Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Asha Menon, J., decided a matter concerning dishonour of cheque.

Petitioner had filed a suit for recovery of Rs 1,65, 75,000 under Order XXXVII of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

Background

Managing Director and other Directors of the respondent/defendant persuaded the petitioner/plaintiff to give friendly loans at an interest @18% per annum. Petitioner and his wife gave Rs 18,00,000 from the bank account to Hari Om Anand as the Managing Director of the respondent/defendant.

At the request of Hari Om Anand, the petitioner/plaintiff also started looking after the legal consultation work of the respondent/defendant and the Managing Director and other Directors. Subsequently, the petitioner/plaintiff gave another friendly loan of Rs 3,20,00,000 from his bank account to Hari Om Anand and continued to take care of the legal work.

Further, Petitioner/Plaintiff submitted that 6 cheques were issued by Hari Om Anand. The said cheques were dishonoured on presentation due to insufficient funds. The petitioner/plaintiff filed a criminal case under Section 138 NI Act.

The above was preceded by a notice to which no reply was sent.

In an appearance respondent/defendant offered to furnish a corporate guarantee duly signed by the Managing Director and duly authorized by the Board Resolution relating to immovable properties, for securing the suit amount and the restrain order was filed.

Present petition was filed against two orders of the trial court.

Vide an Order dated 28-7-2020, this Court observed that the trial Court had erred in not securing the amount of Rs 1.5 crores as directed in the order dated 24-12-2019 and ought to have asked the respondent/defendant to submit documents of a property of which the title was clear or a bank certificate recording a no objection to the creation of a second charge on the property to the extent of Rs 1.5 crores ought to have been furnished.

Vide orders dated 4-12-2020, this Court had after noting the letter of the Punjab National Bank, Gymkhana Branch, Meerut, U.P. that a lien had been created in the sum of Rs 1.50 crores, directed that the said amount of Rs 1.50 crores be deposited in an interest-bearing fixed deposit. This FDR had since been deposited in the Registry of this Court as was noted in the orders of this Court dated 5-03-2021 and 8-03-2021

Further, the petitioner’s counsel submitted that trial court had wrongly granted leave to defend the respondent in a case where the respondent/defendant had raised no triable issues.

Adding to the above, it was stated that trial court had proceeded in a wrong direction as the loan transactions between the petitioner/plaintiff and the respondent/defendant were different transactions and had nothing to do with the payment of Rs.1.50 crores, which was towards the legal fees of the petitioner/plaintiff and for which the invoice had been raised.

There was no dispute in that the petitioner/plaintiff had acted as a legal advisor to the respondent/defendant.

There was no document to establish a lawyer-client relationship, no retainership agreement had been filed and therefore, the claim of the petitioner/plaintiff was suspicious that he was entitled to a sum of Rs 1.50 crores towards such legal assistance.

As regards the question whether leave to defend has been rightly granted to the respondent/defendant or not, the facts that prevailed upon before the learned Trial Court were that the petitioner/plaintiff himself has referred to loans having been given to the respondent/defendant by way of bank transfer.

When the respondent/defendant had challenged the claim of the petitioner/plaintiff that he had acted as legal advisor to them and, therefore, the invoice raised was for a fee, this fact too would have to be proved.

In application for leave to defend, the respondent/defendant it was averred that the petitioner/plaintiff had claimed to have been providing legal assistance to the respondent/defendant since the year 2000.

With respect to the submissions made by the counsel for the petitioner/plaintiff, on taking cognizance of an offence by the MM under Section 138 of the N.I. Act automatically a decree against the respondent/defendant should follow, cannot be accepted, as cognizance leads to trial and the accused can also get acquitted.

Secondly, on the one hand, the petitioner/plaintiff claims that the cheques were towards loans which were separate transactions and on the other hand, wants this Court to draw conclusions on that basis, that the signatures on the cheques were admitted and the MM had taken cognizance of the case to decree this suit.

Bench stated that in light of the above submissions, it is indeed a matter of trial as to what was the liability of the respondent/defendant towards the petitioner/plaintiff and towards what transaction or service rendered by the petitioner/plaintiff, that is, as a lender or as a legal advisor, would he be entitled to the suit amount.

High Court held that the Trial Court was right in observing that the defence taken was not moonshine and disclosed triable issues which required inquiry. Leave to defend had to be granted in the light of these varying stands taken by the petitioner/plaintiff in different proceedings.

in the light of the previous orders of this Court and the deposit of the FDR for a sum of Rs.1.5 crores with the Registry of this Court, the leave to defend granted to the respondent/defendant is not unconditional and does not work to the disadvantage of the petitioner/plaintiff.

In view of the above, petition was dismissed. [Sarvesh Bisaria v. Anand Nirog Dham Hospital (P) Ltd., CM (M) 148 of 2020, decided on 30-7-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner; Vivek Kumar Tandon, Advocate

For the Respondent: Sanchit Garga, Advocate

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Mukta Gupta, J., decides a matter revolving around the Will of a deceased person.

Factual Background

Instant suit was filed by two brothers’ owners of the suit property. The brothers mentioned were brothers of Late Shanti Swaroop Gupta.

Defendants submitted that the deceased left a Will in the name of his son-in-law who also passed away. In the said Will, properties of Late Shanti Swarup Gupta were bequeathed on his son-in-law who was the brother of defendants 1 to 3. The said defendants claimed ownership in the suit property to defendant 4 and conveyed it to defendant 5 and have further conveyed to the third parties.

Plaintiffs in the matter were 4 brothers of Late Shanti Swarup Gupta and claimed rights in the suit property by virtue of being Class-II legal heirs.

A probate petition was filed by the son-in-law of Late Shanti Swarup Gupta which was granted in his favour.

Present suit aimed to seek a declaration of the impugned registered Will is null and void, void-ab-initio and illegal, the decree of possession of the suit property, decree of permanent injunction against the defendants from creating any third party rights and direction to the office of Sub-Registrar not to register any sale till the disposal of the suit.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Section 263 of the Indian Succession Act reveals that the grant of probate or letter of administration or the revocation or annulment thereof for just cause can be ordered only by the probate Court. 

