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Judgments of Supreme Court of India and High Courts

Sita Ram Bhama vs Ramvatar Bhama on 23 March, 2018

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REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NO…………….OF 2018
(ARISING OUT OF SLP(C)NO.11067 OF 2017)

SITA RAM BHAMA                       … PETITIONER 

VERSUS

RAMVATAR BHAMA           … RESPONDENT

J U D G M E N T

ASHOK BHUSHAN, J.

The   appellant,   who   was   plaintiff   in   Civil   Suit   No.4   of

2011,   has   filed  this   appeal  questioning  the  judgment   of  the

High   Court   of   Judicature   for   Rajasthan   at   Jodhpur   dated

23.01.2017   by   which   writ   petition   filed   by   the   appellant

against the order dated 03.03.2015 of the Additional District

Judge has been dismissed.

2. Brief facts of the case which are necessary to be noted

for deciding this appeal are:

Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
ASHWANI KUMAR
Date: 2018.03.24
12:51:51 IST
Reason:

We   shall   refer   the   parties   as   described   in   the   plaint.

Plaintiff and respondent are real brothers being sons of late
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Devi Dutt Ji Verma. Plaintiff’s case is that his father Devi

Dutt Verma on 25.10.1992 decided to divide his self­acquired

movable   and   immovable   properties   between   plaintiff   and

defendant.   The   late   father,   however,   did   not   execute   any

settlement   deed.   Devi   Dutt   Verma   died   on   10.09.1993   and

thereafter   on   09.09.1994   plaintiff   and   defendant   recorded   a

memorandum of settlement as decided by their father regarding

his self­acquired properties. The memorandum of settlement was

signed by mother of the parties as well two sisters had signed

as   witnesses.   According   to   memorandum   of   settlement   both

residential   house   as   well   as   shop   in   the   Aguna   Bazar   were

distributed as decided by their late father. 

3. A   Civil   Suit   No.5   of   2010   was   filed   by   the   plaintiff

praying for partition of the residential house as well as the

shop. In the suit an application under Order VII Rule 11 of

the Civil Procedure Code was filed by the defendant, Ramvatar

Bhama taking the plea that on 25.10.1992 during the life time

of   Shri   Devi   Dutt   Verma,   the   father   of   the   plaintiff   and

defendant,   had   partitioned   the   house   and   the   shop.   Southern

portion of the house came in the share of the plaintiff and

northern   part   came   in   the   share   of   the   defendant.   In

confirmation   of   the   earlier   partition   dated   25.10.1992   the
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family   settlement   dated   09.09.1994   was   executed   which   was

signed   by   the   plaintiff   and   defendant   along   with   both   the

sisters   as well as mother. It was pleaded by the defendant,

in view of the aforesaid, that there was no cause of action

for the plaintiff to file a partition suit. Defendant prayed

that suit of the plaintiff is liable to be dismissed.

4. The trial court vide its order dated 19.01.2011 allowed

the application filed by the defendant under Order VII Rule 11

CPC   and   dismissed   the   suit   for   want   of   cause   of   action   in

favour of the plaintiff. The civil court accepted the case of

the defendant that the parties which were in joint family have

been divided, there being nothing joint between the parties,

there is no cause of action for the plaintiff for filing the

suit   for   partition.   The   relief   for   permanent   injunction   was

also held to be related to the partition.

5. Another   Civil   Suit   No.4   of   2011   was   filed   by   the

plaintiff claiming that after dismissal of the earlier suit of

the plaintiff on 19.01.2011, defendant broke open the lock of

the house and took possession of the house. Plaintiff prayed

for   decree   of   possession   against   the   defendant   as   well   as

decree   of   permanent   injunction.   Plaintiff   also   sought   for
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mesne profit and expenses.

6. In   the   suit,   plaintiff   has   filed   the   document   dated

09.09.1994 evidencing family settlement which was claimed by

the   plaintiff   as   memorandum   of   settlement.   An   application

under Order XIII Rule 3 CPC and Article 45 and Section 35 of

the   Indian   Stamp   Act   and   Sections   17   and   49   of   the   Indian

Registration   Act,   was   filed   by   the   defendant   claiming   that

document dated 09.09.1994 being not a registered document and

being not properly stamped is not admissible in evidence, same

may be rejected. The application was replied by the plaintiff.

