1. This is a plaintiff's appeal and arises out of a suit brought to recover Rs. 672 on account of rent of a shop which had been let to the defendant by the plaintiff on the 1st of May, 1924. No lease was executed but on the 7th of May, 1924, a document styled a sarkhat was executed by the defendant. It provided that the defendant had taken the shop on rent for a period of two years and that, if the defendant vacated the shop before the expiry of the two years, he would be liable to pay the rent, water rate and house-tax in respect of the unexpired portion of the term for which the shop had been let. The defendant vacated the shop on the 7th of July, 1925, and the plaintiff's claim was for rent, water-rate and house-tax for the unexpired period, vis., period beginning from the 7th of July, 1925, to the 30th of April, 1926.
2. The defendant resisted the plaintiff's suit inter alia on the ground that the sarkhat in question is in fact a kabuliyat and comes within the definition of 'lease' given in the Registration Act and the kahuliyat being for a term exceeding one year was compulsorily registrable under Section 17 of the Indian Registration Act, and not being registered, was inadmissible in evidence and he was not liable to pay rent for the period during which he did not occupy the shop.
3. The trial Court overruled the pleas urged in defence and decreed the plaintiffs suit. On appeal by the defendant the lower Appellate Court reversed the decree of the trial Court and dismissed the plaintiffs suit.
4. The lower Appellate Court held that the document dated the 7th May, 1924, is a 'lease' as denned by the Indian Registration Act, and as the lease was for more than one year, its registration was compulsory and, not being registered could not be received in evidence of any transaction affecting the immoveable property to which it related, in view of the provisions of Section 49 (c) of the Registration Act. He accordingly came to the conclusion that the sarkhat was inadmissible in evidence, and apart from the sarkhat the plaintiff had no right to claim rent for the period during which, the shop was not in the occupation of the defendant respondent.
5. In appeal before us it is argued on behalf of the plaintiff-appellant that there is a difference between the liability incurred so far as interest in immoveable property is concerned and the liability to pay damages, and that though the sarkhat is inadmissible in evidence to prove the transaction of lease it could be admitted in evidence for the collateral purpose of proving the rate of rent agreed upon by the defendant, and for determining the amount of damages to which the plaintiff is entitled. We are unable to agree with this contention. If the plaintiff's claim had been for compensation for the use and occupation by the defendant of the plaintiff's shop the sarkhat would have been admissible in evidence for determining the amount at which the shop could be let. The reason would be that the defendant by remaining in possession was bound to pay rent for the period of occupation independently of the written agreement, and the unregistered agreement would be admissible to establish the rent agreed upon between the parties. But in the present case no question of the rate of rent agreed arises. The plaintiff's case is based essentially on the terms of the contract embodied in the sarkhat in question. Apart from that contract the plaintiff is not entitled to claim any amount from the defendant for the period during which the shop was not in occupation of the defendant. Our attention has been drawn by the learned Advocate for the plaintiff appellant to the case of Jogendra Krishna Roy v. Kurpal Harshi & Co. 68 Ind. Cas. 993 : 49 C. 345 : 35 C.L.J. 175 : A.I.R. 1923 Cal. 63. At page 350 the learned Judges are reported to have observed:
It is now well-established by a long series of decisions in this Court from the case of Bibi Jawahir Kumari v. Chatterput Singh 2 C.L.J. 343 to that, of Haripada Ghose v. Nirod Krishna Ghose 61 Ind. Cas. 687 : 33 C.L.J. 437 that when in pursuance of an agreement to transfer property, the intended transferee has taken possession, though the requisite legal documents have not been executed and registered the position is the same as if the documents had been executed, provided that specific performance can be obtained between the parties to the agreement in the same Court and at the same time as the subsequent legal question falls to be determined, We must then take it that there was in law as in fact a tenancy for a term of three years....
6. With all respect we are unable to agree with the view taken in that case.
7. The provisions of Section 107 of the Transfer of Property Act and of Section 17 of the Indian Registration Act are imperative. In accordance with these statutory provisions a lease of immoveable property from year to year or for any term exceeding one year, or reserving a yearly rent can only be effected by means of a registered instrument The doctrine of part performance is an equitable doctrine, and it is well-settled that equity cannot override the law. In other words, the doctrine of part performance can be of no avail when there has been a violation of a provision of law. This was the view taken by this Court in the Full Bench decision of Ram Gopal v. Tulshi Ram : AIR1928All641 . It was held by the learned Judge in that case that the doctrine of part performance cannot override the positive rules of law embodied in the Transfer of Property Act. The learned Judges in that case pointed out that on the whole the Madras and the Bombay High Courts are of opinion that the doctrine of part performance must yield to the provisions of the Transfer of Property Act 'as regards sale, mortgage, exchange, gift and lease.' They further noticed the fact that there were a few cases decided by the Calcutta High Court in which countenance had been given to the doctrine of part performance, but they pointed out that on an examination of these cases it would be found 'that in some of the cases at least the plaintiff could not succeed on the ground of personal estoppel, and the cases could have been decided without calling in aid the doctrine of part performance.' In the present case it is clear that the plaintiff has no cause of action at all except upon the contract which could only be effected by a registered instrument. The lease being for a period of more than one year and not being registered is void. Accordingly the defendant was at perfect liberty to leave the shop at any time he liked, and the plaintiff cannot make him liable except by referring to the contract which under the law cannot be proved.
8. For the reasons given above we hold that the lower Appellate Court was right in holding that the sarkhat in question, which is in reality the counterpart of a lease, was inadmissible in evidence and in dismissing the plaintiff's suit. The result is that we dismiss the appeal with costs.