Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: A miscellaneous petition filed under Article 227 of the Constitution of India was allowed by Sanjay Dwivedi, J., where the petitioner challenged the order passed by Additional Commissioner under revenue proceedings.

In the instant petition, the respondent raised an objection that the petition was not maintainable under Article 227. The counsel for the respondent, D.K. Tripathi and Devika Singh, submitted that Commissioner of Revenue was not under superintendence power of the High Court and accordingly the petitioners cannot avail the superintendence jurisdiction of the High Court by filing a petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India. On the contrary, the petitioner submitted that in all the quasi-judicial proceedings, the High Court can entertain petition under Article 227.

The counsel for the petitioner, Sumanta Bhattacharya, relied upon Manmohan Singh Jaitla v. Commissioner, 1984 (Supp) SCC 540, in which the Supreme Court had observed that “The High Court clearly overlooked the point that Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner are statutory authorities operating under the 1969 Act. They are quasi-judicial authorities and that was not disputed. Therefore, they will be comprehended in the expression ‘Tribunal’ as under in Article 227 of the Constitution which confers power of superintendence over all courts and tribunals by the High Court throughout the territory in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction.”

The Court for the particular issue relied on the abovementioned judgment and observed that Commissioner under the present circumstances was considered to be a quasi-judicial authority as he was functioning as a statutory authority prescribed under M.P. Land Revenue Code, 1959; hence the petition was maintainable under Article 227.

Another issue disputed was related to a property which was purchased by the petitioner and on the basis of the said sale deed they moved an application for mutation of their names which was allowed in the year 2004 and accordingly, the revenue records were corrected entering the name of the petitioners in respect of the land in question. It was alleged that subsequently in 2011 an appeal was filed by the said respondents challenging the mutation on the ground that the property sold to the petitioners by respondent was a joint family property and the respondent was one of the co-sharers in the same and he had sold the land in excess of his share and no notice before the mutation had been issued by the revenue authorities to them and as such, that mutation which was executed in favor of the petitioners got set aside. Against the said order the petitioner had filed an appeal before Sub-Divisional Officer and subsequently before Additional Commissioner and both the appeals were rejected against the petitioner. Hence the petitioner had filed the petition under Article 227.

The respondent argued that petitioners failed to establish any grounds and to substantiate as to how the order passed by the Additional Commissioner was contrary to law, they were not entitled to get any relief in the petition preferred under Article 227. In Shyam Shetty v. Rajendra Patil, 2101 (4) MPLJ 590, the Supreme Court had laid down the parameters that when High Court can interfere under Article 227, it was held that “the High Court in exercise of its jurisdiction of superintendence can interfere in order only to keep the tribunals and Courts subordinate to it, `within the bounds of their authority’ or High Court can interfere in exercise of its power of superintendence when there has been a patent perversity in the orders of tribunals and Courts subordinate to it or where there has been a gross and manifest failure of justice or the basic principles of natural justice have been flouted.”

It was further observed that the Supreme Court stated that “it may be true that a statutory amendment of a rather cognate provision, like Section 115 of the Civil Procedure Code by the Civil Procedure Code (Amendment) Act, 1999 does not and cannot cut down the ambit of High Court’s power under Article 227. At the same time, it must be remembered that such statutory amendment does not correspondingly expand the High Court’s jurisdiction of superintendence under Article 227.” The reserved and exceptional power of judicial intervention was not to be exercised just for grant of relief in individual cases but was directed for promotion of public confidence in the administration of justice in the larger public interest whereas Article 226 was meant for protection of individual grievance. Therefore, the power under Article 227 may be unfettered but its exercise is subject to a high degree of judicial discipline.

The Court opined that it was admitted position that one of respondent executed sale deed in favor of petitioners in the year 2001 but Court was not satisfied that despite taking note of such material facts, the Sub-Divisional Officer had not given any reason as to how the mutation which took place on the basis of sale deed can be said to be illegal. The Court further observed that thereafter, the Additional Commissioner had reiterated the findings given by the Sub-Divisional Officer and rejected the appeal. None of the revenue authorities in the orders passed by them have considered the impact of the sale deed executed by the respondent in favor of the petitioners. It was noteworthy to mention that the sale deed was a valid document and was the foundation for mutating the name of the holder of the sale deed. If the document of sale is available then the revenue authorities had no option but to mutate the name of the holder of the sale deed in the revenue records and as such, mutation done in favor of the petitioners cannot be set aside unless the sale deed executed in their favor was set aside by any competent court.

