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Suit for declaration and possession – Plaintiff traced his traces from the date of Gift Deed – Election Tribunal also held the Plaintiff is the real congress – Properties developed by the funds of plaintiff party – Janatal dala which came in to possession after division from congress , can not hold the title and right and can not lease the same to third party and as such they are liable to be evicted – Apex court granted time to vacate on undertaking = Janatha Dal Party … Petitioner Versus The Indian National Congress & Others … Respondents = 2014 ( January – Vol – 1)judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41169

Suit for declaration and possession – Plaintiff traced his traces from the date of Gift Deed – Election Tribunal also held the Plaintiff is the real congress – Properties developed by the funds of plaintiff party – Janatal dala which came in to possession after division from congress , can not hold the title and right and can not lease the same to third party and as such they are liable to be evicted – Apex court granted time to vacate on undertaking =

 

7.    We have indicated that the  plaintiffs  instituted  the  present  suit

seeking a declaration  of  their  title  and  for  possession  of  the  suit

property and also sought to recover Rs.36,000/- towards past mesne  profits.=

 

We have  noticed  that  the  property  in  question  was  gifted  vide

registered gift deed dated 22.4.1949 by Rangaswamy in  favour  of  Bangalore

City Congress Committee.   Plaintiffs could successfully trace  their  title

and interest over the suit property towards that gift deed executed  in  the

year 1949, coupled with the various declarations by the ECI recognizing  the

petitioner as the real Congress and the Judgment  of  this  Court  affirming

the same.

 

12.   We are also not impressed by  the  arguments  raised  by  the  learned

senior counsel on the plea of  limitation.    So  far  as  Janata  Party  is

concerned, it came into picture only in the year  1977.   On  facts,  it  is

clearly found that Congress (O) had no right in the suit property.   In  the

instant case, Janata Dal  (Secular)  was  impleaded  as  defendant  only  on

14.10.2003 and the disputed property was known as the Congress  Bhavan  till

the formation of Janta Dal in the year 1977.   It is relevant to  note  that

the defendants had never accepted plaintiffs as the owner of  the  property.

On the contrary, their specific case was that  the  1st  defendant  was  the

owner of the property.   On facts, it was found that the 1st  defendant  had

no title over the property in  question.   Further,  the  entire  burden  of

proving that the possession is adverse to that of the plaintiffs, is on  the

defendant.  On the other hand, the  possession  of  the  suit  property  was

throughout of Congress (O) and its successor parties and  not  that  of  the

petitioner  herein.   It  was  after  the  split  in   Janata   Party   and,

subsequently before the filing of the suit, Janata Dal continued  to  be  in

possession of the suit  property.    The  plea  of  limitation  and  adverse

possession was elaborately considered by the Courts below  and  we  find  no

error in the findings recorded by the Courts below on that ground  as  well.

 Further, no substantive question  of  law  arises  for  our  consideration.

The SLP, therefore, lacks  merits and is dismissed.

 

13.   Considering the facts that the petitioner  is  in  possession  of  the

property for a considerable long period, we are inclined to  grant  time  up

to 31.12.2014 to vacate the  premises,  for  which  the  petitioner  has  to

prefer an  undertaking  before  this  Court  within  one  month  from  today

stating that the petitioner would vacate the premises within the  stipulated

time and that the petitioner would pay the entire arrears of rent  within  a

period of three months and  will  continue  to  pay  the  rent  without  any

default.  If the petitioner commits two consecutive defaults in  payment  of

monthly rent or fails to file the undertaking,  the  time  granted  by  this

Court would not be available and it will be open to the respondents  to  get

the judgment/decree executed.  

