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Govinda Pillai Gopala Pillai Vs. Aiyyappan Krishnan - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberA.S. No. 60 of 1956
Judge
Reported inAIR1957Ker10
ActsTransfer of Property Act, 1882 - Sections 52
AppellantGovinda Pillai Gopala Pillai
RespondentAiyyappan Krishnan
Appellant Advocate K.N. Narayanan Nair, Adv.
Respondent Advocate T.S. Venkiteswara Ayar, Adv.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases ReferredMathusingh v. Anandrao
Excerpt:
.....to himself and his mother - appellant contended that x had no right over property on date of suit - suit filed in court which dealt with cases of rs. 500 in value - court on proper valuation found that suit was of value worth rs. 750 - whether gift deeds was affected by rule of lis pendens - no suit pending before competent court - doctrine of lis pendens deemed to commence from date of presentation of plaint in court of competent jurisdiction - held, suit not vitiated by rule of lis pendens. - - according to some authorities, a pending suit must be regarded as notice to all the world, and pursuant to this view it is argued that any person who deals with property involved therein, having presumably known what he was doing, must have acted in bad faith and is therefore,..........statutory provision as of the general principle governing such matters. 'lis' means an action or a suit. 'pendens' is the present participle of 'pendo' meaning continuing or pending, and the doctrine of lis pendens may be defined as 'the jurisdiction, power, or control that courts have, during the pendency of an action over the property involved therein', (34 american jurisprudence 360.)6. the basis of the doctrine is given as follows in the said volume:'two different theories have been advanced as the basis of the doctrine of lis pendens. according to some authorities, a pending suit must be regarded as notice to all the world, and pursuant to this view it is argued that any person who deals with property involved therein, having presumably known what he was doing, must have acted in.....
Judgment:

M.S. Menon, J.

1. The 3rd plaintiff (additional) in O. S No. 112 of 1095 of the District Court of Kottayarn is the appellant before us. In execution of the decree in the suit the appellant applied for delivery of one acre of property in survey plot No. 201/1 of the Kanjirappally North Pakuthy together with the building thereon. The contentions of the respondent (102nd defendant) as summarised by the court below are:

'That the 35th defendant, his father, had no rights over the property even on the date of the suit, that the 35th defendant has gifted this property under Ext. I to himself and his mother on 3--6--1095, long before the suit, that the mother Jn turn gifted her rights over the property to him under Ext. II in 1101, that ever since that date, he is in possession of the property in his own independent title, that neither he nor his mother' was a party to this decree, that the decree is not binding on him and his property and that there, fore the plaintiff is not entitled to get possession of the property'.

2. The only question, as can be seen from the summary of contentions extracted above, that arises for consideration is whether the gift deeds Ext. I is affected by the rule of lis pendens. Ext. I is dated 3--6--1095. The suit was originally filed in the Kanjirappally Munsiff's Court on 10--10--1092 and if 10--10--1092 is the material date there can be no doubt that Ext. I has to be treated as affected by the said rule.

3. The plaint, however, was returned for want of pecuniary jurisdiction for presentation to the proper court and was filed in the District Court of Kottayam only on 29--11--1095. If 29--11--1095 is the material date then it is equally clear that Ext. I is not affected by the rule and that the conclusion of the lower court to that effect has to be sustained.

4. Section 52 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882. reads as follows:

'During the active prosecution in any Court having authority in British India or established beyond the limits of British India by the Governor-General in Council, of a contentious suit or proceeding in which any right to immovable property is directly and specifically in question, the property cannot be transferred or otherwise dealt with by any party to the suit or proceeding so as to affect the rights of any other party thereto under any decree or order which may be made therein, except under the authority of the Court and on such terms as it may impose.'

The section was amended by Act 20 of 1929 by substituting the word 'pendency' for the words 'active prosecution' and the words 'any suit or proceeding which is not collusive' for the words 'a contentious suit or proceeding' and by the addition of an Explanation which fixes the time during which a suit is deemed to be pending for the purposes of the section. The section as amended reads as follows:

'During the pendency in any Court having authority within the limits of India excluding the State of Jammu and Kashmir or established beyond such limits by the Central Government ..........of any suit or proceeding which is not collusive and in which any right to immovable property is directly and specifically in question, the property cannot be transferred or otherwise dealt with by any party to the suit or proceeding so as to affect the rights of any other party thereto under any decree or order which may be made therein, except under the authority of the Court and on such terms as it may impose.

Explanation -- For the purposes of this section the pendency of a suit or proceeding shall be deemed to commence from the date of the presentation of the plaint or the institution of the proceeding in a Court of competent jurisdiction, and to continue until the suit or proceeding has been disposed of by a final decree or order and complete satisfaction or discharge of such decree or order has been obtained, or has become unobtainable by reason of the expiration Of any period of limitation prescribed for the execution thereof by any law for the time being tn force.'

