Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of L. Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai, JJ has, in two judgments, has held that where the plaintiff’s title is not in dispute or under a cloud, a suit for injunction could be decided with reference to the finding on possession.

“… if the matter involves complicated questions of fact and law relating to title, the court will relegate the parties to the remedy by way of comprehensive suit for declaration of title, instead of deciding the issue in a suit for mere injunction.”

While where there are necessary pleadings regarding title and appropriate issue relating to title on which parties lead evidence, if the matter involved is simple and straightforward, the court may decide upon the issue regarding title, even in a suit for injunction; such cases are the exception to the normal rule that question of title will not be decided in suits for injunction.

Below are two important rulings on the issue suits for prohibitory injunction relating to immovable property

Anathula Sudhakar v. P. Buchi Reddy, (2008) 4 SCC 594

(a) Where a cloud is raised over the plaintiff’s title and he does not have possession, a suit for declaration and possession, with or without a consequential injunction, is the remedy. Where the plaintiff’s title is not in dispute or under a cloud, but he is out of possession, he has to sue for possession with a consequential injunction. Where there is merely an interference with the plaintiff’s lawful possession or threat of dispossession, it is sufficient to sue for an injunction simpliciter.

(b) As a suit for injunction simpliciter is concerned only with possession, normally the issue of title will not be directly and substantially in issue. The prayer for injunction will be decided with reference to the   finding   on   possession.   But   in   cases where de jure possession has to be established on the basis of title to the property, as in the case of vacant sites, the issue of title may directly and substantially arise for consideration, as without a finding thereon, it will not be possible to decide the issue of possession.

(c) But a finding on title cannot be recorded in a suit for injunction, unless there are necessary pleadings and appropriate issue regarding title. Where the averments regarding title are absent in a plaint and where there is no issue relating to title, the court will not investigate or examine or render a finding on a question of title, in a suit for injunction. Even where there are necessary pleadings and issue, if the matter involves complicated questions of fact and law relating to title, the court will relegate the parties to the remedy by way of comprehensive suit for declaration of title, instead of deciding the issue in a suit for mere injunction.

(d) Where there are necessary pleadings regarding title, and appropriate issue relating to title on which parties lead evidence, if the matter involved is simple and straightforward, the court may decide upon the issue regarding title, even in a suit for injunction. But such cases, are the exception to the normal rule that question of title will not be decided in suits for injunction. But persons having clear title and possession suing for injunction, should not be driven to the costlier and more cumbersome remedy of a suit for declaration, merely because some meddler vexatiously or wrongfully makes a claim or tries to encroach upon his property. The court should use its discretion carefully to identify cases where it will enquire into title and cases where it will refer to the plaintiff to a more comprehensive declaratory suit, depending upon the facts of the case.

Jharkhand State Housing Board v. Didar Singh, (2019) 17 SCC 692

“11. It is well settled by catena of judgments of this Court   that   in   each   and   every   case   where   the defendant disputes the title of the plaintiff it is not necessary that in all those cases plaintiff has to seek the relief of declaration. A suit for mere injunction does not lie only when the defendant raises a genuine dispute with regard to title and when he raises a cloud over the title of the plaintiff, then necessarily in those circumstances, plaintiff cannot maintain a suit for bare injunction.”

[KAYALULLA PARAMBATH MOIDU  HAJI v. NAMBOODIYIL VINODAN, CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 5575­5576 OF 2021 and T.V. RAMAKRISHNA REDDY v. M. MALLAPPA, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 675, decided on 07.09.2021]


*Judgments by: Justice BR Gavai

Know Thy Judge| Justice B.R. Gavai

Appearance in first case:

For appellant/plaintiffs: Senior Advocate P.N. Ravindran

For Respondent/Defendant: Senior Advocate V. Chitambaresh

Appearance in second case:

For appellant/plaintiffs: Senior Advocate Ajit Bhasme

For BDA: Advocate S.K. Kulkarni

For respondent: Senior Advocate Basava Prabhu S. Patil

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: Hemant Chandangoudar, J. allowed the petition and quashed the impugned order.

