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Gopal Krishan Kapoor Vs. Ramesh Chander Nijhawan and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revision Appeal No. 248 of 1973
Judge
Reported in9(1973)DLT390; 1973RLR542
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 - Order 39, Rule 1
AppellantGopal Krishan Kapoor
RespondentRamesh Chander Nijhawan and ors.
Advocates: G.S. Vohra and; R.M. Lal, Advs
Cases ReferredBaldev Raj vs. Delhi Development Authority
Excerpt:
.....& 2-- 'prima facie case'-- meaning of-- function of the court when deciding if plaintiff has a prima facie case for grant of interim injunction.;that 'prima facie case' would mean a case which is not likely to fail on account of any technical defact and is based on some material which if accepted by the tribunal would enable the plaintiff to obtain teh relief prayed for by him and would, thereforee, justify an investigation.;the function of the court when called upon to consider if the palaintiff has a prima facie case for the grant of an interim protection or not is to determine the limited question if the material placed before the court would require investigation, but it is not open to the court to subject the material to closer judicial security for the purpose of deciding if,..........and the extent of powers of the court when called upon to consider if the plaintiff has a prima facie case so as to entitle him to an interim protection and has arisen in the following circumstances:(2) respondent no. 1 herein is the owner of the premises in dispute and had succeeded in hotly constesting proceedings in obtaining an order for the eviction of goverdhan lal kapur, respondent no. 3 here in and father of the petitioner. the proceedings for the eviction of goverdhan lal kapur culminated in an order made by the supreme court of india on 3rd november, 1972 dismissing his petition for special leave to appeal against a judgment of this court whereby his second appeal against the order of eviction was dismissed. the suit out of which this revision has arisen, was filed by.....
Judgment:

H.L. Anand, J.

(1) The question that this petition under section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure raises is as to the precise scope of the functions and the extent of powers of the Court when called upon to consider if the plaintiff has a prima facie case so as to entitle him to an interim protection and has arisen in the following circumstances:

(2) Respondent No. 1 herein is the owner of the premises in dispute and had succeeded in hotly constesting proceedings in obtaining an order for the eviction of Goverdhan Lal Kapur, respondent No. 3 here in and father of the petitioner. The proceedings for the eviction of Goverdhan Lal Kapur culminated in an order made by the Supreme Court of India on 3rd November, 1972 dismissing his Petition for Special leave to Appeal against a judgment of this Court whereby his Second Appeal against the order of eviction was dismissed. The suit out of which this revision has arisen, was filed by the petitioner on 7th November. 1972 for a declaration that the petitioner was a tenant in respect of the premises in dispute under respondent No. 1 by virtue of a letter written by respondent No. 1 to the petitioner dated 24th September, 1970 by which the petitioner was accepted as a tenant by the said respondent in respect of the premises at a monthly rental of Rs. 200/. The petitioner further claimed that the petitioner had also made payment of rent to the said respondent and sought an injunction restraining the said respondent as also the father of the said respondent their servants or agents from in any manner dispossessing the petitioner from the said premises in execution of the order of eviction obtained by the said respondent against the petitioner's father. The letter said to have been received by the petitioner from the said respondent was enclosed with the plaint.

(3) With the plaint, the petitioner also filed an application for an ex-party ad-interim injunction restraining the said respondents from dispossessing the petitioner from the premises in dispute in execution of the said order on which an ex-party ad-interim injunction in the terms prayed for by the petitioner was issued by the trial Court in the first instance on 9th November, 1972 but the same was vacated after bearing respondent No. 1 by an order of the trial Court made on 21st December, 1972 which was upheld in appeal by an order made by the Addl. District Judge, Delhi on 27th March, 1973. The petitioner has challenged this order in the present revision.

(4) The trial Court came to the conclusion that the petitioner did not have a prima facie case because the purported act of respondent No. 1 in creating a fresh tenancy in favor of the petitioner even while the procceedings for the eviction of the petitioner's father were pending, did not appear to the Court to be probable.

(5) The first appellate Court affirmed the finding of the trial Court on the ground that the creation of fresh tenancy in favor of the petitioner did not appear to it to be probable in the circumstance of the case; that the petitioner did not make a claim of tenancy in his favor until the conclusion of the proceedings in the .Supreme Court although the petitioner claimed to have become a tenant as early as the year 1970 and that the petitioner did not produce any evidence to re-enforce petitioner's contention that the petitioner had paid rent to respondent No. 1.

