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Jagat NaraIn and anr. Vs. Laljee and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 3471 of 1962
Judge
Reported inAIR1965All504
ActsTransfer of Property Act, 1882 - Sections 6, 41, 43 and 44; Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1951 - Sections 21 and 202
AppellantJagat NaraIn and anr.
RespondentLaljee and ors.
Appellant AdvocateG.P. Khare, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateN.D. Ojha, Adv.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Excerpt:
(i) property - applicability - section 6 and 43 of transfer of property act, 1882 - section 43 lays down it is not required for the transferor to be aware of fact that right to transfer the property are vested with him or not - transferor aware of the fact that he has no right will not get benefit of section 43 - person sirdar of the property not having transferable right of bhumindar transfer the property - subsequent interest of property will go the transferee under section 43 - section 6 will not stand on the way of applicability of section 43. (ii) possession of land - sections 21(d) and 202 of u.p. zamindari abolition and land reforms act, 1951 - person who is not asami under section 21(d) is not liable to eject from the mortgage under section 202. - - se it was clearly stated by..........in the following terms. the plaintiffs were granted a declaration that they are bhumidhars of the land in suit and that the mortgagee-defendants are in possession thereof as mortgagees for a sum of rs. 85/- advanced to mahadeo the predecessor-in-interest of the plaintiffs. the decree further provided that it the plaintiffs deposit a sum of rs. 85/- in court for payment to the mortgagee-defendants within three months from the date of the appellate decree they would be entitled to institute a suit for possession under section 202 of the u. p. zamindari abolition and land reforms act against the mortgagee-defendants. two of the mortgagee-defendants have preferred this appeal impleading the third as a respondent.the only contention raised before me by the learned counsel ior the appellants.....
Judgment:

Gangeshwar Prasad, J.

1. This suit which has given rise to this Second Appeal was for possession of certain plots of agricultural land. Admittedly Mahadeo, who was an occupancy tenant of the plots in suit, mortgaged them usufructuarily to defendants Nos. 1 to 3 for a sum of Rs. 85/- about 15 years prior to the institution of the suit and the mortgagees had continued in possession since then. It was alleged by the plaintiffs that on 14th October, 1958 Mahadeo acquired the rights of a Bhumidhar by depositing an amount equal to ten times the revenue payable for the land and then sold it to the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs thus claimed to be entitled to recover possession of the land on payment of Rs. 85/- or such other sum as may be found due under the mortgage. The learned Munsif granted to the plaintiffs a decree for posses, sion subject to their depositing a sum of Rs. 85/-within one month from the date of the decree.

On appeal by the mortgagee-defendants the learned District Judge modified the decree of the trial Court and substituted ior the decree of possession a decree in the following terms. The plaintiffs were granted a declaration that they are Bhumidhars of the land in suit and that the mortgagee-defendants are in possession thereof as mortgagees for a sum of Rs. 85/- advanced to Mahadeo the predecessor-in-interest of the plaintiffs. The decree further provided that it the plaintiffs deposit a sum of Rs. 85/- in Court for payment to the mortgagee-defendants within three months from the date of the appellate decree they would be entitled to institute a suit for possession under Section 202 of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act against the mortgagee-defendants. Two of the mortgagee-defendants have preferred this appeal impleading the third as a respondent.

The only contention raised before me by the learned counsel ior the appellants was that the sale deed dattd 14th October, 1958 on which the plaintiffs based their claim conferred upon them no right to the land in suit inasmuch as the certificate necessary for the acquisition of the rights of a Bhumidhar was issued in favour of Mahadeo on 26th October, 1958. It was urged that the present suit which was filedon 20th September, 1959 was consequently incompetent and it was not rendered competent retrospectively by the second deed of sale regarding the disputed land which the plaintiffs are proved to have obtained from Mahadeo on 3rd May, 1960 i.e., during the pendency of the suit, in order to cure the defect in their title.

