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Sheo Kumar Dwivedi and ors. Vs. Thakurji Maharaj Brijman and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. Appln. No. 117 of 1952
Judge
Reported inAIR1959All463
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Sections 115 - Order 23, Rule 1 and 1(2)
AppellantSheo Kumar Dwivedi and ors.
RespondentThakurji Maharaj Brijman and anr.
Appellant AdvocateN. Banerji, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateBabu Lal Srivastava, Adv.
DispositionRevision dismissed
Excerpt:
.....of high court is laid down by section 115 - high court can not revise every error of law or every error of procedure or every error of fact - revisional powers exercised when court below exceeds its jurisdiction or fails to exercise its jurisdiction or acts illegally or with material irregularity resulting in failure of justice - exercise of revisional jurisdiction is discretionary and court may refuse to exercise same. - - it also is clear, at any rate from the referring order, that the success of the plaintiff depended upon the plaintiff successfully proving the existence of a certain will in his favour. (2) where the court is satisfied- (a) that a suit must fail by reason of some formal defect, or (b) that there are other sufficient grounds for allowing the plaintiff to..........withdrawal of a suit with permission to bring a fresh one he could be permitted to do so, was an error of jurisdiction.the way mr. banerji tied up this error, if we may put it that way, to the question of jurisdiction was by saying that the court could only nave jurisdiction to allow the plaintiff to withdraw the suit with permission to bring a fresh suit if that court, without committing any error whatever in its interpretation of either order 23 rule 1 or in regard to the facts and circumstances, permitted it, otherwise every error according to him would be an error of jurisdiction.4. mr. banerji, in the main, relied on the decision of the bombay high court reported in tarachand bapuchand v. gaibihaji ahmad bagwan : air1956bom632 where a learned single judge of that court held that.....
Judgment:

B. Mukerji, J.

1. This is an application in revision by the defendants against the order of a Munsif of Lucknow granting permission to the plaintiff to withdraw his suit and further to file a fresh suit on the same cause of action. This application in revision originally came up before a learned single Judge who thought it desirable, because a large number of decisions had been cited before him on the question whether or not a revision lay, to refer it to a Bench and that is how this revision has now been listed before us.

2. The suit out of which this revision has arisen was filed by Shri Thakurji Maharaj Brijman in the house of late Pandit Brahmadin through his Shibait and Sarbarkar, Pt. Hari Shanker. The suit apparently was for a declaration of title to some property. It also is clear, at any rate from the referring order, that the success of the plaintiff depended upon the plaintiff successfully proving the existence of a certain will in his favour.

The plaintiff found himself in a curious situation when he discovered that his witnesses, particularly those who were the attesting witnesses of the will, had been won over by the defendants. The plaintiff therefore applied to the Court for permission to withdraw the suit with liberty to file a fresh suit later on the same cause of action.

The plaintiff apparently, took this precaution because he, may be optimistically, believed that he may at a later date succeed in prevailing upon the witnesses to be honest and truthful and thus support his title which depended upon the formal proof of the will. The Court below, namely, the Munsif, under the aforementioned circumstances, permitted the withdrawal of the suit as we have already said.

A revision was filed to this Court and Mr. Banerji, the learned Counsel for the applicants, has strenuously contended that the learned Munsif had no jurisdiction to make the order that he has made in this particular case. Mr. Banerji's arguments were laid out on a very wide canvass and during the course of his arguments he discussed all the cases which were decided by the various High Courts, the Privy Council and also by the Supreme Court which indicated the ambit of the power which a High Court exercised under Section 115 of the C.P.C.

3. The argument of Mr. Banerji amounted to his contending that a Court could only allow the withdrawal of a suit with permission to bring a fresh one on the same cause of action if, and only if, it fell within the four corners of Order 23 Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure. He further contended that any error committed by the Court below in deciding whether or not in a particular set of circumstances on which the plaintiff applied for the withdrawal of a suit with permission to bring a fresh one he could be permitted to do so, was an error of jurisdiction.