The Court thus opined that all the revenue authorities committed gross and material illegality while setting aside the mutation made in favor of the petitioners which was made, based on the sale deed. It was discussed by the Court that as far as power under Article 227 of the High Court to interfere while exercising its superintendence was concerned, it was observed that from perusal of the documents and orders passed by the revenue authorities and the discussion made that was a fit case in which Court can exercise power under Article 227 for the reasons that the order impugned was apparently illegal and suffered from errors of law and fact and was a clear example of patent perversity. Thus, the petition was allowed.[Keshri Nandan v. Pradeep Kumar, 2019 SCC OnLine MP 1521, decided on 03-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Sanjay K. Agarwal, J. allowed a petition filed by a Sub-Registrar duly appointed under Section 6 of the Registration Act, 1908, who was implicated in an FIR registered for the commission of the offences punishable under Sections 420, 120-B and 424 read with Section 34 IPC, and quashed the FIR insofar the petitioner was concerned.

While discharging his duties as Sub-Registrar, the petitioner allowed a sale deed to be registered. The said transaction regarding the subject land off-shot into the registration of FIR against the vendors alleging that the subject land was transferred fraudulently. The petitioner was also implicated in the FIR as an accused. Soumitra Kesharwani, Advocate for the petitioner, submitted that the petitioner purely acted in the capacity of Sub-Registrar under the Registration Act, and therefore, the FIR against him should be quashed. Per contra, S.K. Agrawal, Government Advocate submitted that the prosecution against the petitioner was strictly in accordance with the law and no exception could be taken against it. While, Govind Dewangan, Advocate for the vendors supported the case of the petitioner.

The question for consideration before the High Court was — whether the petitioner/Sub-Registrar while registering the sale deed, was required to make roving enquiry upon the absolute title of the vendors qua subject land before making registration of sale deed in favour of vendees?

The Court perused Sections 34(3) and 35(1) of the Registration Act and noted: “A conjoint reading of Sections 34 and 35 shows that the scope of enquiry to be made by the registering officer is limited by the Act, restricted to the factum of execution and the identity of the person executing document, other than the levy of stamp duty, collection of registration charges and the completion of procedural formalities such as attestation, etc. There is nothing in this provision requiring the registering officer to make a roving enquiry about the title of the person with regard to the property which is being sold by the sale of deed. In my considered opinion, provisions contained in Section 34(1) do not cast any duty on the registering officer to make an enquiry qua title of the person transferring the subject land to the transferee/purchaser”.

After referring to a conspectus of authorities, the Court reached a conclusion that registration of sale deed allowed by the petitioner/Sub-Registrar while acting in the capacity of Sub-Registrar was in accordance with law. Therefore, it was held that the FIR insofar as the petitioner was concerned, was liable to be quashed and orders were made accordingly. [Daduram Sidar v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2019 SCC OnLine Chh 59, decided on 20-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: This petition was filed before the Bench of Vivek Rusia, J.

Facts of the case were such that petitioners are daughters of respondent who had sold his property to other respondents. After the sale was concluded one of the respondent to whom the property was sold filed an application under Sections 109 and 110 of M.P. Land Revenue Code, 1959 before the Tehsildar seeking mutation of his name which was allowed.

Petitioner being aggrieved by the same filed an appeal before the Sub-Divisional Officer Revenue, Garoth. SDO allowed the appeal and set aside the order passed by Tehsildar on the ground that the Tehsildar did not inquire about the status of the property if it was a self-earned property or ancestral property before passing the order of mutation. Being aggrieved by the order of SDO an appeal was preferred before the Additional Commissioner who set aside the order passed by SDO and therefore confirming the order of Tehsildar, hence, this petition was filed.

It was brought before Court that petitioners had already filed a Civil Suit challenging the sale deed which was executed by respondent in favour of one of the other respondent claiming their right and title over the property.

High Court observed the settled law that the orders passed by the Revenue Authority were not binding on the Civil Court and Revenue Court could not have decided the title of the property. Court viewed that lest a Civil Suit is pending the issues raised in this petition could be decided before Civil Court. With the aforementioned observation, this petition was dismissed. [Bharat Kunwar v. Mangilal, 2019 SCC OnLine MP 609, dated 05-04-2019]

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Orissa High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Dr A.K. Rath, J., dismissed the petition which challenged the order of the trial court whereby the Court allowed the application of the defendant filed under Order 7 Rule 11(c) CPC and directed the plaintiff to pay ad-valorem court fees.

The facts of the case are as that the plaintiff-petitioner had instituted the suit for declaration of title and declaration that the sale deed executed by him in favor of the defendant as null and void. The litigation started between the parties and the defendant filed an application under Order 7 Rule 11(c) CPC stating that the plaintiff had instituted the suit for declaration that the registered sale deed as void. They contended that the plaintiff was the executant of the sale deed, he sought its cancellation and therefore He should pay ad-valorem court fees. Plaintiff filed an objection to the said application and their counsel, Mr Samir Kumar Mishra and Mr S. Rout contended that the sale deed was a nominal one and no consideration was passed and thus the plaintiff could put his own valuation and pay the court fees.

