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Lieut Swaran Singh Bhindra Vs. Surinder Kaur - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revision Appeal No. 207 of 1978
Judge
Reported in16(1979)DLT32
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 - Sections 115
AppellantLieut Swaran Singh Bhindra
RespondentSurinder Kaur
Advocates: A.B. Saharia and; P.K. Jain, Advs
Cases ReferredGanga Ram v. Smt.Phulwati
Excerpt:
.....counsel for the petitioner referred to the language of order 9 rule 13 and urged that an ex-parte decree could only be set aside if the wife satisfied the court that the summons were not duly served on her. rattimal',air1976delhi111 .these two authorities have dealt with the presumptions under section 114 of the evidence act and under section 27 of the general clauses act and have laid down that where the conditions of these sections are satisfied, a presumption of fact and law with regard to service would arise and it is not necessary to produce the postman for the actual tender and refusal to accept delivery. it is well established that the presumption of fact under section 114 of the evidence act, as indeed the presumption of law under section 27 of the general clauses act, are..........to be served by refusal of registered post and the case was fixed for 5th january, 1976 fop ex-parte evidence. the case was ajourned from time to time when ultimately on 20th february, 1976 the statement of the husband was recorded, arguments heard and judgment delivered. the petition of the husband was allowed ex-parte. a decree for judicial separation was granted in favor of the husband and against the wife. (3) the wife claims that she received a letter dated 4th july, 1977 under the signature of shri s.k. mandal, commander-at-arms, indian navy, deputy director (discipline & deputy provost marshal (navy), for chief of the naval staff, informing that according tothe infornution received by them from the husband, he had been granted an ex-parte decree of dissolution of marriage.....
Judgment:

S.S. Chadha, J.

(1) This revision petition under section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure is directed against the order dated 18th February, 1978 passed by Shri S.N. Kapur, Sub-Judge 1st Class Delhi allowing an application under Order 9 Rule 13 read with Section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure for setting aside ex-parte decree of judicial separation passed under Section 10 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

(2) Lt, Swam Singh Dhindsa (petitioner before me) hereinafter referred to as the husband) filed a petition for judicial separation under Section 10 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 on 7th August, 1975 against Smt. Swinder Kaur (respondent herein)(hereinafter referred to as the wife). The address of the wife was given as residing C/o Shri Mohinder Singh Warraich, at Dera Dalip Singh Warraich, Post Office Dehra Fateh Singh (near Pehowa) District Kurukshetra (Haryana). Notice was directed to issue to the wife for last September, 1975 against process fee and registered covers. On 1st September, 1975 the wife was not served and it was directed be served again for 22nd October, 1975, also and it was directed that fresh summons be issued for 16th December, 1975 on deposit of process fee and registered covers. On 16th December, 1975 the proceedings show that the wife was considered to be served by refusal of registered post and the case was fixed for 5th January, 1976 fop ex-parte evidence. The case was ajourned from time to time when ultimately on 20th February, 1976 the statement of the husband was recorded, arguments heard and judgment delivered. The petition of the husband was allowed ex-parte. A decree for judicial separation was granted in favor of the husband and against the wife.

(3) The wife claims that she received a letter dated 4th July, 1977 under the signature of Shri S.K. Mandal, Commander-At-Arms, Indian Navy, Deputy Director (Discipline & Deputy Provost Marshal (Navy), for Chief of the Naval Staff, informing that according tothe infornution received by them from the husband, he had been granted an ex-parte decree of dissolution of marriage between him and the wife by a decree of divorce andthe wife was required to confirm or deny the same. The wife claims that she was never aware of any proceedings instituted by the husband for the grant of judicial separation or was ever served in any proceedings. She learnt after inspection of the file on 26th July, 1977 that she was proceeded ex-parte on the basis of false report procured by the husband. She filed an application under Order 9 Role 13 and under Section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure read with Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 praying that ex-parte decree dated 20th February, 1976 be set aside and the petition of the husband be restored to its original member and tried and disposed of according to law.

(4) The husband contested the application. The two questions for determination before the trial Court were: firstly, whether the wife was not duly served and secondly, if she was not duly served when she came to know of the ex-parte decree for judicial separation. The trial Court recorded the statement of the wife and A.W.2 S. Mohinder Singh in support of the petition. In rebuttal, the statement of the husband was recorded. After appreciating the oral evidence produced by the parties on the record and considering the presumption under Section 114(f) of the Evidence Act and Section 27 of the General Clauses Act, the trial Court came to the conclusion that the wife was not duly served. The trial Court also believed the testimony of the wife when she deposed that she came to know of the ex-parte decree on 8th July, 1977 when she received the letter dated 4th July, 1977. The application for setting aside the ex parte decree was held to bewithin time. The ex parte decree was set aside by the impuged order.

