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G. Swaminathan Vs. Shivram Co-operative Housing Society and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petition No. 1869 of 1982
Judge
Reported in1983(2)BomCR548
ActsMaharashtra Ownership Flats (Regulation of the Promotion of Construction, Sale Management and Transfer) Act, 1963 - Sections 4 and 8; Contract Act, 1872 - Sections 69
AppellantG. Swaminathan
RespondentShivram Co-operative Housing Society and ors.
Appellant AdvocateC.J. Sawant and ;Pramod N. Joshi, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateP.J. Vaidya, Adv. for respondent No. 1
Excerpt:
.....upon promoter is made liable on demand to refund amounts already received by him in respect of flat - promoter also liable to pay simple interest at 9% on such amount - statutory charge for repayment of such amount with interest is also created on land and building in which flat is or is to be constructed - there is nothing in section 8 to indicate that such statutory charge is conditional upon agreement being registered under section 4 - all persons who have agreed to purchase flats and have paid monies to promoter can have benefit of such statutory charge if not given flats and money not returned - 1st respondent while agreeing to purchase land and building was aware that promoter had agreed to give flats to various persons including 3rd respondent - 1st respondent was also aware..........of rs. 15,500/- to mrs. chellamma, and to some other persons with whom we are not concerned. no flat in the building was allotted to mrs. chellamma nor was the amount paid by her refunded to her. ultimately she filed a complaint in the court of the chief presidency magistrate, esplande, bombay being case no. 108/s of 1968 against pareshkumar jain, the petitioner and two other persons who were office bearers of the 1st respondent society. the accused no. 1 pareshkumar jain was charged under section 13 read with section 4 of the maharashtra ownership flats (regulation of the promotion of construction, sale, management and transfer) act, 1963 as also under section 13 read with section 10 of the act, and under section 406 of the indian penal code. accused nos. 2, 3, and 4 were charged.....
Judgment:

Sujata Manohar, J.

1. The petitioner is a former Chairman of the 1st respondent. Co-operative Housing Society. The petitioner has filed the present petition challenging the judgment and award of the Maharashtra Co-operative Appellate Court, Bombay, dated 31st December 1981 in Appeal No. 517 of 1980. The petitioner had filed an Arbitration Suit No. ABN/760 of 1972 before the Co-operative Court at Bombay to recover from the 1st respondent Society and others a sum of Rs. 20,000/- together with interest as stated therein. The said arbitration suit of the petitioner was decided by the Co-operative Court in favour of the petitioner and the 1st respondent Society was directed to pay the said amount to the petitioner. In appeal, however, the judgment and award of the Co-operative Court was set aside and the claim of the petitioner was dismissed with costs. The present writ petition challenges the decision of the Co-operative Appellate Court.

2. The 1st respondent Co-operative Housing Society owns a building now known as Shivram Sadan and originally known as 'Prerana', situate at Antop Hill, Wadala (East), Bombay. Originally one Pareshkumar S. Jain had entered into an agreement for the purchase of the land on which the said building now stands, with the then owner of the land, and had proceeded to construct the said building thereon for the purpose of selling flats on ownership basis to various parties. He had collected various amounts from third parties to whom he had agreed to allot flats in the building. Thereafter the 1st respondent-society entered into an agreement with Pareshkumar Jain dated 26th December, 1966 whereunder the 1st respondent-society agreed to purchase the said land and the building under construction from Pareshkumar Jain on the terms and conditions mentioned in that agreement. Under the agreement Pareshkumar Jain was required to hand over possession of the building to the 1st respondent in the manner provided therein. A certain period was set out within which possession of the building floor wise was to be given to the 1st respondent. A list of flat-owners who had paid various amounts to Pareshkumar Jain for the purchase of flats in the said building was annexed to the said agreement showing the names of such purchasers and the amounts paid by each of them to Pareshkumar Jain. It was provided in the said agreement between the 1st respondent and Pareshkumar Jain that on or before 28th February 1967 the 1st respondent would pay a sum of Rs. 2 lacs to Pareshkumar Jain for the purpose of enabling Pareshkumar Jain to refund to the said purchasers the amounts paid by them to Jain. One such purchaser listed at Serial No. 9 in the said list annexed as Exhibit `C' to the said agreement was Mrs. A. Chellamma, respondent No. 3 herein who was shown as having paid a sum of Rs. 15,500/- to Jain for the purchase of a flat. It seems that Jain did not refund the sum of Rs. 15,500/- to Mrs. Chellamma, and to some other persons with whom we are not concerned. No flat in the building was allotted to Mrs. Chellamma nor was the amount paid by her refunded to her. Ultimately she filed a complaint in the Court of the Chief Presidency Magistrate, Esplande, Bombay being Case No. 108/S of 1968 against Pareshkumar Jain, the petitioner and two other persons who were office bearers of the 1st respondent society. The accused No. 1 Pareshkumar Jain was charged under section 13 read with section 4 of the Maharashtra Ownership Flats (Regulation of the Promotion of Construction, Sale, Management and Transfer) Act, 1963 as also under section 13 read with section 10 of the Act, and under section 406 of the Indian Penal Code. Accused Nos. 2, 3, and 4 were charged under section 13 of the Maharashtra Ownership Flats (Regulation of the Promotion of Construction, Sale, Management and Transfer) Act, 1963 as also under section 406 of the Indian Penal Code read with section 109 of the Indian Penal Code. The 1st accused Pareshkumar Jain was convicted and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 12 months for the offence of criminal breach of trust and was also convicted under section 13 of the Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act, 1963 and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 2 months. This sentence was passed on 4th December, 1968. Accused Nos. 2, 3 and 4 were acquitted in respect of the charges framed against them, but a notice was ordered to be issued against them asking them to show cause why they should not be prosecuted for fabricating false evidence under sections 193, 465, 467, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code. A similar notice was also directed to be given to all other persons who had signed the Minutes of the meeting of the 1st respondent Co-operative Society alleged to have been held on 13th February, 1967. This notice was directed to be issued to them because the learned Presidency Magistrate in the course of recording evidence had found that the Minutes of a meeting of the Managing Committee alleged to have been held on 13th February, 1967, which recorded that all the flats in that building had been allotted to various parties mentioned therein, appeared to be fabricated.

