1. This is an appeal against an order of the learned Second Additional Subordinate Judge, Tiruchirapalli, dated 21-4-1965, dismissing E; A. No. 297 of 1964 in O. S. 107 of 1953. The said E. A. itself was filed by supplemental defendants 3 and 4 in 9. Section 107 of 1953, under Order 21, Rule 96, Civil P. C., for setting aside a sale of the house property sold in execution of the decree passed against them in O. S. No. 107 of 1953 on 19-6-1963. The sale was knocked down in favour of the first respondent for a sum of Rs. 2,05,000, on 19-6-1963 and the application was filed on 17-7-1963. In the said application, the appellants herein had taken the following three grounds for the purpose of setting aside the sale: (1) due notice of the execution or of the application to reduce the upset price has not been served on the petitioners; (2) the property has been sold for a grossly inadequate price inasmuch as the decree-holder has been able to knock off the property for a price which will be a third of its real value; and (3) that by reason of the fraud committed by the decree-holders in getting the upset price reduced, i.e., without notice to the petitioners, the property did not fetch a proper price at the sale, with the result that the sale held on 19-6-1963 resulted in substantial prejudice to the appellants.
2. The learned Second Additional Subordinate Judge came to the conclusion
that, with regard to the application filed by the decree-holder for reduction of the upset price previously fixed, the appellants herein were not entitled to any notice, and therefore, there was no irregularity or illegality in the conduct of the sale. With regard to the second point, the learned Judge came to the conclusion that the property was not sold for an inadequate price and consequently the appellants herein had not suffered substantial injury on account of any irregularity in the matter of the publication of sale as contended for on their behalf.
3. Before I deal with the point urged before me, it is better to refer to the facts that had taken place anterior to the sale of the property, as stated by the learned Subordinate Judge himself, in the judgment, the correctness of which was not disputed before me;
'The execution application for attachment and sale of the property of the judgment-debtor, the late, Thiagaraja Bhaga-vathar, was filed as early as 5-12-1959 against the heirs of the late M. K. Thiaga-raja Bhagavathar of whom the petitioners are the daughters. Notice was ordered under Order 21. Rule 66, Civil P. C. in the said application on 17-3-1960. As the petitioners herein were not served, fresh notice was ordered on 22-4-1960 for 29-6-1960. The said notices were returned with endorsement absent affixed and hence on 29-6-1960 the Court was pleased to order fresh notice by substituted service for 22-7-1960. The substituted service ordered was effected on the petitioners and since they were absent they were declared ex parte on 1-8-1960 after accepting the service as sufficient In those circumstances it will be idle now to contend that no notice was issued to them under Order 21, Rule 66, Civil P. C. As regards the other complaint that they were not served with notices for the subsequent applications for the reduction of upset prices it is found that originally upset price was fixed at 5 lakhs. As the property was not sold the decree-holders filed an application under E. A. 807 of 1960 for the reduction of, upset price from five lakhs to two lakhs. In that petition also notice was ordered on 14-12-1960 for 9-1-1961. As the petitioners were not served for that hearing date a fresh notice was also ordered and since these petitioners were absent on the date of hearing they were set ex parte. Then the upset price was reduced to Rs. 4.05,000. There were no bidders for that sale. The decree-holders filed E, A. 810 of 1962 to reduce the upset price from Rs. 4,05,000 to Rs. 1,50,000. Again notice was ordered in this application to the petitioners for 18-12-1962. Fresh notice was also ordered on 18-12-1962. for the hearing dated 19-1-1963. As the petitioners' brother Ravindran alone appeared in that application and the petitioners were absent they were set ex parte and after hearing the arguments advanced on behalf of the, brother of the petitioners upset price was' reduced to Rs. 3,50,000 even though the decree-holder wanted the upset price to be reduced to Rs. 1,50,000. No doubt at this stage the decree-holders filed an application in E. A. 156 of 1963 for permitting the first respondent herein to bid and set off in the sale to be held on 3-4-1963. Since that sale also could not take place for want of bidders the decree-holders respondents filed E. A. 222 of 1963 on 8-4-1963 to reduce the upset price from Rs. 3,50,000 to Hs. 1,50,000 and notice was ordered for 11-4-1963. As the decree-holders' pleader wanted to have the sale proclamation issued during the summer recess and was anxious to bring the property to sale at least after the reopening of the Court the petition was heard without notice being taken to the petitioners herein and was ordered. Under that, application the upset price was reduced to Rs. 2,00,000, after hearing the counsel for the petitioner's brother Ravindran.'
