murari, JJ has held that the plaintiff cannot get the relief by clever drafting.

In the case at hand, the original plaintiff instituted a suit praying for a decree of permanent injunction only, which was claimed on the basis of the agreement to sell dated 23.03.1996. However, this agreement to sell was an unregistered document/agreement to sell on ten rupees stamp paper.

The Court observed that, as such, such an unregistered document/agreement to sell shall not be admissible in evidence.

The Court was of the opinion that having conscious of the fact that the plaintiff might not succeed in getting the relief of specific performance of such agreement to sell as the same was unregistered, the plaintiff filed a suit simplicitor for permanent injunction only. It was, hence, observed,

“It may be true that in a given case, an unregistered document can be used and/or considered for collateral purpose. However, at the same time, the plaintiff cannot get the relief indirectly which otherwise he/she cannot get in a suit for substantive relief, namely, in the present case the relief for specific performance.”

The Court observed that the plaintiff cleverly prayed for a relief of permanent injunction only and did not seek for the substantive relief of specific performance of the agreement to sell as the agreement to sell was an unregistered document and therefore on such unregistered document/agreement to sell, no decree for specific performance could have been passed. Therefore, the plaintiff cannot get the relief even for permanent injunction on the basis of such an unregistered document/agreement to sell, more particularly when the defendant specifically filed the counter-claim for getting back the possession which was allowed by the trial Court.

The Court, hence, held that the first appellate Court and the Allahabad High Court committed a grave error in passing a decree for permanent injunction in favour of the plaintiff as against the defendant and dismissing the counter-claim filed by the original defendant. Consequently, the suit instituted by the original plaintiff for permanent injunction on the basis of an unregistered agreement to sell was dismissed and the counter-claim filed by the original defendant was allowed by the Supreme Court, thereby, restoring the judgment and decree passed by the trial Court.

[Balram Singh v. Kelo Devi, CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6733 OF 2022, decided on 23.09.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice MR Shah

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