2. It cannot be disputed and has, indeed, not been disputed before me that on 14th October, 1958 when Mahadeo executed the first sale deed in regard to the land in suit in favour of the plaintiffs he had no transferable interest in it. He had certainly made the requisite deposit under Section 134 of the U. P. Zamin-dari Abolition and Land Reforms Act but no certificate under Section 137 of the Act had been granted to him till then. Under Sub-section (2) of Section 137 of the Act as it then stood a Sirdar acquired the rights of a Bhumidhar only upon the grant of the certificate under Sub-section (1) and from the date thereof. On fulfilling the conditions required by Section 134 of the Act a Sirdar certainly became entitled to a declaration that he had acquired the rights mentioned in Section 137 of the Act but it was not until the certificate had actually been granted that the right inhered in him and the inherence took effect not from when he became entitled to the declaration but from the date of the certificate. Obviously, therefore, Mahadeo was not competent to transfer the land on 14th October, 1958, when he executed the first sate deed,

3. It was, however, contended on behalf of the plaintiffs that the grant of the certificate under Section 137 of the Act on 26th October, 1958 perfected the title of the plaintiffs and the subsequent acquisition of the rights of a Bhumidhar by Mahadeo upon the grant of the certificate operated on the interest which he purported to pass under the sale deed dated 14th October, 1958, by virtue of Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act. In reply to this contention it was urged that Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act could not be invoked by the plaintiffs for the following reasons. Firstly, Mahadeo appears to have genuinely believed that after making the requisite deposit under Section 134 of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act he had become a Bhumidhar and had acquired the right of transfer with regard to the land in suit. Secondly, the real state of things pertaining to this matter was known to the plaintiffs and was at least ascertainable by them. Thirdly, transfer of the rights of a Sirdar not being permitted by law, Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act could not cure the illegality of the transfer.

4. The principle embodied in Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act has been variously described as the Common Law doctrine of 'feeding the grant by estoppel' or as the doctrine of Equity that 'equity' treats that as done which ought to be done' or as a combination of both, but, a statutory shape having, been given to the principle, it is the section itself which must ultimately determine its scope and the conditions of its application. In order that Section 43 may apply there must obviously have been a fraudulent or erroneous representation by a person that he was authorised to transfer immoveable property and he must have professed to transfer such property, but there is nothing in the section requiring that the trans-feror should have been aware of the erroneousness of the representation made by him. The transferor might have honestly believed in the truth of the representa-tion that he was authorised to transfer the property which he professed to transfer, but that would not render the Section inapplicable.

It will be noted that even before the introduction of the word 'fraudulently' into the section in 1929, erroneous representation was construed as including alt representations whether tainted or untainted with fraud. The amendment has now made it clear thatthe section will be applicable even it the transferor is un aware of the erroneous nature of the representation made by him. The matter is concluded by the following observations of the Supreme Court in the caseof Tumma Masjid Mercara v. Kodimaniandra Deviah, : AIR1962SC847 :--

'It is immaterial whether the transferor acts bona fide or fraudulently in making the representation. It is only material to find out whether in fact the transferee has been misled. It is to be noted that when the decision under consideration was given the relevant words of Section 43 were 'where a person erroneously represents', and now, as amended by Act 20 of 1929 they are 'where a person fraudulently or erroneously represents' and that emphasises that for the purpose of the section it matters not whether the transferor acted fraudulently or innocently is making the representation, and that what is material is that he did make a representation and the transferee has acted on it.'

5. In the instant ca.se it was clearly stated by Mahadeo, the vendor of the plaintiffs, in the sale deeddated 14th October, 1958 that he had become a Bhumidar of the land which he professed to transfer. It may be that he was honestly mistaken in thinking so and believed that he had acquired the rights of a Bhumidar by making the deposit. But his belief as to his power of transfering the property is altogether irrelevant and the transferees would be entitled, irrespective of it, to the benefit of Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act.

