Calcutta High Court

Calcutta High Court: In an appeal against the judgment and decree passed by the Additional District Judge setting aside against the grant of permanent injunction in favor of the appellant, a single-judge bench comprising of Ajoy Kumar Mukherjee,* J., upheld the presumption of public use of the land for pot dumping and rejected the appellant’s claims due to appellant’s failure to establish lawful possession or breach of contract by the respondents.

Factual Matrix

The appellant, as plaintiff, filed a suit for permanent injunction against the villagers-defendants to restrain them from trespassing or utilizing a certain plot of land. The appellant claimed to have purchased adjacent plots of land, which included the disputed plot, from the original owner. Despite being recorded as public land for dumping pots in the Record of Rights, the plaintiff claimed possession with the villagers’ consent until threats of dispossession arose. The respondents-defendants claimed customary right over the land for pot dumping ceremonies.

The Trial Court, 2nd Munsif, Contai granted permanent injunction in favor of the appellant, which was challenged by the respondents in the appeal. The Additional District Judge set aside the trial court’s judgment. Aggrieved by the impugned judgment and decree dated 21-08-1991 passed by the Additional District Judge, the appellant preferred the present appeal. The appellant argued amalgamation of the disputed plot with purchased plots and challenged the characterization of the land as “Khas Mohal Land.” However, the respondents contended longstanding customary rights over the land for dumping pots.

Moot Point

  1. Whether the appellant established a legal right justifying the grant of permanent injunction?

  2. Whether the respondents’ customary rights over the land for dumping earthen pots invalidate the appellant’s claim?

Court’s Observation and Decision

The Court found the trial court’s judgment erroneous in granting permanent injunction without proper evidence of the appellant’s lawful possession. The Court noted that a permanent injunction requires the appellant to establish a legal right and breach thereof, which the plaintiff failed to prove. The Court stated that the appellant’s failure to rebut the presumption of public use for dumping pots, as recorded in the Record of Rights, weakened their claim.

Despite acknowledging the appellant’s unauthorized occupation and payments for damages, the Court found no evidence of lawful possession or breach by the defendants. The Court noted that,

“The plaintiff, who seeks equity, must do equity first. A wrong doer cannot claim equity and in order to claim equitable relief like permanent injunction, plaintiff must show that his possession is lawful. Mere inconvenience is not enough to entitle a party to an injunction. There must be violation of a legal right and in considering whether such injunction can be granted, the amount of injury sustained is material. Where no irreparable injury is shown, the injunction should be refused.”

The Court upheld the presumption of public usage for pot dumping based on record entries and rejected the appellant’s claims of amalgamation and ownership. The Court held that the appellant failed to establish lawful possession or breach of rights by the respondents, leading to the rejection of the claim for permanent injunction. The Court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the judgment and decree of the appeal court due to lack of evidence supporting a breach of contract or obligation by the respondents.

[Sarbeswar Pradhan v. Bijay Krishna Pradhan, 2024 SCC OnLine Cal 1569, order dated 19-02-2024]

*Judgment by Justice Ajoy Kumar Mukherjee

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. A.K. Gayen and Ms. A.A. Gayan, Counsel for the Appellants

Mr. Balai Lal Sahoo, Counsel for the Respondents

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