HON’BLE SRI JUSTICE B. PRAKASH RAO
HON’BLE SRI JUSTICE R. KANTHA RAO
A.S.No. 240 of 2010
M/s. Strip India Limited
HON’BLE SRI JUSTICE B. PRAKASH RAO
HON’BLE SRI JUSTICE R. KANTHA RAO
A,S.No. 240 of 2010
JUDGMENT: (Per BPR, J)
This appeal is at the instance of the unsuccessful plaintiff who, invoking Section 96 of C.P.C., inter alia, seeks to assail the correctness of the judgment and decree, dated 08-02-2010 in O.S.No.83 of 2006 on the file of the Special Judge for Trial of Offences under SC/ST (POA) Act, 1989-cum-V Additional District and Sessions Judge, Medak at Sangareddy, dismissing the suit where he sought for a comprehensive substantive relief of declaration of title in respect of the suit schedule property and for perpetual injunction against the respondent-defendant.
Heard Sri D. Srinivas Prasad, learned counsel for the appellant and Sri V. Venkataramana, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent-defendant.
Initially when the matter had come up at the interlocutory stage, both the counsel expressed the desire for disposal of the main appeal itself. Hence, the main appeal was heard.
In the suit, the plaintiff sought for declaration of title that he is the absolute owner and possessor of the suit schedule property consisting of agricultural land in Sy.No.188 (188/A) in three different numbers admeasuring an extent of Ac.3-32 guntas at Kollur village, R.C. Puram Mandal, Medak District, and for perpetual injunction against the respondent-defendant, his agents and any other person on their behalf, from interfering with the possession and enjoyment in respect of the said property. According to the case as set up in the plaint filed by the plaintiff, he purchased the said property under three registered sale deeds, dated 29-08-2003, 18-09-2003 and
14-10-2003 from its owners Ranoji @ Badai Chandraiah, Ranoji @ Badai Koteshwar Rao and Ranoji @ Badai Jaipal, who are the heirs, original owners and successors of late Lalshmikanthaiah, who is stated to have died on 03-04-1997. After the death of Badai Lakshmikanthaiah, who was also known as Lakshmikantham, the sons orally partitioned the land among themselves and allotted with each an extent of Ac.1-10 guntas. In the hands of their father, it was ancestral property succeeded from forefathers. Thus, according to the plaintiff, from the date of their purchase they are in possession and enjoyment. However, the defendant sought to interfere with their possession. Hence, the suit.
Contesting the claim of the plaintiff-appellant, the respondent-defendant had filed written statement wherein it was admitted that originally the suit property belong to Badai Lakshmikantham, but however, it was stated that his sons do not have any right to sell the property and therefore, the plaintiff could not be in possession nor could secure any title in respect of the property. The relationship of the plaintiff’s vendors with the Badai Lakshmikanthaiah is also admitted. However, it is stated that the sale deeds are totally void, in effective as Lakshmikanthaiah himself was never in possession of the suit property, since he executed general power of attorney on
14-03-1984 in favour of one R.R. Madhusudan Reddy and the defendant has purchased the property through the said GPA.
In fact, apart from the Lakshmikanthaiah, R.R. Madhusudan Reddy is the GPA holder in respect of other persons in respect of other lands. M/s. Nadella Estate purchased the lands in its entirety in Sy.No.188 along with other survey numbers in Kollur village under the registered sale deed, dated 24-12-2002. Further one Boda Prabhakar claimed the suit property from the sons of Lakshmikanthaiah in pursuance of the registered sale deed, dated 16-09-2004. The case of the defendant was that they purchased the property from Nadella Estates and Boda Prabhakar after paying valid consideration under registered sale deeds, dated 28-03-2006 and 22-05-2006 respectively. That apart, the case of the defendant was that Lakshmikanthaiah died somewhere in the year 2004 itself.
In the rejoinder, apart from making denial in respect of
the specific allegations made in the written statement that
R.R. Madhusudan Reddy is a resident of Kollur village, who is aware about the death of Laxmikanthaiah on 03-04-1997, however, it was also denied that Lakshmikanthaiah executed registered general power of attorney in faovur of R.R. Madhusudan Reddy which even if it were to be executed, it is void in view of the fact that Lakshmikanthaiah died on
03-04-1997 itself. Therefore, the alleged sale deeds in faovur of the defendant itself are void and illegal and the defendant could not have acquired any right, title and interest whatsoever in nature. Therefore, it is Lakshmikanthaiah who has been in possession, but not the defendant’s vendors or otherwise and there is a denial as to the possession of the defendant and it’s vendors. Further it was alleged that the present proceedings is nothing but a speculative litigation to grab the property. With these and other allegations as contained in the respective pleadings, the Court below framed the following issues:
(i) Whether the plaintiff is entitled for declaration of title to the suit schedule property?