(5) Shri A.B. Saharya, the learned counsel for the husband took me to the pleadings on the record as well as the evidence before the trial Court. I may briefly refer to certain facts which have been established on the record. The husband had filed a petition on 16th June, 1972 for divorce under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 in the Court of Shri J.R. Gupta, Sub-Judge 1st Class, Dasuya. That application was contested by the wife. Maintenance pendente lite and litigation expenses were allowed to the wife. The petition was ultimately dismissed on 19th December, 1973 on the ground of non-payment of maintenance allowance and litigation expeness. The wife thereafter approached Chief of the Naval Staff and she was granted Rs. 300.00 per month as maintenance allowance under orders of the Chief of the Naval Staff. On 14th April, 1974 the wife filed an application under Section 125 the Code of Criminal Procedure) 1973 for the grant of maintenance. This proceedings were filed in a competent Court at Ambala City. Section 126 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides that proceedings u/s 125 may be taken against any person in and district, inter alia, where he is, or his wife resides. The husband in the crossexamination admitted that in those proceedings, she had given address as 201, Prem Nagar, Ambala City. The husband also stated that he was not sure exactly when did he receive the summons from the Court in Ambala City in the proceedings under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure but if the certified copy of the summons marked 'B' is correct, then he received the summons on 30th July, 1975. The petition in the present case was filed on 7th August) 1975 by the husband. The husband states in para 8 of the petition that the wife has filed a petition for maintenance under the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure at Ambala City and moved the defense authorities to grant her maintenance which she had been allowed. The address in the petition for judicial separate is not given as 210, Prem Nagar, Ambala City but is given of the village at Dehra Dalip Singh Warraich, Post Office Delira Fateh Singh (near Pehowa) District Kurukshestra. Notices are directed to be issued on 11th August, 1975 to the wife for 1st September, 1975 against process fee and registered covers. No notices are sent by the ordinary process. The registered A.D. cover is received back unserved. The registered cover first goes to the village from where it is re-directed C/o Mohinder Singh, Postal Clerk, AmbalaCantt. Efforts are made by the postal authorities to deliver the registered letter re-directed at Ambala cantt, but as the address was incomplete and Shri Mohinder Singh could not be found, the registeed A.D. cover is returned to the Court. The husband gives the address again of the village. The registered A.D. cover is ultimately received by the Court on 16th December, 1975 containing a report 'refusal'.

(6) Under the provisions of Order 7 rule l(c) of the Code of Civil Procedure, the plaint has to contain the name, description and place of residence of the defendant, so far as they can be ascertained. The husband had received the summons of the proceedings under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure where the address of the wife is given as 210, Prem Nagar, Ambala City, yet the husband when he files a petition on 7th August. 1975 gives the address of the village. The first registered A.D. cover for service on the wife for the hearing on 1st September, 1975 is received back after being re-directed I C/o Shri Mohinder Singh, Ambala, yet in the two subsequent processes the husband again gives the village address. The wife comes in the witness box and deposes that she has a permanent address at Dehra Fateh Singh, Dehra Warriach, Post Office Pehwa as well and also admits having her bank account where she used to deposit the cheques of maintenance of Rs. 300.00 received through the Naval Headquarter, but her statement is that she had been living at Ambala for the last 5 or 6 years (the statement made on 28th December, 1976.) She denied having refused to receive any registered letter. She has been corroborated by A.W. 2 S. Mohinder Singh that she has been living at 210, Prem Nagar, Ambala City and her daughter is studying at Ambala.

(7) Mr. Saharya, the learned counsel for the petitioner referred to the language of Order 9 Rule 13 and urged that an ex-parte decree could only be set aside if the wife satisfied the Court that the summons were not duly served on her. He contends that the wife had to establish that there was no tender and no refusal of the registered A.D. covers and the report of the postman is false and fictitious by examining the Postman himself. Reliance is placed on Section 114 of the Evidence Act which incorporates the presumption of fact and provides that the Court may presume the existence of any fact which it thinks likely to have happened, regard being had to the common course of natural events, human conduct and public and private business, in their relation to the facts of the particular case. According to illustration (f) to this section) the Court may presume that the common course of business has been followed in particular cases. Section 27 of the General Clauses Act is also relied upon which incoporates a presumption of law when it defines the meaning of service by post. The counsel contends that there is a clear presumption under Section 114 of the Evidence Act and one arising under Section 27 of the General Clauses Act when the postal registered A.D. cover was correctly addressed to the wife and was sent and the presumption with regard to service would arise under both the said provisions when the registered A.D. cover is received back with the endorsement 'refused'. Reliance is placed on 'Ganga Ram v. Smt.Phulwati', : AIR1970All446 and'Jagat Ram Khullar and another v.RattiMal', : AIR1976Delhi111 . These two authorities have dealt with the presumptions under Section 114 of the Evidence Act and under Section 27 of the General Clauses Act and have laid down that where the conditions of these sections are satisfied, a presumption of fact and law with regard to service would arise and it is not necessary to produce the Postman for the actual tender and refusal to accept delivery. The presumption raised is with regard to the tender to the address of a postal cover and refusal by the addressee of its delivery, when the registered A.D. cover contains the endorsement of refusal. The judgment of H.L. Anand, J. is further relied upon by the counsel for the purpose of the onus to rebut the presumption raised inregard to the tender and refusal of its delivery. The argument is that an evidence would be sufficient to shift the onus on the husband by the wife if she establishas the non-tender and non-refusal by producing the Postman concerned and his evidence as the language of Order 9 Rule 13 is for establishing 'not duly served'.

