Supreme Court Judgments on Civil Matters

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  1. Appointment of receiver
  2. A picture of a nude semi-nude woman as such, cannot per se be called obscene unless it has the tendency to arouse feeling or revealing an overt sexual desire
  3. Interpretation of the term DUE DILIGENCE as appear in proviso to Order VI, Rule17 C.P.C .
  4. Whether a litigant filing the list of witnesses is bound to indicate, howsoever briefly, the relevance of the witness to the subject matter of the suit etc.
  5. Principles laid down by Apex Court with reference to appeals
  6. There is an urgent need for the legislature and the Law Commission of India to revisit the provisions relating to costs and compensatory costs contained in Section 35 and 35A of C.P.C
  7. As per provisions of Order 6 Rule 17 of the C.P.C, the amendment application should be normally granted unless by virtue of the amendment nature of the suit is changed or some prejudice is caused to the defendant
  8. Restating the law on injunction against honouring Letter of Credit by a Bank
  9. Factors which should weigh with the court in the grant of ex parte injunction order
  10. Summary of the procedure to be adopted by a court under section 89 of C.P.C
  11. A categorical admission made in the pleadings cannot be permitted to be withdrawn by way of an amendment
  12. The first appellate court, under section 96 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908, is the last court of facts unless the findings are based on evidence or are perverse
  13. At the stage of exercise of power under order VII rule 11, the stand of the defendants in the written statement or in the application for rejection of plaint is wholly immaterial
  14. The doctrine of relation back would apply to all amendments under or. VI, Rule 17, unless the Court gives reasons to exclude the applicability of such doctrine in a given case
  15. An appeal under sec, 173 of the M.V Act is essentially in the nature of first appeal alike section 96 of the Code
  16. The cause of action in respect of which a counter claim can be filed, should accrue before the defendant has delivered his defence,namely, before the defendant has filed a written statement
  17. Appeal under Section 100 CPC is required to be admitted only on substantial question/questions of law. It cannot be formal admission like an appeal under Section 96 CPC. That is the fundamental imperative. It is peremptory in character, and that makes the principle absolutely cardinal
  18. The impugned order dismissing the suit on the ground of  Res Judicata does not cease to be a decree on account of a procedural irregularity of non-framing an issue. The court ought to treat the decree as if the same has been passed after framing the issue and on adjudication thereof, in such circumstances. What is to be seen is the effect and not the process. Even if there is a procedural irregularity in the process of passing such order, if the order passed is a decree under law, no revision lies under Section 115 of the Code in view of the specific bar under sub-Section (2) thereof. It is only appealable under  section 96 read with Order XLI of the Code
  19. Easily curable legal infirmity could be cured by means of a formal application for amendment. If the amendment sought to be made relates to a simple infirmity which is curable by means of a formal amendment and by allowing such amendment, no prejudice could be caused to the other side, notwithstanding the fact that there is no enabling provision in the Code for entertaining such amendment, the Court may permit such an amendment to be made.
  20. The High Court cannot proceed to hear a second appeal without formulating the substantial question of law involved in the appeal and if it does so it acts illegally and in abnegation or abdication of the duty cast on Court. The existence of substantial question of law is the  sine qua non for the exercise of the jurisdiction under the amended Section 100 of the Code
  21. Review is not re-hearing of an original matter. The power of review cannot be confused with appellate power which enables a superior court to correct all errors committed by a subordinate court. A repetition of old and overruled argument is not enough to re-open concluded adjudications
  22. The cause of action arises when the real dispute arises i.e when one party asserts and the other party denies any right
  23. The co-heir in possession cannot render his possession adverse to the other co-heir not in possession merely by any secret hostile animus on his own part in derogation of the other co-heir's title
  24. Adverse possession in one sense is based on the theory or presumption that the owner has abandoned the property to the adverse possessor on the acquiescence of the owner to the hostile acts and claims of the person in possession.