(ii) Whether the plaintiff is entitled for perpetual injunction as prayed for?
(iii) To what relief?
Later on, again on 12-10-2007, the issues were framed in the following manner:
(i) Whether the plaintiff is the owner and possessor of the suit schedule land?
(ii) Whether the plaintiff is entitled for consequential injunction as prayed for?
(iii) Whether the vendors of vendor of defendant have alienable right in the lands sold by them?
Later, during the course of trial, the plaintiff examined PWs.1 and 2 and got marked Exs.A-1 to A-13. Whereas the defendant examined DWs.1 to 3 and got marked EXs.B-1 to B-8.
On appraisal of the evidence and the material on record, the Court below dismissed the suit mainly on the ground that the plaintiff had failed to prove the date of death of Lakshmikanthaiah as on 03-04-1997. Therefore, the entire concentration of either side in this appeal was in regard to the proof of date of death of lakshmikanthaiah, whether it was on
03-04-1997 as contended by the plaintiff or in the year 2004 as stated by the defendant.
After commencement of the arguments and in the midst, when it was pointed out that one amongst the relevant documents, which have been relied on by the plaintiff, being
Ex.A-5 dated 01-10-2007, death certificate issued by the Panchayat Secretary, an application was filed in A.S.M.P.No.2124 of 2010, which was not objected to on behalf of the respondent, whereby the appellant-plaintiff was permitted to lead evidence as per the orders, dated 26-10-2010. Hence, notices were issued to the Panchayat Secretary, Edula Nagulapally of Ramachandrapuram Mandal, Medak District who was the author of the said document, who, apart from the earlier dates, was examined on 27-12-2010 as PW-3 and Exs.C-1, C-1a, C2 and C2a were marked, and again the matter was heard from both sides.
It is curious to take note that the said witness, who appeared on the earlier date, complained that after his appearance and production of the original record through his counsel in response to the notice issued by this Court, he was sought to be suspended from service by the District Collector (Panchayat Wing), Medak at Sangareddy, as per the Proc.No.3138/2010/A5-Pts, dated 09-11-2010 on the ground that he did not produce the record before the District Panchayat Officer, Sangareddy, on 08-11-2010. We have taken serious note of this action on the part of the District Collector meddling with the summons issued from a Court and taking action on the abiding government employee. It would be in violation of the orders passed by this Court on 26-10-2010. Hence, in response to the contempt notice issued to the District Collector, as per the orders, dated 22-11-2010, the District Collector, appeared on 27-12-2007 before this Court and filed counter affidavit stating that the orders of suspension issued against the said Panchayat Secretary, who was summoned by this Court for production of the record, have been cancelled and he has been reinstated into service as per Proc.No.3138/2010/A5-Pts, dated 21-12-2010. On that day, the Panchayat Secretary was also present.
By taking into considerations the orders of suspension being recalled, we have taken a lenient view and closed the contempt proceedings.
We could not but restrain ourselves from observing that any reaction on the part of any officer of whatever rank against a public employee, who is only responding to a Court notice and summons, is totally unwarranted nor would it warrant any action taken in respect of his service or service conditions. This should be deprecated. The employee has nothing to do with the litigation or the dispute as such. He is only producing the record and coming as a witness in response to a notice from this Court.
Coming to the main aspect, after considering the submissions made from both sides, the point which arises for consideration primarily is as to whether the plaintiff has established his right, title and interest and as to whether late Badai Lakshmikanthaiah died on 03-04-1997 as contended on behalf of the plaintiff or in the year 2004 as pleaded by the defendant.
There is no dispute in regard to the identity of the suit schedule property nor there is any dispute to the fact that Badai Lakshmikanthaiah was the original owner, pattedar and possessor of the land. There is also no dispute to the fact that he is the legal representative of Ranoji @ Badai Chandraiah, Ranoji @ Badai Koteshwar Rao and Ranoji @ Badai Jaipal.
