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Manickatahammal and ors. Vs. Nallasami Pillai and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCommercial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberAppeal No. 77 of 1971
Judge
Reported inAIR1977Mad83
ActsRepresentation of the People Act, 1951; Specific Relief Act
AppellantManickatahammal and ors.
RespondentNallasami Pillai and ors.
Cases ReferredP. C. Purushothama Reddiar v. S. Perumal
Excerpt:
commercial - specific performance - representation of people act, 1951 and specific relief act - appeal against order passed by court below decreeing suit for specific performance on basis of agreement of sale - plaintiff failed to establish genuineness of deed - plaintiff failed to establish that he made deposits as claimed by defendant - he cannot claim equitable relief of specific performance - order passed by court below liable to be set aside - appeal allowed. - - the courts ought not to, as a matter of course, adopt the recitals as true if a genuine doubt by reason of the circumstances and the evidence let in in this case arises and which would prompt the court to require a much better standard of proof of the recitals rather than accepting the recitals as such without any..........1943 to 1956 in consideration of the confidence, affection and regard which he had to his uncle, veerappa pillai, he deposited with him various sums of money to the tune of rs. 25,000/- in fact such deposits were made from his savings while he was exercising a calling of his own or a profession of his own and it was at the instance and persuasion of veerappa pillai that these deposits were made during the aforesaid years. the plaintiff claims that between 1943 and 1946 he was a bus conductor and a checking inspector and was saving considerable sums from his salary; during 1950 and 1953, he was a sugarcane contractor supplying sugarcane to mills and earning large profits; and during 1954 to 1956, he was running a provision shop at panijappatti and earned considerable amounts thereon......
Judgment:

Ramaprasada Rao, J.

1. The second to the fourth defendants in O. S. No. 246 of 1967 on the file of the Subordinate Judge. Tiruchirapalli, are the appellants. One Veerappa Pillai, whose brother's son is the plaintiff filed a suit for specific performance on the basis of an agreement of sale marked as Ex. A-1 in this case. The plaintiff's case is that during 1943 to 1956 in consideration of the confidence, affection and regard which he had to his uncle, Veerappa Pillai, he deposited with him various sums of money to the tune of Rs. 25,000/- In fact such deposits were made from his savings while he was exercising a calling of his own or a profession of his own and it was at the instance and persuasion of Veerappa Pillai that these deposits were made during the aforesaid years. The plaintiff claims that between 1943 and 1946 he was a bus conductor and a checking inspector and was saving considerable sums from his salary; during 1950 and 1953, he was a sugarcane contractor supplying sugarcane to mills and earning large profits; and during 1954 to 1956, he was running a provision shop at Panijappatti and earned considerable amounts thereon. His further case is that at the behest of his uncle he was sending considerable sums which he was saving during the years 1943 to 1956 to his uncle and these amounts came up to Rs. 25,000/- by the year 1964. Referring to circumstantial evidence and the letters written by Veerappa Pillai when he was alive, thereunder the plaintiff was asked to send certain amounts for the purpose of enabling him to buy some jewels to his wife when he marries or for the purpose of purchasing lands after considerable sums are accrued, the plaintiff would say that on a final demand made by him and at the intervention of the third defendant both Veerappa Pillai and the third defendant, who is son, executed the agreement, Ex. A-1, whereby they obliged themselves to sell their lands which are the suit property for a sum and consideration of Rs. 30,000/-. The plaintiff says that though the agreement was written up in the normal course, it became necessary for him to issue the suit notice for the performance of the obligation of the executants of the agreement because Veerappa Pillai by then died. He, therefore, issued the suit notice, Ex. A-27, calling upon the defendants (the first and the second defendants are the widows of Veerappa Pillai and the third and the fourth defendants are his son daughter respectively). The first defendant widow replied in Ex. A-28 denying the receipt of any such amount by her husband. Even so, defendants 2 to 4 in a common reply, characterised the agreement as a concoction and pleaded it is not supported by consideration. The plaintiff came to Court on the above allegations and wanted a decree for specific performance of the contract of sale, Ex. A-1 and expressed that he was ready and willing to perform his part of the contract by paying the balance of Rs. 5,000/- and obtain a sale deeds contracted. The first defendant remained expert. The second defendant filed a written statement which is adopted by defendants 3 and 4. As we already stated they denied the capacity of the plaintiff to deposit such large sums of money to Veerappa Pillai when he was connection with a prospective employment of the third defendant the signature of Veerappa Pillai and the third defendant were taken on blank papers but on stamp papers and that the stamp paper so signed by them for a particular purpose are being misused by the plaintiff after having filled it up to his advantage. They would characterise the agreement as an unenforceable and a concocted one. Their additional plea, which is important in this case, is that the plaintiff did not have the requisite capacity to deposit such sums with Veerappa Pillai when he was alive and the various versions given by the plaintiff in the plaint regarding the mode and the manner by which he deposited the amounts are creatures of the plaintiff's imagination and, no doubt, in consonance with the recitals under Exhibit A-1 and in consequence, they would deny that there was any agreement of sale of the suit property. Lastly they would say that it is only after the issue of lawyer's notice they came to know of the fraud which the plaintiff wanted to practice on them and found that the plaintiff has removed from their premises, when he came to attend the funeral obsequies of the disadvantage of the defendants. In any event, they would say that the plaintiff is not entitled to the relief of specific performance as there is no equity in his favour. The following issues were framed by the trial Judge:

(1) Were the signatures of Veerappa Pillai and 3rd defendant have affixed in blank stamp papers as alleged?

(2) Whether the plaintiff is entitled to specific performance and

(3) To what relief, if any, is the plaintiff entitled?

On issues (1) and (2) he found that Veerappa Pillai and the third defendant signed Ex. A-1 and that the plaintiff was entitled to the relief. He, therefore, decreed the suit. Hence the appeal.

2. Learned counsel for the appellants raised three questions before us. Firstly, the agreement itself is unenforceable as the very pattern adopted to utilise the stamp paper is revolting to the normal procedure adopted in such circumstances and on a prima facie examination of Ex. A-1, it is clear that it is a document which has been filled up after it was signed in blank by the executants. Secondly, he would say that the plaintiff cannot rely upon Ex. A-1, as such, and as its recitals project a case of the agreement of sale being supported by consideration, without adducing evidence aliened to substantiate that he did deposit such a large amount of Rs. 25,000/- with Veerappa Pillai as claimed by him. According to the appellants such proof is wanting in this case and therefore, the decree for specific performance ought not to be automatically granted on the bare recitals in Ex. A-1. Thirdly, he would say that even though the parties on either side have put their cases respectively on a very high and rather inconvenient level, yet the defendants in this instant case, ought to be preferred and the plaintiff who is seeking for equity ought not to be encouraged as he has come with not-a-true case. On the other hand, learned counsel for the respondents would urge that so long as the executants of the document admit that they did sign it at the time referred to by the plaintiff, then there is no escape of the liability which follows from such admission. He would add that by reason of such a candid admission on the part of the third defendant that Veerappa Pillai himself singed Ex. A-1 the recitals in Ex. A-1 prove themselves and this is sufficient for the plaintiff to obtain the relief. He would, fairly, not dispute the reasonable conclusion which, as we presently show, would arise in the instant case, that the plaintiff did not have the requisite capacity or status to deposit, as pleaded, a sum of s. 25,000/- though in driblets, between 1943 and 1956. But, Mr. Narayanaswami would have it that the trend of correspondence as also the surrounding circumstances in the case lend support to the plaintiff's version and particularly when the defendant's specific case, that these stamp papers were signed by them in order to enable the plaintiff to offer such document as security for securing an employment, has been found to be not true and has not even been found to be not true and has not even been seriously challenged in this Court.

3. This is very peculiar case in which the plaintiff is seeking for the equitable relief of specific performance basing his claim solely on the recitals in Exhibit A-1. In constructing deeds which speak by themselves, but which speech is likely to affect some parities to it, the Court should take the precaution of seeing that the document is not only technically proved but the recitals therein are true. The Courts ought not to, as a matter of course, adopt the recitals as true if a genuine doubt by reason of the circumstances and the evidence let in in this case arises and which would prompt the Court to require a much better standard of proof of the recitals rather than accepting the recitals as such without any further expatiation of the same. In such cases where the Courts are compelled to probe into the realities of the situation and the truth of the recitals the Court's jurisdiction to buttress such recitals has been recognised consistently by our Court and the Supreme Court. Such recitals may be telling and forcible but yet, they might require further proof for acceptance by a Court of law.