The facts of the case are such that the plaintiffs in the original suit filed an application for partition and separate possession of their legitimate share. The defendants therein sought to produce an unregistered partition deed so as to establish the prior partition that took place which was opposed by the plaintiffs. The Trial Court refused to permit petitioners to mark the said unregistered document on the ground that the same does not fall under the purview of the proviso to Section 49 of the Indian Registration Act. Hence the instant writ petition under Article 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India was filed.

Counsel for the petitioners relied on judgment Srinivasa v. Huchappa, 2014 (2) KCCR 1605 and submitted that the Trial Court has erred in refusing to permit the petitioners/defendants to mark the unregistered partition deed as evidence of collateral purpose as the requirement of registration can be considered at the time of considering the matter n merit and not at the time of recording of evidence.

Counsel of the respondents submitted that the document sought to be produced is a compulsorily registerable document. It was also submitted that the said document cannot be used for collateral purpose as the same does not fall under the purview of Section 49 of the Indian Registration Act, 1908 and hence the impugned order is legal and does not call for interference.

The Court observed that on perusal of proviso to Section 49 of the Indian Registration Act, 1908 would indicate that the immovable property which is compulsorily registerable under the Registration Act, 1908 may be taken as evidence for the purpose of collateral; transaction.  It was further observed that the issue involved in this case was examined in the case of Srinivas (supra), wherein it is held that at the stage of recording of evidence, an order permitting marking of unregistered document as evidence is not liable to be interfered with.

The Court thus held that “in view of Section 49 of the Registration Act, 1908 and the decision laid down in the case of Srinivasa (supra) the impugned order passed by the Trial Court is not sustainable in law.”

In view of the above, writ petition was allowed.[Nagppa v. Ketappa, Writ Petition No. 108153 of 2015, decided on 06-03-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar*, Indi Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi has held that the condition predicated in Section 31 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973 of obtaining “previous” general or special permission of the RBI for transfer or disposal of immovable property situated in India by sale or mortgage by a person, who is not a citizen of India, is mandatory.

“Until such permission is accorded, in law, the transfer cannot be given effect to; and for contravening with that requirement, the concerned person may be visited with penalty under Section 50 and other consequences provided for in the 1973 Act.”

The important question to be decided before the Court was whether transaction specified in Section 31 of the 1973 Act entered into in contravention of that provision is void or is only voidable and it can be voided at whose instance.

Object of the Statute

1973 Act was brought into force to consolidate and amend the law relating to certain payments, dealings in foreign exchange and securities, transactions indirectly affecting foreign exchange and the import and export of currency, for the conservation of the foreign exchange resources of the country and the proper utilisation thereof in the interests of the economic development of the country.

Object of Section 31

While introducing the Bill in the Lok Sabha and explaining the object of Section 31 of the 1973 Act,  Mr. Y.B. Chavan, the then Minister of Finance stated:

“As a matter of general policy it has been felt that we should not allow foreign investment in  landed property/buildings constructed by foreigners and foreign controlled companies as such investments offer scope for considerable amount of capital liability by way of capital repatriation. While we may still require foreign investments in certain sophisticated branches of industry, there is no reason why we should allow foreigners and foreign companies to enter real estate business.”

The object of Section 31 of the 1973 Act was thus to minimise the drainage of foreign exchange by way of repatriation of income from immovable property and sale proceeds in case of 16 disposal of property by a person, who is not a citizen of India.  Section 31, hence, puts restriction on acquisition, holding and disposal of immovable property in India by foreigners – non citizens.

Absence of explicit mention of failure to seek previous permission

It is true that the consequences of failure to seek such previous permission has not been explicitly specified in the same provision or elsewhere in the Act, but then the purport of Section 31 must be understood in the context of intent with which it has been enacted, the general policy not to allow foreign investment in landed property/buildings constructed by foreigners or to allow them to enter into real estate business to eschew capital repatriation, including the purport of other provisions of the Act, such as Sections 47, 50 and 63.

Section 47

Sub-Section (1) clearly envisages that no person shall enter into any contract or agreement which would directly or indirectly evade or avoid in any way the operation of any provision of the 1973 Act or of any rule, direction or order made thereunder.  What is significant to notice is that sub¬Section (2) declares that the agreement shall not be invalid if it provides that thing shall not be done without the permission of the Central Government or the RBI.  That would be the implied requirement of the agreement in terms of this provision.