3. After the judgment and order dated 4th December, 1968 and during the pendency of criminal prosecution against the petitioner and the other accused persons, a letter was addressed to Mrs. Chellamma on behalf of the 1st respondent society dated 27th May, 1969 expressing willingness of the 1st respondent society to allot a flat to her in the said building. By her advocate's letter dated 28th May, 1969 addressed to the Advocate of the 1st respondent society, Mrs. Chellamma accepted the said offer. It seems that thereafter the petitioner, who was then the Chairman of the 1st respondent society, paid to Mrs. Chellamma the sum of Rs. 20,000/- in full and final satisfaction of all her claims against the 1st respondent society and Pareshkumar Jain, and obtained from her a receipt dated 20th June, 1969 to this effect. In the meanwhile Mrs. Chellamma had filed a suit in the City Civil Court at Bombay being Suit No. 7537 of 1967 against Pareshkumar Jain for the recovery of a sum of Rs. 20,000/- being the amount paid by her towards the purchase of a flat in the said building and obtained a decree against Pareshkumar Jain for the said amount. This decree had been obtained by her prior to the settlement of her claim. In the receipt dated 20th June, 1969, therefore, it has been mentioned that the decree passed in the City Civil Court Suit No. 7537 of 1967 against Pareshkumar Jain is satisfied by virtue of this payment of Rs. 20,000/- and that she has no claim left against the said Pareshkumar Jain or against the 1st respondent society.

4. After this settlement, on the same date, namely 20th June, 1969 the Chief Presidency Magistrate, Bombay passed an order discharging the notice which he had issued against the seven office bearers of the 1st respondent society including the petitioner. In his order he has mentioned that as the respondents have made full payment to the complainant of the monies which she had given to Pareshkumar Jain, and since the object of fabricating the Minutes was only to do her out of her dues, that object does not now survive in view of the payment that has been made, and therefore, in the interest of justice, it is not necessary to proceed further. Accordingly the notice was discharged.

5. The petitioner thereafter asked the 1st respondent society to pay him the said sum of Rs. 20,000/- which he claimed, had been paid by him to Mrs. Chellamma on behalf of the society. On the refusal of the 1st respondent society to pay the said sum to the petitioner, the petitioner filed the present dispute before the Co-operative Court at Bombay. In the dispute, the petitioner, in paragraph 4 of his claim has stated as follows :

'The disputant states that as the failure on the part of the 2nd opponent (Jain) to meet his commitments was harming the interest of the 1st Opponent Society and was jeopardising the title of the 1st Opponent Society to the said plot of land and since certain monies were payable by the 1st Opponent Society to the 2nd Opponent, the disputant paid the claim of the 3rd Opponent (Mrs. Chellamma) to the tune of Rs. 20,000/- in full and final settlement of the said claim of the 3rd Opponent as also Rs. 251/- being the share money admission fee for and on behalf of the 1st Opponent Society and obtained a receipt dated the 20th day of June, 1969 from the Constituted Attorney of the 3rd Opponent.'