Thus it will be seen that the original sale proclamation was settled after notice to the appellants herein as required under Order 21, Rule 66, Civil P. C. and after setting them ex parte. Three attempts were made to sell the property and since no bidders came forward, applications were filed to reduce the upset price originally fixed by Court and, except with regard to the last application, E. A. No. 222 of 1963, in all other applications notices were taken to the appellants but they remained ex parte. Consequently, the question that arises for consideration is whether the failure to give notice to the appellants in E. A. No. 222 of 1963 which was an application for reducing the upset price constitutes material irregularity or illegality, so as to come within the scope of Order 21, Rule 90, Civil P. C. entitling the appellants to have the sale set aside.
4, Learned counsel for the appellants contended that, since the upset price was fixed as part of the sale proclamation settled under Order 21, Rule 66, Civil P. C., the appellants are entitled to notice, whenever any change or alteration or modification is contemplated in anything that is contained in the said sale proclamation. I may straightway point out that, under Order 21, Rule 66, Civil P. C. as amended by this Court, there is absolutely no provision for the Court to fix any upset price and all that the rule requires the Court, to do is to mention the valuations of the; property as given by the decree-holder as well as by the judgment-debtor. It is open to the Court, if the circumstances of the case justify, to arrive at its own valuation and fix the upset price; but the Court is tinder no obligation under the statute to fix the upset price. Therefore, when the Court fixes the upset price or modifies either by way of enhancement or reduction of the upset price originally fixed. It cannot be said that the Court is acting pursuant to the obligation imposed upon it under Order 21, Rule 66. Civil P. C. Therefore, from the point of view of the provision contained in Order 21, Rule 66, Civil P. C. it cannot be said that, whenever the Court fixes the upset price or alters the upset price, it is under an obligation to give notice to the judgment debtors.
5. Then the question arises whether, independent of Order 21, Rule 66, Civil P. C, the judgment debtor is entitled to notice, whenever the Court, as required by the decree-holder, alters the upset price. In my opinion, a judgment debtor is not entitled to any such notice. The reason is this. When the Court fixes the upset price in a sale proclamation, the Court is not determining the rights of any of the parties before it and the fixation of upset price may be an indication of the probable price which the property may fetch from the point of view of the intending bidders; but it is not binding either on the decree-holder or the judgment-debtor or even on the Court. Notwithstanding the fixation of the upset price and notwithstanding the fact that a bidder has offered an amount higher than the upset price, it is still open to the judgment debtor to go before the Court and allege that the property has not fetched the proper price; and, he can have the sale set aside, if he can establish that the inadequacy of the price is the result of material irregularity or fraud in the publication or the conduct of the sale. Consequently, the fixation of the upset price by the Court, does not affect the rights of any of the parties, and it is not, therefore, open to the judgment debtors to contend that independent of Order 21, Rule 66, Civil P. C., they are entitled to notice of an application filed by the decree-holder for reducing the upset price. As a matter of fact, there had been a view in this Court that fixation of upset price is not a judicial act but merely an administrative act, because of the reason that it does not affect the rights of any parties.
6. Mr. P. Balasubramaniam, learned counsel for the appellants, drew my attention to the decisions of this Court in Yellappa Naidu v. Venugopal Naidu, 70 Mad LW 815 : AIR 1958 Mad 423 and Kuppammal v. Devendra lyer, (1957) 70 Mad LW 493(1). In my opinion, none of these decisions supports the case of the appellants in this case. These decisions merely lay down that under Order 21, Rule 66, Civil P. C., the Court has an obligation to mention the valuations given by the decree-holder as well as by the judgment debtor, but it cannot designate both these valuations as upset price. On the other hand, Mr. Balasubramaniam was not able to bring to my notice any decision of this Court holding that failure to give notice of an application to reduce the upset price will constitute material irregularity or fraud either in the publication or conduct of the sale, so as to enable the judgment-debtor to have the sale set aside under Order 21, Rule 90, Civil P. C. Under these circumstances, I am of opinion that the conclusion of the lower Court on this point is correct and does not call for any Interference.
7. No other point was urged before ma and hence the appeal is dismissed. But there will be no order as to costs,