(6) The only question that was argued before me was as to the function and the extent of the power of the Court while dealing with the question as to the existence of a prima facie case for the purpose of granting interim protection and as to whether having regard to the principles enuncited for the purpose, the impugned orders suffered from any infirmity on account of an erroneous approach and it was not disputed that if the petitioner could be said to have a prima facie case, the balance of convenience and the equities would be in favor of the status quo of the property in dispute being maintained.

(7) I have heard learned counsel for the parties and it appears to me that the impugned orders arc vitiated on account of a material irregularity committed by the Court below in the exercise of their jurisdiction and the orders must, thereforee, he set aside and the petitioner held entitled to the interim protections sought by the petitioner till the decision of the suit.

(8) The question before the Courts below was whether the petitioner could be said to have a prima facie case so as to entitle the petitioner to the interim protection sought by him.

(9) The terms 'prima facie' and 'prima facie case' arc not defined in any status and although no attempt has been made to encase these terms within the confines of a judicially evolved definition or to evolve an inflexible formula for universal application, the terms have been judicially interpreted to mean a case which is not bound to fail on account of any technical defect and needs investigation.

(10) According to Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (3rd Edition), the term ''prima facie' means at first sight; on the face of it;. based on first impression. According to this dictionary 'prima facie case' would be synonimous with 'a case resting on prima facie evidence.'

(11) According to Halsbury (Halsbury's law of English, 3rd edition, vol, 15, para 506) 'prima facie evidence' in 'evidence which, if accepted by the tribunal establishes a fact in the absence of acceptable evidence to the contrary. Unless a particular enactment otherwise provide, sufficient evidence usually means prima facie evidence, which if there is no contradictory evidence, may establish a fact.'

(12) According to Wharton (Wharton's Law Lexicon Fourteenth Edition, para 798) prima facie evidence is 'that which, not being inconsistent with the falsity of the hypothesis, nevertheless raises such a degree of probability in its favor that it must prevail if it be credited by the jury, unless it be rebutted, or the contrary proved; conclusive evidence, on the other hand, is that which excludes or at least tends to exclude, the possibility of the truth of any other hypothesis than the one attempted to be established.

(13) In the case of Thomas Wallar which is possibly the earliest case on the subject and is reported as 1865 L. R. I, P.C. 50 the judicial Committee while examining the question as to the propriety of granting an injunction in an appeal from the Supreme Court (Equity Side of New South Wales) observed as follows:

'THE real point before us upon this appeal is not how these questions ought to be decided at the hearing of the cause, but whether the nature and difficulty of the question is such that it was proper that the injunction should be granted until the time for deciding them should arisc.'

(14) Elsewhere in the judgment, the Judicial Committee observed that for the purpose of granting an injunction, it was sufficient 'If there be a question upon the point proper to be determined upon the hearing of the case.'

(15) In Air 1926 Lah 589, a single Judge of that High Court held that in determining whether the plaintiff had a prima facie case, it was not open to the Court to examine the merits of the case closely and come to a conclusion that the plaintiff has a case in which he is likely to succeed, because such an exercise will amount to pre-judging the case on merits and observed that all that a Court was entitled to do at that stage was to see if on the face of it, the persons seeking intervention of the court had 'a case which needed consideration and it was not bound to fail by virtue of some apparent defect. The injunction was granted in that case by the High Court after the suit of the plaintiff had been dismissed and the injunction was granted during the pendency of the appeal which was admitted by the High Court.

(16) : AIR1951Pat469 , a Division Bench of that Court held that what the Court was to determine while considering the question regarding the grant of an injunction was whether there was a bona fide contest between the parties and held that where there 'was a fair and substntial question to be determined as to the rights of the parties in the suit, it was not necessary for the purpose that the Court should further examine the- question in dispute or anticipate the decision of the question in the suit itself.

(17) In the case of Baldev Raj vs. Delhi Development Authority, reported as 1971 RLR 84, a Single Judge of this Court took the view that at the time of granting the injunction, the Court was not required to consider the claim of the plaintiff closely oi to arrive at a conclusion that the plaintiff was likely to succeed but was to see merely if the plaintiff had succeeded in bona fide raising a substantial question which required to be investigated at the hearing.

(18) On a consideration of the ordinary meaning of the term 'prima facie' and the trend of judicial pronouncement it appears to me that 'prima facie case' would mean a case which is not likely to fail on account of any technical defect and is based on some material which if accepted by the tribunal would enable the plaintiff to obtain the relief prayed for by him and would, thereforee, justify an investigation.