6. The point next to be considered is whether atransferee is deprived of the benefit of Section 43 if he is aware of the erroneousness of the representation orcould have discovered its ertoneousness by exercisingreasonable care or pursuing reasonable inquiry. In connection with the first part of the question reference must be made to the Full Bench decision of this Court in the case of Parma Nand v. Champa Lal : AIR1956All225 , although the question has now to be decided in accordance with what has been laid down by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in the Jumma Masjid case AIR 1982 S C 847. The questionreferred to the Full Bench in Parma Nand's case, (S) AIR 1958 All 225 was:

'Does Section 43, T. P. Act, require that the transferee who can take advantage of it should be one to whom not only a fraudulent or erroneous representation about the transferor's authority to transfer the property is made but should also be one who did not have knowledge of the true factual position and had merely acted on the belief of the erroneous or fraudulent representation made to him by the transferor.'

7. The answer given by Agarwala, J. in which the other Judges constituting the Full Bench con-curred was as follows :

'I am clearly of opinion that the correct view is that Section 43, T. P. Act, does not require that the transferee who can take advantage of it should be one to whom not only a fraudulent or erroneous representation about the transferor's authority to transfer the property is made but should also be one who did not have knowledge of the true factual position and had merely acted on the belief of the erroneous or fraudulent representation made to him by the transferor.

If, however, both the transferor and the transferee knew of the true position, and colluded to enter into a transaction which is invalid in law, the state of knowledge of the transferee becomes material and Section 43 cannot be availed of by him.'

8. In the Jumma Masjid case : AIR1962SC847 ,however, the Supreme Court laid down the law asfollows :

'Where the transferee knew as a fact that the transferor did not possess the title which he repre-sents he has, then he cannot be said to have acted onit when taking a transfer. Section 43 would then have no application .....'

9. If, therefore, it had been established in the present case that the plaintiffs definitely knew that the representation made by Mahadeo regarding his having become a Bhumidhar was erroneous, they would not have been able to avail of Section 43, but, since there is nothing to show that the plaintiffs were aware of the erroneousness of the representation made by Mabadeo they must be deemed to have acted on that representation. It is true that the plaintiffs coald have insisted on the production by Mahadeo of the certificate granted under Section 137 of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act and they could also have ascertained otherwise if such a certificate had really been granted. But the question is whether it was incumbent upon them to do so and whether not having done so, they had disentitled themselves to the advantage oE Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act. The question must be answered in the negative. Unlike Section 41 of the Transfer of Property Act, Section 43 does not cast upon the transferee the obligation to take reasonable care to ascertain that the transferor has power to make the transfer, and he is entitled to believe the representation made to him and to act on it. In this connection I may refer to the case of Gopi Nath v. Rup Ram : AIR1930All786 where Sulaiman J. (as he then was) dealing with the facts of that case observed :

'The argument on behalf of the appellant is that all the necessary facts were within the knowledge of the plaintiffs, and they must be presumed to know the law, and therefore it must be assumed that they were aware of the fact that Shambu Nath was not the full owner. In our opinion there may be an erroneous representation both on questions of fact and on inferences to be drawn from documents of title. If the plaintiffs were as sure that under the deed of partition Shambhu Nath was fully entitled to the estate as absolute owner, and they believed it to be true and acted upon it they are entitled to protection even though, if they had been more careful, they might have found out that that was not a true representation.'

10. The last question, and that happens to be the most important question to be considered in connection with the applicability of Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act to the situation in the present case, is whether the section applies even to a transfer which was not permitted by law and the incom-petency of the transferor to transfer the property was due to a statutory limitation upon his power or to the legal incidents of the interest possessed by him in the property. The view taken in some decisions certainly is that the benefit of Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act is confined to cases where the property transferred did not belong to the transferor in the sense that he had no interest in it at all and it comes to be acquired by him subsequently, but the section can have no application where the interest possessed by a transferor in the property at the time of the transfer was not a transferable interest in law and the transferor's incompetency to transfer is subsequently removed. This distinction has been supported on the ground that a transfer prohibited by law cannot be validated by Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act and that the contrary view would lead to a conflict between Section 6 and Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act.

