Read Order: RAMVIR SINGH Vs. SANGEETA AGGARWAL  AND ORS 

Mansimran Kaur 

New Delhi, April 9, 2022: The Delhi High Court has held that the plaintiff, as dominus litis, may at the first instance implead those parties whom he deems to be necessary and proper parties to the lis. If a party not so impleaded seeks impleadment in the proceedings, then the right of such party to be impleaded would have to be adjudged on the anvil of Order I Rule 10(2) of CPC.

Justice C. Hari Shankar observed that the Civil Judge had erred in dismissing the application of the petitioner’s application under Order I Rule 10 on the sole ground that the first respondent’s suit was merely a suit for injunction and that an injunction suit could not be converted into a title suit.

In the present case, a petition was instituted under Article 227 of the Constitution against the impugned order of the Civil Judge whereby the plaintiff’s application filed under Order 1 Rule 10 of the Code of Civil Procedure for being impleaded as a party in a suit, was dismissed.

The facts in brief were that the first respondent claiming to be the owner and in possession of the land situated in the area of Badarpur in New Delhi, filed a civil suit against other respondents. The first Respondent claimed to have purchased the suit property from one Bijender Singh under a duly notarized general power of attorney dated December 23, 1996 after paying the entire sale consideration to the said Bijender Singh, consequent whereon it was claimed that Bijender Singh had given physical possession of the property to Sangeeta(first Respondent). At the time when the property would have to be handed over to Sangeeta, according to her, Bijender Singh represented that the property was free from all encumbrances. 

Other Respondents were the residents of the adjoining locality as stated in the suit. Sangeeta claimed that these had a mala fide intention of taking over the physical possession of her property by unlawful means. Apprehending the same, she sought a decree of permanent injunction in her favour, thereby restraining the respondents to trespass  her property. While the proceedings were lying sub – judice before the Civil Judge, the petitioner, Ramvir, instituted an application under Order 1 Rule 10 to seek impleadment in suit. 

The petitioner affirmed that his mother purchased the property in question on January 20, 1996 under the GPA agreement and after her demise, he would be the lawful owner of the same. He even claimed to have the physical possession of the property in suit. 

The Civil Judge, through its order dated February 13, 2019 , dismissed the application  of the petitioner on the ground that the plaintiff filed a suit for injunction and the same could not be converted into a title suit. It was further observed that Sangeeta being the dominus litus  in her suit could not be imposed with the applicant as a defendant especially when no relief had been sought against him.

The Counsel for the first respondent plaintiff defended the impugned judgment by submitting that the petitioner couldnot plead as the necessary party, as the subject matter in dispute did not concern the petitioner. 

On the other hand, the Counsel for the petitioner countered that  this principle is, in fact, an exception to the dominus litis doctrine. Further the case of Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd. v. Regency Convention Centre and Hotels Pvt. Ltd  was referred to wherein it was observed that the general rule in regard to impleadment of parties is that the plaintiff in a suit, being dominus litis, may choose the persons against whom he wishes to litigate and cannot be compelled to sue a person against whom he does not seek any relief. Consequently, a person who is not a party has no right to be impleaded against the wishes of the plaintiff. But this general rule is subject to the provisions of Order 1 Rule 10(2) of the Code of Civil Procedure.

The Bench took note of teh judgment of the  Supreme Court in Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd. v. Regency Convention Centre and Hotels Pvt. Ltd  wherein it was opined that a “necessary party”  is a person who ought to have been joined as a party and in whose absence no effective decree could at all be passed by the Court. A “proper party”, on the other hand, would include parties whose presence, even if they are not necessary parties, is necessary, “would enable the Court to completely, effectively and adequately adjudicate upon all matters in dispute in the suit” though he need not be a person in favor of or against whom the decree is to be made. It is only if a person is neither a necessary nor a proper party that his application for impleadment can be rejected.

The Benc said, “The emphasised portion of the judgment of the Supreme Court in Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd. effectively answers Ms. Saxena’s contention that, as no relief was claimed against Rambir, he was not required to be impleaded as a party in the proceedings. It is not parties against whom reliefs are claimed in the proceedings who alone are entitled to be joined. Any party whose presence would enable the Court – as contradistinguished from a party whose presence is necessary – to adjudicate upon all matters in dispute in the suit, are entitled to be impleaded even if there is no relief claimed against such party.”

It was noted by the Court that the plaintiff had consciously made detailed averments in the suit regarding her right over the suit property both as an owner of the suit property as well as a person having been in settled possession thereof. She had also set out, in extenso, the facts which entitled her to claim ownership. 

According to the Bench, in such circumstances, a third party such as Rambir, who also claimed ownership of the suit property, and had sought to back up the claim with necessary factual assertions in his application under Order I Rule 10, could not have been non-suited by the Trial Court. As to whether the claim of Rambir, or that of Sangeeta, apropos ownership and possession of the suit property would prevail, would be something which the Court would be able to decide only after a trial and after consideration of evidence.

Thus, this Court was of the opinion that the Civil judge erred in dismissing the application of the petitioner under Order 1 Rule 10 solely on the ground that suit of the plaintiff was that of injunction and not title suit. 

Accordingly, the application of the petitioner was allowed and the impugned order dated February  13, 2019 was  set aside and quashed. The respondent/plaintiff was directed to file an amended memo of parties including the petitioner as an additional defendant in the suit within a period of one week.

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