2014 ( January – Vol – 1)judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41169

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 38991 OF 2013
Janatha Dal Party … Petitioner
Versus
The Indian National Congress & Others … Respondents

J U D G M E N T

K. S. Radhakrishnan, J.

1. We are, in this case, concerned with the ownership and possession of
Premises No. 3, Race Course Road, Bangalore, ‘A’ scheduled property,
wherein, at present, the political party Office of Janata Dal (Secular) is
situated. The suit property originally belonged to one Sri C. Rangaswamy,
who was the resident of Property No. 54, Hospital Road, Baleput, Bangalore
City, executed a registered Gift Deed dated 22.4.1949 in favour of
Bangalore City Congress Committee which was having its office at No. 142,
Cottonpet, Bangalore City, which measured 5330 sq. yards. The land was
donated by the donor for the purpose of construction of Congress House,
wherein the All India Congress Party constructed a building, by name,
‘Congress Bhavan’, in a portion of the suit property. In the year 1969,
there was split within the Indian National Congress giving rise to two
groups, one led by late Smt. Indira Gandhi, under the Presidentship of late
Sri Jagajivan Ram and the other group led by late Sri S. Nijalingappa. The
group led by Jagajivan Ram was then called the ‘Indian National Congress
(J)’, whereas the other group led by Nijalingappa was called as ‘Indian
National Congress (O)’. The split in the party at the centre had its own
effect in the State of Karnataka as well. The then Mysore Pradesh
Congress Party broke up into Congress (J) and Congress (O) corresponding to
those groups in the All Indian Congress Committee at the Centre. Each
group claimed itself to be the real Indian National Congress. That dispute
came up before the Election Commission of India (ECI).

2. The ECI, applying the test of majority at the organizational level
and the legislative wings, by its order 11.1.1971 held that the Congress
(J) was the Indian National Congress. The decision of the ECI was
upheld by this Court in Shri Sadiq Ali and another v. The Election
Commission of India, New Delhi and others (1972) 4 SCC 664. Consequently,
Congress (J) group, formed as the Indian National Congress, came to be
recognized as the Indian National Congress for all purposes.

3. The General Elections to the Lok Sabha were held in the year 1977.
The opposition parties consisting of Congress (O) Group – led by
Nijalingappa, Lok Dal headed by late Sri Charan Singh, Jana Sangha – led by
Sri A.B. Vajapayee and Congress for Democracy – led by Sri Jagjivan Ram,
fought elections together as one front under the name of Janata Party.
Congress was defeated in that election. Janata Party formed the Government
at the Centre, but did not last long. In the year 1978, there was a
further split within the Congress. National Convention of the Congress was
held at New Delhi on 1.1.1978 and 2.1.1978, in which members of the All
India Congress Committee, Members of Parliament, members of the State
Legislatures and Congress candidates participated and they unanimously
elected Smt. Indira Gandhi as the President, though Sri K. Brahmananda
Reddy was also in the fray. ECI was called upon to examine that dispute as
well. Later, Sri D. Devaraj Urs succeeded Sri Brahmananda Reddy as the
President of that group, which came to be known as Congress (U).
However, Indira Gandhi continued to be the leader of the main body which
was identified as the Congress (I). The Election Commission allotted
separate symbols to the Congress (U) and (I) groups. The election to the
Lok Sabha took place in December 1979 and Congress (I) was voted back to
the Lok Sabha.

4. The Election Commission, in the meantime, resolved the dispute
pending before it and recognized Indira Gandhi as the President of the
Party, known by the name of Congress (I). It was also held that the group
led by D. Devaraj Urs, known by the name of Congress (U), was not the
Congress, leaving liberty to that group to approach the Commission for its
recognition as a party, taking a different name for itself. D. Devaraj Urs,
purporting to be the President of Congress (U), filed a petition for
special leave to appeal to this Court against the order of the ECI dated
23.7.1981. This Court, after issuing notices to all the parties and
hearing counsel on either side, dismissed the Special Leave Petition on
14.8.1981.

5. We have narrated the above facts to indicate that the suit property,
all other properties and funds belonging to or referred to as belonging to
the Congress are thus the properties and funds of the 1st Plaintiff herein.
Similarly, all properties and funds belonging to or referred to as
belonging to the erstwhile Mysore Pradesh Congress Committee or the KPCC
thus belong to the 2nd Plaintiff herein. The ‘A’ Schedule property is
owned by 2nd and 1st plaintiffs herein. The land comprised therein was
acquired by the erstwhile Mysore Pradesh Congress Committee, as it was then
called, and it constructed the buildings standing in the suit property,
which was earlier known as Congress Bhavan.

