1. This is plaintiff's appeal arising out of the orders passed in Notice of Motion by the City Civil Court which was set aside in appeal from Order NO. 264/76 by a learned single Judge of this Court. Being aggrieved, he has filed this Letters Patent Appeal.
2. It is not necessary to notice the facts in detail, though they may be mentioned very briefly to know the natureof the order that was passed by the First Appellate Court. The plaintiff claims to be the sub-tenant of certain premises in this town which were allowed to be used by the defendant jointly under an agreement dated Sept, 28, 1970. According to the plaintiff, the defendant has merely been given licence for joint user along with him in the same premises. Since the plaintiff was being disturbed by the defendant in their joint possession and user, he filed the present Suit No. 1106/75 in the City Civil Court at Bombay. The substantive prayer in the suit is that the plaintiff's joint possession should be held proved and the defendant should be restrained by an order of permanent injunction of the Court from interfering with that joint possession. The defendant is denying these allegations.
3. After filing the suit, the plaintiff issued a Notice of Motion dated Aug. 20, 1975, and asked for an interim injunction. At the final hearing of the Motion after considering the affidavits of either side, the agreement dated Sept. 28, 1970, and after considering the arguments addressed on both the sides, the learned trial Judge made the Notice of Motion absolute in terms of prayer (a).
4. The defendant filed an appeal in the High Court as an Appeal from Order. A learned single Judge of this Court, after hearing the parties and after going through the affidavits filed on behalf of both the sides and more particularly considering the nature, type and dimensions of the premises, found that joint possession seems to be very difficult to uphold on the material as at present available in the suit. The consequence was that the plaintiff's case about joint possession was not accepted as prima facie proved and the order passed in the Notice of Motion was vacated. Being aggrieved by that order, the present appeal has been filed
5. Before going to the merits of the matter, a preliminary objection is raised to the maintainability of the appeal itself. It is urged that the order of the learned single Judge refusing to assist the plaintiff by giving an interim injunction pending the disposal of the suit on merits is not a judgment at all within the meaning of that expression used in Clause 15 of the Letters Patent. If that is so, the appeal itself is not maintainable.
6. On behalf of the respondent a long time of judgments of this court has beencited. To suggest what precisely is being indicated as a judgment by this Court in Clause 15 of the Letters Patent on behalf of the appellant Mr. Meghani relied upon certain observations of Tendolkar, J. in a Division Bench judgment in S. H. H. Kably v, Mahomed T. Jaffrani : AIR1958Bom210 . In view of this preliminary objection, it would be necessary to find whether the order under appeal is a judgment as required by Clause 15 of the Letters Patent and whether the appeal itself is maintainable. The meaning of the word 'judgment' used in Clause 15 of the Letters Patent is a subject-matter of a long line of judgments of this Court It does not seem to be necessary to do eny fresh thinking on the subject The various aspects of that proposition have already been considered and answered by the judgments of this Court from time to time.
7. One of the judgments to which We may refer and which introduces the concept of that expression is one Mansata Film Distributors v. Sorab Modi : AIR1955Bom266 . The order under appeal before the Division Bench restrained the defendant in the suit from prosecuting his separate and independent suit in the Calcutta High Court and it was that order which was being challenged in the Letters Patent Appeal. One of the questions raised was whether this order being interlocutory could constitute judgment within the meaning of Clause 15 of the Letters Patent. So far as the facts of that case are concerned, the learned Judges had come to the conclusion that the order passed by the trial Judge restraining the defendant from proceeding with the Calcutta suit was a judgment within the meaning of Clause 15 of the Letters Patent and was appealable. While the arguments addressed to the learned Judges were being considered, Chagla C. J. speaking for the Court analysed the situation and pointed out what should be the criterion for deciding whether a particular order amounts to a judgment within the meaning of Clause 15 of the Letters Patent. The learned Judges observed that it appears to be well settled that even interlocutory orders can constitute judgments in order that an appeal should lie. When therefore there is an interlocutory order, which is purely procedural in character, or, as it has been said, which is nothing more than a step towards obtaining a final adjudication in the suit then undoubtedly suchan order would not constitute a judgment within the meaning of Clause 15. But if an interlocutory order determines the right of the parties even pro tanto then the party whose right has been affected would have the right to appeal against that order. To that extent a very important right has been affected and it is difficult to understand how an order restraining a party from proceeding with his suit till the suit filed by the other party is disposed of does not affect the right of that party.