In other words, though ostensibly the agreement would be a conditional one made subject to permission of the Central Government or the RBI, as the case may be and if such term is not expressly mentioned in the agreement, it shall be an implied term of every contract governed by the law — of obtaining permission of the Central Government or the RBI before doing the thing provided for in the agreement.

In that sense, such a term partakes the colour of a statutory contract. Notably, Section 47 of the 1973 Act applies to all the contracts or agreements covered under the 1973 Act, which require previous permission of the RBI.

Section 50

Section 50 reinforces the position that transfer of land situated in India by a person, who is not a citizen of India, would visit with penalty. Indeed, inserting such a provision does not mean that the 1973 Act is a penal statute, but is to provide for penal consequence for contravention of provisions, such as Section 31 of the 1973 Act.

Section 63

Section 63 of the 1973 Act empowers the court trying a contravention under Section 56 which includes one under Section 51 of the 1973 Act, to confiscate the currency, security or any other money or property in respect of which the contravention has taken place. The expression “property” in Section 63, takes within its sweep immovable property referred to in Section 31 of the 1973 Act.

Effect of reading Section 31 with Sections 47, 50 and 63 

“The requirement specified in Section 31 is mandatory and, therefore, contract or agreement including the gift pertaining to transfer of immovable property of a foreign national without previous general or special permission of the RBI, would be unenforceable in law.”

From the analysis of Section 31 of the 1973 Act and upon conjoint reading with Sections 47, 50 and 63 of the same Act, we must hold that the requirement of taking “previous” permission of the RBI   before executing the sale deed or gift deed is the quintessence; and failure to do so must render the transfer unenforceable in law.

“The dispensation under Section 31 mandates “previous” or “prior” permission of the RBI before the transfer takes effect.  For, the RBI is competent to refuse to grant permission in a given case. The sale or gift could be given effect and taken forward only after such permission is accorded by the RBI. There is no possibility of ex post facto permission being granted by the RBI under Section 31 of the 1973 Act.”

Before grant of such permission, if the sale deed or gift deed is challenged by a person affected by the same directly or indirectly and the court declares it to be invalid, despite the document being registered, no clear title would pass on to the recipient or beneficiary under such deed. The clear title would pass on and the deed can be given effect to only if permission is accorded by the RBI under Section 31 of the 1973 Act to such transaction.

“Merely because no provision in the Act makes the transaction void or says that no title in the property passes to the purchaser in case there is contravention of the provisions of Section 31, will be of no avail. That does not validate the transfer referred to in Section 31, which is not backed by “previous” permission of the RBI.”

In light of the general policy that foreigners should not be permitted/allowed to deal with real estate in India; the peremptory condition of seeking previous permission of the RBI before engaging in transactions specified in Section 31 of the 1973 Act and the consequences of penalty in case of contravention, the transfer of immovable property situated in India by a person, who is not a citizen of India, without previous permission of the RBI must be regarded as unenforceable and by implication a prohibited act. That can be avoided by the RBI and also by anyone who is affected directly or indirectly by such a transaction. There is no reason to deny remedy to a person, who is directly or indirectly affected by such a transaction.  He can set up challenge thereto by direct action or even by way of collateral or indirect challenge.

“In other words, until permission is accorded by the RBI, it would not be a lawful contract or agreement within the meaning of Section 10 read with Section 23 of the Contract Act. For, it remains a forbidden transaction unless permission is obtained from the RBI. The fact that the transaction can be taken forward after grant of permission by the RBI does not make the transaction any less forbidden at the time it is entered into. It would nevertheless be a case of transaction opposed to public policy and, thus, unlawful.”

[Asha John Divianathan v. Vikram Malhotra, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 147, decided on 26.02.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice AM Khanwilkar

Know Thy Judge| Justice AM Khanwilkar

Appearances before the Court by:

For appellant: Advocate Navkesh Batra

For respondent: Senior Advocate C.A. Sundram

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chattisgarh High Court: Sanjay K Agrawal J., dismissed the second appeal being devoid of merits.