Court noted that the plaintiffs claimed that Anand Prakash Verma, son-in-law of Late Shanti Swarup Gupta, obtained the probate of the Will by playing fraud by not disclosing about other legal heirs of the deceased and hence the Will be declared null and void ab initio and illegal and of no effect.

Further, the plaintiffs applied for revocation of the probate granted and thus the relief as sought in prayer (a) of the present suit is not maintainable before this Court but before the probate Court under Section 263 of the Indian Successions Act.

In Court’s opinion, no ground was found to grant an interim injunction.

Hence, present suit was not maintainable. [Niranjan Swarup Gupta v. Bimla Devi, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 3690, decided on 14-07-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Plaintiffs:

Mr. Piyush Singhal, Advocate for the plaintiffs with Mr. Ankur Gupta, A.R. of the plaintiffs in person.

For the Defendants:

Mr. Chandan Rai Chawla, Advocate for D1 to D3.

Mr. Kaadambari, Advocate with Ms. Priyanka, Advocate for D4 Mr. Samrat Nigam, Advocate with Mr. Sudarshan Ranjan, Mr. H. Bajaj, Advocates for D5 and D6.


Additional Reading:

Probate

1. Official proof of a will. [Whart.]. 2. Means the copy of a will certified under the seal of a Court of competent jurisdiction with a grant of administration of the estate of the testator, [Section 2(f), Succession Act, 1925 (India)].

[Source: SCC Online Webedition]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: Dr G. Jayachandran, J., refused to pass a decree in favour of the plaintiff who relied on general admission of facts made by the defendant.

In the instant matter, it was stated that the plaintiff was engaged in the business of providing and arranging finance to various borrowers and had lent a loan to the first defendant company, which is an NBFC.

On the date of filing the suit, a sum of Rs 38,16,45,711/- was due and payable to the plaintiff. While advancing the loan, the second defendant provided personal guarantees for each of the facility agreements entered by the first defendant.

The second and third defendants were jointly and severally liable to pay the suit claim.

According to the plaintiff, since 2014, the transaction between the plaintiff and the first defendant company was regular without any default till the month of September 2020.

Further, it was submitted that the misappropriation of the fund by the Management of the Company came to light, when there was a default and when the Chief Financial Officer of the first defendant issued a Circular on 07-10-2020 disclosing diversion of the fund of the first defendant company by the second defendant as a consequence, criminal proceedings had been initiated by the plaintiff and the matter had been seized by the Directorate of Enforcement Wing.

Extracting a certain portion of the pleadings in the written statement, the plaintiff sought passing of a decree and judgment upon the said statement as admission.

Bench stated that the three admissions which were relied upon by the applicant were all general admissions and did not admit the suit claim.

Further, the Court added that the admission that fraud was committed per se will not entail the plaintiff for a decree as claimed in the suit. Whatever claimed in the suit has to be proved through evidence in the manner known to law and the portions of the admission relied upon by the plaintiff/applicant is a general admission of fact regarding the liability of the first defendant company and its inability to pay his creditors. The general admissions of fact cannot be construed as an admission of suit claim to pass a judgment and decree.

In view of the above application was dismissed. [Northern Arc Capital (P) Ltd. v. Sambandh Finserve (P) Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine Mad 2577, decided on 5-07-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For Applicant: Mr Anirudh Krishnan

For 1st Respondent: Mr. Supriyo Ranjan Mahaptra

For 2nd respondent: Mr Prashant Rajapogal

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Dama Seshadri Naidu, J., in a suit for specific performance, observed that:

“..in a suit for specific performance, a third party’s assertion that he has a stake in the subject matter of the suit counts to noting (sic). What matters is the contract, not the property covered by the contract. “

Background

‘A’ engaged in a contract with B for purchasing some property and B defaulted. Later, C the brother of A, represented A as his power of attorney agent (POA) and after a few years, A discharged C from being his POA and pursued the case independently and got a decree – not for specific performance but for the return of money.

Now an objection arose when A wanted to withdraw the deposited decretal amount and the objection was raised by C.

The ground for objection was that C wanted a part of the decretal amount since he too had contributed to the sale consideration.

Question for Consideration

Can C’s claim be countenanced? Is such an ‘intervention application’ maintainable?

Discussion

Code of Civil Procedure must be interpreted in a manner to subserve and advance the cause of justice. 

— C.K. Thakker’ s Code of Civil Procedure, Vol. 1, EBC, p. 200 (EBC Reader) 

Bench noted that in the present matter, firstly, there was no lis before the Court for it to entertain an interlocutory application. Thus, Court was proverbially functus officio. 

Adding to the above, Court stated that C wanted the Court to revive and resurrect a disposed of suit and to do that the Court must set aside the decree that was already passed.

But the question was, can the Court do so?

To the above, the answer was Court cannot. Further, it was elaborated that “A decree can be set aside under Order 9 Rule 13 CPC. In the Supreme Court decision of Ram Prakash Agarwal v. Gopi Krishna, (2013) 11 SCC 296, it was held that the applicant must have been a party to the suit, in the first place, whereas Supreme Court in Raj Kumar v. Sardari Lal, (2004) 2 SCC 601, took a different view and stated that the same was in the context of a lis pendens purchaser.

Bench coming back to the present matter, expressed that:

Subhash has a highway or a thoroughfare to travel on if ever he wants to reach his judicial destination: a separate suit, seeking a declaration.

Looking at the issue from another perspective, Court stated that in a suit for specific performance, whatever be its outcome, no third party can have the role to play.

Precedential Position

Ajay Kumar v. Tulsabai, 1973 SCC OnLine Bom 4, Court held that by very nature, a suit for specific performance confines itself to the agreement and several please that can either defeat or lead to its enforcement. The cause of action in such a suit is the agreement and its enforceability.