The way Mr. Banerji tied up this error, if we may put it that way, to the question of jurisdiction was by saying that the Court could only nave jurisdiction to allow the plaintiff to withdraw the suit with permission to bring a fresh suit if that Court, without committing any error whatever in its interpretation of either Order 23 Rule 1 or in regard to the facts and circumstances, permitted it, otherwise every error according to him would be an error of jurisdiction.

4. Mr. Banerji, in the main, relied on the decision of the Bombay High Court reported in Tarachand Bapuchand v. Gaibihaji Ahmad Bagwan : AIR1956Bom632 where a learned single Judge of that Court held that under circumstances to which that learned Judge referred to in his decision, the order which the Court below in that case made, permitting the withdrawal of the suit, was Unjustified since the learned Judge felt that the view of the Court below that there was a formal defect was an erroneous view.

It is trite proposition that each case is authority for itself and no more; unless a case lays down a broad proposition of law it cannot have even a persuasive value. Tarachand Bapuchand's case : AIR1956Bom632 was decided on its own facts and it is pertinent to notice that even while allowing the application in revision the learned Judge left it open to the plaintiff to have the defect, which apparently even the learned Judge found there was in the suit, corrected by a proper application.

Whether under the circumstances of that case the error was one of form or not need not be considered by us at all, for in the case before us the circumstances with which we are concerned, in order to determine whether or not the defect which faced the plaintiff amounted to what Rule 1 of Order 23 of the Code of Civil Procedure calls 'formal defect,' are different. Therefore in our view the Bombay decision could lend little support, if any, to that contention of Mr. Banerji on which he could succeed.

5. The relevant portion of Order 23 Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure is in these words:

'(1) At any time after the institution of a suit the plaintiff may, as against all or any of the defendants, withdraw his suit or abandon part of his claim.

(2) Where the Court is satisfied-

(a) that a suit must fail by reason of some formal defect, or

(b) that there are other sufficient grounds for allowing the plaintiff to institute a fresh suit for the subject matter of a suit or part of a claim, it may........'

It has been held, and it may be taken now as the proper rule of law, that what are other sufficient grounds in Rule 1 (2)(b) has to be ejusdem generis of what is provided in Rule 1 (2)(a). The learned Judge who made the reference in this case was not shown the Full Bench decision of this court reported in Abdul Ghafoor v. Abdul Rahman : AIR1951All845 where it was held that 'the words 'other sufficient grounds' in Rule 1(2)(b) of Order 23 of the Code cover grounds analogous to those mentioned in Rule 1(2)(a).'

6. The question that we have to determine therefore is first, whether there was a defect of the nature contemplated by Order 23 Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure or not. The Court below thought that there was, and on an examination of the circumstances to which we have already referred in the earlier portion of this judgment of ours, we cannot say that the Court below was wrong.

The plaintiff could succeed only if he could furnish proof of the will in his favour. The proof of the will not only depended upon the proof of the fact that a certain individual had executed thewill and that he had the power and capacity to execute that will but further that under the law proof of the will had to be in accordance with the provisions of Section 68 of the Indian Evidence Act.

Section 68 required that if a document had, by virtue of some legal provision, to be attested then it could not be used as evidence unless one attesting witness at least had been called for the purpose of proving its execution, if there was an attesting witness alive, and subject to the process of the Court and capable of giving evidence.

In this particular case there was no dispute that the attesting witness was alive and capable of giving evidence and subject to the process of the Court and therefore any failure of such a witness from the witness box meant the failure of the plaintiff to prove the will. The plaintiff candidly placed before the Court his difficulty and the difficulty was not of his own creation,

If at all, the difficulty which the plaintiff faced had its roots, possibly, in the machinations of the other side. The plaintiff was not in this case faced with incapacities to adduce sufficient evidence to prove a fact but he was faced with an incapacity of producing such evidence as the law required under the statutory provisions.

The defect which therefore was likely to arise in the way of the plaintiff succeeding was in our opinion in the nature of a formal defect for, as we have said, there was a form which had to be adhered to in the matter of giving evidence in regard to the proof of the will.

