Rattan Singh & Ors. Vs. Nirmal Gill & Ors.
Judges Name: Hon’ble Judges A.M. Khanwilkar J & Dinesh Maheshwari J
Order dated: 16.11.2020
Facts of the Case:
- Harbans Singh had married Gurbachan Kaur and fathered Joginder Kaur (plaintiff – now deceased) in the wedlock. After the demise of Gurbachan Kaur, Harbans Singh married Piar Kaur and in that wedlock, he fathered Gurdial Singh (defendant No. 3), Rattan Singh (defendant No. 4), Narinder Pal Singh (defendant No. 5) and Surjit Singh (defendant No. 6). Harcharan Kaur (defendant No. 1) is the wife of defendant No. 4 and the step sisterinlaw of the plaintiff. Nirmal Gill (respondent herein) is daughter and the legal representative of the plaintiff (Joginder Kaur) and Charanjit Singh is her (plaintiff’s) son.
- Harbans Singh was the owner of various stretches of land at Nawanshahr, Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur which, upon his death in the year 1963, devolved upon the plaintiff, her step brother’s defendant Nos. 3 to 6 and her step mother in six equal shares. The dispute between the parties pertains to a General Power of Attorney (GPA) purported to have been executed by the plaintiff on 28.06.19903 in favour of defendant No. 1 and consequently sale deeds executed by defendant No. 1 as an attorney of the plaintiff. Sale deeds dated 29.06.1990 and 03.07.1990 purported to have been executed directly by the plaintiff are also disputed by the plaintiff. The plaintiff instituted a suit being C.S. No. 11/2001 before the trial Court on 23.04.2001 against the aforementioned defendant Nos. 1, 3 to 6 and 19 others seeking a declaration that the saledeed dated 05.07.2000 vide document No. 2213 of land measuring 2 Marla 5 Sarsahi being 1/2 share of the land measuring 7 Marlas 2 Sarsahi bearing Khewat No. 1401, Khatauni No. 2098, Khasra No. 6967 (35), situated in Village Premgarh, H.B. No. 247, Tehsil and District Hoshiarpur, as per Jamabandi for the year 199697 by defendant no. 1 as Mukhtar of the plaintiff in favour of defendant no. 2 is illegal, void and ineffective as against the rights of the plaintiff. After analyzing the evidence on record, the trial Court dismissed both the suits of the plaintiff vide a common judgment and decree dated 03.01.2009. Aggrieved by this decision, the plaintiff preferred Civil Appeal Nos. 3 and 4 both of 2009 against C.S. No. 11/2001 and C.S. No. 173/2002 respectively before the Additional District Judge (Adhoc), Fast Track Court – I, Hoshiarpur. The first appellate Court once again appreciated the evidence on record and after elaborate analysis, whilst upholding the findings of the trial Court on material issues, vide its judgment and decree dated 30.11.2011, partly modified the decision of the trial Court in C.S. No. 11/2001. Respondent No. 1 filed second appeals before the High Court being R.S.A. No. 2901/2012 and R.S.A. No. 3881/2012 against Civil Appeal No. 3/2009 and Civil Appeal No. 4/2009 respectively. The High Court opined that the trial Court as well as the first appellate Court committed manifest error and misapplied the settled legal position. On this finding, the High Court went on to reverse the concurrent opinion of two Courts. Being aggrieved, the defendant Nos. 1, 4 to 6 and the subsequent purchasers approached the Supreme Court by way of appeal.
Supreme Court held:
- The Supreme Court held that there is a presumption that a registered document is validly executed and to prove otherwise would require the production of a tangible evidence. It was noted that the document is presumed to be genuine if the same is registered and the onus to prove otherwise is on the person who challenges the said registered document. The court held that the plaintiff has failed to prove the fact of misuse of trust by the defendants.
- The court observed that, the discrepancies in the 1990 General Power of Attorney is bound to create some doubt, however, in the absence of any tangible evidence produced by the plaintiff to support the plea of fraud, it does not take the matter further.
- The Court further held that, for invoking Section 17 of The Limitation Act, 1963, two ingredients have to be pleaded and duly proved. One is the existence of a fraud and the other is discovery of such fraud. In the present case, since the plaintiff has failed to establish the existence of fraud, there is no occasion for its discovery. Therefore, the plaintiff cannot be extended the benefit under the said provision.
- Therefore, the Supreme court held that the High Court committed manifest error in reversing the concurrent findings of the trial Court and the first appellate Court in that regard. The Court allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned judgment and decree passed by the High Court and restored the judgment and decree passed by the first appellate Court.