In the above-cited case, Court posed a question unto itself: Can it really be said that the stranger to an agreement is concerned with the relief sought by the plaintiff or the defences raised against such specific performance? The answer was that, firstly the stranger not being a party to the suit, any decision in that suit does not affect him. Secondly, the Court is being called upon to enforce the agreement but not to settle any disputes between the plaintiff and the stranger, therefore such a person’s presence is not necessary for the Court to decide the controversy of the suit.

In Panne Khushali v. Jeewanlal Mathoo Khatik,  AIR 1976 MP 148,  a Full Bench of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh has held that strangers to the contract making a claim adverse to the title of the defendant—for example, that they are the co-owners of the contracted property—are neither necessary nor proper parties. So they are not entitled to be joined as parties to the suit.

Delhi High Court in its decision of Raj K. Mehra v. Anjali Bhaduri, 1981 SCC OnLine Del 105, echoed the same view as above.

Analysis, Law and Decision

In view of the above, Court proceeded to examine the issue:

(1) The agreement was between Rajesh and Sudarshan.

(2) From the very inception, Subhash represented Rajesh as his POA in the suit; thus, he knew his brother’s pleadings and assertions to the exclusion of everyone else.

(3) Despite that, Subhash never objected to his principal’s (Rajesh’s) contentions.

(4) Though Rajesh, as the principal, cancelled GPA in 2017, Subhash never attempted, if ever permissible, to come on record as a defendant to protect his independent interest, if any.

(5) The suit was eventually decreed in 2001.

(6) Sudarshan willingly suffered the decree and deposited the amount to be appropriated by Rajesh alone.

Collateral Issue:

Subhash insisted that this Court in its Order dated 16-04-2012 noted that Subhas, too, contributed to the sale consideration.

To the above contention Bench stated that to facilitate adjudication of the matter, the Court undertakes various steps and during that process, Court prima facie observe or record certain aspects based on the counsel’s representation but the same does not acknowledge the parties existing rights if any, but they do not create rights on their own.

A Court’s observation cannot give rise to a right unless it has already existed, nor does it provide a cause of action. Here, in this case, it had never been in the Court’s contemplation as to who contributed the sale consideration. It is a non sequitur.

Concluding the matter, Court held that however strong a person’s right to recovery may be, he cannot file an intervention application in an already disposed of matter and stay the execution of the decree or nullify the decree without proper judicial recourse.

In view of the above discussion, Court dismissed the application. [Rajesh Saichand Sharma v. Sudershan Gangaram Rajula,  2021 SCC OnLine Bom 835, decided on 11-06-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Mr. Sanjiv Sawant a/w Mr. Abhishek P. Deshmukh – Advocate for the Applicant.

Sukeshi Bhandari a/w Akshay Chauhan – Advocate for the Defendants.

Mr. Chandrakant N. Chavan a/w Mr. Rajesh Sharma – Advocate for Plaintiff.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Ashok Bhushan* and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ has held that consent decree recognising pre-existing rights created by oral family settlement does not require registration under section 17 of  Registration Act, 1908.

Background

In the present case, Shri Sher Singh, husband of Jagno had half share in the agricultural land situate in village Garhi Bajidpur, which was suit property. Sher Singh died in 1953. Jagno after enforcement of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 by virtue of Section 14 became the absolute owner of the half share of the suit property.

She had succeeded to half share in the agricultural land and she was the absolute owner when she entered into family settlement with her nephews i.e. sons of her brother.

On 19.08.1991, the trial court passed the consent decree in favour of the plaintiffs declaring the plaintiffs owners in possession of the half share in the land.

The descendants of brother of husband of Jagno filed a Civil Suit praying for declaration that the decree dated 19.08.1991 is illegal, invalid and without legal necessity. They also claimed decree of declaration in their favour declaring them owners in possession of land in question.

Analysis 

The Court took note of the judgment in Som Dev v. Rati Ram, (2006) 10 SCC 788 wherein decree was based on an admission recognising pre-existing rights under family arrangement. It was held that the decree did not require registration under Section 17(1)(b).

In in K. Raghunandan v. Ali Hussain Sabir, (2008) 13 SCC 102, the Court interpreted Section 17 and held,

“… a property which is not the subject-matter of the suit or a proceeding would come within the purview of exception contained in clause (vi) of sub-section (2) of Section 17 of the Act. If a compromise is entered into in respect of an immovable property, comprising other than that which was the subject-matter of the suit or the proceeding, the same would require registration.”

The recent judgment in in Mohammade Yusuf v. Rajkumar, (2020) 10 SCC 264 was also taken note of wherein it was held that if decree which was sought to be exhibited was with regard to the property which was subject matter of suit, hence, was not covered by exclusionary clause of Section 17(2) (vi) and decree did not require registration. (Justice Ashok Bhushan, the author of the present judgment had also penned the said judgment.)

Hence, in the present case, the Court held that in view of the fact that the consent decree dated 19.08.1991 relate to the subject matter of the suit, hence it was not required to be registered under Section 17(2) (vi) and was covered by exclusionary clause.

[Khushi Ram v. Nawal Singh, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 128, decided on 22.02.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice Ashok Bhushan 

Appearances before the Court by:

For appellant – Advocate Ranbir Singh Yadav

For respondent – Senior Advocate Manoj Swarup

ALSO READ 

Married woman’s heirs on paternal side are not strangers; she can enter in family settlement with such heirs: Supreme Court

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: B. Sudheendra Kumar, J., allowing the present petition observed, “Since the appeal was already filed, the court below had no jurisdiction to stay the execution petition in the absence of any order from the appellate court.”

Petitioner is a decree-holder, who filed praying for issuing a direction to the Station House Officer concerned, to protect the possession of the petitioner over the schedule property and also for taking prosecution for the violation of the decree. Court issued two orders which were under consideration before the instant Court.