5. There was no Transfer of Property Act in force in the Travancore State at the relevant time and so what we are concerned with in this case is not so much the application of a specific statutory provision as of the general principle governing such matters. 'Lis' means an action or a suit. 'Pendens' is the present Participle of 'Pendo' meaning continuing or pending, and the doctrine of Lis pendens may be defined as 'the jurisdiction, power, or control that courts have, during the pendency of an action over the Property involved therein', (34 American Jurisprudence 360.)

6. The basis of the doctrine is given as follows in the said volume:

'Two different theories have been advanced as the basis of the doctrine of lis pendens. According to some authorities, a pending suit must be regarded as notice to all the world, and pursuant to this view it is argued that any person who deals with property involved therein, having presumably known what he was doing, must have acted in bad faith and is therefore, properly bound by the judgment rendered. Other (minorities, however, take the position that the doctrine is not founded on any theory of notice at all, but is based upon the necessity, as a matter of public policy, of preventing litigants from disposing of the property in controversy in such manner as to Interfere . with execution of the court's decree. Without such a principle, it has been judicially declared, all suits for specific property might be rendered abortive by successive alienations of the property in suit, so that at the end of the suit . another would have to be commenced, and after that, another, making it almost impracticable for a men ever to make his rights available by a resort to the courts of justice.' (34 American Jurisprudence 383). and its origin and history;

'The doctrine of lis pendens is of ancient Uncage. Originating, it is said, in the civil law, it seems to have been', operative at an early date as the basis of the common law rule by virtue of which the judgment in a real action was regarded as over-reaching any alienation made by the defendant during its pendency. In the course of time the doctrine was adopted by equity, being embodied in one of Lord Bacon's ordinances 'for the better and more regular administration of Justice in the court of Chancery'. This ordinance, commonly known' as Bacon's Twelfth Rule, provides 'that no decree bindeth any that cometh in bona fide by conveyance from the defendant, before bill is exhibited, and is made no party neither by bill nor order; but where he conies in Pen-dente lite, and while the suit is in full prosecution and without any color of allowance or privity of the court, there regularly the decree bindeth; but if there were any intermission of the suit, or the court made acquainted with, the court is to give order upon the special matter according to justice. The principle thus adopted at an early period in the history of chancery jurisprudence has been followed and acted on by various successive chancellors, and is admitted by writers on the subject to be the established doctrine.' (34 American Juris' prudence 365)

7. Bonnet in his Treatise on the Law of Lis Pendens was not inclined to accept 'notice' as the basis of the rule. He quoted Lord Chancellor Cran worth (Bellamy v. Sabine, (1857) 1 De G & J 563 .(A).

'It is scarcely correct to speak of lis pendens as affecting the purchaser through the doctrine of notice, though undoubtedly, the language of the courts often so describes its operation. It affects him not because it amounts to notice, but because the law does not allow litigant parties to give to others pending the litigation rights to the property in dispute so as to prejudice the opposite party.... The necessities of mankind require that the decl-eion of the court in the suit shall be binding not only on the litigant parties, but also on those who derive title under them by alienation made pending the suit, whether such alienees had or had not notice of the pending proceedings. If this were not so there could be no certainty that the litigation would ever come to an end, and said:

'The foundation for the doctrine of its pendens does not rest upon notice, actual or constructive; it rests solely upon necessity -- the necessity, that neither party to the litigation should alienate the property in dispute so as to affect his opponent.'

8. in Mulla's Commentary to Section 62 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, (4th Edition, page 228) it is stated:

'If the plaintiff's valuation is disputed and the plaint returned after inquiry for presentation to a Court of higher grade, an alienation effected, in the interval is affected by the doctrine of lis peadens.'

If tliis proposition embodies the correct principle then Ext. I is affected by the said doctrine and the appeal has to be allowed.

9. The statement is based on Ma Than v. Making Bagyan, AIR 1937 Rang 145 (B). In that case a suit was instituted in the Township Court at Bogale which could only deal with suits up to Rs. 500 in value. The defendant filed a written statement in which he pleaded inter alia that on a correct valuation the suit will be found to be beyond the pecuniary jurisdiction of the court. The court framed a preliminary issue as to the proper valuation of the suit, took evidence as to the acreage of the holding and the value per acre, and on the 14th of May 1920 recorded a finding that the proper valuation of the suit would be Rs. 750. On the basis of that finding it directed that the plaint be returned for presentation to the proper court. The proper court was the Sub-Divisional Court at Pyapon, and the plaint was presented in that court on the Slat May 1620.