The facts of the case are such that the plaintiff’s father, Kanhaiya Kori (Defendant 2) purchased the suit property including suit land along with the kutcha house by registered sale deed from one Rajim Bai and he remained in possession and the said kutcha house was constructed by him. Kanhaiya Kori sold the suit property in favour of Madanlal Bharadwaj (Defendant 1) by sale deed dated 21-1-2003. Thereafter, the plaintiff sought decree for declaration of title and permanent injunction stating inter alia that though his father i.e defendant 2 has purchased the suit land in his own name, but sale consideration was paid by him and hence his father had no right and title to alienate the suit property. The trial Court decreed the suit granting decree for declaration of title and permanent injunction in favour of the plaintiff which was reversed by the first appellate Court on appeal being preferred by defendant 1 leading to filing of instant second appeal.

Counsel for the appellants submitted that by the alleged transfer, no title has been transferred in favour of defendant 1, as the plaintiff remained in possession of the suit land and transfer of suit land, which is abadi land, without delivery of possession along with superstructure, no title has been passed and as such, decree passed in favour of the plaintiff would not have been set aside by the first appellate Court.

Counsel for the respondents supported the impugned judgment and decree of the first appellate court.

The case at hand falls under Section 54 of Transfer of Property Act, 1882 which states as under:

“54. “Sale” defined.—‘‘Sale” is a transfer of ownership in exchange for a price paid or promised or part-paid and part-promised.

Sale how made.—Such transfer, in the case of tangible immovable property of the value of one hundred rupees and upwards, or in the case of a reversion or other intangible thing, can be made only by a registered instrument.

In the case of tangible immovable property of a value less than one hundred rupees, such transfer may be made either by a registered instrument or by delivery of the property.

Delivery of tangible immoveable property takes place when the seller places the buyer, or such person as he directs, in possession of the property.

Contract for sale.—A contract for the sale of immoveable property is a contract that a sale of such property shall take place on terms settled between the parties.

It does not, of itself, create any interest in or charge on such property.”

 The Court thus relied on judgment G. Hampamma v. Kartigi Sajjivalada Kalingappa, 1989 SCC OnLine Kar 135 and observed that It is the case of the plaintiff that possession has not been transferred to defendant 1, therefore, sale is not complete without delivery of possession. Non-delivery of possession does not affect the conveyance of title. What is transferred for consideration is the right of ownership. Right to possession is incidental to right of ownership. One who is a owner can bring an action for recovery of possession. Once the right, title and interest are sold, on payment of sale consideration the person in possession, is either a permissive holder like tenant or a person holding adversely to the interest of true owner. In either event person in possession has no title. Since delivery of physical possession is not an essential ingredient of sale, that circumstance by itself can have no relevance to decide the intention. When title is transferred and the person who has purchased the property has title over the suit property, merely because he has not been given possession, non-delivery of possession could not affect the title of the person who has purchased the property.

The Court thus held that in the present case, by registered sale deed the original defendant 2 has purchased the property and the valid title has been transferred in his favour. Even the plaintiff has not questioned the title of defendant 1 either by seeking a declaration that sale made by defendant 2 as owner in favour of defendant 1 is invalid or void otherwise. Hence, in regard to the observations made above, the first appellate Court is absolutely justified in holding that defendant 1 is the titleholder of the suit land and the plaintiff has no right, title and interest over the suit property and rightly reversed the judgment and decree of the Trial Court.

In view of the above, appeal was dismissed.[Ram Avtar Kori v. Madanlal Bhardwaj, 2020 SCC OnLine Chh 1182, decided on 14-12-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Customs, Excise and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT): The Coram of Dilip Gupta, J. (President) and C.L. Mahar (Technical Member) allowed an appeal against an order passed by the Principal Commissioner of Service Tax, Delhi that confirmed the demand of service tax under “renting of immovable property” service with penalty and interest.

The Appellant, an owner of a cinema hall called ‘Golcha Cinema’ and engaged in the business of exhibiting films in this theatre. The Appellant had entered into agreements with films Distributors under which the theatrical exhibition rights for exhibition of the films were transferred to the Appellant, either for a specified number of shows and period or in perpetuity. It is in exercise of such rights obtained from the Distributors that the Appellant exhibited movies in its theatre. The Department, however, believed that the Appellant was providing various elements of interconnected services to the Distributors, such as renting/ letting/ leasing of theatre for exhibition of films; manpower to manage the theatre operations, provision of the projector and other related equipment to screen the films; arranging of power supply and providing arrangements to collect the box office collections. According to the Department, the essential character of the bundle of services provided by the Appellant was in the nature of “renting of immovable property” service which would be taxable under Section 65(105) (zzzz) of the Finance Act 1994 and under Section 66E(a) of the Finance Act read with Section 66F(3)(b) of the Finance Act.

