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GUIDELINES ON MODE OF PLEADINGS AND DOCUMENTS TO BE PRODUCED FOR CLAIMING POSSESSION RE-STRESSED 2012 SC

FULL JUDGMENT
JUSTICE Dalveer Bhandari, & JUSTICE Dipak Misra of Supreme court of India in the case of A.Shanmugam vs Ariya, Decided on 27 April 2012, has held that This case demonstrates widely prevalent state of affairs where litigants raise disputes and cause litigation and then obstruct the progress of the case only because they stand to gain by doing so. It is a matter of common experience that the Court’s otherwise scarce resources are spent in dealing with non-deserving cases and unfortunately those who were waiting in the queue for justice in genuine cases usually suffer. This case is a typical example of delayed administration of civil justice in our Courts. A small suit, where the appellant was directed to be evicted from the premises in 1994, took 17 years before the matter was decided by the High Court. Unscrupulous litigants are encouraged to file frivolous cases to take undue advantage of the judicial system. ..... The question often arises as to how we can solve this menace within the frame work of law. ........ The court further observed that "We reiterate the immense importance and relevance of purity of pleadings. The pleadings need to be critically examined by the judicial officers or judges both before issuing the ad interim injunction and/or framing of issues. ....... The entire journey of a judge is to discern the truth from the pleadings, documents and arguments of the parties. Truth is the basis of justice delivery system. This Court in Dalip Singh v. State of U.P. and Others (2010) 2 SCC 114 observed that truth constitutes an integral part of the justice delivery system which was in vogue in pre-independence era and the people used to feel proud to tell truth in the courts irrespective of the consequences. However, post-independence period has seen drastic changes in our value system. ........... As stated in the preceding paragraphs, the pleadings are foundation of litigation but experience reveals that sufficient attention is not paid to the pleadings and documents by the judicial officers before dealing with the case. It is the bounden duty and obligation of the parties to investigate and satisfy themselves as to the correctness and the authenticity of the matter pleaded................ The pleadings must set-forth sufficient factual details to the extent that it reduces the ability to put forward a false or exaggerated claim or defence. The pleadings must inspire confidence and credibility. If false averments, evasive denials or false denials are introduced, then the Court must carefully look into it while deciding a case and insist that those who approach the Court must approach it with clean hands.................. It is imperative that judges must have complete grip of the facts before they start dealing with the case. That would avoid unnecessary delay in disposal of the cases. ................... Ensuring discovery and production of documents and a proper admission/denial is imperative for deciding civil cases in a proper perspective. In relevant cases, the Courts should encourage interrogatories to be administered. ........ If issues are properly framed, the controversy in the case can be clearly focused and documents can be properly appreciated in that light. The relevant evidence can also be carefully examined. Careful framing of issues also helps in proper examination and cross-examination of witnesses and final arguments in the case. .......... The appellant is also guilty of introducing untenable pleas. The plea of adverse possession which has no foundation or basis in the facts and circumstances of the case was introduced to gain undue benefit. The Court must be cautious in granting relief to a party guilty of deliberately introducing irrelevant and untenable pleas responsible for creating unnecessary confusion by introducing such documents and pleas. These factors must be taken into consideration while granting relief and/or imposing the costs................ False averments of facts and untenable contentions are serious problems faced by our courts. The other problem is that litigants deliberately create confusion by introducing irrelevant and minimally relevant facts and documents. The court cannot reject such claims, defences and pleas at the first look. It may take quite sometime, at times years, before the court is able to see through, discern and reach to the truth. More often than not, they appear attractive at first blush and only on a deeper examination the irrelevance and hollowness of those pleadings and documents come to light. ................... Our courts are usually short of time because of huge pendency of cases and at times the courts arrive at an erroneous conclusion because of false pleas, claims, defences and irrelevant facts. A litigant could deviate from the facts which are liable for all the conclusions. In the journey of discovering the truth, at times, this Court, on later stage, but once discovered, it is the duty of the Court to take appropriate remedial and preventive steps so that no one should derive benefits or advantages by abusing the process of law. The court must effectively discourage fraudulent and dishonest litigants. A serious endeavour has been made as to how the present system can be improved to a large extent. In the case of Maria Margarida Sequeria Fernandes and Others v. Erasmo Jack de Sequeria (Dead) through L.Rs. (2012) 3 SCALE 550 , this Court had laid stress on purity of pleadings in civil cases. We deem it appropriate to set out paras 61 to 79 of that judgment dealing with broad guidelines provided by the Court which are equally relevant in this case:- “61. In civil cases, pleadings are extremely important for ascertaining the title and possession of the property in question. 62. Possession is an incidence of ownership and can be transferred by the owner of an immovable property to another such as in a mortgage or lease. A licensee holds possession on behalf of the owner. 