10. On the 20th May 1920 the defendant executed a conveyance of the land and the question before the court was whether the said Conveyance was vitiated by the rule of lis pendens. Heald, J., stated the question for decision as follows:-

'The question which thus comes before us in this appeal is whether in a case where the subject matter of the suit is land and the valuation which the plaintiff puts on the land is disputed and Where the proper valuation is after enquiry found to be beyond the pecuniary limits of the Court in which the plaint was presented, so that the plaint is returned for presentation in another Court, and where further the plaint is so presented without undue delay, a transfer made in the interval between the return of the plaint and its presentation to the proper court is a transfer which is prohibited by Section 52 of the Transfer of Property Act') and answered the question in the affirmative.

11. In the course of his judgment, he also referred to Tangor Majhrl v. Jaladhar Deari, 5 Ind Cas 691 (Cal ) (C) and Sltaramaswamy v. Lakshmi Narasamma, 48 Ind Cas 840: (AIR 1919 Mad 755 (2) (D) and said:

'It is clear that neither of these decisions is an authority on the question before us, which is in effect whether a plaintiff who has presented his plaint in a wrong court can be regarded as actively prosecuting a suit or proceeding in the interval between the return of the plaint for presentation in another Court and its actual presentation in that Court.'

Cunliffe, J., on the other hand, thought that 6 Ind Cas C91 (Cal) (C) was a direct authority on the point:

'There is a direct authority on this very point in the case of 51C 691 (Cal) (O). There it was held that the rule of lis pendens wilt operate in favour of a plaintiff, who, at the time of the transfer was erroneously prosecuting his suit in a Court which from defect of Jurisdiction was unable to entertain it and in consequence returned it for presentation to the appropriate Court, which Court ultimate mately decreed the suit on the basis or a lawful compromise. The decision in question appears to me to be based on a sound principle of equity and said:

'From the commencement, the plaintiff in the words of Section 62 was engaged in 'actively prosecuting' her suit. I am of the opinion that even if a person actively prosecutes a suit in a Court which from defect of Jurisdiction is an inappropriate tribunal yet such active prosecution is contemplated by the section under regard.'

12. Whatever may be the correctness of the decision on the basis of Section 52 before the amendments effected by Act '20 of 1929 it cannot be considered as a correct interpretation of the section as it stands today. In Gouri Dutt v. Shanker, AIR 1933 Sind 117 (E) Rupchand, AJC, said:

'The legislature has thought fit to amend the provisions of Section 62, T.P. Act, by Act 20 Of 1929, two years after the case in AIR 1927 Rang, 145 (B). was decided to make it abundantly clear that the pendency of the suit or proceedings for the purpose of the doctrine of lis pendens shall be deemed to commence from the date of presentation of the plaint or the institution of the proceedings in the Court of competent Jurisdiction. The Rangoon case is therefore no longer good law', and added:

'If a suit remains a suit though a Court cannot entertain it for want of jurisdiction and has to return the plaint to the Court in which the suit should have been presented, as held in the Rangoon case, the provisions of Section 14 (The Indian Limitation Act, 1908), so far as they provide for extending the period of limitation in such cases would be redundant. But this is not so. In a number of rulings it has been held that where the suit had been instituted in a wrong court and the plaint has been ordered to be returned, the period of limitation does not commence from the date when the plaint was first presented but from the date when it was subsequently presented in the proper Court, although it lg open to the plaintiff to rely upon the provisions of Section 14 to claim exemption for the time during which he was prosecuting with due diligence and in good faith his first suit.'

13. in Mathusingh v. Anandrao, AIR 1940 Nag 185 (P): a minor member of a joint Hindu family instituted a suit for partition against his father in a wrong court and the father executed a mortgage subsequent thereto and before the plaint was presented to the proper court, it waa contended that the doctrine of lis pendens as enunciated in Section 52 applied to the case. Pollock, J., said:

'The mortgage was executed after Section 52 was amended by the Transfer of Property (Amendment) Act, 20 or 1029. The only order that was made in the proceedings pending at the time when the mortgage was executed was an order that the plaint should be returned for presentation in a proper Court. The suit in which the decree for partition was passed was not instituted until after the mortgage was executed, and therefore the doctrine of lis pendens cannot apply.'

14. We take the view that Section 52 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, as it stands today embodies a correct version of the rule of lis pendens and that it is that rule that should be applied in this case. If the said rule is applied there can be no doubt that there was no suit pending in a court of competent jurisdiction prior to 29-11-1095 and that Ext. I dated 3-6-1095 should hence be held as not vitiated by the rule of lis pendens.

15. it follows that the lower court's decision is correct and has to be affirmed. The appeal fails and is hereby dismissed with costs.


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