The case of the plaintiff as stated above is squarely rests on the purchases made by them in pursuance of the registered sale deeds, dated 29-08-2003, 18-09-2003 and 14-10-2003 which are Exs.A-1 to A-3 through his depositions when he was examined as PW-1. PW-1 reiterates the contents in the plaint about the said purchase and the fact that Lakshmikanthaiah died on 03-04-1997 leaving behind those three sons Ranoji @ Badai Chandraiah, Ranoji @ Badai Koteshwar Rao and Ranoji @ Badai Jaipal, who are his vendors. They partitioned orally and each got Ac.1-10 guntas, Ac.1-10 guntas and Ac.1-12 guntas respectively. The property in the hands of Badai Lakshmikanthaiah was ancestral and in support PW-1 marked the entries under Exs.A-6 to A-13 which are the pahanies for the years 1960-61, 1965-66, 1970-71, 1980-81, 1985-86, 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1995-96. The aforesaid documents in Exs.A-1 to A-3 indicate the boundaries of the suit schedule property purchased by the plaintiff. Thus there is ample support from Exs.A-6 to A-13 to the Exs.A-1 to A-3. Under Ex.A-1 to A-3, the plaintiff is put in possession. However, we do not find any suggestion being given to PW-1 in regard to the delivery of possession to the plaintiff. There is also no proper suggestion in regard to the entries in Exs.A-6 to A-13 nor any acceptable version as suggestion from the defendant’s side to PW-1, viz., the relationship within the family of the plaintiff’s vendor namely, the father and grand father Boda Venkanna, nor that the property was not the ancestral in the hands of Lakshmikanthaiah and neither that Boda Venkanna had no right in the suit schedule property. No suggestions are also given to doubt the entries either fabricated or otherwise under Exs.A-6 to A-13 or even that of Exs.A-1 to A-3. There is also no specific suggestion given that the plaintiff could not have acquired any title under Exs.A-1 to A-3. Curiously no suggestion was also put to PW-1 that he was not put in possession under Exs.A-1 to
A-13. Nothing is referred to about the alleged delivery of possession to the GPA Holder R.R. Madhusudan Reddy in the year 1984. Further, even on the date of execution of the sale deed dated 24-12-2002, which is marked as Ex.B-5, no suggestion was given about the death of Lakshmikanthaiah. Curiously it is to be noted that the said R.R. Madhusudan Redy, the GPA holder was not produced, and there is no explanation forthcoming, nor the said general power of attorney holder is also produced in these proceedings. We also do not find any usual suggestion that the plaintiff is not the owner of the suit schedule property.
Coming to the evidence of PW-2, who is one of the vendors, he reiterates about his other two brothers selling the property to the plaintiff and putting the plaintiff in possession on the date of sale. Further he reiterates that he along with his brothers succeeded to the property from their father Badai Lakshmikanthaiah. In fact, in the cross-examination, it was stated at the instance of the defendant that his father did not sell the property to anyone. He denied the suggestion that the suit property was in the possession of Boda Prabhakar and his brothers and that the sale deeds executed by him in favour of the plaintiff are only nominal documents without any consideration. In the cross-examination, PW-2 produced Ex.A-6, a copy of the pahani, which reveals the factum of sale of the suit property and discloses that the plaintiffs are the pattedars of the suit property. In view of the admission on the part of the defendant about the title of Lakshmikanthaiah, necessarily it follows that his sons would succeed to the same and the evidence of PW-2 would go a long way in establishing the sale deeds duly executed by the vendors of the plaintiff in his favour and especially where the execution is admitted. There is no suggestion to PW-2 about the oral partition as pleaded by the plaintiff and as reiterated in the chief examination nor that he and his brothers did not deliver the possession to the plaintiff much less they did not sell the property to the plaintiff. Thus the pleadings and deposition of both PWs.1 and 2 would amply go to show that as per Exs.A-1 to A-3 read with Exs.A-6 to A-13, which remained un-rebutted and unchallenged, the plaintiff has established his title and the same are duly proved apart from the possession of the suit schedule property.
PW-3, who has been examined in this Court, is the Panchayat Secretary of Edula Nagulapally village, who stated that he has been working since 01-01-2007 and he brought the register of death pertaining to the period from 1997 to 2006, which is marked as Exs.C-1, which contains the entries of death of persons of that village. In Ex.C-1, the entry of the death of Lakshmikantham S/o Narayana is found at page No.65 and the date of death is shown as 03-04-1997. Ex.C-2 is the death certificate issuing register from 21-01-2003. Ex.C-2a is the copy of the death certificate, dated 01-10-2007. In the cross-examination, except concentrating on the procedure in regard to the maintenance of the records, though it went on for quite sometime, nothing has been extracted to doubt the correctness of Ex.C-1 or C-2. Though PW-3 was being asked about its others signature etc., however, apparently since he has been working only from 01-01-2007, he could not possibly said to be in know of things. Ex.C-1 is a public document maintained in the regular course, and nothing has been suggested as to its genuineness or otherwise. Further these documents are coming from the custody of the gram panchayat since PW-3 is a Panchayat Secretary, who brought these records to the Court in response to the notice issued by this Court. Even on a reading of the entire cross-examination, nothing as such can be attributed against PW-3 to have any say in regard to Exs.C-1,
C-2 or even Ex.A-5. Curiously PW-3 was not put with any suggestion as to the correctness of Ex.A-5, which is marked by PW-1, which is death certificate issued on 01-10-2007 nor there is any suggestion that either Ex.A-5 or even EX.C-2a, copy of the death certificate, are in any way fabricated, false or otherwise. Therefore, on a perusal of the deposition and also these documents, it would show that they are public documents and there is no reason to disbelieve or reject the same.