With respect to the first order dismissing the application stating that if the order is violated, the petitioner can approach the court by filing proper application, it was observed, “It appears that the court below did not consider as to whether the decree was already violated and as to whether the police assistance sought for by the decree-holder had to be granted or not, in accordance with law. Since the court below did not consider the said aspects, Ext.P8 is not sustainable.” Addressing the second order, it was remarked, “As per Ext.P11, the court below stayed the execution petition till the disposal of the appeal. The application was filed under Order 21 Rule 26 CPC. It is settled law that Order 21 Rule 26 CPC is applicable only to transfer decree. The proper provision is Order 41 Rule 5(2). It is clear that the power of the execution court to stay the execution is only upto to the stage of filing the appeal. In this case, the appeal was already filed. Since the appeal was already filed, the court below had no jurisdiction to stay the execution petition in the absence of any order from the appellate court. In view of the above, Ext.P11 cannot be also sustained.”

Allowing the present petition, Court clarified the applicability of Order 41 Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and further quashed the challenged orders.[Syamala v. Thapodhanan, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 8401, decided on 22-01-2020]


Sakshi Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: R. Narayana Pisharadi, J., while allowing the instant petition, set aside the order of trial Court, thereby allowing the amendment of the plaint contrary to the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure.

In the present case, respondent instituted a suit before trial Court for obtaining a decree of declaration that respondent has got the absolute title, ownership and possession over the property described in the plaint, schedule C and also a decree of prohibitory injunction restraining the appellant from trespassing into that property. After commencement of the examination of witnesses in the suit, the respondent filed an application (Ext.P5) under Order VI Rule 17 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 for amendment of the plaint, which was allowed by the trial Court.

The impugned order of the Trial Court was challenged in the instant petition. One of the main contentions raised by the petitioner was that the application for amendment of plaint cannot be allowed since it was filed by the respondent after the commencement of the trial of the suit.

While ascertaining the date of trial the Court reiterated its decision in Sasidharan v. Sudarsanan, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 4540, wherein it was held that, “the trial in a suit commences on the date on which the affidavit in lieu of examination-in-chief of a party or his witness is filed for the purpose of recording evidence.” The Court further relied on Vidyabai v. Padmalatha, (2009) 2 SCC 409, where it was held by the Supreme Court that,

 “Order 6 Rule 17 CPC is couched in a mandatory form. Unless the jurisdictional fact, as envisaged in the proviso to Order 6 Rule 17 CPC is found to be existing, the Court will have no jurisdiction at all to allow the amendment of the plaint.”

The Court observed that the trial court has not considered whether the objections raised by the respondent are legally sustainable or not. Hence, the Court set aside the impugned order with the directions that the application is remanded to the trial court for fresh consideration and disposal. The trial court was directed to consider all relevant contentions raised by both parties and dispose of the application in accordance with law by a speaking order, within a period of one month from the date of production of a certified copy of this judgment. [T.V. Sasikala v. C.P. Joseph, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 7702, decided on 21-12-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): Justice V.K. Jain (Presiding Member), observed that Executing Court cannot go behind the decree and therefore, the State Commission has no option but to execute the order passed in the Consumer Complaints.

It has been stated that three Consumer Complaints were instituted before the State Commission against five persons including the appellant.

The above-stated Consumer Complaints were allowed by the State Commission against all the OPs including the appellant.

The order passed by the State Commission was not complied, therefore execution proceedings were initiated against the OPs in the Consumer Complaints including the appellant. Non-Bailable Arrest Warrants were issued by the State Commission, but the same was not executed and hence they were again issued and sent to SSP, Mohali.

Decision

Bench stated that in its opinion, the Consumer Complaints were allowed against all the OPs including the appellant, the appropriate remedy for him was to challenge the order passed by the State Commission in the Consumer Complaint.

Executing Court cannot go behind the decree and therefore, the State Commission has no option but to execute the order passed in the Consumer Complaints irrespective of whether the appellant had resigned from the Directorship of the company or not.

Since an Executing Court cannot go behind the decree, it was not open to the State Commission nor is it open to this Commission to examine, in execution proceedings, as to whether the appellant had resigned from the Directorship of the company as is claimed by him or not. Similarly, neither the State Commission acting in the execution proceedings nor this Commission, while hearing an appeal arising out of the execution proceedings, can go into this question.

Therefore, in view of the above, no relief to the appellant could be granted.

However, the Commission permitted the appellant to apply to the State Commission to be released on his personal bond if he is unable to arrange a surety. If such a request is made, it will be examined by the State Commission on its own merits. [Hardayal Singh Mann v. Inderjit Singh, Appeal Execution No. 60 of 2020, decided on 29-10-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A.S. Kilor, J., held that contravention of the provision of Section 15 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 does not amount to willful disobedience of ‘other process of a Court’ under the provisions of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971.

Willful Disobedience

The petitioner sought action under Section 12(3) of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971 against the respondent for alleged willful disobedience of ‘other process of a Court’ by performing marriage in contravention of the provision of Section 15 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Facts 

Respondent preferred a petition under Section 13 of the Act, 1955 against the petitioner for dissolution of marriage on the ground of cruelty and desertion.

Civil Judge had dismissed the petition holding that the respondent failed to prove cruelty and desertion.

Decree of Divorce

The respondent questioned the Judgment and decree which was allowed and thereby declared the marriage between the petitioner and respondent stands dissolved by a decree of divorce.

Petitioner filed the second appeal which is pending before the Court.

While the appeal was in pendency, the contempt petition had been filed alleging that the respondent had performed second marriage in contravention of the mandate of the provision of Section 15 of the Act, 1995 which is willful disobedience of ‘other process of a Court’ as provided by Section 1(b) of the Act, 1971.

Counsel for the petitioner, T.G. Bansod and S.S. Jagtap Counsel for the respondent.

Bench considered the following questions:

“(i) Whether the performance of second marriage by the respondent on 20-03-2016 during the pendency of appeal is unlawful in view of prohibition stipulated under Section 15 of the Act, 1955, and if yes ?

(ii) Whether contravention of Section 15 of the Act, 1955 amounts to willful disobedience of ‘other process of a Court’ as provided in Section 2(b) of the Act of 1971 ?”