  25. In a suit for declaration of title and possession, the onus is upon the plaintiff to prove his title independently
  26. The date of “first hearing of a suit” under CPC is ordinarily understood to be the date on which the Court proposes to apply its mind to the contentions raised by the parties in their respective pleadings and also to the documents filed by them for the purpose of framing the issues which are to be decided in the suit. Thus, the question of having the “first hearing of the suit” prior to determining the points in controversy between the parties i.e. framing of issues does not arise. The words the “first day of hearing” does not mean the day for the return of the summons or the returnable date, but the day on which the court applies its mind to the case which ordinarily would be at the time when either the issues are determined or evidence is taken. [Vide:  Ved Prakash Wadhwa v. Vishwa Mohan, AIR 1982 SC 816;  Sham Lal (dead) by Lrs. v.  Atma Nand Jain Sabha (Regd.) Dal Bazar, AIR 1987 SC 197; Siraj Ahmad Siddiqui v. Shri Prem Nath Kapoor, AIR 1993 SC 2525; and M/s Mangat Singh Trilochan Singh thr. Mangat Singh (dead) by Lrs. & Ors. v. Satpal, AIR 2003 SC 4300]
  27. The impugned order dismissing the suit on the ground of Res Judicata does not cease to be a decree on account of a procedural irregularity of non-framing an issue. The court ought to treat the decree as if the same has been passed after framing the issue and on adjudication thereof, in such circumstances. What is to be seen is the effect and not the process. Even if there is a procedural irregularity in the process of passing such order, if the order passed is a decree under law, no revision lies under Section 115 of the Code in view of the specific bar under sub-Section (2) thereof. It is only appealable under Section 96 read with Order XLI of the Code
  28. A fortiori, any female, if she is having a legal right of residence in the building, is also included in the definition of “family” in relation to landlord regardless of the fact whether she is married or not. In other words, in order to claim the benefit of expression "family", a female must have a "legal right of residence" in the building. Such female would then be entitled to seek eviction of the tenant from such building for her need.
  29. The purpose behind enactment of Section 102 of the CPC is to reduce the quantum of litigation so that courts may not have to waste time where the stakes are very meagre and not of much consequence
  30. An injunction against the invocation of an absolute and an unconditional bank guarantee cannot be granted except in situations of egregious fraud or irretrievable injury to one of the parties concerned. This position also is no more  res integra
  31. It has to be kept in mind that insofar as the statutory scheme of the Act is concerned, it does not specifically exclude any category of cases as non-arbitrable. Such categories of non-arbitrable subjects are carved out by the Courts, keeping in mind the principle of common law that certain disputes which are of public nature, etc. are not capable of adjudication and settlement by arbitration and for resolution of such disputes, Courts, i.e. public for a, are better suited than a private forum of arbitration. Therefore, the inquiry of the Court, while dealing with an application under Section 8 of the Act, should be on the aforesaid aspect, viz. whether the nature of dispute is such that it cannot be referred to arbitration, even if there is an arbitration agreement between the parties. When the case of fraud is set up by one of the parties and on that basis that party wants to wriggle out of that arbitration agreement, a strict and meticulous inquiry into the allegations of fraud is needed and only when the Court is satisfied that the allegations are of serious and complicated nature that it would be more appropriate for the Court to deal with the subject matter rather than relegating the parties to arbitration, then alone such an application under Section 8 should be rejected
  32. In other words, sine qua non for admitting the second appeal was existence of "substantial question of law in the case" and therefore unless the questions framed were debatable, or/and arguable or/and involving any legal question, the High Court had no jurisdiction to formulate such questions treating them to be substantial question of law. Indeed the High Court had the jurisdiction under sub-Section (5) of Section 100 of CPC to examine at the time of hearing as to whether the questions framed were substantial questions of law or not and whether they arose out of the case, but the High Court failed to do so
  33. If during the pendency of the suit, Rent Act becomes applicable to the premises in question, that would be of no consequence and it would not take away the jurisdiction of civil court to dispose of a suit validly instituted. In order to oust the jurisdiction of civil court, there must be a specific provision in the Act taking away the jurisdiction of the civil court in respect of those cases also which were validly instituted before the date when protection of Rent Act became available in respect of the said area/premises/tenancy.
