Read Judgment: Padhiyar Prahladji Chenaji (deceased) Through L.r.s V. Maniben Jagmalbhai (deceased) Through L.r.s And Ors. 

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, March 4, 2022: The Supreme Court has held that once the dispute with respect to title is settled and it is held against the plaintiff, then the suit by the plaintiff for permanent injunction shall not be maintainable against the true & absolute owner. 

The Court also observed that once the suit is held to be barred by limitation qua the declaratory relief and when the relief for permanent injunction was a consequential relief, then prayer for permanent injunction, which was a consequential relief can also be said to be barred by limitation. An injunction cannot be issued against a true owner or title holder and in favour of a trespasser or a person in unlawful possession, added the Division Bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice B.V. Nagarathna.

The Bench opined that when the execution of the registered sale deed and the payment of full sale consideration mentioned in the registered sale deed is believed and accepted by all the courts, then there is no reason for the trial court not to believe the averments in the registered sale deed of handing over the possession to the purchaser.

Going by the background of the case, the dispute was with respect to the land situated at District Deesa. The husband of Maniben (First Respondent – original plaintiff) had executed a Sale Deed in favour of Padhiyar (Appellant – original defendant) by which he sold his agricultural land in question. On the basis of the sale deed, the name of first defendant was mutated in the Revenue record in the year 1976 itself. Thereafter, between 1975 till 1997, defendants authorized and completed construction projects on the land. He also availed a bank loan where the suit property was given as a collateral security. 

In the year 1999, the husband of the original plaintiff, who executed the registered sale deed died and after a period of approximately 22 years, first respondent filed a civil suit seeking reliefs of cancellation of the registered sale deed, declaration and permanent injunction. 

The case on behalf of first respondent was that her husband was addicted to liquor and as the family was in need of finances, her husband decided to sell 1 acre of the land out of total 6 acres and 15 gunthas to the first defendant, who took advantage fraudulently and got the sale deed registered of the entire suit property. However, as per the first defendant, the plaintiff had no right, title or interest in the suit property, as the registered sale deed was duly executed by the husband of the plaintiff. 

On appreciation of evidence, both oral as well as documentary, the Trial Court partly allowed the suit, but declined to grant the relief of cancellation of the sale deed and declaration and held that the first defendant purchased the entire land under the registered Sale Deed. However, the Trial Court believed the plaintiff to be in possession of the suit land and accordingly granted the relief of permanent injunction. 

The matter reached the High Court, which held that the relief of permanent injunction sought by the original plaintiff can be said to be substantive relief and not a consequential relief and therefore, the Trial Court was justified in granting the permanent injunction in favour of the plaintiff as the plaintiff was/is found to be in possession of 5 acres and 15 gunthas of land out of total area ad-measuring 6 acres and 15 gunthas. 

After considering the submissions, the Top Court found that there are concurrent findings by the Trial court as well as the First Appellate Court that the plaintiff is in possession of the disputed land in question.

However, in the Revenue record, right from 1976 onwards and after the registered sale deed in favour of the first defendant, the name of first defendant was mutated in the Revenue record and in the column of farmer and the cultivator, the name of the first defendant was mentioned, and even the crops being cultivated by the cultivator were mentioned in the Revenue record, added the Court. 

Speaking for the Bench, Justice Shah noted that after the execution of the registered sale deed in favour of first defendant, which has been believed by all the courts, the name of first defendant was mutated in the Revenue record as an owner and cultivator and the plaintiff, who claimed to be in possession of the land and cultivating the same, was deemed to have the knowledge of the said entry. 

In the present case, as observed hereinabove and it is not in dispute that the suit filed by the plaintiff for cancellation of the registered sale deed and declaration has been dismissed and the registered sale deed in favour of the defendant No.1 has been believed and thereby defendant No.1 is held to be the true and absolute owner of the suit land in question. The judgment and decree passed by the trial court in so far as refusing to grant the relief for cancellation of the registered sale deed and declaration has attained finality. Despite the fact that the plaintiff has lost so far as the title is concerned, still the Courts below have granted relief of permanent injunction against the defendant No.1 – the absolute owner of the land in question, which is unsustainable, both, on law as well as on facts”, added the Bench. 

Justice Shah further observed that once the first defendant was held to be the true and absolute owner pursuant to the registered sale deed executed in his favour and the plaintiff was unsuccessful so far as the declaratory relief was concerned, thereafter, it couldnot be said that there was a cloud over the title of the plaintiff and/or even the defendant.

Therefore, once the plaintiff had failed to get any substantive relief of cancellation of the sale deed and failed to get any declaratory relief, relief of injunction could be said to be a consequential relief, and therefore, the prayer for permanent injunction must fail. 

The Apex Court concluded that in the instant case, as the plaintiff could not be said to be in lawful possession of the suit land, i.e., the possession of the plaintiff was “not legal or authorized by the law”, thus the plaintiff should not be entitled to any permanent injunction.

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