The counsel for the appellant, B.L. Narasimhan submitted that for an activity to fall under ‘renting of immovable property’ services, the nature of the activity should be that of renting or letting or leasing or licensing or other similar arrangements of immovable property, for use in the course or furtherance of business or commerce. In the instant case, the immovable property i.e. the theatre is used and occupied by the Appellant in its own right to screen the film and at no point of time, the theatre is used by the Distributor and the agreements between the Appellant and the Distributors was on a revenue-sharing basis and hence, no service tax was leviable.

The Tribunal considered the judgment given by the counsel of the appellant in the case of Moti Talkies v. CST, 2020(6) TMI 87- CESTAT wherein it was held that the demand of service tax under ‘renting of immovable property’ service was not justified for the reason that the Appellant had not provided any service to the Distributor, nor the Distributor had made any payment to the Appellant as a consideration for the alleged service.

The Tribunal thus observed that the finding of the Principal Commissioner that ‘renting of immovable property’ service had been rendered by the Appellant to the film distributors was not sustainable and consequently demand of service tax on these income heads was not sustainable. The Tribunal allowed the appeal setting aside the impugned order.[Golcha Properties (P) Ltd. v. CST,  2020 SCC OnLine CESTAT 269, decided on 02-11-2020]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: On the question as to whether the right of pre-emption can be enforced for an indefinite number of transactions or it is exercisable only the first time, the 3-judge bench of SK Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari, JJ has held that

“… it is only exercisable for the first time when the cause of such a right arises, in a situation where the plaintiff-pre-emptor chooses to waive such right after the 1966 Act becoming operational. Section 9 of the said Act operates as a bar on his exercising such right on a subsequent transaction relating to the same immovable property.”

Origin and history of right of pre-emption

The historical perspective of the right of pre-emption shows that it owes its origination to the advent of the Mohammedan rule, based on customs, which came to be accepted in various courts largely located in the north of India. The pre-emptor has two rights. The inherent or primary right, which is the right to the offer of a thing about to be sold and the secondary or remedial right to follow the thing sold. It is a secondary right, which is simply a right of substitution in place of the original vendee. The pre-emptor is bound to show that he not only has a right as good as that of the vendee, but it is superior to that of the vendee; and that too at the time when the pre-emptor exercises his right.

“… the right is a “very weak right” and is, thus, capable of being defeated by all legitimate methods including the claim of superior or equal right.”

Recurring right or a one-time right

  • Section 21 of the Rajasthan Pre-Emption Act, 1966 stipulates that the right of pre-emption has to be exercised, in case of a sale, within one year from the date of sale and if the sale is not by a registered deed, on the purchaser taking the physical possession of any part of the property sold.
  • This period has to be as per Article 97 of the Limitation Act which states that it is one year from the date when the sale is registered.
  • The loss of right of pre-emption on transfer has been defined under Section 9 of the said Act which provides that the loss is only occasioned, when, within two months from the date of service of the notice, the price is not tendered. However, that is the loss of the right, vis-à-vis the transaction in question.

On the question whether such a right of pre-emption is a recurring right, i.e. every time the property is sold, the right would rearise, in a case the pre-empting plaintiff himself has chosen not to exercise such right over the subject immovable property when sold to another purchaser earlier, the Court held,

“… it would not be appropriate or permissible to adopt legal reasoning making such a weak right, some kind of a right in perpetuity arising to a plaintiff every time there is a subsequent transaction or sale once the plaintiff has waived his right or pre-emption over the subject immovable property.”

Holding that the loss of right mandated under Section 9 of the Act is absolute, the Court further stated that the plain reading of the said provision does not reveal that such right can re-arise to the person who waives his right of pre-emption in an earlier transaction. To do so would mean that a person, whether not having the means or for any other reason, does not exercise the right of pre-emption and yet he, even after decades, can exercise such a right.

“This would create some sort of a cloud on a title and uncertainty as a subsequent purchaser would not know, when he wants to sell the property, whether he can complete the transaction or not or whether a cosharer will jump into the scene. This is not contemplated in the 1966 Act. This is bound to have an effect on the price offered by a purchaser at that time because he would have an impression of uncertainty about the proposed transaction.”

