1. This is an appeal by the defendants against the order of the learned District Judge remanding for fresh disposal a suit dismissed.by the Civil and Sessions Judge of Banganapalle as being barred by limitation under Article 91, Limitation Act. The plaintiff sued to recover possession of a house and some lands which he had himself conveyed by registered sale deed dated 29-2-1936 in the name of the first defendant who was a minor son of his maternal uncle Bali Reddi, the third defendant. The plaint alleged that this sale deed was a sham, nominal and fraudulent document which was never intended to pass title. The averments in the plaint contained an admission that the defendants entered into possession of the house and lands, that criminal litigation resulted and that in the result defendants have been in possession at any rate since 1938. In paragraph 6 of the plaint, the plaintiff explains his delay in suing as being due to the defendants saying that they would compromise the matter and failing to do so.
The trial court relied on the Privy Council decision in -- 'Janki Kumvar v. Ajit Singh', 15 Cal 58 (PC) (A). This decision has been differentiated by Muthuswami Aiyar J. in --'Sundaram v. Sithammal', 16 Mad 311 (B), which supports the view taken by the learned District Judge, which was substantially to the effect that if the plaint, alleges that a sale deed has been taken by fraud or for no consideration, and is. void under the Contract Act, in such a case, the registered instrument of sale need not be set aside before a plaintiff seeks to recover possession, ignoring a document which he alleges is void. The case would be different in the case of a voidable document such as one induced by undue influence, which would be voidable under Section 19-A of the. Contract Act and which it would be necessary to set aside before recovering possession. The effect of the case law appears to be that it is only in the latter type of case that Article 91 of the Limitation Act can be applied and that a suit to recover possession with a prayer for setting aside the sale deed shall be instituted within three years prescribed by Article 91, that is 'when the facts enabling the plaintiff to have the instrument cancelled or set aside becomes known to him'.
2. Learned counsel for the appellant has relied on the Privy Council decision in - 'Someshwar Dutt v, Tribhuvan Dutf . That was a case, where it was held that assuming that a substantive case of undue influence had been properly disclosed in the pleadings and established in the evidence, the deed of gift, which was the subject-matter of that litigation, would in that event have been voidable only, and the suit would have been hopelessly barred under Article 91, Limitation Act. It is true that in that suit according to the plaint pleadings; the deed of gift was a nullity, but the pleadings in the plaint appear to have been substantially construed. I am not prepared to hold that the learned District Judge, took an incorrect view of this plaint when he held that Article 91 was not applicable to it, in view of the averment that the sale deed was wholly void. Such plaints of course express themselves to the strong criticism of making allegations that sale deeds are void in order to circumvent the law of limitation. But plaintiffs, who do so, take upon themselves a far heavier onus in framing plaints in this manner with every likelihood of failure with costs in the eventof their being unable to substantiate their plea.
3. The appeal is dismissed. But I would like to express my disapproval of the delay in filing of the suit by directing the parties to bear their own costs of this appeal irrespective of the result of the suit.
4. The learned Civil Judge of Banganapalle did not find on the other issues observing that it was not the practice in the Banganapalle court to do so, when a suit was dismissed on a preliminary point such as limitation. He is reminded of the fact that this practice is strongly opposed to the repeated observations made by this court as regards the necessity for the trial judge to find on all the issues so far as practicable. Had he done so, the suit of 1948 would have received a final disposal long ago.