6. We have already indicated that Janata Party came into possession of
the schedule property in question in the year 1977. During the period, the
above mentioned property was under the control of Congress (O) group. Two
lease deeds were executed in respect of two portions of the vacant land,
vide lease deeds dated 22.1.1971 and 10.4.1971, in favour of 3rd
respondent. After the Janata Party came in possession in the year 1977,
the previous Janata Party, a unit of 1st defendant, granted lease of a
portion of the plaint ‘A’, schedule property in favour of 4th defendant on
04.08.1981, of which defendants 5 to 8 are partners, the portion leased is
described in the plaint ‘C’ schedule. The Janata Party or the previous
Janata Party had no right, title or interest for granting lease of the
plaint ‘C’. Defendants 9-12 are stated to be the tenants in portions of
the building constructed in ‘A’ schedule property, having taken the same on
lease from the 1st defendant.

7. We have indicated that the plaintiffs instituted the present suit
seeking a declaration of their title and for possession of the suit
property and also sought to recover Rs.36,000/- towards past mesne profits.
Defendant 1 and 2 filed their written statements on 10.11.1983
contesting the suit, but the factual details were not disputed as such.
But, it was pleaded that the decision taken by the ECI or the judgment of
this Court in Sadiq Ali (supra) would not confer any title, ownership or
possession of the suit property on the plaintiffs. According to the
defendants, throughout, the above mentioned property was in the possession
of Congress (O), and after its merger, it was in the possession of Janata
Party and, at no point of time, the plaintiffs were in possession.
Further, it was also pleaded that the suit itself was barred by the law of
limitation. Defendants 4 to 6 filed a written statement on 31.7.1984
disputing the plaintiffs’ right to bring the suit on behalf of Indian
National Congress. They pleaded that the Congress (O) continued to be in
possession as the absolute owner of the suit property. Further, it is also
stated that Congress (O) and some other political parties joined together
and constituted Janata Party and Congress (O) was one of the constituents
of Janata Party, and the property in question became the property of Janata
Party and, since 1977, Janata Party has been enjoying the suit property and
they were having their rights to lease out the property to other contesting
defendants.

8. On the basis of the pleadings of the parties, the trial Court framed
24 issues. On behalf of the plaintiffs, 5 witnesses were examined and 17
documents were exhibited. On behalf of defendants, 2 witnesses were
examined and 18 documents were exhibited. The trial Court, after examining
the rival contentions, and, on facts, came to the conclusion that Congress
(O), which was led by Nijalingappa, lost its identity as Indian National
Congress by virtue of the decision of the Election Commission and as
pointed out by this Court in Sadiq Ali case. The trial Court also held
that this Court recognized the group led by Jagjivan Ram and Indira Gandhi
as the Indian National Congress. Consequently, the properties and funds of
Indian National Congress, before its split in 1969, would be of Congress
(J) lead by Jagjivan Ram and Indira Gandhi and it would not be the property
of the dissident group which was identified as Congress (O). On facts, it
was noticed that Congress (O) was subsequently merged with Janata Party
and, on account of said merger, Janata Party would not acquire ownership of
the suit schedule property. It was held that since Janata Party was not
the owner of the suit property, it had no right to grant lease in favour of
4th defendant and grant of such lease by Janata Party would not bind the
plaintiffs. Similarly, it was also held that the grant of lease in ‘C’
schedule property in favour of 3rd defendant by the President of Mysore
Pradesh Congress Committee, a unit of Congress (O) party, was illegal and
was not preceded by approval or permission of Indian National Congress.
The trial Court also rejected the plea of adverse possession and limitation
and held that the plaintiffs have succeeded in establishing their title
over the properties in question and, consequently, held that the plaintiff
is entitled to recovery of possession and also mesne profits. Aggrieved by
the same, Janata Party filed RFA No. 2011 of 2005 which was heard by a
Division Bench of the High Court. The High Court concurred with the
findings recorded by the trial Court and dismissed the appeal by its
judgment dated 11.10.2013, against which this SLP has been preferred.