It is not necessary for me to refer to these deci-sions because in view of what has been laid down by the Supreme Court in the Tumma Masjid Case : AIR1962SC847 the basis oE the above distinction cannot be regarded as sound and these decisions can no longer be considered as retaining their authority. I may, however, refer to some ot those decisions inwhich it has been held that the benefit of Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act is available even where the transferor was, on account of a statutory prohibition, incompetent to transfer the property at the time of its professed transfer and subsequently acquires a transferable interest in it, as it is this view which has received the approval of the Supreme Court.

11. In Shyam Narain Misir v. Mangal Prasad Misir, : AIR1935All244 , a Division Bench of this Court consisting of Sulaiman, C. J. and Rachhpal Singh, J. (to quote a part of the head-note to the case) observed :

'Section 43 applies even to cases of heirs who profess to transfer the property itself and not only their right of succession. It is impossible to hold that the illustration to Section 43 is repugnant to the provisions of Section 6 and is really wrong. Every attempt should be made to reconcile the provisions of Section 43 together with the illustration with the provision of Section 6. Sec-tion 6 does not prohibit emphatically, the transler of a chance of an heir, nor does it make it absolutely illegal so as to vitiate the entire contract. It merely lays down that property of any kind may be trans. ferred, but the chance of an heir cannot be transferred. This is no more than saying that a transfer of a mete chance of an heir is void in law and is of no effect. Section 6(a) would therefore apply to cases where professedly there is a transfer of a mere spes successioais, the parties knowing that the transferor has no more right than that of a mere expectant heir. But where an erroneous representation is made by the transferor to the transferee that he is the full owner of the property transferred and is authorized to transfer it and the property transferred is not a mere chance of succession but immovable property itselfi and the transferee acts upon such erroneous representation, then if the transferor happens later before the contract of transfer comes to an end, to acquire an interest in that property, no matter whether by private purchase, gift, legacy or by inheritance or otherwise, the previous transfer can at the option of the transferee operate on the interest which has been subsequently acquired, although it did not exist at the time of the transfer.'

12. In Kunwar Bahadur v. Gilsher Khan : AIR1937All287 another Division Bench of this Court consisting of Sulaiman, C, J. and Bennet, J. had to deal with a situation bearing a close resemblance to the situation presented by the instant case. An ex-proprietary holding was mortgaged by the occupants in 1915 by representing that they were entitled to mortgage it. After the passing of the Agra Tenancy Act of 1926 the holding became transferable under Section 187 of the Act. Referring to Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act the Bench observed :

''We may also refer to another provision of the law contained in Section 43, Transfer of Property Act. It is there provided that if a person fraudulently or erroneously represents that he is authorizad to transfer certain properties and professes to transfer such properties for consideration, such transfer shall at the option of the transferee operate on any interest which the transferor may acquire in such properties at any time during which the contract of transfer subsists. Learned counsel for the respondent argued that his client had made no erroneous representation because he said an erroneous representation on a point of taw would not come within the meaning of the section. We see no reason for such a view.

In our opinion the respondents in executing the mortgage in 1915 represented that they were entitled to make this transfer in accordance with the ordinary provisions in the Transfer of Property Act. As a matter of law the respondents argued that they were not entitled to make this transfer; but there is nodoubt whatever that with the passing of Act 3 of 1926 the respondents became capable of making the transfer in question. Therefore even if the law was formerly in accordance with the view of the respondents, by the application of Section 43, T. P. Act, the transfer should operate on the interest now held bv the respondents, which is now a transferable interest.'

13. This case was followed in Hori Lal v-Kalyan, ILR 1950 All 311 by Seth, J. in circumstances similar to those of : AIR1937All287 .