The  trial   court  vide   its   order   dated   03.03.2015  allowed  the

application of the defendant holding that the document dated

09.09.1994   is   a   family   settlement   deed   and   a   relinquishment

document   which   is   not   admissible   as   evidence   being

inadequately   stamped   and   not   being   registered.   Against   the

said   order   dated   03.03.2015   writ   petition   was   filed   by   the

plaintiff which was dismissed by the High Court upholding the

order of the trial court. The High Court also took the view

that so called family settlement takes away the share of the

sisters   and   mother,   therefore,   the   same   was   compulsorily

registrable.   Aggrieved   by   the   said   order,   the   plaintiff   has

come up in this appeal.

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7. Shri Ajit Kumar Sinha, learned senior counsel, appearing

for   the   appellant   submits   that   document   dated   09.09.1994   is

only a memorandum of partition which took place on 25.10.1992

when father of the parties had partitioned the house and the

shop. The memorandum of family settlement is not compulsorily

registrable. The document itself being not a family settlement

rather only a memorandum ought to have been accepted by the

trial court. He further submits that in the earlier suit filed

by   the   plaintiff   being   Suit   No.5   of   2010,   the   suit   was

dismissed   under   Order   VII   Rule   11   CPC   on   the   plea   of   the

defendant that the partition has already taken place between

the parties as claimed by the plaintiff, hence,   no cause of

action has arisen for filing a suit for partition. He submits

that   partition   effected   by   the   father   of   the   parties   on

25.10.1992   which   was   subsequently   recorded   on   09.09.1994

having already been accepted, it is not open for trial court

to   reject   the   document   dated   09.09.1994   for   being   taken   in

evidence. It is submitted that by order of the court below the

plaintiff has become remedy­less.

8. Learned   counsel   for   the   respondent   refuting   the

submission of the learned counsel for the appellant contends

that   the   trial   court   as   well   as   the   High   Court   has   rightly
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come   to   the   conclusion   that   document   dated   09.09.1994   was

compulsorily registrable. It being neither registered nor duly

stamped   has   rightly   been   rejected   by   the   trial   court   from

being taken in evidence. He submits that the High Court has

rightly dismissed the writ petition filed by the plaintiff.

9. We   have   considered   the   submissions   of   the   parties   and

perused the records.

10. The   only   question   which   needs   to   be   considered   in   the

present case is as to whether document dated 09.09.1994 could

have   been   accepted   by   the   trial   court   in   evidence   or   trial

court   has   rightly   held   the   said   document   inadmissible.   The

plaintiff claimed the document dated 09.09.1994 as memorandum

of   family   settlement.   Plaintiff’s   case   is   that   earlier

partition   took   place   in   the   life   time   of   the   father   of   the

parties   on   25.10.1992   which   was   recorded   as   memorandum   of

family   settlement   on   09.09.1994.   There   are   more   than   one

reasons   due   to   which   we   are   of   the   view   that   the   document

dated 09.09.1994 was not mere memorandum of family settlement

rather a family settlement itself. Firstly, on 25.10.1992, the

father of the parties was himself owner of both, the residence

and   shop   being   self­acquired   properties   of   Devi   Dutt   Verma.

The  High Court has rightly held that the said document cannot

be said to be a Will, so that father could have made Will in
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favour of his two sons, plaintiff and defendant. Neither the

plaintiff nor defendant had any share in the property on the

day   when   it   is   said   to   have   been   partitioned   by   Devi   Dutt

Verma.   Devi   Dutt   Verma   died   on   10.09.1993.   After   his   death

plaintiff,   defendant   and   their   mother   as   well   as   sisters

become   the   legal   heirs   under   Hindu   Succession   Act,   1955

inheriting   the   property   being   a   class   I   heir.   The   document

dated 09.09.1994 divided the entire property between plaintiff

and defendant which document is also claimed to be signed by

their   mother   as   well   as   the   sisters.   In   any   view   of   the

matter, there is relinquishment of the rights of other heirs

of   the   properties,   hence,   courts   below   are   right   in   their

conclusion that there being relinquishment, the document dated

09.09.1994   was   compulsorily   registrable   under   Section   17   of

the Registration Act.