The Court, hence, held that such a right is available once – whether to take it or leave it to a person having a right of pre-emption. If such person finds it is not worth once, it is not an open right available for all times to come to that person.

[Raghunath v. Radha Mohan,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 828, decided on 13.10.2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Rajesh Shankar, J., disposed off the petition directing the respondents to remove the seal of the hotel premises and certain guidelines to be followed by the petitioner.

The facts of the case are that the petitioner owns a hotel namely ‘Hotel Alcor’ which provides various facilities like restaurants, bars, spa, etc. An FIR was instituted under Sections 188, 269 & 270 of the Penal Code , 1860; Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005; and Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 alleging that during lockdown spa services of the aforesaid hotel was opened wherein a few people and two girls were found partying and hence were apprehended on conducting a raid. The premises of the hotel was sealed vide order dated 26-04-2020 by Special Officer, Jamshedpur Notified Area Committee and the Executive Magistrate-cum-Incident Commander, East Singhbhum, Jamshedpur. Another FIR was instituted under Sections 3, 4, 5 & 6 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 against one of the Directors of the company- Rajiv Singh Duggal alleging that one Sharad Poddar had kept a lady namely Aishwarya Tarak Singh for the last one month and has been establishing a physical relationship with her. The petitioner sent a letter dated 07-05-2020 requesting the Deputy Commissioner to unseal the premises as the day to day business affairs is getting hampered consequent to which a reminder letter was also sent but to no relief. Aggrieved by the same, the present writ petition was filed.

Counsel for the petitioner Indrajit Sinha submitted that the police has no power to seal an immovable property under the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure and that too for an indefinite period without initiating any proceeding or providing any opportunity of hearing and it is thus grossly disproportionate, contrary to law and violative of Articles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. It was further submitted that even the SDM does not have the power under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 to seal an immovable property.

Counsel for the respondent’s Darshan Poddar submitted that the premises was sealed for collection of evidence and it was done in exercise of power under Section 34 read with Section 30 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

The Court relied on the judgment titled Nevada Properties Private Limited v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC Online SC 1247 and observed:

“Section 102 is not, per se, an enabling provision by which the police officer acts to seize the property to do justice and to hand over the property to a person whom the police officer feels is the rightful and true owner. This is clear from the objective behind Section 102, use of the words in the Section and the scope and ambit of the power conferred on the Criminal Court vide Sections 451 to 459 of the Code. The police officer is an investigator and not an adjudicator or a decision maker. This is the reason why the Ordinance was enacted to deal with attachment of money and immovable properties in cases of scheduled offences. In case and if we allow the police officer to ‘seize’ immovable property on a mere ‘suspicion of the commission of any offence’, it would mean and imply giving a drastic and extreme power to dispossess etc. to the police officer on a mere conjecture and surmise, that is, on suspicion, which has hitherto not been exercised.”

The Court further relied on M. C. Mehta v. Union of India, 2020 SCC Online SC 648 which observed:

“…Article 300A of the Constitution provides that nobody can be deprived of the property and right of residence otherwise in the manner prescribed by law.”

The Court after hearing factual and legal position held that that the power of sealing of property carries civil consequences. A person can be deprived of the property only by following the due procedure in accordance with law. It was also held that the order of sealing does not appear to be reasonable and proportionate, as the same has been done for an indefinite period as the purpose stated of sealing was to collect evidence which should have been done within a reasonable time. The SDM did not have powers under Ss. 30 and 34 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 to seal the premises. It may thus be concluded that the sealing cannot be held to be justified in absence of any express power under the statute conferred to any authority. The Court directed the respondent no.2 to remove the seal of the entire hotel premises.

In view of the above, the petition was disposed off.[S.R.P Oil Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Jharkhand, 2020 SCC OnLine Jhar 813, decided on 11-09-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has held that the power of a police officer under Section 102 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 to seize any property, which may be found under circumstances that create suspicion of the commission of any offence, would not include the power to attach, seize and seal an immovable property. Khanna, J, writing the judgment for the bench, however, clarified,

“This, however, would not bar or prohibit the police officer from seizing documents/ papers of title relating to immovable property, as it is distinct and different from seizure of immovable property.”