14. Reference may also be made to a Bench decision of the Calcutta High Court in Beni Rai v. Natabar Sirkar AIR 1917 Cal 467. The facts were that the father of defendant No. 1 mortgaged to the plaintiff certain property in which he had only a non-transferable interest, erroneously representing to the mortgagee that he had an absolute transferable right. The mortgagor, however, subsequently acquired transferable Mokarari right in the property. It was held by Sanderson. C. J. and Mookerjee, J. that the plaintiff was entitled to sue on his mortgage by virtue of the provisions of Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act. Of course, it was added, that the plaintiff's right was subject to the rights of the other defendants who were found to have had no notice of the plaintiff's mortgage.

15. I should now refer to those observations of the Supreme Court in the Jumma Masjid case : AIR1962SC847 which have settled the controversy and have put it beyond doubt that there is nothing in Section 6 of the Transfer of Property Act to preclude the applicability of Section 43 to such transfers. They are as follows :

''Now the compelling reason urged by the appellant for reading a further exception in Section 43 is that if it is construed as applicable to transfers by persons who have only spes successions at the date of transfer, it would have the effect of nullifying Section 6(a). But Section 6(a) and Section 43 relate to two different subjects, and there is no necessary conflict between them. Section 6(a) deals with certain kinds of interests in property -mentioned therein, and prohibits a transfer simpliciter of those interests. S, 43 deals with representations as to title made by a transferor who had no title at the time of transfer, and provides that the transfer shall fasten itself on the title which the transferor subsequently acquires. Section 6(a) enacts a rule of substantive law while Section 43 enacts a rule of estoppel which is one of evidence. The two provisions operate on different fields, and under different conditions, and we see no ground for reading a conflict between them or for cutting down tha ambit of the one by reference to the other. In our opinion, both of them can be given full effect on their own terms, in their respective spheres. To hold that transfers by persons who have only a spes successionis at the date of transfer are not within the protection afforded by Section 43 would destroy its utility to a large extent.

It is also contended that as under the law there ean be no estoppel against a statute, transfers which are prohibited by Section 6(a) could not be held to be protected by Section 43. There would have been considerable force in this argument if the question tell to be decided solely on the terms of Section 6(a). Rules of esstopel are not to be resorted to for defeating or circumventing prohibitions enacted by statutes ou grounds of public policy. But here the matter does not rest only on Section 6(a). We have, in addition, Section 43, which enacts a special provision for the protection of transferees for consideration from persons who represent that they have a present title, which, in fact, they have not. And the point for decision is simply whether on the facts the respondents are entitled to the benefit of this section. If they are, as found by the Courts below, then the plea of estoppel raised by them onthe terms of the section is one pleaded under, and not against the statute.'

16. It must, therefore, be held that if a person professed to transfer the interest of a Bhumidhar in a land in which he had only the non-transferable interest of a Sirdar but he subsequently acquires in the land the interest of a Bhumidhar the benefit of the subsequent acquisition would go to the transferee, under Section 43 of the Transfer of Properly Act, and the subsequently acquired interest of a Bhumidhar will be deemed as having passed to the transferee under the transfer in his favour. Section 6 of the Transfer of Property Act cannot stand in the way of the applicability of Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act because these two provisions have different spheres of operation and the question of a conflict between them does not arise.

17. Before closing the discussion on this aspect of the case I may mention that the expression 'property' in Section 43 of the Transfer of Property Act does not mean, or at least does not necessarily mean, the physical object which is in popular language regarded as property but connotes interest in property, and if this is borne in mind there is no room for the argument that Section 43 applies only when the transferor had no interest in the property at all and not when he had an interest but it was not transferable. I may in this connection refer to the following observation of Allsop, J. in the Full Bench case of Umrao Singh v. Kacheru Singh : AIR1939All415 .