11. Pertaining   to   family   settlement,   a   memorandum   of   family

settlement and its necessity of registration, the law has been

settled   by   this   Court.   It   is   sufficient   to   refer   to   the

judgment of this Court in Kale and others vs. Deputy Director

of   Consolidation   and   others,   (1976)   3   SCC   119.   The

propositions   with   regard   to   family   settlement,   its

registration were laid down by this Court in paragraphs 10 and

11:

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“10. In other words to put the binding effect
and the essentials of a family settlement in a
concretised   form,   the   matter   may   be   reduced
into the form of the following propositions:

(1) The family settlement must be a bona fide
one so as to resolve family disputes and rival
claims   by   a   fair   and   equitable   division   or
allotment   of   properties   between   the   various
members of the family;

(2) The said settlement must be voluntary and
should   not   be   induced   by   fraud,   coercion   or
undue influence;

(3) The family arrangement may be even oral
in which case no registration is necessary;

(4)   It   is   well   settled   that   registration
would   be   necessary   only   if   the   terms   of   the
family   arrangement   are   reduced   into   writing.
Here also, a distinction should be made between
a document containing the terms and recitals of
a   family   arrangement   made  under   the   document
and a mere memorandum prepared after the family
arrangement   had   already   been   made   either   for
the purpose of the record or for information of
the   court   for   making   necessary   mutation.   In
such   a   case   the   memorandum   itself   does   not
create   or   extinguish   any   rights   in   immovable
properties   and   therefore   does   not   fall   within
the   mischief   of   Section   17(2)   of   the
Registration   Act   and   is,   therefore,   not
compulsorily registrable;

(5)   The   members   who   may   be   parties   to   the
family   arrangement   must   have   some   antecedent
title, claim or interest even a possible claim
in   the   property   which   is   acknowledged   by   the
parties to the settlement. Even if one of the
parties   to   the   settlement   has   no   title   but
under   the   arrangement   the   other   party
relinquishes all its claims or titles in favour
of such a person and acknowledges him to be the
sole   owner,  then   the   antecedent  title   must   be
assumed   and   the   family   arrangement   will   be
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upheld   and   the   courts   will   find  no   difficulty
in giving assent to the same;

(6)   Even   if   bona   fide   disputes,   present   or
possible,   which   may   not   involve   legal   claims
are  settled  by   a   bona   fide   family   arrangement
which   is   fair   and   equitable   the   family
arrangement is final and binding on the parties
to the settlement.

11.  The principles indicated above have been
clearly enunciated and adroitly adumbrated in a
long course of decisions of this Court as also
those   of   the   Privy   Council   and   other   High
Courts, which we shall discuss presently.”

12. We   are,   thus,   in   full   agreement   with   the   view   taken   by

the trial court as well as the High Court that the document

dated   09.09.1994   was   compulsorily   registrable.   The   document

also   being   not   stamped   could   not   have   been   accepted   in

evidence   and   order   of   trial   court   allowing   the   application

under Order XII Rule 3 CPC and the reasons given by the trial

court   in   allowing   the   application     of   the   defendant  holding

the document as inadmissible cannot be faulted.

13. There   is   only   one   aspect   of   the   matter   which   needs

consideration,   i.e.,   whether   the   document   dated   09.09.1994

which   was   inadmissible   in   evidence   could   have   been   used  for

any   collateral   purpose.   In   a   suit   for   partition,   an

unregistered   document   can   be   relied   upon   for   collateral

purpose   i.e.   severancy   of   title,   nature   of   possession   of
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various shares but not for the primary purpose i.e. division

of joint properties by metes and bounds. Further, an unstamped

instrument is not admissible in evidence even for collateral

purpose,   until   the   same   is   impounded.   A   two­Judge   Bench

judgment of this Court in  Yellapu Uma Maheswari and another

vs. Buddha Jagadheeswararao and others, (2015) 16 SCC 787, is

appropriate. In the above case also admissibility of documents

Ext. B­21 dated 05.06.1975 a deed of memorandum and Ext. B­22

dated   04.06.1975   being   an   agreement   between   one   late

Mahalakshamma,   respondent   No.1­plaintiff   and   appellant

No.1­defendant   came   for   consideration.   Objection   was   taken

regarding   admissibility   which   was   upheld   both   by   the   High

Court and trial court. Matter was taken up by this Court. In

the above case, this Court held that the nomenclature given to

the   document   is   not   decisive   factor   but   the   nature   and

substance   of   the   transaction   has   to   be   determined   with

reference   to   the   terms   of   the   documents.   This   Court   after

considering both the documents, B­21 and B­22 held that they

require registration. In paragraph 15 following was held:

