The Supreme Court, in this case, stated that a question of law does not emerge in the abstract but emerges from the merits of the cases. Also, that merely mentioning facts does not imply reappreciation of evidence.
Civil Appeal No. 2066 Of 2012
Date of Judgment:
September 02, 2021
Chief Justice of India NV Ramana
Justice AS Bopanna
Justice Hrishikesh Roy
Appellant(s) - Balasubramanian & Anr.
Respondent(s) - M. Arockiasamy (dead) Through LRs.
- The plaintiff sought a permanent injunction to prevent the defendants from interfering with the plaintiff's peaceful possession and enjoyment of the property in the plaint schedule. The plaintiff stated that the property belonged to him and had been paying kist for 40 years. The defendant sold the land in 1984. Thus, the defendant has no right to the property. They also allegedly tried to trespass into the suit property after the plaintiff refused to sell it to the defendant.
- The defendant, in response, argued that the property did not belong to the plaintiff, nor was it in his possession. However, the defendant claimed ownership of the property. The suit property allegedly belonged to another party but was transferred and sold to the defendant, Arockiammal. Hence, the defendant moved to dismiss the case.
- After considering the parties' arguments and evidence, the learned Trial Court found that the plaintiff had failed to establish possession of the property and dismissed his suit with costs on April 13, 1993. Affected by the same, the plaintiff filed a Regular First Appeal under Section 96 of the Civil Procedure Code before the District Judge (First Appellate Court).
- The District Judge, while taking into account the evidence presented by the parties, concluded that the plaintiff is in possession of the suit schedule property and was paying kist for it. In 1994, the defendant filed a Second Appeal under Section 100 of the Civil Procedure Code before the Madras High Court, Madurai Bench.
- After admitting the Second Appeal, the High Court concluded that the substantial question of law posed has substance. Hence, the High Court reversed the learned District Judge's judgement. Therefore, the aggrieved plaintiff had filed an appeal with the Supreme Court.
- Section - 96, Code of Civil Procedure, 1908: This Section provides for an appeal from the original decree. It states that every decree issued by any court exercising jurisdiction is appealable to the Court having jurisdiction to hear appeals from such Court's decision.
- Section - 100, Code of Civil Procedure, 1908: This Section states for a Second Appeal. This means that every decree passed in appeal by any Court subordinate to the High Court is appealable to the High Court if the High Court is satisfied that the case involves a substantial question of law.
- Is it possible to maintain a suit without a prayer for declaration, especially when the plaintiff's title is disputed?
- The Supreme Court stated that the legal position being that there is limited scope for reappreciating evidence or interfering with the trial court and first appellate court findings of fact in a second appeal under Section 100 of the Civil Procedure Code, it must consider whether the High Court has breached the present position.
- Hence, it stated that the High Court could still decide whether a lower court's reading of the evidence was perverse. The law question to be considered will always be based on the facts of the case, and there cannot be a straightjacket formula of the same.
- Further, the Supreme Court stated that raising and concluding on a legal question does not mean that the factual aspects and evidence have been reappreciated. The High Court was aware of the lower courts' differing views on the same set of facts.
- On considering all the other circumstances presented before the Supreme Court, it stated that possession of the suit schedule property was also not established on all counts.
- The Court further stated that the learned District Judge reversed the well-considered judgement of the Trial Court, indicating perversity and material irregularity in misdirecting itself in expecting the defendant to discharge the burden in a suit for bare injunction arriving at the wrong conclusion.
The Court did not make any observations regarding the question of law raised in the appeal. The Supreme Court was of the considered opinion that it would not be appropriate to interfere with the High Court's judgement because it is consistent with the facts of the case.
The Court concluded that the appeal lacked merit. As a result, the appeal was dismissed with no order as to costs in the case. In addition, any pending applications were to be said disposed of.
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