Court referred to Section 15 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which reads as follows:

“Divorced persons when may marry again — When a marriage has been dissolved by a decree of divorce and either there is no right of appeal against the decree or, if there is such a right of appeal, the time for appealing has expired without an appeal having been presented or an appeal has been presented but has been dismissed, it shall be lawful for either party to the marriage to marry again.”

High Court noted that the respondent ignored the prohibition and performed the second marriage under an incapacity to marry, stipulated under Section 15 of the Act, 1955.

Ejusdem Generis

Further, to find out the import of the expression ‘other process of a court’ which is a general term, the principle of Ejusdem Generis would be helpful to apply, in the present matter.

Civil Contempt — Section 2(b) of the Contempt Act, 1971

“Civil contempt means willful disobedience to any judgments, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a Court or willful breach of an undertaking given to a Court.”

The expression ‘willful disobedience of process of a Court’ used under Section 2 (b) of the Act, 1971, must also be related to the disobedience of some command issued by the Court during the process of a Court which includes various stages between the filing of any proceeding to a final decision by the Court.

Bench stated that at any stretch of imagination it cannot be said that contravention of the provision of Section 15, amounts to willful disobedience of ‘other process of a Court’ under the provisions of the Act, 1971.

High Court in view of the above held that during the pendency of the appeal, the performance of second marriage would be a breach of prohibition stipulated under Section 15 of the Act, 1955, but in any case, it would not amount to disobedience of any command of the Court consequently such act would not fall within the ambit of the expression ‘willful disobedience of other process of a Court’ under Clause (b) of Section 2 of the Act, 1971.

No Civil Contempt

In view of the observations laid above, Court stated that the second marriage performed by the respondent in contravention of Section 15 of the Act, 1955 would not fall within the purview of clause (b) of Section 2 of the Act, 1971 and hence no civil contempt has been committed.

Accordingly, the contempt petition was dismissed. [Kanchan v. Prashant Manikrao Bagade, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 911, decided on 08-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: A Division Bench of H.C. Mishra and Rajesh Kumar JJ., rejected the prayer and dismissed the appeal being devoid of merit.

The facts of the case are such that marriage of the appellant and his wife was solemnized in the year 2007 as per Hindu rites and rituals in the presence of all family friends and relatives and two children are born out of the wedlock. The appellant alleged that wife has been living separately and on numerous incidents caused mental agony to the appellant. He has further alleged in the appeal that the acts of the wife amount to cruelty and desertion of the wife. A suit was filed by the husband for divorce under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 on grounds of cruelty, desertion and mental incapacity of the respondent-wife. The Trial Court decided the matter in favour of the wife and aggrieved by the same, the instant appeal was filed challenging the same order.

The appellant represented himself in person and submitted that the wife behaved psychic and rudely and treated him and his parents with utmost cruelty. He cited various incidents to support his argument along with two witnesses, one himself and his mother, namely, Kaushalya Devi but did not produce any documentary evidence.

Counsel Sujeet Neepulam representing the respondent-wife denied allegations of cruelty, desertion and mental illness and submitted further that her actions of leaving home and staying with parents are not willful as the appellant and his family were demanding dowry, refusing which she was ousted from the marital home and brought back and ousted again on many occasions. Four witnesses, namely, Ashok Saw, Naresh Saw, Praveen Kumar and herself were examined to support her argument alongwith documentary evidence i.e. a mutual divorce application dated 13-07-2009 sent by the husband to wife after signing, a letter dated 30-07-2010 to her father giving threat, copy of an FIR instituted by the respondent-wife under Section 498 A of Penal Code, 1860 and Section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961  compromise copy after the appellant was arrested subsequent to the filing of FIR and other pertinent documents to support her plea. It was further submitted that the respondent is still willing to lead a respectable conjugal life with her husband, but the husband is not willing to keep her.

The Court observed that appellant was unable to present any substantial evidence except oral evidence of his and his mother whereas the respondent-wife presented various documentary proofs which demolish the case of cruelty from her side instead makes it clear by looking at the mutual divorce application and a written letter of threat to her father or the fact that she compromised to secure bail for the petitioner is enough to indicate the willingness of the respondent-wife to resume the respectable conjugal life with the appellant.

The court relied on judgments titled Jorden Diengdeh v. S.S. Chopra, (1985) 3 SCC 62 and Kaslefsky v. Kaslefsky [1951] P. 38 and held that any husband desirous to get rid of his wife may get desired result by driving out his wife from matrimonial home by force or creating a situation and thereafter taking plea of desertion for more than two years. The law is clear that if one of the parties to the matrimonial home, voluntary and without any plausible explanation has left the matrimonial home giving no option to the other party, then it amounts to desertion. Desertion is a willful and voluntary act by the party to leave something without any rational reason. In the present case, the husband is at fault and this is the reason for separate living of both the parties. Hence, the argument that living separately itself is sufficient in the eyes of law for granting the divorce is not acceptable.

In view of the above, decree for divorce rejected and appeal dismissed.[Sanjay Kumar v. Suman Kumari, 2020 SCC OnLine Jhar 773, decided on 08-09-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Vivek Kumar Birla, J., while addressing a matter with regard to “shared household”, held that,

“daughter-in-law can be evicted without seeking decree of eviction against son with whom she had moved on the suit property after the marriage of the son of the plaintiff with the appellant.”

Appellant was married to the plaintiff’s son — Vijay Gandhi. In the year 2013, Vijay Gandhi deserted the appellant and filed a divorce petition under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act.

Further, it has been noted that an FIR was lodged against the appellant by the plaintiff.

Plaintiff is the owner of the property wherein he permitted his son and the defendant to live on the first floor of his house. Defendant started harassing the plaintiff who is old and handicapped along with his wife.

Suit for Eviction

In view of the above incident, the plaintiff asked his son to vacate the house with the defendant, who later came back and refused to vacate the house. Hence suit for eviction was filed against the defendant.

Substantial question in the present appeal

(I) Whether as per definition of shared household provided under Section 2(s) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 appellant daughter-in-law can be evicted without seeking a decree of eviction against son with whom she had admittedly moved on the first floor of the suit property after the marriage of the son of the plaintiff with appellant?