'The word property may be used in the objective sense of the concrete thing which is the subject of ownership or other rights, or it may be used in the sense of the rights and interests of the owner of other person in that property. I have no doubt that it is in the latter sense that the term is used in the Transfer of Property Act.'

18. The result is that the sale deed executed by Mahadeo in favour of the plaintiffs on 14th October 1958 will take effect as a sale deed with respect to the Bhumidhari rights on account of the subsequent acquisition of such rights under the certificate granted to Mahadeo on 28th October 1958. On the date of the institution of the suit, therefore, the plaintiffs were Bhumidhars of the disputed land and were accordingly competent to sue. As a matter of abundant caution, however, the plaintiffs obtained another sale deed from Mahadeo during the pendency of the suit although it was not necessary for them to have done so. However, on the date of the decree passed by the trial Court in favour of the plaintiffs they were entit. led to the reliefs claimed. The objection of the learned counsel for the appellants as to the title of the plaintiffs and their competency to sue is, therefore, devoid of force and the appeal has to be dismissed.

19. I have now to deal with the cross-objection filed by the plaintiffs. On the findings recorded by the Courts below, which have to be accepted and which have not been questioned before me, the mortgage in favour ol the mortgagee-defendants was executed by Mahadeo about 15 years prior to the institution of the suit. It was, therefore, a mortgage executed when U. P. Tenancy Act of 1939 was in force and as such it was void under Section 44 of the said Act. A person in possession of a land under such a transaction cannot obviously be regarded as a mortgagee within the meaning of Section 21 (d) of the U. P. Zimindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act. It is true that mortgagees from occupancy tenants have been placed in the category of Asamis, but it would not on that account be correct to say that all mortgagees of occupancy tenants would become Asamis irrespective of the fact whether the mortgages under which they claim were declared void by the law or were recognised as valid. Section 21 (d) of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition andLand Reforms Act can contemplate and has to be con-fined in its application to mortgagees of occupancy tenancy under such mortgages only as were not declared invalid by the law. Mortgages of occupancy tenancy created under Act XVIII of 1873 or Act XII of 1881 have, for example, been consistently held to be valid and have been treated as mortgages, although only in a qualified sense. Persons holding under mortgages created while the above two acts were respectively in force may, therefore, fall within the category of Asamis under Section 21 (d) of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act. But it is not possible to construe the provision as including persons who are in possession under transaction which the statute had refused to sanction and had expressly declared as void. The mortgagee-defendants in the present case, therefore, did not become Asamis as a result of the enforcement of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act and they are, therefore, not liable to ejectment under Section 202 of the Act.

20. The fact that the mortgagee-defendants are not liable to ejectment as Asamis does not, however, make them immune from a suit for recovery of possession. Their possession can lawfully continue only as long as the amount advanced by them under the so-called mortgage has not been paid and their right to remain in possession will terminate as soon as that is done. It is, however, not necessary that the mortgage money should either have been satisfied or should have been deposited in Court, before the institution of a suit for recovery of possession. That would be a condition precedent to the institution of a suit under Section 202 of the U. P. Zimindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act. But, the position of the mortgagee-defendants not being that of Asamis and the suit against them not being one under Section 202 of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, satisfaction of the mortgage or deposit of the amount due under it prior to the institution of the suit cannot be insisted upon. In the present case the learned District Judge did not straightway pass a decree for possession because he thought that the mortgagee-defendants were Asamis and proceedings for their ejectment coutd only be taken under Section 202 of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act. That is not the correct legal position and the plaintiffs are entitled to a decree for possession subject to the payment of Rs. 85/- in this very suit.

21. In the result the appeal is dismissed, while the cross-objection is allowed. The decree passed by the lower appellate Court is modified. The suit of the plaintiffs for recovery of possession over the plots ia suit is decreed subject to the condition that the plaintiffs deposit in Court a sum of Rs. 85/- to the credit ot defendants Nos. 1 to 3 within six months from today. In the circumstances of the case I direct that the parties will bear their own costs in all the Courts.


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