“15. It is well settled that the nomenclature
given   to   the   document   is   not   decisive   factor
but the nature and substance of the transaction
has   to   be   determined   with   reference   to   the
terms   of   the   documents   and   that   the
admissibility   of   a   document   is   entirely
dependent   upon   the   recitals   contained   in   that
document but not on the basis of the pleadings
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set up by the party who seeks to introduce the
document   in   question.   A   thorough   reading   of
both   Exts.   B­21   and   B­22   makes   it   very   clear
that   there   is   relinquishment   of   right   in
respect   of   immovable   property   through   a
document   which   is   compulsorily   registrable
document and if the same is not registered, it
becomes   an   inadmissible   document   as   envisaged
under   Section   49   of   the   Registration   Act.
Hence,   Exts.   B­21   and   B­22   are   the   documents
which squarely fall within the ambit of Section
17(1)(b) of the Registration Act and hence are
compulsorily registrable documents and the same
are inadmissible in evidence for the purpose of
proving   the   factum   of   partition   between   the
parties. We are of the considered opinion that
Exts.   B­21   and   B­22   are   not   admissible   in
evidence   for   the   purpose   of   proving   primary
purpose of partition.”

14. After   holding   the   said   documents   as   inadmissible,   this

Court further proceeded to consider the question as to whether

the   documents   B­21   and   B­22   can   be   used   for   any   collateral

purpose.   In   the   above   context   the   Court   accepted   the

submission of the appellant that the documents can be looked

into   for   collateral   purpose   provided   appellant­defendant   to

pay the stamp duty together with penalty and get the document

impounded.   In   paragraphs   16   and   17   following   has   been   laid

down:

“16.  Then   the   next   question   that   falls   for
consideration is whether these can be used for
any collateral purpose. The larger Bench of the
Andhra Pradesh High Court in Chinnappareddigari
Peda   Mutyala   Reddy  v.  Chinnappareddigari
Venkata   Reddy(AIR   1969   AP   242)  has   held   that
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the   whole   process   of   partition   contemplates
three phases i.e. severancy of status, division
of   joint   property   by   metes   and   bounds   and
nature   of   possession   of   various   shares.   In   a
suit   for   partition,   an   unregistered   document
can be relied upon for collateral purpose i.e.
severancy   of   title,   nature   of   possession   of
various shares but not for the primary purpose
i.e. division of joint properties by metes and
bounds.   An   unstamped   instrument   is   not
admissible   in   evidence   even   for   collateral
purpose, until the same is impounded. Hence, if
the   appellant­defendant   want   to   mark   these
documents for collateral purpose it is open for
them   to   pay   the   stamp   duty   together   with
penalty and get the document impounded and the
trial   court   is   at   liberty   to   mark   Exts.   B­21
and   B­22   for   collateral   purpose   subject   to
proof and relevance.

17.  Accordingly,   the   civil   appeal   is   partly
allowed   holding   that   Exts.   B­21   and   B­22   are
admissible   in   evidence   for   collateral   purpose
subject   to   payment   of   stamp   duty,   penalty,
proof and relevancy.”

15. Following   the   law   laid   down   by   this   Court   in   the   above

case, we are of the opinion that document dated 09.09.1994 may

be admissible in evidence for collateral purpose provided the

appellant get the document impounded and to pay the stamp duty

together with penalty as has been directed in the above case.

16. In   the   result,   this   appeal   is   partly   allowed   in   the

following manner:

The order of  the trial court as well as the High  Court

holding   that   the   document   dated   09.09.1994     required
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compulsory   registration   is   upheld.   Following   the   aforesaid

view   of   this   Court   in  Yellapu   Uma   Maheswari   (supra),  this

appeal is partly allowed holding that deed dated 09.09.1994 is

admissible   in   evidence   for   collateral   purpose   subject   to

payment of stamp duty and penalty. 

………………………….J.

( A.K. SIKRI )

………………………….J.

( ASHOK BHUSHAN )
NEW DELHI,
MARCH 23, 2018.

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