  34. The Registering Officer can refuse to register a document only in situations mentioned in Sections such as 19 to 22, 32 and 35. At the same time, once the document is registered, it is not open to the Registering Officer to cancel that registration even if his attention is invited to some irregularity committed during the registration of the document. The aggrieved party can challenge the registration and validity of the document before the Civil Court. The majority view of the Full Bench was that if a person is aggrieved by the Extinguishment Deed or its registration, his remedy is to seek appropriate relief in the Civil Court and a Writ Petition is not the proper remedy
  35. The DRT Act mainly pertains to institution of proceedings by a bank for recovery of its debt when the debt is not less than Rs.10 lakh. If the debt is less than Rs.10 lakh, no suit can be filed by the creditor bank in the Tribunal under the provisions of the DRT Act. So, when the jurisdiction of the Tribunal has been referred to in Section 1(4) of the DRT Act, which limits the jurisdiction of the Tribunal to Rs.10 lakh, prima facie, the intention of the legislature is to limit the original jurisdiction of the Tribunal. If any claim is to be made before the Tribunal, the amount must be more than Rs.10 lakh and if the amount is less than Rs.10 lakh, the creditor bank will have to file a suit in a Civil Court. So, one can safely interpret the provisions of Section 1(4) of the DRT Act to the effect that it deals with original jurisdiction of the Tribunal under the provisions of the DRT Act
  36. From the decisions referred to above, the legal principle that emerges, inter alia, are; 1) where under a will, a testator has bequeathed his absolute interest in the property in favour of his wife, any subsequent bequest which is repugnant to the first bequeath would be invalid; and 2) where a testator has given a restricted or limited right in his property to his widow, it is open to the testator to bequeath the property after the death of his wife in the same will
  37. Salmond's Jurisprudence 12th edition at pages 338-339 under the heading "The classes of agreements" was quoted to draw distinction between three classes namely agreement which creates rights, agreement which  transfer or assign rights, and lastly agreements which extinguish them. Aggrements which creates rights were divided into two sub classes, namely, contracts and grants. A contract is an agreement, which creates an obligation or right in personam between the parties
  38. Section 8(2) has to be interpreted to mean that the court shall not consider any application filed by the party under Section 8(1) unless it is accompanied by original arbitration agreement or duly certified copy thereof. The filing of the application without such original or certified copy, but bringing original arbitration agreement on record at the time when the Court is considering the application shall not entail rejection of the application under Section 8(2).
  39. Accordingly, the principles stated in paragraph 8 of Mechelec’s case will now stand superseded, given the amendment of O.XXXVII R.3, and the binding decision of four judges in Milkhiram’s case.
  40. A Will like any other document is to be proved in terms of the provisions of Section 68 of the Indian Succession Act and the Evidence Act. The propounder of the Will is called upon to show by satisfactory evidence that the Will was signed by the testator, that the testator at the relevant time was in a sound and disposing state of mind, that he understood the nature and effect of the disposition and put his signature to the document on his own free will and the document shall not be used as evidence until one attesting witness at least has been called for the purpose of proving its execution. This is the mandate of Section 68 of the Evidence Act and the position remains the same even in a case where the opposite party does not specifically deny the execution of the document in the written statement.
  41. On a perusal of the said provision, in juxtaposition with the provisions contained in 1996 Act, it seems to us that the legislature has intentionally not kept any provision pertaining to the applicability of the CPC. On the contrary, Section 5 of 1996 Act lays the postulate, that notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force in matters covered by Part I, no judicial authority shall intervene except so provided wherever under this Act.
  42. Law relating to derivative title of the landlord (Lessor) and challenge, if made, to such title by the tenant (Lessee) during subsistence of tenancy in relation to demised property is fairly well settled. Though by virtue of Section 116 of the Evidence Act, 1872, the tenant is estoppel from challenging the title of his landlord during continuance of the tenancy, yet the tenant/lessee is entitled to challenge the derivative title of an Assignee/Vendee of the original landlord (Lessor) of the demised property in an action brought by the Assignee/Vendee against the tenant for his eviction from the demised property under the Rent laws. This right of a tenant is, however, subject to one caveat that the tenant/lessee has not attorned to the Assignee/Vendee. In other words, if the tenant/lessee pays rent to the Assignee/Vendee of the tenanted property then it results in creation of an attornment between the parties which, in turn, deprives the tenant/lessee to challenge the derivative title of an Assignee/Vendee in the proceedings.
  43. An employee of a tenant is never considered to be in actual possession of tenanted premises much less in possession in his legal right. Indeed, he is allowed to use the tenanted premises only with the permission of his employer by virtue of his contract of employment with his employer. An employee, therefore, cannot claim any legal right of his own to occupy or to remain in possession of the tenanted premises while in employment of his employer or even thereafter qua landlord for want of any privity of contract between him and the landlord in respect of the tenanted premises.