In the written statement filed by the 1st respondent society, they denied their liability on the ground that they had not authorised the petitioner to make any payment to Mrs. Chellamma on behalf of the 1st respondent society. It was also submitted that the payments had been made by the petitioner in order to save himself personally from criminal prosecution. The dispute was decided in favour of the petitioner by the Co-operative Court. In appeal, however, the Appellate Court set aside the award of the Co-operative Court. The Appellate Court appears to have proceeded on the footing that under the agreement dated 26th December, 1966 entered into between the 1st respondent society and Pareshkumar Jain, the 1st respondent society was not under any obligation to pay any amount to Mrs. Chellamma. The Appellate Court also came to the conclusion, on facts, that the petitioner had not been authorised by the 1st respondent society to make any payment to Mrs. Chellamma. Both those conclusions of the Appellate Court have been arrived at on a misconception of the nature of the claim of the petitioner.

6. The petitioner has submitted that under the provisions of the Maharashtra Ownership Flats (Regulation of the Promotion of Construction, Sale, Management and Transfer) Act, 1963 (hereinafter referred to as `the Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act') the 1st respondent society was bound in law to return the said sum of Rs. 20,000/- to Mrs. Chellamma. He further submitted that in view of the pending criminal prosecution against him, which had arisen on account of non-payment of the said amount to Mrs. Chellamma, he was interested in the payment of the said sum to Mrs. Chellamma and he had therefore, paid the said amount to her. He has submitted that in these circumstances he is entitled to be reimbursed by the 1st respondent society in respect of the amount so paid by him.

7. Under section 69 of the Contract Act, a person who is interested in the payment of amount which another is bound to pay and, therefore, pays he is entitled to be reimbursed by him. The provisions of this section are not confined to a case where the other party who is bound to pay and from whom reimbursement is sought, is personally liable for the debt. The provisions of the section are applicable even in a case where the liability to pay attaches to the immovable property belonging to that other party. Thus, in the case of Mothooranath Chattopadhya v. Kristokumar Ghose, reported in (1878)4 Cal. 369 it is observed as follows :

'It is, therefore, clear that section (section 69) was intended to include the cases not only of personal liability, but all liabilities to payments for which owners of land are indirectly liable, those liabilities being imposed upon the lands held by them.'

We have, therefore, to see whether under the provisions of the Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act there is any liability on the part of the 1st respondent society to return the said sum of Rs. 20,000/- to Mrs. Chellamma. Under section 2(c) of the Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act a `promoter' is defined as follows :

'Promoter' means a person who constructs or causes to be constructed a block or building of flats or apartments for the purpose of selling some or all of them to other persons, or to a company, co-operative society or other association of persons, and includes his assignees ; and where the person who builds and the person who sells are different `persons, the term includes both.'

Sections 4, 5 and 8 of the said Act are as follows :

4. Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, a promoter who intends to construct or constructs a block or building of flats, all or some of which are to be taken or are taken on ownership basis, shall, before he accepts any sum of money as advance payment or deposit, which shall not be more than 20 per cent of the sale price, enter into a written agreement for sale with each of such persons who are to take or have taken such flats and the agreement shall be registered under the Indian Registration Act, 1908 and such agreement shall contain the prescribed particulars; and to such agreement there shall be attached, such documents or copies thereof, in respect of such matters as may be prescribed.

5. The promoter shall maintain a separate account in any bank of sums taken by him, from persons intending to take or who have taken flats, as advance or deposits, including any sums so taken towards the share capital for the formation of a co-operative society or a company, or towards the outgoings (including ground rent if any, municipal or other local taxes, taxes on income, water charges, electricity charges, revenue assessment, interest on any mortgage or other encumbrances if any); and he shall hold the said monies for the purposes for which they were given and shall disburse the monies for those purposes and shall on demand in writing by an officer appointed by general or special order by the State Government for the purpose, make full and true disclosure of all transactions in respect of that account.

8. If---

(a) the promoter fails to give possession in accordance with the terms of his agreement of a flat duly completed by the date specified, or any further date or dates agreed to by the parties, or

(b) the promoter for reasons beyond his control and of his agents, is unable to give possession of the flat by the date specified, or the further agreed date and a period of three months thereafter or a further period of three months if those reasons still exist, then, in any such case, the promoter shall be liable on demand (but without prejudice to any other remedies to which he may be liable) to refund the amounts already received by him in respect of the flat (with simple interest at nine per cent per annum from the date he received the sums till the date the amounts and interest thereon is refunded), and the amounts, and the interest shall be a charge on the land and the construction if any thereon in which the flat is or was to be constructed, to the extent of the amount due; but subject to any prior encumbrances.