(19) The function of the Court when called upon to consider if the plaintiff has a prima facie case for the grant of an interim protection or not is to determine the limited question if the material placed before the Court would require investigation but it is not open to the Court to either subject the material to closer judicial scrutiny for the purpose of deciding if on account of any inherent characteristics of the situation or the probabilities, the plaintiff may not succeed in his contention. Such an investigation would be clearly a transgression of the limits of the functions of the Court and would be both unreasonable and unfair because the suit being at a preliminary stage, the plaintiff has had no opportunity to support his contention by evidence and reenforce the material brought by the plaintiff to the Court by additional evidence and to do that would amount to pre-judging the case of the plaintiff.

(20) In the present case, the petitioner went to the Court on the allegation that the plaintiff had been accepted as a tenant by the respondent No. 1 and relied upon a letter said to have been sent by the respondent to the petitioner accepting the petitioner as a tenant. Both the Courts came to the conclusion that the aforesaid letter was a valuable piece of evidence but turned down the petitioner's claim to the existence of a prima facie case on the ground that in the circumstances in which the letter was said to have been Issued and having regard to the fact that the letter was never produced by the petitioner at any earlier stage of the litigation between the respondent and petitioner's father, such a letter would not have been issued and there were, thereforee, an inherent infirmity in the situation which was destructive of the case sought to be made out by the petitioner. It could not be disputed that if the petitioner eventually succeeded in establishing the genuineness of this letter, the petitioner was bound to succeed and that being so, any consideration by the Court of the circumstances which may be destructive of the case sought to be set up by the petitioner at that stage would be beyond the scope of the functions of the Court while called upon to consider if the petitioner had made out a prima facie case. There 'may be circumstances inherent in the situation which may militate against the case sought to be set up by the petitioner but the proper time to consider these circumstances would be at the hearing of the suit when the plaintiff as indeed the respondent would have an opportunity to produce such material as they may be entitled to and the Court would then be in a position to consider the matter in its totality in the context of all the circumstances and probabilities but it was not open to the Court to embark on that investigation at the preliminary stage of the proceedings.

(21) In the result, the impugned orders are set aside and I grant a temporary injunction restraining respondent No. 1 and 2 from in any manner interfering with the possession of the property in dispute till the final decision of the suit;

(22) At the hearing, learned counsel for both the parties made serious allegations of perjury and forgery against the opposite parties and contended that a directtion be made that on the conclusion of the procceedings, the trial Court would not hesitate in initiating appropriate action, should it come to a conclusion that any of the Parlies or their witnesses had been guilty of perjury or forgery or any other offence in the course of and for the purpose of proceedings.

(23) Although there are salutory provisions in the Code of Criminal Procedure empowerng the Courts to initiate appropriate action against such litigants or witnesses who may be found to have perjured themselves or to have committed forgery or other offences in relation to or for the purpose of judicial proceedings, there is no doubt that the occasions on which these provisions are invoked are far to rare in spite of the fact that the acts of perjury and forgery in courts at the lower level has been prevalent almost in a virulent form. This is unfortunate and is apparently attributable either to the indifference of the litigants to get involved in collateral proceedings to initiate such action or to the possible reluctance on the part of the Presiding Officers to invoke these provisions because of their rather heavy board. I have, however, no doubt in my mind that in the present case. the trial Court would devote attention to the question on the conclusion of the trial if any of the parties or witnesses had been guilty of any offence in relation to the proceeding and would take appropriate action in accordance with law.

(24) The only other matter that needs consideration is whether having regard to the fact that the temporary injunction being issued would virtually suspend the operation of the order obtained by respondent No. 1 against the petitioner's father, it is reasonable and proper that directions are made for the expedious disposal of the suit.

(25) It is axiomatic that 'justice delayed is justice denied' and yet 'laws' delays' are proverbial. While it is, thus, imperative that every cause that comes before any Court or Tribunal must be disposed of with maximum dispatch and expedition, there are cases which on account of some unusual features would necessitate unusually expeditious disposal and I think for the reason given above, the suit in question should be decided with unusual expedition. Learned counsel for both the parties have also assured me of their respective client's cooperation in that behalf.

(26) I, thereforee, direct that the trial Court would decide the suit within 6 months of the re-opening of the Courts.

(27) There would be no order as to costs.


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