9. Shri Gopal Subramanium, learned senior counsel appearing for the
petitioner, reiterated all the factual contentions raised before the trial
Court as well as the High Court based on the basis of the written
statements filed by the contesting respondents and submitted that neither
the decision of the ECI nor the judgment of this Court in Sadiq Ali
(supra), would confer any title or possession on the plaintiffs over the
suit property. Learned senior counsel submitted that the plaintiff could
succeed in establishing their title and possession only on the basis of
independent documents and not on the basis of the decision of the ECI or
the judgment of this Court in Sadiq Ali. Learned senior counsel also
submitted that the High Court has erred in noticing that Article 65 of the
Limitation Act, 1963, specifies that the limitation for possession of
immovable property or any interest therein based on title is 12 years and
the time from which the period begins to run is when the possession of the
defendant became adverse to the plaintiff. Learned senior counsel pointed
out that, in the instant case, possession of the defendant and their
predecessor in title became adverse to that of the plaintiff more than 12
years prior to the filing of the suit and, therefore, the suit was liable
to be dismissed solely on the ground of limitation.

10. We have heard the arguments at length and have also gone through the
pleadings of the parties as well as the judgments of the Courts below. We
find it difficult to accept the contention raised by the learned senior
counsel that the decision of the ECI dated 11.1.1971 or the judgment of
this Court in Sadiq Ali (supra) would have no bearing, so far as the facts
of this case are concerned. The question as to which of the two groups,
Congress (J) or Congress (O) (the then Congress Party) should be recognized
as the Congress, as already indicated, came before the ECI. ECI, after
applying the test of majority at the organizational level and the
legislative wings, took the view that Congress (J) group of Congress came
to be recognized as the Congress for all purposes. The order of ECI and
this Court clearly indicate that the Congress then led by Indira Gandhi
had established rights on the properties in question. The Courts below
have narrated in detail how the suit property came into the hands of the
plaintiffs and how the Congress (O) followed by Janata Party ceased to have
any right over the suit property in question. Since, on facts, it was
found that the defendants have no right over the property in question, the
various lease deeds executed by them also cannot stand in the eye of law.

11. We have noticed that the property in question was gifted vide
registered gift deed dated 22.4.1949 by Rangaswamy in favour of Bangalore
City Congress Committee. Plaintiffs could successfully trace their title
and interest over the suit property towards that gift deed executed in the
year 1949, coupled with the various declarations by the ECI recognizing the
petitioner as the real Congress and the Judgment of this Court affirming
the same.

12. We are also not impressed by the arguments raised by the learned
senior counsel on the plea of limitation. So far as Janata Party is
concerned, it came into picture only in the year 1977. On facts, it is
clearly found that Congress (O) had no right in the suit property. In the
instant case, Janata Dal (Secular) was impleaded as defendant only on
14.10.2003 and the disputed property was known as the Congress Bhavan till
the formation of Janta Dal in the year 1977. It is relevant to note that
the defendants had never accepted plaintiffs as the owner of the property.
On the contrary, their specific case was that the 1st defendant was the
owner of the property. On facts, it was found that the 1st defendant had
no title over the property in question. Further, the entire burden of
proving that the possession is adverse to that of the plaintiffs, is on the
defendant. On the other hand, the possession of the suit property was
throughout of Congress (O) and its successor parties and not that of the
petitioner herein. It was after the split in Janata Party and,
subsequently before the filing of the suit, Janata Dal continued to be in
possession of the suit property. The plea of limitation and adverse
possession was elaborately considered by the Courts below and we find no
error in the findings recorded by the Courts below on that ground as well.
Further, no substantive question of law arises for our consideration.
The SLP, therefore, lacks merits and is dismissed.

13. Considering the facts that the petitioner is in possession of the
property for a considerable long period, we are inclined to grant time up
to 31.12.2014 to vacate the premises, for which the petitioner has to
prefer an undertaking before this Court within one month from today
stating that the petitioner would vacate the premises within the stipulated
time and that the petitioner would pay the entire arrears of rent within a
period of three months and will continue to pay the rent without any
default. If the petitioner commits two consecutive defaults in payment of
monthly rent or fails to file the undertaking, the time granted by this
Court would not be available and it will be open to the respondents to get
the judgment/decree executed.
………………………….J.
(K. S. Radhakrishnan)

 

 
………………………….J.
(Vikramajit Sen)
New Delhi,
January 21, 2014.

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