Read Order: Joginder Singh v. Sukhwant Kaur and Others
May 25, 2022: While dealing with a regular second appeal filed by a vendee of land involved in a suit between a mother and her son, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has upheld the decision of the Trial Court wherein it was held that the sale deed in vendee’s favour was hit by the principle of lis pendens as it was executed during the pendency of the civil suit and there was no evidence on record to show that the vendee did not have knowledge of the defect in the title of the vendor (son).
In this case,the Bench of Justice Alka Sarin was considering an appeal by the appellant (fifth defendant) against the judgment and decree of the Trial Court and that of the First Appellate Court whereby the suit for a declaration by the plaintiff was decreed.
Briefly, the facts are such that one Hardeep Singh, exclusive owner in possession in respect of the suit land, died in December 2000 leaving behind his widow Sukhwant Kaur (plaintiff), his son Ranjit Singh (first defendant) and his daughters Gurpreet Singh alias Gurmeet Kaur and Kanwaljit Kaur (second and third defendant).
The suit was filed by Sukhwant Kaur (plaintiff) on the ground that Hardeep Singh had great love and affection for her and hence he executed a registered Will dated October 2, 2000, bequeathing his entire estate in her favour. It was further averred that the defendants had no right or title in the suit land.
Further, a challenge was laid to a Will of 1997 executed in favour of Ranjit Singh. Similarly, the challenge was also against a sale deed of February 2008 in favour of Joginder Singh (fifth defendant) and another sale deed (April 2008) executed by Ranjit Singh in favour of the fourth defendant.
The defendant Ranjit Singh mentioned in his written statement that mutation in his favour was sanctioned based on a Will (of 1997) executed by his father in his favour and that he sold the suit land to the fourth defendant. He denied that the Will in his favour was cancelled and alleged that the Will set up by his mother Sukhwant Kaur (plaintiff) was a forged and fabricated document.
The fourth and fifth defendants filed separate written statements stating therein that the Will of October 2000 was a forged and fabricated document and that Ranjit Singh was the exclusive owner in possession of the land left by his father, Hardeep Singh, and that they had purchased the suit land for valuable consideration and were in actual physical possession of the same.
The Trial Court, based on the pleadings and the evidence on the record, held the Will of October 2000 to be duly proved. It was further held that the original sale deed of February 2008 in favour of Joginder Singh was never produced on record and only a photocopy of the same was produced. It was further held that the said sale deed was executed during the pendency of the civil suit and was hence hit by the principle of lis pendens and there was no evidence on record to show that Joginder Singh did not have knowledge of the defect in the title of Ranjit Singh. The Trial Court thus decreed the suit declaring Sukhwant Kaur (plaintiff) to be the sole owner qua the estate left by her deceased husband Hardeep Singh.
Thereafter two separate appeals were filed which were also dismissed. Hence, the present second appeal.
The counsel for Joginder Singh (the appellant herein) contended that it was a clear case of collusion between the mother and the son to defeat his legal rights who was a bonafide purchaser for consideration. The Counsel further vouched for the validity of the 1997 Will.
The Court, after considering the case, came to the conclusion that by the subsequent Will of 2000, the earlier Will of 1997 was specifically cancelled and the entire property was bequeathed by Hardeep Singh in favour of his wife Sukhwant Kaur (plaintiff). The Court noted that both the attesting witnesses to the Will testified regarding the due and valid execution of the Will, and the scribe of the Willfully supported the case set up by the plaintiff. It was observed that the testimonies of the said witnesses could not be shaken in their cross-examination.
Next, the Court considered the question of whether the appellant (fifth defendant) could be considered to be a bona fide purchaser for valuable consideration without notice of the rights of the plaintiff?
Regarding this issue, the Court was of the opinion that the mutation on the basis of the Will of 2000 was sanctioned in January of 2004 in a gathering in the village itself and that the appellant, being a resident of the same village, can by no stretch of imagination be said to be unaware of the execution the said Will.
Further, the Court added that none of the vendees from Ranjit Singh i.e. Narinder Singh and Joginder Singh uttered a word in their testimonies regarding having made any bona fide verification about the title of Ranjit Singh, rather it was simply stated by the fifth defendant that he saw the Will of 1997 in favour of Ranjit Singh as also the mutation in his favour.
It was also noticed that both Narinder Singh and Joginder Singh were brothers and the sale deed in favour of Narinder Singh was executed by his father acting as attorney of Ranjit Singh. It was further noticed by both the Courts below that there was no evidence on the record regarding any consideration having passed qua the sale deed in favour of the fifth defendant.
No patent illegality or perversity in either of the judgments rendered by both the Courts below was pointed out.
Thus, the regular second appeal was dismissed.