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GENERAL POWER OF ATTORNEY AS DISCUSSED IN CRIMINAL CASE 2009 SC

JUSTICE Arijit Pasayat, JUSTICE Lokeshwar Singh Panta, JUSTICE P. Sathasivam of Supreme court of India in the case of CHAMAN LAL & ORS. VS STATE OF PUNJAB & ANR. Reported in AIR 2009 SC 2972 , 2009(11) SCC 721
FACTS OF THE CASE:- In February, 1987 the complainant and his five family members executed General Power of Attorney (in short the `GPA') at Canada in favour of Manvinder Singh and subsequently the said GPA was registered with the Commissioner of Ferozepur, Punjab. The GPA stated that the GPA holder can do anything on behalf of the complainant which he can lawfully do. The GPA does not contain any condition or restriction. In August, 1989 the GPA holder met the appellants with a proposal to sell a plot of land of the complainant admeasuring 4840 square yards comprised in Khasra No. 1085 situated at Village Barewal Awana, Ludhiana. The GPA holder demanded a price of Rs.5 lakhs for the said property. On 4.10.1989 the appellants by an oral agreement-agreed to purchase the said property and paid Rs.1 lakh by way of four demand drafts to the GPA holder.
On 4.10.1989 the appellants by an oral agreement-agreed to purchase the said property and paid Rs.1 lakh by way of four demand drafts to the GPA holder.
On 7.11.1989 the aforesaid oral agreement was reduced into writing and the balance sum of Rs.4 lakh was also paid (Rs.1 lakh in cash and Rs.3 lakhs by bank drafts). Upon receipt of entire consideration, the GPA holder executed four SPAs in favour of appellant Nos.1 (Chaman Lal) 2 (Daljander Kaur) 3 (Narinder Kaur) and 7 (Balwant Singh).
On 5.12.1989 by virtue of the aforesaid 5 SPAs dated 7.11.1989 appellant Nos.1, 2, 3 & 7 executed and registered 5 sale deeds in favour of appellant Nos.2 to 6.
In the middle of December, 1989 the appellants suddenly came to know that the complainant had filed a suit No.120/89 dated 28.11.1989 against Petitioner Nos.1, 2, 3 and 7 for declaration that the said GPA holder (Manvinder Singh) had no authority to sell the said property and/or to permanently alienate and dispose of the said property. The appellants also came to know that in the said suit for declaration, an ex-parte injunction order/status quo was granted on 02.12.1989, though the appellants in the absence of knowledge- of such ex-parte injunction order had already executed the sale-deeds and got them registered on 05.12.1989.
On 14.06.1990 the learned Senior Subordinate Judge passed an order in the aforesaid suit, restraining the appellants from dispossessing the complainant from the said property and to maintain status quo with regard to ownership of the said property pending disposal of the suit, whereas in fact the appellants were already in possession of the said property since 07.11.1989.
On 20.8.1990 and 21.11.1990 the appellants preferred an Appeal No. 274/67 in the Court of the learned Additional District Judge, Ludhiana praying, inter alia, to maintain the status quo with regard to the ownership and possession of the said property and vide order dated 21.11.1990, the parties were ordered, during pendency of the main suit, to maintain status quo with regard to ownership and possession of the property. On 30.6.1995 the complainant lodged a complaint with the Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana - Shri S.S. Channi, I.A.S., who summoned the appellants at his residence and asked them to cancel the sale-deeds and concede to the claim of the complainant in the civil suit. The Commissioner also threatened the appellants with dire consequences by implicating them in false criminal cases. The said officer is related to the complainant.
On 31.08.1995 after a period of about 6 years, on a complaint lodged by the complainant, an FIR No. 183, Police Station Division No.5 District Ludhiana was registered only against Shri Sadhu Singh, Naib Tehsildar, Ludhiana and Shri Banta Singh, Patwari of Village Barewal Awana under Sections 420, 468,, 471, 120 B IPC.
On 13.3.1996 on application of the complainant, an inquiry was initiated and marked to the SP City, Ludhiana.
On 29.5.1996 the SP City, Ludhiana submitted his Report to the SSP, Ludhiana stating therein that the FIR was the handiwork to pressurize the appellants and further that no such offence had been committed by the appellants.
On 14.10.1996 despite the aforesaid report of the SP City, Ludhiana and in spite of the note of the A.D.A. (Legal) that no criminal case was made out against the appellants, a charge sheet under Section 173 Cr.P.C. was filed against the appellants for commission of alleged offences under Sections 420, 468, 467, 471,120B IPC.
On 11.12.1999 the Ld. ACJM, Ludhiana framed charges under Sections 120B read with Section 409 IPC and under Sections 120B/420 IPC against the appellants.
The appellants preferred a Criminal Revision No. 512 of 2000 in the Punjab & Haryana High Court challenging the maintainability of the charges framed against them and the learned Single Judge of the High Court dismissed the prayer of the appellants by the impugned order holding that there was sufficient ground to presume that the unrebutted evidence of the complainant constitute triable offences.

HIGH COURT OBSERVATIONS:- The High Court has found that the acts are not in dispute, the power of attorney is the central document in the case. The High Court noted that significantly, too many details of the property in respect of which it was executed were missing. The High Court observed that the power of attorney was embossed with the stamp of Commissioner, Firozepur on 19th March, 1987 prima facie on making it a valid document. But nevertheless a plain reading of the power of attorney leaves one with the uncertain feeling as regards its true import. The High Court observed that it is possible that the appellants were duped by the attorney who had known that his power has been revoked but concealed the fact. Thereafter having coming to this conclusion the High Court noted as follows:
“Such an argument could have been validly advanced by the petitioners to establish their bonafides if the power of attorney itself had mentioned the details of the property in dispute and had also mentioned specifically that the attorney had the power to alienate the property through sale, mortgage and lease etc. The petitioners must have examined the document because it was from the document that the power to enter into the agreement to sell had come to vest in Manvinder Singh. If even after examining the document the petitioners went ahead with the transaction they did so at their own peril. They lacked bonafides and were out to deprive the owner of his property by a series of transactions.”

SUPREME COURT HELD THAT:- “We are in agreement with the view expressed by the High Court. However, we make it clear that the observations made by the High Court while dismissing the petition before it shall not be considered to be conclusive and determined. It has been rightly noted that Manvinder accepted the factum of cancellation but thereafter executed the special power of attorney.”

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