  44. The scope and ambit of Section 34 of Sarfaesi Act, 2002 have been considered by this Court in several cases. It is sufficient to refer the judgment of this Court in Nahar Industrial Enterprises Limited Versus Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation (2009)8 SCC 646.This Court held that the jurisdiction of the Civil Court is plenary in nature, unless the same is ousted, expressly or by necessary implication, it will have jurisdiction to try all types of suits.
  45. Thus “decree” includes judgment and “judgment” includes “order”. On conjoint reading of ‘decree’, ‘judgment’ and ‘order’ from any angle, the order passed by the English Court falls within the definition of ‘Order’ and therefore, it is a judgment and thus becomes a “decree” as per Explanation to Section 44A(3) of CPC. In this case, the Court at England, after following the principles of natural justice, by recording reasons and very importantly basing on the application of the appellant itself, has conclusively decided the issue with regard to jurisdiction and passed the order coupled with costs. Hence in our considered opinion, the order passed by the Foreign Court is conclusive in that respect and on merits.
  46. No doubt, having regard to the words 'by whatever name called', the expression 'Letter of Intent' is to be given wider connotation. It means that nomenclature of the letter would not be the determinative factor. It is the substantive nature of the letter in question that would determine as to whether it can be treated as the Letter of Intent. For this purpose, it is first necessary to find the meaning that has to be attributed to the term 'Letter of Intent' . As per the legal dictionary, Letter of Intent is a document that described the preliminary understanding between the parties who intend to make a contract or join together in another action.
  47. We agree that when there is an allegation of fraud by non-disclosure of necessary and relevant facts or concealment of material facts, it must be inquired into. It is only after evidence is led coupled with intent to deceive that a conclusion of fraud could be arrived at. A mere concealment or non-disclosure without intent to deceive or a bald allegation of fraud without proof and intent to deceive would not render a decree obtained by a party as fraudulent. To conclude in a blanket manner that in every case where relevant facts are not disclosed, the decree obtained would be fraudulent, is stretching the principle to a vanishing point.
  48. Thus, a person holding the premises gratuitously or in the capacity as a caretaker or a servant would not acquire any right or interest in the property and even long possession in that capacity would be of no legal consequences. In the circumstances City Civil Court was right and justified in rejecting the prayer for interim injunction and that decision ought not to have been set aside by the High Court.
  49. As pointed out earlier, in terms of Article 134 of the Limitation Act, an application for delivery of possession by a purchaser of immovable property at a sale in execution of a decree has to be filed within a period of one year from the date when the sale becomes absolute.
  50. Order XIV Rule 2 provides for disposal of a suit on a preliminary issue and under sub-Rule (2) of Rule 2, if the court is of opinion that a case or part thereof can be disposed of on an issue of law only, it may try that issue first, in case it relates to jurisdiction of the court or bar to entertaining the suit. After the 1976 amendment, the scope of a preliminary issue under Order XIV Rule 2(2) is limited only to two areas, one is jurisdiction of the court, and the other, bar to the suit as created by any law for the time being in force.
  51. The plaintiff, who was not in possession, had in the suit claimed only declaratory relief along with mandatory injunction. Plaintiff being out of possession, the relief of recovery of possession was a further relief which ought to have been claimed by the plaintiff. The suit filed by the plaintiff for a mere declaration without relief of recovery of possession was clearly not maintainable and the trial court has rightly dismissed the suit
  52. It may also be underlying that the notion that a child's primary need is for the care and love of its mother, where she has been its primary care giving parent, is supported by a vast body of psychological literature. Empirical studies show that mother infant “bonding” begins at the child's birth and that infants as young as two months old frequently show signs of distress when the mother is replaced by a substitute caregiver. An infant typically responds preferentially to the sound of its mother's voice by four weeks, actively demands her presence and protests her absence by eight months, and within the first year has formed a profound and enduring attachment to her. Psychological theory hypothesizes that the mother is the center of an infant's small world, his psychological homebase, and that she “must continue to be so for some years to come.” Developmental psychologists believe that the quality and strength of this original bond largely determines the child's later capacity to fulfill her individual potential and to form attachments to other individuals and to the human community.
  53. A child, who has not seen, experienced or lived the comfort of the company of the mother is, naturally, not in a position to comprehend that the grass on the other side may turn out to be greener. Only when she is exposed to that environment of living with her mother, that she would be in a position to properly evaluate as to whether her welfare lies more in the company of her mother or in the company of her father.