The verdict came in a reference made by a Division Bench of Jagdish Singh Khehar and Arun Mishra, JJ vide order dated November 18, 2014, noticing that the issues that arise have far reaching and serious consequences.

Interpreting Section 102, the bench said that the language of Section 102 of the Code does not support the interpretation that the police officer has the power to dispossess a person in occupation and take possession of an immovable property in order to seize it. Section 102 is not, per se, an enabling provision by which the police officer acts to seize the property to do justice and to hand over the property to a person whom the police officer feels is the rightful and true owner.

It further explained that the expression ‘circumstances which create suspicion of the commission of any offence’ in Section 102 does not refer to a firm opinion or an adjudication/finding by a police officer to ascertain whether or not ‘any property’ is required to be seized. The word ‘suspicion’ is a weaker and a broader expression than ‘reasonable belief’ or ‘satisfaction’. The police officer is an investigator and not an adjudicator or a decision maker. This is the reason why the Ordinance was enacted to deal with attachment of money and immovable properties in cases of scheduled offences.

“In case and if we allow the police officer to ‘seize’ immovable property on a mere ‘suspicion of the commission of any offence’, it would mean and imply giving a drastic and extreme power to dispossess etc. to the police officer on a mere conjecture and surmise, that is, on suspicion, which has hitherto not been exercised.”

It was further held that the disputes relating to title, possession, etc., of immovable property are civil disputes which have to be decided and adjudicated in Civil Courts. The Court said,

“We must discourage and stall any attempt to convert civil disputes into criminal cases to put pressure on the other side.”

Gupta, J wrote a separate concurring verdict where he highlighted that the Code of Criminal Procedure itself the Legislature has in various provisions specifically used the words ‘movable’ and ‘immovable’ property as opposed to the words ‘any property’ under in Section 102, hence, the phrase ‘any property’ in Section 102 will only cover moveable property and not immovable property.

[Nevada Properties Pvt. Ltd. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1247, decided on 24.09.2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Division Bench of Sandeep Mehta and Abhay Chaturvedi, JJ. accepted a writ petition for parole and directed the convict-petitioner for parole of twenty days.

In the present case, the convict petitioner was serving life imprisonment term at the Open Air Camp at Bikaner wherein his first parole writ petition was accepted and was granted the same by the present Court vide order dated 14-02-2019. However, due to financial constraints, owing to poor family condition, the convict could not avail the facility of parole as there was no person who could be entrusted as a surety for the same.

Additional Advocate General representing the State, Farzand Ali, submitted a family status report of the convict which did not indicate that any of the family members has any immovable property in their name.

The High Court upon perusal of pieces of evidence, facts and circumstances placed on record, accepted the writ petition and directed the convict-petitioner to be released on first parole for twenty days.[Sonu v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 1404, decided on 10-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: S.K. Awasthi, J.  dismissed the petition on the ground that trial court and not Special Court are competent to take cognizance when offences were made under the Penal Code, 1860.

A petition was made under Section 397 read with Section 401 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 against the order passed by Additional Sessions Judge.

Facts of the case were that Mukesh and Radheyshyam Mandwani and applicant Sunil were the directors of the company, having an immovable property at Indore. The applicant tried to grab the property without calling any meeting of the company and had also forged the resignation of the complainant and indicted his real brother as director of the company. An FIR was lodged against the applicant for offences under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the Penal Code, 1860 and charge sheet was filed. A discharge application on the ground that the trial court was not competent to take the cognizance and Special Court should take the cognizance was rejected by the trial court. Hence, the revision petition was made.

Vijay Asudani, counsel for the applicant argued that a special court can try offence other than offence under the provisions of Companies Act with which the accused may under the CrPC be charged. It was further submitted that the trial court failed to appreciate that the Complainant was the ex-director and shareholder of the company and the fact that the non calling of the meeting, preparation of forged resignation are offences under the Companies Act, 2013 and thus only special court were competent to take cognizance of the offence and thus impugned order should be set aside and applicant should be discharged from the charges made under the Penal Code.

Counsel for the complainant submitted that in order to gain the control over assets of the company and to deceive, betray and cheat the complainant made the complaint under the Penal Code. It was further submitted that the jurisdiction of the Special Court is limited to the offences punishable under the Companies Act, 2013 and not under the Penal Code or any offences committed under any other law. Thus, prayed for the dismissal of the revision petition.