8. These observations of the Court have been accepted as laying a correct law in this Court and they have been followed from time to time. For instance in two judgments reported in Vol. 68 of the Bom. L. R. we have the first case of Gyangirji Narsinggirji Math v. Raja Dhanrajgirji Raja Narsingh Girji : AIR1967Bom94 and the other case of J. K. Chemicals Ltd. v. M/s. Kreba & Co. Ltd. : AIR1967Bom56 . in the first judgment cited above, the plaintiffs claimed a right of title to certain property and claimed an interim injunction restraining the defendant from dealing with or disposing of the property pending the disposal of the suit. When such an injunction was refused, the question arose, whether an appeal lay. The Court observed that refusal to grant such an injunction does not determine or affect any right Of the plaintiff to the property. which, according to him, belonged to him. There is no decision in regard to his right. Having come to that conclusion, the Court applied the principle involved again by referring to the earlier judgments like Vanichand v. Lakhmi-chand 21 Bom LR 959 : AIR 1920 Bom 309, Mansata Film Distributors v. Sorab Modi : AIR1955Bom266 and the Justice of the Peace for Calcutta v. Oriental Gas Co. (1872) 8 Beng LR 433. Similarly in the second judgment for coming to the conclusion that order refusing injunction could not be said to be a judgment within the meaning of Cl, 15 of the Letters Patent, as it was not a decision which affected the merits of any question between the parties in the suit by determining some right or liability, the learned Judges again relied upon the same judgments referred to above.
9. There is, therefore, no doubt that so far as this Court is concerned it has been consistently held that unless it isshown that some right of the parties has been determined so as to affect the merits of the suit, a mere interlocutory order could not be described as a judgment within the meaning of Clause 15 of the Letters Patent. We may point out that the observations of the Supreme Court in Shanti Kumar R. Canji v. Home Insurance Co. of New York : 1SCR550 seem to confirm the view of this Court. The Supreme Court observed that in finding out whether the order is a judgment within Clause 15 it has to be found out that the order affects the merits of the action between the parties by determining some right or liability. It is the same principle which is the basis of the approach of this Court in all the judgments cited above.
10. Mr. Meghani, however, says that the plaintiff asserts joint possession and that joint possession has been prima teaseheld proved by the trial Court. An injunction was therefore issued. In the appeal at the instance of the defendant, the Appellate Court comes to the conclusion that prima facie the joint possession has not been proved. The plaintiff is, therefore, deprived of the order of injunction. The plaintiff's existing possession was being protected by the order but by the refusal of the Appellate Court to confirm the order of injunction, he is now deprived of that protection and his physical possession is now being affected. This being the position, the observations of Tendolkar, J. in the case of S. H. H. Kably v. Mahomed T. Jaffrani : AIR1958Bom210 would be pertinent.
11. The question before the Court related to the appointment of receiver. What is held is that if a receiver is appointed at the instance of one party to the suit, the other party which is in physical possession is deprived of his present possession. Such an order affects the right and therefore is a judgment within the meaning of Clause 15 of the Letters Patent. However, if the Court refuses to appoint a receiver no right of a party is thereby determined. The only observations on which Mr. Meghani sought to rely are to be found in para. 6 of the report in the following words:--
'It may well be that where a Receiver is appointed, the order may be a 'judgment' because it may deprive some party of his present right to possession.'
12. However, this is a part of the sentence on which Mr. Meghani relies,The remaining part of that very sentence says that that was not a case before the Court in that litigation. The next observation is that: 'where a Receiver is refused, it appears to us that no right of a party is thereby determined.' Mr. Meghani's emphasis was that if a right of possession is affected the order would certainly be a judgment. However, the legal position seems to be that the affectation or interference with the right of possession or any other right for the time being of a party must be the result of the Court's Order determining some right inter parts during that litigation. If it is not so, then undoubtedly mere refusal to give interim relief in a litigation where ultimately the relief claimed may 'be granted would not amount to a judgment within the meaning of Clause 15.
13. If that is the correct legal position, let us analyse the situation before us. The plaintiff has come before the Court with the allegation of joint possession with the defendant on the basis of a contract which is in writing. He further alleges that in fact there is joint possession as on the date of the suit. The defendant is trying to interfere with that right and he should be permanently restrained by an order of injunction of the Court. When the Appellate Court found that prima facie at the stage of Notice of Motion there is not sufficient evidence which would justify the allegation made by the plaintiff about joint possession and therefore injunction is refused, we do not think that any of the rights of the parties in that litigation has been determined. The entire litigation is still at large. These observations either of the trial Court or of the Appellate Court are prima facie conclusions on the basis of the record as it now exists. It may be that after all evidence is led the plaintiff may be able to satisfy the trial Court of the truth of his case. This being the situation, the judgment made by the first Appellate Court, being Appeal from Order which lies because of the statutory provision, does not seem to decide any of the rights of the parties nor does the order of the Court affect either one way or the other any of the rights of the parties in the litigation. This being our view, we think that the appeal itself is not maintainable and must be dismissed. Accordingly we dismiss the appeal with costs.
14. Appeal dismissed.