Supreme Court in its decision, S.R. Batra v. Tarun Batra, (2007) 3 SCC 169, while considering the aspect of “shared household” held that where the plaintiff is the exclusive owner, it cannot be called a “shared household”. The wife’s claim for alternative accommodation against the plaintiff was rejected and was held that it can be claimed only against the husband and not against the in-laws or other relatives.

S.R. Batra v. Tarun Batra, (2007) 3 SCC 169: a shared household would only mean the house belonging to or taken on rent by the husband, or the house which belongs to the joint family of which the husband is a member.

Hence, in the Court’s opinion, no substantial question of law arose or can be raised in the present second appeal.

Order 1 Rule 3 and Rule 9 CPC

Further, the Court added that, it is not in dispute that the husband was not residing in the suit property and left the house. It is also not being questioned that if parents permit his son to live in their house he would be a licensee. If his wife is also living with him, she would also be a licensee.

Where the son has left and is not residing in the suit property, no relief is being or is claimed against him. Since he is not living in the suit property, question of filing a separate suit or which may attract any common question of law or fact would also not arise.

Lastly, answering the substantial question of law in the negative, bench once again cited the Supreme Court decision in S.R. Batra with regard to the shared household and the argument for counsel for the respondent (wife) that definition of the shared household includes a house where the person aggrieved lives or at any stage had lived in a domestic relationship was specifically considered and rejected.

Court added that a reading of the said judgment, subject to correction, prima facie, reflects that husband was not a party to the suit and it was held that the claim for alternative accommodation can only be made against the husband and not against the in-laws or other relatives.

Therefore, in view of the definition of the shared house, as provided under Section 2 (s) of the Act, 2005 daughter-in-law can be evicted without seeking a decree of eviction against the son with whom she had admittedly moved in the suit property after the marriage of the son of the plaintiff.

In view of the above observations, petition was dismissed. [Sujata Gandhi v. S.B. Gandhi, 2020 SCC OnLine All 763, decided on 12-06-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of AM Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi, JJ has held that a decree passed on a compromise cannot be challenged by the stranger to the proceedings in a separate suit. Holding that the bar under Rule 3A to Order 23 CPC would extend to strangers as well, the Court said,

“The purpose of effecting a compromise between the parties is to put an end to the various disputes pending before the Court of competent jurisdiction once and for all.”

The legislature has brought into force Rule 3A to Order 23, by introducing the amendment to the Civil Procedure Code (Amendment) 1976 w.e.f. 1st February, 1977, which creates bar to institute the suit to set aside a decree on the ground that the compromise on which decree is based was not lawful.

“Finality of decisions is an underlying principle of all adjudicating forums. Thus, creation of further litigation should never be the basis of a compromise between the parties.”

The bench explained that Rule 3A of Order 23 CPC put a specific bar that no suit shall lie to set aside a decree on the ground that the compromise on which the decree is based was not lawful. The scheme of Order 23 Rule 3 CPC is to avoid multiplicity of litigation and permit parties to amicably come to a settlement which is lawful, is in writing and a voluntary act on the part of the parties.

“The Court can be instrumental in having an agreed compromise effected and finality attached to the same. The Court should never be party to imposition of a compromise upon an unwilling party, still open to be questioned on an application under the proviso to Rule 3 of Order 23 CPC before the Court.”

It, hence, held that merely because the appellant was not party to the compromise decree, will be of no avail to the appellant, much less give him a cause of action to question the validity of the compromise decree.

It, further, explained that after the amendment which has been introduced, neither any appeal against the order recording the compromise nor remedy by way of filing a suit is available in cases covered by Rule 3A of Order 23 CPC. As such, a right has been given under Rule 1A(2) of Order 43 to a party, who denies the compromise and invites order of the Court in that regard in terms of proviso to Rule 3 of Order 23 CPC while preferring an appeal against the decree. Section 96(3) CPC shall not be a bar to such an appeal, because it is applicable where the factum of compromise or agreement is not in dispute.

[Triloki Nath Singh v. Anirudh Singh,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 444 , decided on 06.05.2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: S.C. Gupte, J., dismissed a second appeal filed against the orders of courts below where the suit filed by the respondent-plaintiff for possession of the suit property was decreed.

The plaintiff’s suit was based on his title to the suit property. Plaintiff’s grandfather was the owner of the suit property. According to the request of the defendant’s father, the plaintiff’s grandfather had put him in permissive possession of the property. The same arrangement continued even after the death of both, the plaintiff’s grandfather and the defendant’s father. Now, the plaintiff approached the defendant for evicting the suit property as it was required by the plaintiff’s family. The defendant, however, refused. Consequently, the plaintiff filed the subject suit for possession of the suit property based on his title derived from his grandfather and father.

The defendant contended, inter alia, that the defendants and their predecessor in the title were in possession of the suit property ever since the plaintiff’s grandfather purchased the same and that the suit for possession was clearly barred by the law of limitation.

The High Court was of the view that there was no merit in the defence of limitation. The Court explained: “In a suit for possession based on the plaintiff’s title, the cause of action accrues to him when the defendant sets up a title adverse to him, that is to say, when the possession of the defendant becomes adverse to the plaintiff.”

Considering the facts of the instant case, the Court observed: “It is the plaintiff’s own case here, and which is not disbelieved by either of the courts below, that all along, till possession of the suit property was demanded from the defendants, their possession was permissive, first through the predecessor of the plaintiff (deceased Rama) and later through the plaintiff and his father (also deceased). It was only on 15 May 2006, when possession was demanded by the plaintiff and his father and denied by the defendants that the cause of action to seek recovery of possession on the basis of their title accrued unto the plaintiff and his father and the suit filed immediately thereafter was within time.”

Finding no merit in the challenge to the impugned orders, the High Court dismissed the instant appeal. [Balasaheb Govind Basugade v. Rajendra Shivaji Kumthekar, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 5608, decided on 28-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: P. Somarajan, J. allowed the second appeal in a matter related to the redemption of mortgage, against the order of dismissal by the trial court and the first appellate court.