(8) The argument is attractive but cannot stand closer scrutiny. It is well established that the presumption of fact under Section 114 of the Evidence Act, as indeed the presumption of law under Section 27 of the General Clauses Act, are not inrebuttable but, on the contrary, are rebuttable. Neither Section 114 of the Evidence Act nor Section 27 of the General Clauses Act provide that the two presumptions are conclusive. The presumption which is raised in the sections only dispenses with the need of evidence being led of the Postman of its actual tender and refusal by the addressee. This rebuttable presumption could be dislodged in by leading cogent and convincing evidence. The best evidence would be the evidence of the addresses who may come forward and depose that at the relevant time the addressee was not available at the given address or the registered letter was never tendered to the addressee and refused Circumstantial evidence may also be produced to show that the registered letter was never intended to be delivered to the addressee. The evidence of the concerned Postman is not the only evidence to rebut the presumption. The wife had to establish that she was not duly served. It is undisputable that the onus to prove that she was not served lies heavily on her. The onus was being discharged by her by establishing on the record that at the relevant time, she was not in the village but was residing at Ambala and the husband know of her address and place of residence. She may have rightly thought that the evidence of the Postman as her own witness would not be helpful as she could have no opportunity to cross-examine the Postman to establish that he gave a false and fictions report. She, thereforee, thought of relying on the circumstantial evidence as well as her own testimony to establish that she was not duly served. The trial Court believed the evidence of the wife given on cath as well as the circumstance brought on the record and returned a finding that she was not duly served. The jurisdiction of this Court while considering a petition under section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure is cicumscribed and is not-competent to investigate the correctness of the decision in but to find out if there is any irregulari and illegality in the exercise of the jurisdiction by the trial Court. The manner of arriving at the decision is certainly a factor, but I am not convinced that the trial Court has committed any illegulity or irregularly.

(9) In 'M/s. DL.F. Housing and Construction Co. (P) Ltd.-v.SarupSingh and others', : [1970]2SCR368 , it was held :-

'The position thus seems to be firmly established that while exercising the jurisdiction under B. 115, it is not competent to the High Court to correct errors of fact however gross or ever errors of law unless the said errors have relation to the jurisdiction of the Court to try the dispute itself. Clauses (a) and (b) of this section on their plain reading quite clearly do not cover the present case. It was not contended, as indeed it was not possible to contend, that the learned Additional District Judge had either exercised a jurisdiction so vested in him by law or had failed to exercise a jurisdiction so vested in him, in recording the order that the proceedings under reference be stayed till the decision of the appeal by the High Court in the proceedings for specific performance of the argeement in question. Clause (e) also does not seem to apply to the case in hand. The words 'illegality' and 'with material irregularity' as used in this clause do not cover either errors of fact or of law ; they do not refer to the decision arrived at but merely to the manner in which it is reached. The errors contemplated by this clause may, in our view, relate either to breach of some provision of law or to material defects of procedure affecting the ultimate decision, and not to errors either of fact or of law, after the proscribed formalities have been complied with. The High Court does not seem to have adverted to the limitation imposed on its power under S. 115 of the Code. Merely because the High Court would have felt inclined, had it dealt with the matter initially, to come to a different conclusion on the question of continuing stay of the reference proceed-ngs pending decision of the appeal, could hardly justify interference on revision under Section 115 of the Code when there was no illegality or material irregularity committed by the learned Additional District Judge in his manner of dealing with this question. It seems to us that in this matter the High Court treated the revision virtually as if it was an appeal.'

(10) The trial Court after appreciating the evidence on the record, came to the conclusion that the presumption of fact and law has been duly rebutted and came to the conclusion that the wife was not duly served of the summons of the petition for judicial separation. The orders under revision do not suffer with any irregularity or illegality in the exercise of the jurisdiction.

(11) Mr. Saharya next contends that the trial Court ought to have appreciated that a decree dated 4th March, 1977 for divorce under Sec. 13(l)(A)(i) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 had followed the decree for judicial separation and was superimposed upon the decree dated 20th February, 1976 for judicial separation and that no relief could be granted to the wife without first getting a decree of divorce set aside. He submits that the trial Court failed to appreciate that the existence of decree dated 4th March, 1977 for divorce between the parties was bound to create an anamolous situation which ought to have been avoided by refusing to set aside the decree for judicial separation. I find that this point was not raised by the husband in opposition to the application for setting aside the ex-parte decree for judicial separation. It is neither argued nor dealt with in the impugned order. I am not inclined to go into this question for the first time at the revisional stage.

(12) Mr. Jain also tried to prefer to the conduct of the husband of getting ex-parte decree for divorce or getting a notice issued only for 10 days and the alleged manipulation of the service by committing forgery. I am also not expressing any opinion as it might prejudice either of the parties.

(13) For the above reasons, the revision petition fails and is dismissed with costs.

(14) The parties are directed to appear before the trial Court on 23rd May, 1979. The records be sent expeditiously. Petition dismissed.


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