Upgrad
LCI Learning

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Share on LinkedIn

Share on Email

Share More

Where Title Is Disputed, Injunction Suit For Safeguarding Possession Not Maintainable: Supreme Court

Ifrah Murtaza ,
  28 February 2024       Share Bookmark

Court :
Hon’ble Supreme Court of India
Brief :

Citation :
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 722 OF 2012

Case title:

The Tehsildar, Urban Improvement Trust & Anr v. Ganga Bai Menariya (Dead) through LRS. & Ors

Date of Order:

20.002.2024

Bench:

Hon’ble Mr. Justice Vikram Nath

Hon’ble Mr. Rajesh Bindal

Parties:

Appellant(s): The Tehsildar, Urban Improvement Trust & Anr

Respondent(s): Ganga Bai Menariya (Dead) through Lrs. & Ors.

SUBJECT: 

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Supreme Court’ or ‘the Court’) adjudicated a case arising out of a dispute over ownership and possession of land. The respondents had sought an injunction to assert ownership over the land they had purchased from the Gram Panchayat. The ownership was contended by the appellants who claimed that the land had been reserved for cattle grazing purposes by the government. Initially, the Trial Court had ruled in favour of appellant stating the ownership and possession claims by the respondents were not valid. The respondents appealed against the order and the First Appellate Court ruled in favour of the respondent. The appellants appealed against the order but the High Court upheld the ruling of the First Appellate Court. The appeal against the High Court’s order is now before this Court.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:

The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (evidence Act):

  • Section 90

OVERVIEW:

  • The respondents claim that in December of 1959, they were granted a lease (patta) of land situated at Mauja Madri, Savina Road by the Gram Panchayat, Titardi.
  • The appellants oppose the claim, stating that the disputed land was designated as government land reserved for grazing cattle.
  • The appellants contested the respondents’ ownership and possession of the land, despite the lease.
  • The respondents sought a permanent injunction through the filing of a civil suit against the appellants.
  • However, no declaration of ownership was sought by the respondents. They only pursued injunction relief to prevent any interference with their possession.
  • The trial court dismissed the suit filed by the respondents on 30th April 2003, stating that the respondents had failed to prove their ownership and possession claims.
  • Aggrieved by the Trial Court’s ruling, the respondents appealed against the trial court’s order in the First Appellate Court, where the Additional District Judge, Udaipur overturned the trial Court’s judgment and granted the respondents relief in the form of permanent injunction.
  • The appellants appealed against the order of the first appellate court in the High Court of Rajasthan.
  • The High Court upheld the ruling of the First Appellate Court and ruled in favour of the respondents.
  • The appellants have now appealed against the High Court’s order before the Supreme Court.

ISSUES RAISED:

  • Whether the land in dispute in ownership and possession of the respondent?
  • Whether the respondent has tried to unauthorizedly acquire land which is in ownership of the government?
  • Whether the absence of pleading of the Gram Panchayat Titardi as a necessary third party renders the injunction suit not maintainable?
  • Whether injunction can be filed without the declaration suit?

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT(S):

  • The lease presented by the respondents is not valid as the Gram Panchayat, Titardi was not a competent authority to grant a lease.
  • The disputed land was still listed as government-owned and was earmarked for grazing cattle (gochar land).
  • The respondents had not provided sufficient evidence to establish their legal ownership and possession of the land. Material documents like revenue records or official deeds were never produced in court.
  • The sale of the land was violative of Rule 266 of the 1961 Rules governing land transfer. The contested transfer did not adhere to the prescribed legal procedure outlined in the Rules.
  • A suit for permanent injunction was non-maintainable in light of the fact that a declaration of rights was never sought by the respondents.
  • The rulings of the lower courts were erroneous due to the insufficiency of the material evidence.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT(S):

  • The respondents claimed their ownership and possession of disputed land was legal by way of the lease granted to them by the Gram Panchayat in 1959.
  • The disputed chunk of land was transferred by the district collector vide order dated 15.04.1989 as extension of abadi to the Urban Improvement Trust and was said to be bilanam, with no reference to gochar land.
  • The respondents had the legal right to continue to occupy the land they have in possession of since 1959. Therefore, there was no need for respondents to file for declaration of ownership.
  • The lease document ought to be presumed authentic under section 90 of the evidence act as the document was over 30 years old.
  • There were two witnesses in whose presence the lease was executed.
  • Subsequent government scheme introduced in October 2012, namely ‘Parshashan Shehron Ka Sang Abhiyan’, further support the respondents’ claims.

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS:

  • It was noted by the Court that the respondents had indeed failed to produce revenue records demonstrating that the land was mutated in their favour.
  • Besides the oral testimonies of the 2 witnesses, there was no material evidence to back the respondents’ ownership and possession claims.
  • The Supreme Court stressed that the presumption of authenticity is applicable only to the signatures and execution of the document, not to the accuracy of its contents.
  • As the signatory, sarpanch Kushal Singh, of the lease deed had passed away there was no proof of his signature’s authenticity.
  • The Court opined that the contents of the lease documents need to be accurately proven and criticized the failure of the respondents to summon the records proving the execution of their lease.
  • The Gram Panchayat should have been a party in the suit in the Court’s opinion, consequently they were now to prove the validity of the documents without the direct involvement of the Gram Panchayat.
  • The revenue records presented before the Court show that the disputed land was reserved for non-agricultural use by the government.
  • The Supreme Court observed that the respondents had failed to substantiate their ownership and possession of the contested land.
  • It was held that in cases where the title of a party is contested, a mere suit for injunction is not maintainable. The title has to be proven to seek an injunction as per the ruling in Anathula Sudhakar v. P.Buchi Reddy (Dead) by Lrs. & Ors. 
  • The impugned order of the High Court’s order was set aside.

CONCLUSION:

The Supreme Court restored the Trial Court’s order and dismissed the orders of the appellate courts, stating that the High Court’s judgment was legally flawed. It was held that the respondents had failed to prove their rightful claim to the disputed land. The lease deed in question was violative of Rule 266 of the 1961 Rules which outlines the peculiar situations when land can be transferred by way of sale through private negotiation. The Supreme Court further highlighted the need for both parties and the registry of the Court to ensure due diligence and accuracy when filing pleadings and documentations. The appeals were allowed accordingly.

 
"Loved reading this piece by Ifrah Murtaza?
Join LAWyersClubIndia's network for daily News Updates, Judgment Summaries, Articles, Forum Threads, Online Law Courses, and MUCH MORE!!"



Published in Others
Views : 617




Comments