Under section 8 of the said Act if the promoter fails to give possession in accordance with the terms of an agreement of a flat duly completed by the specified date, then he is liable on demand to refund the amounts already received by him in respect of the flat. What is more important, the amounts and interest thereon are a charge on the land as well as the building in which the flat is to be or is situated. In the present case, the promoter had, in breach of his agreements with various persons who had agreed with him to purchase flats in the building under construction, entered into an agreement for the sale of the land and the building in favour of the 1st respondent society and had agreed to hand over vacant possession of the building when constructed to the 1st respondent society. Various persons who had agreed to purchase flats from the promoter were not parties to this agreement nor was their consent taken to such an agreement. The said purchasers were, therefore, not in any way concerned with the arrangement inter se between the 1st respondent society and the promoter regarding return of the amounts paid for the purchase of the flats to them. On the failure of the promoter to give possession of the flats to them, they were entitled inter alia to recover the amounts paid by them as an advance for the purchase of flats from the promoter. They also had a statutory charge on the land and building for the recovery of this amount. In the exercise of the statutory charge created in their favour, they were entitled to proceed against the land and building which now belong to the 1st respondent society. Therefore, Pareshkumar Jain, who was the promoter in respect of the building which was originally being constructed by him, was bound and liable to return the amount received by him together with simple interest at 9% p.a. to Mrs. Chellamma and a statutory charge existed on the land and the building of the 1st respondent society for the payment of the said amount together with interest. In these circumstances, the 1st respondent society was liable to return the said mount to Mrs. Chellamma within the meaning of section 69 of the Contract Act as a charge existed on its land and building for the repayment of the amount.

8. It has been submitted by Mr. P.J. Vaidya, learned Advocate of the 1st respondent society, that under the provisions of section 4 of the Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act, the agreement between the promoter and the prospective purchaser is required to be registered. In the absence of such registration, the agreement is void and not rights can flow from such an agreement. He, therefore, submitted that in the absence of registration of the agreement of Mrs. Chellamma with Pareshkumar Jain, there was no statutory charge on the property of the society for the repayment of the said amount. In this connection, he drew my attention to a decision of the Division Bench of this High Court in the case of The Association of Commerce House Block Owners Ltd. v. Vishandas Samaldas, reported in 83 Bom.L.R. 339. That was a case in which the plaintiff was the son of a promoter and was looking after the matters of the promoter claimed to have entered into an agreement with the promoter to purchase premises which were described in the agreement as an office on the 5th floor of the building in question. This agreement was not registered, No premises were constructed on the 5th floor of the said building and the 5th floor was an open terrace. The owners of various premises in that building formed themselves into a limited company and the premises were transferred to the limited company. The plaintiff thereafter filed a suit against the limited company for specific performance of his agreement with the promoter and asserted inter alia, a right to construct office premises on the 5th floor of the said building on the basis of the said agreement. In these circumstances the Court negatived any such right of the plaintiff for specific performance of an agreement which had not been registered. There, the Court was not required to consider, and did not consider, the effect of non-registration of such an agreement upon the provisions of section 8 of the said Act.

9. In the case of A.K. Velu v. K.S. Ramkrishnan, bearing Criminal Application No. 911 of 1981 decided by S.K. Desai, J., on 30th July, 1981, a complaint had been filed by the joint owner, builder and promote of the property in question against a person who had entered into an agreement for the purchase of a flat in the said building. The complaint was under section 12 of the Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act. Under section 12 of the said Act every person who has executed an agreement to take a first is required to pay his proportionate share of the Municipal taxes, water and electricity charges, ground rent and other public charges in accordance with his agreement with the promoter. On the failure of the accused to pay their share of dues and charges a complaint was filed against them by the promoter. Relying upon the decision of the Division Bench of this Court in the case of The Association of Commerce House Block Owners Ltd. v. Vishandas Samaldas (supra) the Court held that as the agreement was not registered, it could not be the foundation of any criminal complaint. This was a case of complaint filed under section 12 of the Act. Section 12 in terms refers to the execution of an agreement between a person who wants to take a flat and the promoter. Such an execution of an agreement must be in accordance with section 4 of the Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act and, therefore, their ratio of the decision in the case of The Association of Commerce House Block Owners Ltd. v. Vishandas Samaldas was directly applicable to that case.