7. The other material question which was canvassed at great length, namely, whether we could in the circumstances of this case exercise our revisional jurisdiction to correct any error that a Court may have committed while permitting or refusing to permit the withdrawal of a suit with permission to file a fresh one on the same cause of action.

The revisional jurisdiction of this Court is confined to the four corners of the powers given in Section 115 of the Code. It is well established that every error of law, or every error of procedure or every error of fact could not be revised by the High Court under its powers under Section 115.

It was pointed out by Bose J., in his order of reference in Narayan Sonaji v. Sheshrao Vithoba, AIR 1948 Nag 258 and that statement of the law by Bose J. was approved by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Keshardeo Chamria v. Radha Kissen : [1953]4SCR136 , that the words ''illegally' or 'material irregularity' do not cover either errors of fact or law. They do not refer to the decision arrived at but to the manner in which it is reached. The errors contemplated relate to material defects of procedure and not to errors of either law or fact after the formalities which the law prescribes have been complied with.' The scope of Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure came up for consideration before their Lordships of the Privy Council in a number of decisions and their Lordships in those cases point out that there was no justification for the view that Section 115(c) of the Code of Civil Procedure was intended to authorise the High Courts to interfere and correct gross and palpable errors of subordinate Courts so as to prevent grave injustice in non-appealable cases.

It is therefore clear that the powers of the High Court in revision are not available for correction of errors of law, however gross those errors may be, and whatever may be the result of those errors on the merits of the case. This power of the High Court is only available where the High Court could legitimately hold that the Court below had exceeded its jurisdiction or had refrained from exercising jurisdiction vested in it or it acted illegally or with material irregularity in the exercise of that jurisdiction, namely committed such an error of procedure, a mandatory procedure, and the error had resulted in failure of justice or some such thing. Their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Chamria's case : [1953]4SCR136 quoted with approval a passage from the decision of the Privy Council in N. S. Venkatagiri Ayyangar v. Hindu Religious Endowments Board which passage is in these words and lays down the scope of Section 115 of the Code of Civil procedure clearly:

'Section 115 applies only to cases in which no appeal lies, and, where the legislature had provided no right of appeal, the manifest intention is that the order of the trial Court, right or wrong, shall be final. The section empowers the High Court to satisfy itself on three matters, (a) that the order of the subordinate court is within its jurisdiction; (b) that the case is one in which the court ought to exercise jurisdiction; and (c) that in exercising jurisdiction the court has not acted illegally, that is, in breach of some provision of law, or with material irregularity, that is, by committing some error of procedure in the course of the trial which is material in that it may have affected the ultimate decision. If the High Court is satisfied on these three matters, it has no power to interfere because it differs, however profoundly, from the conclusions of the subordinate court in questions of fact or law.'

8. Applying the afore-quoted principle to the case in hand all that could be said was that possibly the Court below committed an error in regard to its view of what was 'formal defect' within the meaning of Rule 1 of Order 23, or that the Court below committed an error in regard to what could be deemed 'sufficient grounds' within the meaning of Rule 1(2)(b) of Order 23 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

The error therefore which the Court below may have committed was in our opinion, at best, an error of law and not an error that in any manner affected the jurisdiction of that Court to make or refuse to make an order which that Court could under the provisions of Order 23.

9. In the end we wish to add that since the exercise of the revisional powers by this Court are discretionary this Court can refuse to exercise that discretion unless there was likely to be some substantial failure of justice. In this case we are unable to say that, unless the order of the Court below was set aside, there was any failure of justice much less a substantial failure thereof.

The Court below has found, and so have we, that unless the plaintiff was permitted to withdraw the suit at this stage with the right to bring a fresh suit later it was he that was likely to suffer injustice and not the other side. In this view of the matter also we arc of the opinion that we should not exercise, even if we had the power, our powers in revision and interfere with the order of the Court below.

10. In the result we dismiss this applicationin revision with costs.


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