  54. In State of West Bengal v. M/s. B.K. Mondal and Sons AIR 1962 SC 779, this Court held that the provision of section 175(3) is mandatory and non-compliance makes the contract invalid and section 70 of the Contract Act prevents unjust enrichment. It applies as much to individuals as to corporations and Government. Section 70 of the Contract Act deals with the cases where a person does a thing not intending to act gratuitously and others enjoyed it. In such a situation compensation can be claimed under section 70 and this Court has held that section 175(3) of the Government of India Act is not in conflict with the principles enunciated under section 70 of the Contract Act. Thus, we find no force in the submission on the part of Mesco with respect to the forfeiture of amount of Rs.1.25 crores. In addition, they would be liable to pay as compensation for retaining possession so long. In New Marine Coal Co. (Bengal) Private Ltd. v. The Union of India AIR 1964 SC 152 also, this Court has held that when a contract is found to be void due to the provisions of section 175(3) of the Government of India Act it becomes unenforceable but in case a party had performed its obligation, section 70 is attracted in order to recover compensation.
  55. Mere non-examination of the family member who intends to do the business cannot be taken as a ground for repelling the reasonable requirement of the landlord. Under the Act, the landlord needs to establish only a reasonable requirement. No doubt, it is not a simple desire. It must be a genuine need. Whether the requirement is based on a desire or need, will depend on the facts of each case.
  56. It is apparent from section 50 CPC that when a judgment-debtor dies before the decree has been satisfied, it can be executed against legal representatives. Section 50 is not confined to a particular kind of decree. Decree for injunction can also be executed against legal representatives of the deceased judgment-debtor. The maxim “actio personalis moritur cum persona” is limited to certain class of cases as indicated by this Court in Girijanandini Devi v. Bijendra Narain Choudhary (supra) and when the right litigated upon is heritable, the decree would not normally abate and can be enforced by LRs. of decree-holder and against the judgment-debtor or his legal representatives. It would be against the public policy to ask the decree-holder to litigate once over again against the legal representatives of the judgment-debtor when the cause and injunction survives. No doubt, it is true that a decree for injunction normally does not run with the land. In the absence of statutory provisions it cannot be enforced. However, in view of the specific provisions contained in section 50 CPC, such a decree can be executed against legal representatives.
  57. The present Section 92 of the CPC corresponds to Section 539 of the old code of 1883 and has been borrowed in part from 52 Geo 3 c 101, called Romilly’s Act of the United Kingdom. A bare perusal of the said section would show that a suit can be instituted in respect of a public trust by the advocate general or two or more persons having an interest in the trust after obtaining leave of the Court in the principal civil Court of original jurisdiction. An analysis of these provisions would show that it was considered desirable to prevent a public trust from being harassed or put to legal expenses by reckless or frivolous suits being brought against the trustees and hence a provision was made for leave of the Court having to be obtained before the suit is instituted.
  58. The Mohammedan Law does not recognize the right of one of shareholders being tenants-in-common for acting on behalf of others. While discharging debt also they act as independent debtors. A co-sharer cannot create charge on property of co-heir. The right of Muslim heir is immediately defined in each fraction of estate. Notion of joint family property is unknown to Muslim law. Co-heir does not act as agent while discharging debt but is an independent debtor not as co-debtor or joint debtor. Co-sharers are not defined as joint contractors, partners, executors or mortgagees.
  59. The judicially propounded proposition is that when the property forming the subject matter of eviction proceedings is owned by several co-owners, every co-owner owns every part and every bit of the joint property along with others and thus it cannot be said that he is only a part owner or a fractional owner of the property and that he can alone maintain a suit for eviction of the tenant without joining the other co-owners if such other co-owners do not object.
  60. It is no longer res integra that an Executing Court can neither travel behind the decree nor sit in appeal over the same or pass any order jeopardizing the rights of the parties there under. It is only in the limited cases where the decree is by a court lacking inherent jurisdiction or is a nullity that the same is rendered non est and is thus inexecutable. An erroneous decree cannot be equalled with one which is a nullity.
  61. In A. Lewis and another vs. M.T. Ramamurthy and others (2007) 14 SCC 87, it was propounded that the right to claim protection under Section 53A of T.P. Act would not be available, if the transferee remains passive without taking effective steps and abstains from performing his part of the contract or conveying his readiness and willingness to that effect.

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