In the present case, the dispute centred around the nature of an ‘Ottikuzhikanam Deed’ (deed) that was executed by the original owner of the property in favour of his nephew and niece. But according to the appellants, it was a mortgage whereas respondents asserted it as a lease arrangement. The trial court referred the matter to the Land Tribunal under Section 125 of the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 (the Act). The Land Tribunal held that the deed was a lease arrangement and passed an order, granting fixity of tenure in favour of respondents. Both the trial court and the first appellate court accepted this finding of the Tribunal and held that ‘Ottikuzhikanam Deed’ was a lease deed and the relief of redemption of the mortgage was rejected concurrently. As a result, a second appeal was filed.

The Court noted that definition given to the expression ‘Ottikuzhikanam’ under Section 2 (39A) of the Act excluded a mortgage within the meaning of Transfer of Property Act. It observed that “A mere clause enabling the beneficiary under a deed to enjoy the property and to make improvements therein included as part of normal terms and conditions, would not bring the matter within the sweep of ‘Ottikuzhikanam’ as defined under Section 2(39A) of the Act, but it must be the essential term of the contract and for that essential term and purpose, the contract must be entered into, otherwise, it cannot be brought under the purview of ‘Ottikuzhikanam’, a lease as defined under Section 2(39A) of the Act.” Reliance was placed on the decision in Velayudhan Vivekanandan v. Ayyappan Sadasivan, 1975 KLT 1, where a document which is styled as ‘Ottikuzhikanam’ appended to the judgment found to be a mortgage and not a lease. 

The Court found, “The mortgage amount involved in the instant case comes to Rs 5,000 in the year 1962 and the property mortgaged comes to only 1 Acre 2 cents which is another indication of nature of Ext.A4 as a mortgage rather than a lease.” Thus, the decree and judgment of the trial court and the first appellate court was set aside, and order was passed for a decree of redemption of mortgage on payment of amount of Rs 5000 with interest at 12 per cent per annum from the date of suit till the date of judgment and thereafter at 6 per cent per annum to the principal sum of Rs 5000 and also the cost of defendants in the first appeal and in the second appeal, together with the improvements over the property which could be ascertained at the time of passing of the final decree.[C. Vijaya Thulasi v. D. Sudarsanan, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1411, decided on 02-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Amit Rawal J., dismissed the second appeal petition on the ground that there was no substantial question for determination.

The regular second appeal was preferred at the instance of the appellant/defendant against the decretal suit against the injunction order to her to not to interfere in the subject land.

The respondent-plaintiff alleged that plaintiff and defendant had joint land which was purchased by the plaintiff for Rs 1 lakh for the purpose of passage. The defendants were extending threats for construction on the land including 1 biswa and perpetually requested but resulted into celandra under Section 107(151) of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Sanjiv Gupta, counsel for the appellant/defendant submitted that suit for the injunction prima facie as per the record of local commissioner reflecting the possession of 1 biswa more than her ownership, was not maintainable. In the absence of relief of mandatory injunction, decree qua relief of possession could not be moulded under the provisions of Order 7 Rule 7 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

The defendant opposed the suit and denied the averments and stated that she was the owner of the land measuring six biswa as per the registered sale deed.

Court opined that “litigants are required to exercise the due diligence in the pursuing the remedy particularly when the appellant had assailed the judgment and decree of the trial Court before the Lower Appellate Court. There is no equity on the person who has been found to be in alleged encroachment” Thus, the petition was dismissed.[Sabri v. Gulzar Ahmed, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 708, decided on 24-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Amit Rawal, J. dismissed an appeal against the decree of the suit for specific performance of the agreement to sell.

Factual matrix of the case was, respondent-plaintiff alleged that appellant-defendant after mutual decision extended the date for the performance of the agreement, but on the date decided to perform the defendant did not come forward. Subsequently, plaintiff sent a legal notice and filed a suit when the defendant failed to reply to notice. Contention of the appellant was he never entered into an agreement with the plaintiff.

Deepender Ahlawat, learned counsel for the appellant submitted that readiness and willingness on behalf of the respondent-plaintiff was conspicuously wanting. No documents in this regard were placed on record. Even if the agreement to sell was denied, extensions were also the testimony of the same.

Learned counsel for the respondent, submitted various pieces of evidence and witnesses to prove his case that the appellant had entered into alleged agreement to sell and a copy of the impugned notice was also presented before the Court.

The Court observed that such arguments were not sustained for the simple reason that if a person who has denied the agreement to sell cannot be permitted to take the plea of readiness and willingness particularly when extensions and earnest money had been proved on record. The Court held, “As an upshot of my findings, there is no illegality and perversity in the concurrent findings of fact and law to form a different opinion than the one arrived at by the Courts below.” Hence, there were no merits in the appeal found by the Court.[Balwan Singh Raghav v. Dalip Kumar, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 709, decided on 24-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: Tapabrata Chakraborty, J. dismissed a writ petition filed by the petitioner, Dr Kashninath Ghosh Hazra, under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

The petitioner claimed to be the owner of an un-partitioned land at plot nos. 4933, 4934, 4935 and 4936 of Mouza Sadpur, Block- Kandi, Khatian No. 714, P.O. & P.S. Kandi, Pin 742 137, District- Murshidabad, West Bengal. On 10-02-2019 the petitioner came to learn that the private respondents were demolishing the structures existing on the said property. The petitioner maintained that without taking steps towards the partition of the said property and without obtaining any appropriate sanction plan from the municipal authorities, the private respondents had started raising unauthorized construction including a boundary wall. Aggrieved thereby, this petition was filed.

The Court had passed an interim order on 26-02-2019 restraining the private respondent’s 14 to 20 from demolishing any structure existing on the said property and from raising any fresh construction till the end of April, 2019 or until further orders.

Respondent 14 by filing an affidavit-in-opposition and a vacating application stated that a partition suit pertaining to the said property, being T.S. No. 38 of 2003, was initially filed by Amala Bala Ghosh impleading the petitioner herein. The final decree was passed on 17-01-2014. The said decree was executed and the 3 parties obtained possession of the decretal property in the year 2014. Thereafter, the names of the respondent’s 14 and 15 were mutated and some portions of the said property had also been sold to third parties.