These documents are sufficient enough, coupled with the evidence of PW-1 as is reiterated by PW-2, to hold that Lakshmikanthaiah died on 03-04-1997. Thus, primarily, we are of the view that the finding of the Court below in trying to reject the version of the plaintiff about the date of death of Lakshmikanthaiah, as not being proved, no longer remains nor can be sustained either on facts or otherwise.
No attempt has been made on behalf of the respondent to lead any rebuttal evidence either in this Court or otherwise especially after PW-3 was examined. Therefore, it necessitates us to consider the evidence as available on record on behalf of the defendant.
DW-1 is the Chief Executive Officer of the defendant, who states in his version that they purchased the property from
M/s. Nadella Estates and Boda Prabhakar under registered sale deeds to an extent of Ac.7-24 guntas in Sy.No.188 and they were put in possession. He reiterates that Lakshmikanthaiah died in the year 2004 and never shifted to Nagulapally from Kollur. Nadella Estates Limited stated to have purchased under Ex.B-5, dated 24-12-2002 to the said extent. In Ex.B-5, the name of Lakshmikanthaiah or Lakshmikantham appears as vendor No.4 represented through GPA R.R. Madhusudan Reddy. Further it is stated that Lakshmikanthaiah was the absolute owner and possessor of the land to the extent of Acs.3-32 guntas in Sy.No.188 and other extents in other survey numbers. Since as found above that Lakshmikanthaiah died on 03-04-1997 itself, these assertions or the mentioning that Lakshmikanthaiah was alive on the date of Ex.B-5 could not possibly be correct. Even though Ex.B-5 mentions about the payment of total consideration, however, since Lakshmikanthaiah himself was no more, it could not be accepted on the face of it. As the person who is stated to have executed document is dead, Ex.B-5 alleged to be executed by a dead person is void document and could not thus confer any right, title and interest. Further it also has to be taken into account that even if there is any such GPA in favour of R.R. Madhusudan Reddy, since the executant died on 03-04-1997 itself, the alleged GPA dated 14-03-1998, also could not be a valid and duly executed document as such by the author. Even if such GPA was existing either before at any point of time, the power of general power of attorney automatically ceases with the death of the original executant as per Sections 201 and 209 of the Indian Contract Act and the well laid principles thereunder. Similarly coming to Ex.B-6, which is a registered sale deed dated 16-09-2004, it is again a document which is stated to have been executed much after the execution of the documents in favour of the plaintiff under Exs.A-1 to A-3. Thus it appears that both these documents are subsequently brought up without any legal effect or conferring any right. Thus it cannot be said that Nadella Estates could have acquired any title under Ex.B-5, nor Boda Prabhakar could have acquired any title under Ex.B-6 much less either of these could have validly passed on any title or any saleable interest under Exs.B-7 and B-8 to the defendant. There is a contradiction in regard to the statement in Ex.B-7, where vendors 2 to 5 were shown as tenants, and Vendor No.1 was shown as owner of the suit schedule property. Apart from the contradiction, there is nothing to substantiate the same even according to the defendant. Therefore, Exs.B-5 to B-8 do not confer any title on the defendant in respect of the suit schedule property as they are brought into picture later and this defendant cannot claim as owner or in possession of the suit schedule property especially in view of the principles well laid under Section 45 of the Transfer of Property Act. Even otherwise as per Section 47 of the Registration Act, the prior transferee would be entitled to claim right even if any such subsequent transfers are done without any knowledge to the prior transferee.
DW-2 is another witness, who has been examined on behalf of the defendant, who stated to be the owner of the land in Sy.Nos.191, 216 and 217 of Kollur village and pleads knowledge about Sy.No.188 and reiterates about the defendant’s possession and enjoyment. Further he denies about the possession of Lakshmikanthaiah at any point of time. However, in the cross-examination, he stated that it might be so that the plaintiff is in possession of the land in Sy.No.188, and also the plaintiff might have purchased the land from the sons of Lakshmikantham. He stated that Lakshmikanthaiah worked as Patwari of Nagulapally village and died about 15 or 20 years back and he was cremated at Nagulapally. He admits that the plaintiff laid fencing on the land purchased. Therefore, in view of these statements, DW-2 was declared as hostile and he was cross-examined by the defendant. On the face of it, it is to be seen as to whether the witness could have been treated as hostile. Be that as it may. All these statements by DW-2 would only against the defendant.