10. Not all sections of the Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act, however, talk about the execution of such agreements. In some sections there is an express reference to an agreement referred to in section 4 of the said Act. Thus, for example, in section 9 it is provided that 'no promoter shall, after he executes an agreement to sell any flat, mortgage or create a charge on the flat or the land, without the previous consent of the persons who take or agree to take the flats, and if any such mortgage or charge is made or created without such previous consent after the agreement referred to in section 4 is registered, it shall not affect the right and interest of such persons'. (Italics mine). Thus, under this section, certain rights are conferred on the purchasers of flat only after their agreements are registered as provided under section 4. Similarly under section 11 of the said Act a promoter is required to take 'all necessary steps to complete his title and convey, to the organisation of persons who take flats,......his right, title and interest in the land and building, and to execute all relevant documents therefore in accordance with the agreement executed under section 4........'. (Italics mine). There is no reference to an agreement executed under section 4 in section 8 of the said Act. Section 8 is meant to give protection to persons who have parted with monies for the purchase of flats in the event of the promoter not giving them flats as promised. Thus, under section 8, on the failure of the promoter to give possession of the flat agreed upon, the promoter is made liable, on demand, to refund the amounts already received by him in respect of the flat, and he is also made liable to pay simple interest at 9% on this amount. A statutory charge for the repayment of this amount with interest is also created on the land and the building in which the flat is or is to be constructed. There is nothing in the provisions of section 8 which would indicate that this statutory charge is conditional upon the agreement being registered under section 4. All persons who have agreed to purchase flats and have paid monies to the promoter for this purpose can have the benefit of this statutory charge if they are not given flats and the money is not returned to them. Moreover, there is no provision under the said Act to the effect that an agreement which is not registered under section 4 is void for all purposes.

11. In the present case, therefore, the land and building which now belong to the 1st respondent society, are charged with repayment of the amounts paid by Mrs. Chellamma for the purpose of a flat in the building, together with interest thereon at the rate of 9% p.a. The 1st respondent society, when it agreed to purchase the land and building in the present case, was aware that the promoter had agreed to give flats to various persons including Mrs. Chellamma. The 1st respondent society was also aware that the promoter had received from these various respective buyers various amounts for the purchase of flats. In fact the names of these prospective purchasers as well as the amounts paid by them to the promoter, were set out in Ex. C to the agreement which the 1st respondent society entered into with the promoter. The property of the 1st respondent society was, therefore, charged with the repayment of Rs. 15,500/- to Mrs. Chellamma together with interest thereon at 9% p.a.

12. It was submitted by Mr. Vaidhya that under section 8 of the said Act the society would be liable to pay the said amount to Mrs. Chellamma only on demand being made by her; and no such demand was made by her as far as the 1st respondent society was concerned. This connection rests upon a misreading of section 8 of the said Act. Under section 8, the purchaser can only make a demand against the promoter. It is on the failure of the promoter to comply with this demand that the amount can be recovered against the land and building in question. In the present case, Mrs. Chellamma had not merely made a demand on the promoter, but she had in fact filed a suit against the promoter and obtained a decree against him. In these circumstances, she was entitled to a statutory charge on the property in question. Hence the 1st respondent society was liable to repay the amount to her.

13. We have next to examine whether it may be said in the present case that the petitioner was interested in making the payment of the said amount to Mrs. Chellamma Under Section 69 of the Contract Act it is not necessary for the petitioner to establish any legal liability on his part to pay the amount to Mrs. Chellamma. He has to establish that he had an interest in seeing to it that the amount was paid to her. On the facts of the present case it is quite clear that criminal prosecution was launched against the petitioner and other office bearers of the 1st respondent society by Mrs. Chellamma on account of their failure to repay the said amount to her. The criminal prosecution in respect of which notice had been issued to the petitioner, was an off-shoot of the complaint filed by Mrs. Chellamma. The proceedings against the petitioner were dropped only after the petitioner paid the said amount to Mrs. Chellamma. In fact, the chief Presidency Magistrate in his order of 20th June, 1969 observed that notice was being discharged because of the payment to Mrs. Chellamma of the said amount. In these circumstances, the petitioner had an interest in making the said payment to Mrs. Chellamma. He is, therefore, entitled to recover the amount paid by him to Mrs. Chellamma from the 1st respondent society under the provision of section 69 of the Contract Act.

14. In the course of his argument Mr. Vaidya submitted that the co-operative Court, in these circumstances, would not have any jurisdiction to entertain the dispute. This point has not been raised at any stage of the proceeding until now and there is no reason why it should be entertained at this stage.

15. In these circumstances, the rule is made absolute. The judgment and award of the Maharashtra Co-operative Appellate Court is set aside and the judgement and award of the 1st Co-operative Court at Bombay dated 28-10-1980 is confirmed.

16. In the circumstances of the case there will be no order as to costs.


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