The Court, relying on the Umakanta Das v. Pradip Kumar Ray, 1986 SCC OnLine Ori 11, dismissed the petition and upheld the order of the trial court, directing the petitioners to pay the ad valorem court fees. [Kumar Soumyakanta Bisoi v. Banita Panda, 2018 SCC OnLine Ori 435, decided on 18-12-2018]

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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

Allahabad High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Anjani Kumar Mishra, J. dismissed an appeal being devoid of merits.

The appellant has alleged that he met with an accident and got fractured and subsequently the defendant mislead him by obtained his signature by fraud on the pretext of awarding him compensation which was with the intention of executing a sale deed in the defendant’s favour for which no sale consideration till date has been paid to him. He also alleged that the suit was barred by Section 331 of the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act making it cognizable only by the Revenue Court.

Going by the evidences presented, it was seen that the date on which the sale deed was executed, the defendant withdrew from the bank an amount equivalent to the sale amount. Also before the execution of the sale deed, the appellant’s name was recorded over the land in question thus the suit for cancellation of the sale deed needed no declaration of title making it cognizable by the Civil Court. Further when a sale deed was cancelled the revenue entry prior to it revives leaving no room for further declaration.

Accordingly, there was no question as to jurisdiction and henceforth the Court did not find any reason to interfere with the findings of the lower court. [Ram Pal v. Adesh Kumar,2018 SCC OnLine All 2925, 02-07-2018]

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Patna High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sanjay Kumar, J. set aside a trial court order abating a title suit ruling that declaration of voidability of a document is within the jurisdiction of a Civil Court.

Petitioner before this Court was the plaintiff in a title suit filed in trial court for cancellation of registered sale deed allegedly executed by her father in favour of the respondent-defendant. The petitioner’s submission before trial court was that the land in dispute is joint family property and that her aged had lost his consciousness for the last six months before his death. The respondent-defendant taking advantage of his mental condition executed the sale deed by committing fraud and forgery. The trial court, noting the submissions of the petitioner, abated the said suit in terms of Section 4(c) of Bihar Consolidation of Holdings and Prevention of Fragmentation Act, 1956. Aggrieved thereby, the instant petition was filed for quashing the said order.

The High Court noted that the petitioner’s father neither received any consideration money nor executed any document nor affixed his thumb impression on the purported sale deed. The court relied on full bench decision in Ramkrit Singh v. State of Bihar, 1979 SCC OnLine Pat 30 and observed that if a document has to be set aside, civil suit would be maintainable; but a mere declaration of title or a mere declaration that the document is void can be done by the consideration authority. In the instant case, the purported sale deed was voidable and therefore it was within the jurisdiction of civil court to cancel or set aside the said document.

The Court noted that cancellation of purported sale deed was sought by petitioner on the grounds of fraud and forgery which could be determined only after recording evidence of the parties. As such, the impugned order was set aside and trial court was directed to proceed with the suit. [Gangotri Devi v. Bhukhan Singh,2018 SCC OnLine Pat 1984, decided on 02-11-2018]

 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Asha Arora, J. dismissed a revisional application filed by the petitioner assailing the order of the learned Additional District Judge who reversed the order of the learned Civil Judge granting a decree of pre-emption in favour of the petitioner.

The petitioner filed a case under Section 8 of West Bengal Land Reforms Act 1995, for pre-emption in respect of land which was transferred in favour of the opposite party (OP) by the predecessor-in-interest under a registered sale deed. Petitioner sought pre-emption of the land in question on the ground of adjoining ownership. The application for pre-emption was contested by the OP contending that the petitioner had waived his right, if any, by becoming an attesting witness to the above-mentioned registered sale deed. The application for pre-emption was allowed by the trial court. However, the Additional District Judge reversed the order of the trial court. Aggrieved thus, the petitioner was before the High Court in revision.

The High Court perused the record and found that the petitioner was indeed the attesting witness in the registered deed of sale of the land in question in favour of the OP. The Court relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in Jagad Bandhu Chatterjee v. Nilima Rani, (1969) 3 SCC 445, wherein it was held, under the Indian law neither consideration nor an agreement would be necessary to constitute waiver. A waiver amounts nothing more than an intention not to insist upon the right. The acquiescence in the sale by any positive act amounting to relinquishment of pre-emptive right have the effect of forfeiture of such a right. The High Court was of the opinion that by being an attesting witness to the sale deed, the petitioner by his act and conduct acquiesced to the sale of land sought to be pre-empted. Such an act impliedly amounted to relinquishment of pre-emptive rights and thus the petitioner had waived his right. In such circumstances, the High Court found no irregularity with the order impugned. Therefore, the revision was dismissed. [Tusar Kanti Basu Chowdhury v. Nil Kamal Basu Chowdhury,2018 SCC OnLine Cal 3433, decided on 08-06-2018]