DW-3 is another witness, who has been examined on behalf of defendant who stated that Boda Samuel and others were cultivating the suit schedule property and the defendant was in possession. However, he admits in the cross-examination that Boda Samuel died about 8 or 10 years back. There is a clear-cut contradiction between his versions given in chief and with that of the cross-examination. Hence, his evidence cannot be of much assistance to the defendant nor would it lend any support as such.
Considering the aforesaid evidence and the documents as mentioned above, it amply transpires that the plaintiff has made its case especially to the effect that Lakshmikanthaiah died on 03-04-1997 and under Exs.A-1 to A-3, they acquired title. Whereas all the documents filed in support of the defendant, especially they are the purchasers under Exs.B-6 to B-8 and earlier purchasers under Exs.B-5 and B-6, could not have any assistance. In view of the death of Badai Lakshmikanthaiah much earlier, there could not have been any such transaction in his name or in respect of any right, title and interest either of him or of the persons who succeeded. There is no dispute in regard to the execution of Exs.A-1 to A-3 by the sons of Badai Lakshmikanthaiah and the relationship inter se and supported the version to the effect that Badai Lakshmikanthaiah died on 03-04-1997. Apart from Ex.A-5, death certificate, which has been filed by the plaintiff, which virtually stood proved and remained unrebbutted by the examination of PW-3, there is also another document in Ex.A-4, legal heir certificate issued by the M.R.O., Ramchandrapuram, which also reiterates the fact that Badai Lakshmikanthaiah died on 03-04-1997 and the said certificate was issued after due enquiry. Further it discloses that on the strength of the certificates issued by the Panchayat Secretary, Edula Nagulapally and the MRO, it is to be certified that Badai Lakshmikantham or Lakshmikanthaiah S/o Narayana died on 03-04-1997 leaving behind the family members as mentioned therein. Ex.A-5, as stated above, shows his death on 03-04-1997. These two proceedings, inspite of knowledge on the part of the defendant, have remained unchallenged in the manner known to law. Thus it conclusively proves that the original pattedar Lakshmikanthaiah died on 03-04-1997. Therefore, the specific plea taken, though without any date as such, by the defendant that Lakshmikathaiah died in the year 2004 is incorrect and the said plea has totally remained unproved. The burden in this regard, which stands shifted to the defendant, has not been in any way taken care of nor there is any attempt to discharge the same. It is to be seen that DW-2, their own witness, who has been declared as hostile admits about the death of Lakshmikanthaiah about 15 or 20 years back. It is also to be taken that Exs.A-4 and A-5 are the public documents as per Section 74(1) (i) and (ii) of the Indian Evidence Act and certified copies thereof are sufficient enough proof for the contents as contemplated under Section 74. Under Section 79 of the Indian Evidence Act, there is ample presumption arising in regard to the genuineness of these copies apart from the fact that they have been already proved by the appellant through PW-3. Therefore, there is no reason to cast any spell of doubt on these documents. Whereas no foundation has been laid much less any proof is brought forth by the defendant to rebut the presumptions and correctness in respect of Ex.A-5. The said Ex.A-5 is perfectly in the format in Form-10 as contemplated under the Andhra Pradesh Registration of Births and Deaths Rules, 1977. Therefore, Ex.A-5 stands amply proved. Thus the approach of the Court below and the finding based thereon is totally erroneous and liable to be set at naught.
In view of the aforesaid findings as arrived at, we hold that the plaintiff has not only established valid right, title and
interest in his favour, but also established the fact that Lakshmikanthaiah died on 03-04-1997. Thus the findings of the Court below are totally erroneous and liable to be set aside and further that the defendant has utterly failed to establish their specific pleas, on which heavy burden lies on them to prove about the alleged death in the year 2004. In view of the aforesaid reasons, the judgment and decree of the Court below in O.S.No.83 of 2006, dated 08-02-2010 is set aside.
The Appeal suit is, accordingly, allowed. The suit in O.S.No.83 of 2006 on the file of the Special Judge for Trial of Offences under SC/ST (POA) Act, 1989-cum-V Additional District and Sessions Judge, Medak at Sangare
ddy, is decreed as
prayed for. No order as to costs.
B. PRAKASH RAO, J
R. KANTHA RAO, J
Note: Issue copy to the District Collector (Panchayat Wing),
Medak at Sangareddy.