Vipul Ganda is an Independent Litigation Counsel with over 14 years of experience and a proven track record in Litigation and Dispute Resolution.
V. N. Krishna Murthy and Ors. Versus Ravikumar and Ors.
Court / Forum : Supreme Court of India Citation : 2020 SCC OnLine SC 664 Coram : Justice L. Nageswara Rao, Justice Krishna Murari and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat Subject : Appeal by an Aggrieved Person Date of Decision : 2020-08-21
Respondent No. 5 and 6 (hereinafter collectively referred to as Owners) were the recorded owners of disputed land comprising in survey no. 105/3 measuring 37 guntas, survey no. 105/9 measuring 34 guntas and survey no. 105/4B measuring 20 guntas, situated at Village Jakkur, Bengaluru, North Taluk (Disputed Land). Owners executed a registered agreement to sale of the Disputed Land in favour of Respondent- Karnataka State Khadi and Village Industries Worker's House Building Co- operative Society Ltd. Owners also executed a General Power of Attorney (GPA) in favour of office bearers of the Respondent society authorising them to enter into sale transaction of the Disputed Land in their behalf. GPA also gave absolute rights to the Attorney to do all such acts that are necessary for the sale of Disputed Land. Based on GPA, the Attorneys executed various sale deeds in respect to Disputed Land in favour of Appellants.
Respondents- Plaintiffs filed four original suits bearing O.S. Nos. 1529 of 2014, 1532 of 2014, 1534 of 2014 and 7758 of 2016 for various reliefs such as:
The registered agreement to sale is barred by limitation and therefore, illegal, and not binding on Plaintiffs.
To cancel the registered agreement to sale and unregistered agreement to sale.
To execute a registered cancellation deed.
To award a decree of permanent injunction restraining Defendants and their agents to interfere with the Disputed Property.
To award injunction restraining Defendants and any other person acting on their behalf to demolish, interfere or enter in the Disputed Property.
The sale deeds executed in favour of Appellants were not questioned in aforesaid suit and such sale deeds were not part of subject matter nor any relief was claimed with respect to them.
The trial court vide judgement dated July 27, 2016 decreed the suit in favour of Plaintiffs. Aggrieved by the decision of trial court, the Appellants preferred R.F.A. Nos. 1434 of 2017, 1435 of 2017, 1436 of 2017 and 1775 of 2017 accompanied by leave to appeal which was rejected by the Hon'ble High Court of Karnataka vide judgement dated February 21, 2019.
Aggrieved by the judgement of the Hon'ble High Court, the Appellants have preferred this Appeal before the Hon'ble Supreme Court.
Whether the Appellants held the locus to question the judgement and decree passed by the Trial Court and whether High Court was justified in rejecting their leave to appeal?
The Hon'ble Supreme Court held that section 96 to 100 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC) provides for preferring an appeal from any original decree or decree in appeal respectively and the aforesaid provisions do not enumerate the categories of persons who can file the appeal. It is a settled law that a stranger cannot be permitted to file appeal unless the court is satisfied that he is an aggrieved person. Only when a judgement or decree prejudicially affects a person who is not a party to proceedings, he can file an appeal with the leave of the Appellate Court.
The Hon'ble Supreme Court referred to the case of Smt. Jatan Kumar Golcha v. Golcha Properties Private Ltd. [(1970) 3 SCC 573], wherein this Hon'ble Supreme Court had observed that:
"It is well settled that a person who is not a party to the suit may prefer an appeal with the leave of the Appellate Court and such leave should be granted if he would be prejudicially affected by the Judgment.
The Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Baldev Singh v. Surinder Mohan Sharma and Ors. [(2003) 1 SCC 34], has held that an appeal Under Section 96 of the CPC, would be maintainable only at the instance of a person aggrieved by and dissatisfied with the judgment and decree and it was observed at para 15 as follows:
A person aggrieved to file an appeal must be one whose right is affected by reason of the judgment and decree sought to be impugned.
Further, in A. Subash Babu v. State of A.P. and Anr. [(2011) 7 SCC 616], the Hon'ble Supreme Court has held that:
The expression 'aggrieved person' denotes an elastic and an elusive concept. It cannot be confined that the bounds of a rigid, exact and comprehensive definition. Its scope and meaning depends on diverse, variable factors such as the content and intent of the statute of which contravention is alleged, the specific circumstances of the case, the nature and extent of the complainant's interest and the nature and extent of the prejudice or injuries suffered by him.
The person aggrieved does not include a person who suffers from psychological or an imaginary injury rather a person aggrieved must necessarily be the one whose right or interest has been adversely affected or jeopardised.
n Srimathi K. Ponnalagu Ammani vs. The State of Madras represented by the Secretary of Revenue Department, Madras [66 Law Weekly 136; MANU/TN/0239/1953], the Hon'ble Madras High Court had laid down the test to find out when it is proper to grant leave to appeal to a person who is not a party in the proceeding against the decree or judgement passed in such proceedings. According to the Hon'ble High Court, it would be improper to grant leave to appeal to every person who may in some remote or indirect way be prejudicially affected by the judgement or decree. It should be granted to only those persons, who even though are not parties of the proceedings, but would be bound by the decree or judgement in that proceeding and who would be precluded from attacking its correctness in other proceedings.
The Hon'ble Supreme Court held that after applying the above tests, Appellants can neither be said to be aggrieved persons nor bound by judgement and decree of trial court. The relief claimed in suit was of cancellation of agreement of sale. But, the sale deeds, which were basis of the claim of the Appellants were executed on the basis of GPA and had nothing to do with the agreement to sale which was the subject matter in the suit. The decree and judgement of trial court is not a judgment in rem and therefore, it is binding only on the Plaintiffs and Defendants and not on Appellants.
Merely saying that one is aggrieved by a decree is not sufficient rather one has to demonstrate that the decree affects the legal rights of such person and would have adverse effect on such person when carried out. In the present matter, suit is confined only to a declaration being sought with respect to agreement to sale. Also, injunction was claimed only against the Defendants and its officers. There is not a whisper in entire suit proceedings of the judgement of trial court related to sale deed executed in favour of Appellants through GPA.
Accordingly, the Hon'ble Supreme Court dismissed the Appeal.
Vipul Ganda is a Delhi based Advocate practicing largely at the Delhi High Court. His practice focus is Dispute Resolution and Litigation and his practice areas include Arbitration, Commercial, Civil, Constitutional, Corporate and Criminal Litigation.