63. Possession is important when there are no title documents and other relevant records before the Court, but, once the documents and records of title come before the Court, it is the title which has to be looked at first and due weightage be given to it. Possession cannot be considered in vacuum. 64. There is a presumption that possession of a person, other than the owner, if at all it is to be called possession, is permissive on behalf of the title-holder. Further, possession of the past is one thing, and the right to remain or continue in future is another thing. It is the latter which is usually more in controversy than the former, and it is the latter which has seen much abuse and misuse before the Courts. 65. A suit can be filed by the title holder for recovery of possession or it can be one for ejectment of an ex-lessee or for mandatory injunction requiring a person to remove himself or it can be a suit under Section 6 of the Specific Relief Act to recover possession. 66. A title suit for possession has two parts – first, adjudication of title, and second, adjudication of possession. If the title dispute is removed and the title is established in one or the other, then, in effect, it becomes a suit for ejectment where the defendant must plead and prove why he must not be ejected. 67. In an action for recovery of possession of immovable property, or for protecting possession thereof, upon the legal title to the property being established, the possession or occupation of the property by a person other than the holder of the legal title will be presumed to have been under and in subordination to the legal title, and it will be for the person resisting a claim for recovery of possession or claiming a right to continue in possession, to establish that he has such a right. To put it differently, wherever pleadings and documents establish title to a particular property and possession is in question, it will be for the person in possession to give sufficiently detailed pleadings, particulars and documents to support his claim in order to continue in possession. 68. In order to do justice, it is necessary to direct the parties to give all details of pleadings with particulars. Once the title is prima facie established, it is for the person who is resisting the title holder’s claim to possession to plead with sufficient particularity on the basis of his claim to remain in possession and place before the Court all such documents as in the ordinary course of human affairs are expected to be there. Only if the pleadings are sufficient, would an issue be struck and the matter sent to trial, where the onus will be on him to prove the averred facts and documents. 69. The person averring a right to continue in possession shall, as far as possible, give a detailed particularized specific pleading along with documents to support his claim and details of subsequent conduct which establish his possession. 70. It would be imperative that one who claims possession must give all such details as enumerated hereunder. They are only illustrative and not exhaustive. a) who is or are the owner or owners of the property; b) title of the property; c) who is in possession of the title documents d) identity of the claimant or claimants to possession; e) the date of entry into possession; f) how he came into possession - whether he purchased the property or inherited or got the same in gift or by any other method; g) in case he purchased the property, what is the consideration; if he has taken it on rent, how much is the rent, license fee or lease amount; h) if taken on rent, license fee or lease - then insist on rent deed, license deed or lease deed; i) who are the persons in possession/occupation or otherwise living with him, in what capacity; as family members, friends or servants etc.; j) subsequent conduct, i.e., any event which might have extinguished his entitlement to possession or caused shift therein; and k) basis of his claim that not to deliver possession but continue in possession. 71. Apart from these pleadings, the Court must insist on documentary proof in support of the pleadings. All those documents would be relevant which come into existence after the transfer of title or possession or the encumbrance as is claimed. While dealing with the civil suits, at the threshold, the Court must carefully and critically examine pleadings and documents. 72. The Court will examine the pleadings for specificity as also the supporting material for sufficiency and then pass appropriate orders. 73. Discovery and production of documents and answers to interrogatories, together with an approach of considering what in ordinary course of human affairs is more likely to have been the probability, will prevent many a false claims or defences from sailing beyond the stage for issues. 74. If the pleadings do not give sufficient details, they will not raise an issue, and the Court can reject the claim or pass a decree on admission. 75. On vague pleadings, no issue arises. Only when he so establishes, does the question of framing an issue arise. Framing of issues is an extremely important stage in a civil trial. Judges are expected to carefully examine the pleadings and documents before framing of issues in a given case. 76. In pleadings, whenever a person claims right to continue in possession of another property, it becomes necessary for him to plead with specificity about who was the owner, on what date did he enter into possession, in what capacity and in what manner did he conduct his relationship with the owner over the years till the date of suit. He must also give details on what basis he is claiming a right to continue in possession. Until the pleadings raise a sufficient case, they will not constitute sufficient claim of defence. 77. XXXX XXXX XXXX 78. The Court must ensure that pleadings of a case must contain sufficient particulars. Insistence on details reduces the ability to put forward a non-existent or false claim or defence. 79. In dealing with a civil case, pleadings, title documents and relevant records play a vital role and that would ordinarily decide the fate of the case.”

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