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. “
‘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?
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.
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.
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.