The Court opined that provision of Section 436 (2) of the Companies Act, 2013 also provide that while trying an offence under the Companies Act, a Special Court may also try an offence other than an offence under this Act with which the accused may, under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 be charged at the same trial. In this case, the police registered the offence punishable under the Penal Code and not under Companies Act, 2013. It was held that no criminal trial has been initiated against the applicants for any of the offence which is punishable under the provision of Companies Act, therefore, in absence of any offence punishable under the Companies Act, Special Court is not having jurisdiction to try the case which is punishable under the Penal Code and court of Indore has territorial jurisdiction to try the case for the commission of offence punishable under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of IPC. Thus, the revision petition was dismissed. [Sunil Mandwani v. State of M.P., 2019 SCC OnLine MP 1248, decided on 27-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Sanjeev Kumar, J., dismissed this writ petition, claiming relief by private parties, in respect to the possession and title of the immovable property.

The facts of the case were that the petitioner had a dispute over possession with the respondents, her stepsons, with regard to some property.  She approached the Tehsildar Khansahib for redressal and the matter reached to the Dy. Commissioner. The Dy. Commissioner ordered in her favor but the respondents did not oblige to this order. The petitioner thus approached this court to seek relief.

The Court reiterated the settled law and relied on the Supreme Court decision in Roshina T v. Abdul Azeez K.T.,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2654, where the Court cautioned against the entertainment of the writ petitions involving adjudication of disputed questions of facts relating to possession and title of immovable property between the private parties.

Thus, the writ petition was dismissed. [Khati v. State of J&K,2018 SCC OnLine J&K 979, decided on 14-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of G. Narendar, J. hearing a civil writ petition set aside the order of revenue authority passed after 30 years, ruling that the said power was exercised after a lapse of a long time and hence was unreasonable.

The present matter pertained to mutation of revenue entries for a property by revenue authorities, suit in relation to which was pending in the court of Civil Judge, Nelamangala. Despite pendency of the suit in a lower court, the Assistant Commissioner, Bangalore rural district directed mutation of names of respondents 4 to 10 in the revenue records pursuant to registration of sale deed in 1977. The said order was confirmed by Deputy Commissioner, Bangalore district. The instant petition was filed for quashing of the order of Deputy Commissioner.

The Court noted that admittedly, the suit pending in lower court was instituted prior to the passing of orders by the Assistant Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner. Relying on its judgment in S. Shivanna v. Tehsildar, Bangalore North Taluk, 2005 SCC OnLine Kar 604 the  High Court allowed the petition holding that the impugned orders were vitiated on the ground that the said power had been exercised after an extraordinary and unexplained delay of around 30 years.

Further, revenue courts ought not to adjudicate rights with regard to the immovable property once the dispute is seized of by a civil court. The impugned order of revenue authorities was set aside and they were directed to enter details of pending suit in the records which would be deleted after disposal of the suit. [Prakash v. Dy. Commr. Bangalore Rural District,2018 SCC OnLine Kar 2282, decided on 15-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Biswajit Basu, J. dismissed a civil revision pertaining to grant of relief under Section 6 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963.

The suit under the said section was filed by the petitioner alleging that he was the tenant in the suit property. That he was dispossessed from the same without his consent and without due process of law. The suit was filed for the relief of reclaiming the possession. The trial court, vide the order impugned, dismissed the suit of the petitioner herein. Aggrieved thereby, the instant revision was filed.

The High Court perused the record. It was observed that Section 6 provides a special and speedy remedy for a particular kind of grievance to place back in possession a person who had been evicted from the immovable property of which he had been in a possession, otherwise than by process of law. Therefore, possession of the plaintiff over the immovable property on the date of dispossession is the condition precedent to invoke jurisdiction of Section 6. Investigation into the title favouring such possession is irrelevant in the proceeding of such nature. In the facts of the present case, it was clear that the petitioner was not in possession of the suit property on the date on which the unlawful dispossession was alleged. Therefore, the Court held that no interference was called for in the order impugned passed by the trial court. The revision petition was accordingly dismissed. [Ramesh Chand Koiri v. Chandan Koiri,2018 SCC OnLine Cal 6471, dated 19-09-2018]