In reply, the petitioner submitted that he had no knowledge about the institution of the said partition suit and the preliminary decree and the final decree were passed ex parte.

The Court, in view of the arguments made by the parties, held that the said property had already been partitioned and hence no direction could be passed in the present writ petition. The Court observed that the grievance of the petitioner was that he was not given appropriate notice for which he could not appear and contest the partition suit. It was opined that such grievance ought to have been ventilated by the petitioner before the competent civil forum. But without taking such steps the petitioner had preferred the present writ petition involving the municipal authorities. In view thereof, the petition was dismissed.[Dr Kashinath Ghosh Hazra v. State of West Bengal, An application under Article 226 of the Constitution of India filed on 19-02-2019, In re, 2019 SCC OnLine Cal 655, decided on 15-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: This second appeal was filed before the Bench of Vivek Rusia, J., by appellant against the judgment and decree passed by 11th Additional District Judge, Indore whereby appeal was partly allowed while affirming the judgment and decree passed under Section 12 (1)(a) of M.P. Accommodation Control Act, 1961 and setting aside the Judgment and decree passed by 12th Civil Judge, Class-II Indore in respect of Section 12(1)(f) of the Act.

Petitioner submitted that in this case, there was no written tenancy agreement between the plaintiff and defendant. According to the plaintiff, he had given the suit accommodation to the defendant in the year 1978 only for two months for a temporary purpose, but after two months, he failed to vacate it. Plaintiff had filed the suit in the year 1981 and no rent receipts on record were present. Hence, the trial Court fixed the provisional rent at Rs 100  per month. Thus, plaintiff pleaded the suit to be maintainable. Whereas respondent contended that due to the defect in the notice, the suit was not maintainable and the decree was not sustainable in the eye of law. The issue before the Court was whether the decree under Section 12(1)(a) of the Act of 1961 is sustainable.

High Court viewed that this petition was maintainable in the lights of the conclusion drawn that once the non-payment of rent is established, then the Court has no option but to pass a decree on the ground contemplated under Section 12(1)(a) of the Act of 1961 but since no substantial question of law was found this appeal was dismissed. [Vasudev v. Bhagwanti Bai, 2019 SCC OnLine MP 687, decided on 11-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court at Goa: C.V. Bhadang, J., discharged the petitioner (proprietor of the defendant Company) of the notice served upon him in an execution case.

The respondent filed a civil suit against one Harshad Trading Company a company incorporated under the Companies Act. As per the suit title, the Company was not shown to be represented by any person. The suit was decreed ex-parte against the defendant company. Thereafter, the respondent filed an application for execution of the decree pursuant to which a notice was served on the petitioner. He filed for discharge on the ground that he was neither a Director nor an employee of the Company. It was contended that he was the proprietor of the Company, which are two separate entities. However, Executing Court dismissed the petitioner’s application.

The High Court noted that the decree was passed against  Harshada Trading Company alone. It was well settled:  “where the decree is against the Company, which is an independent entity, the decree cannot be executed against any individual, being a Director or a person responsible for the conduct of the business of the Company.”

On the factual score, the Court said, “It was for the respondent to point out as to what are the assets of the Company, against which the decree can be executed. Such details can be obtained by the decree-holder from the office of the Registrar of Companies (RoC). Without doing any such exercise, the respondent is trying to execute the decree against an individual and that too, without showing that the petitioner is in anyway related to the Company-Harshada Trading Company.”

In such view of the matter, the impugned order of the Executing Court was set aside and the petitioner was discharged. [Belarmina Gowda v. Ranjith Nath, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 588, Order dated 04-04-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of Pakistan: The Three-Judge Bench of Mian Saqib Nisar, CJ and SH. Azmat Saeed and Ijaz-Ul-Ahsan, JJ. dismissed the appeal filed by a husband challenging the amount awarded to his wife after the dissolution of their marriage.

Appellant (husband) and Respondent 3 (wife) filed a suit for dissolution of marriage vide which their marriage was dissolved. A suit for return of dowry articles was also filed which was decreed by the learned Family Court for an amount of Rs 25,000. The decretal amount was enhanced to Rs 4 lakhs by the First Appellate Court in an appeal filed by Respondent 3. Appellant filed a writ petition in Lahore High Court assailing the order of appellate authority. The petition was partly accepted and amount in lieu of dowry articles was reduced to Rs 3 lakhs. Being still aggrieved, the appellant preferred the instant appeal before this Court.

Learned counsel for the appellant Mr Sarfraz Khan Gondal submitted that the Family Court had granted a decree for a sum of Rs 25,000 with regards to claim for dowry. Hence, in view of Section 14(2) of the Family Courts Act, 1964, no appeal was maintainable against the said Judgment. Therefore, the Judgment and decree of the First Appellate Court were wholly without jurisdiction. Consequently, the impugned order of Lahore High Court partly affirming the same was also liable to be set aside.

Learned counsel for Respondent 3 Mr Mian Shah Abbas contended that the embargo placed on the right of appeal applied only to the husband and not to a wife dissatisfied with the quantum or denial of relief.

The Court noted that Family Courts are a special forum for adjudication of family disputes in accordance with the special procedure set forth in the 1964 Act, purpose whereof is expeditious settlement and disposal of disputes relating to marriage and family affairs.

It was opined that the purpose of curtailing the Right of Appeal under Section 14 of the Act was to avoid the benefits of the decree being tied up in an appeal before a higher forum. However, the said provision could not be interpreted so as to exclude a right of appeal to a wife whose claim of dower or dowry has been partially or entirely declined as it would defeat the purpose and object of the Act and frustrate its beneficial nature. In view thereof, the appeal was dismissed for being devoid of merit.[Saif-ur-Rehman v. Addl. District Judge, Toba Tek Singh, 2018 SCC OnLine Pak SC 19, decided on 17-04- 2018]