4. A Division Bench of our Court while considering the practice of marking documents b consent simultaneously expressed the view that:

'Permitting a document to be marked by consent only means that the party consenting is willing to waive his right to have the document in question proved. Aggreeing to the document being marked by consent certainly does not mean that the consenting certainly does not mean that the consenting party accepts the correctness of every statement made in that document.'

(Vide R. M. Y. R. M. Palaniappa Chettiar v. The Bombay Life Assurance Co. Ltd. : AIR1948Mad298 .

5. Mr. Justice Panchapakesa Iyyar in Official Receiver of Salem v. Chinna Goundan, : AIR1957Mad630 when considering a problem whether the recitals in the sale deed have to be willy-nilly accepted, observed thus:

'Often, in Courts, sale-deeds are filed where the consideration is recited as received, whereas it is not received as a matter of fact. That is why there is also a lien in favour of the vendor for the unpaid consideration. Specific evidence of a convincing nature must be adduced to show that a sale deed reciting the payment of consideration was really executed for no consideration, and that no consideration was intended to be paid. No doubt, a piece of evidence tending to show that, will be recital of the receipt of the consideration when no consideration, has as a matter of fact, been paid or recited. But such a recital will not be conclusive.'

In an election case, viz., P. C. Purushothama Reddiar v. S. Perumal, : [1972]2SCR646 the Supreme Court wile considering the probative value of the recitals in the statement of expenses which a candidate has to file under the Representation of the People Act. 1951, made the general observation (which is not doubt apposite to the present case) thus:

'Once a document is properly admitted the contents of that document are also admitted in evidence though those contents may not be conclusive evidence.' Thus, it is fairly clear that while deciding a case the facts appearing in each of them have to be borne in mind before adopting, as a matter of course, the rule that the contents of a document which has been admitted should be taken as true and proved conclusive. There are cases and cases like the one in the instant case, whereunder if a genuine doubt is raised about the truth of the recital, then, Courts are not helpless but they are in a position to make a further probe into the truth or falsity of the recital and come to a conclusion. This principle has to be borne in mind in the instant case.

6. We shall now consider whether the retail in Ex. A-1, can be taken as true, conclusive and having been proved. In just a position to the recital in Ex. A-1, let use see what the plaintiff stated when he issued the notice Ex. A-27. (After discussing the evidence the judgment proceeded:) We have prefaced our judgment with our observations as also supported by the decisions which does not compel a Civil Court to accept the recitals of a document admitted in evidence, without further proof in case such proof is called upon and becomes necessary. Therefore, the circumstantial evidence referred to in this case, by Mr. Narayanaswami such as the evidence of P.W. 4 and some stray reference to it by the third defendant in cross-examination ought to be cautiously looked into to arrive at a reasonable and a just conclusion that the recitals in Exhibit A-1, are true and correct.

7. Even assuming that the document, Ex. A-1 is a genuine one, the onus is on the plaintiff to establish that he did make the deposit as pleaded by him. A fortiori, this would be so if the defendant, who is one of the executants, specifically pleaded that no consideration passed under the said document. Even the circumstantial evidence let in or referred to by the learned counsel for the respondents do not prompt us to accept the recitals in Ex. A-1. without weighing its probative value in conjunction with the other material let in, in this case.

8. We are, therefore, unable to agree with the learned trial Judge that the recitals therein ought to prevail as a conclusion of admission of the liability on the part of Veerappa Pillai and the third defendant. Lastly, we are tempted to allow this appeal also on the ground that prima facie we are not impressed with the genuineness of the deed as well. We have carefully perused the document. The stamp paper was purchased in 1964 and the subject is written up in 1966. As to why as between relations this process should have been adopted is not clear. If, really, the question arose in 1966 as between the plaintiff and Veerappa Pillai that the suit property should be sold in consideration of the amount already received by Veerappa Pillai and in further consideration of Rs. 5,000 to be paid by the plaintiff to Veerappa Pillai and the third defendant, they could have purchased the stamp paper of 1966 and used the same, No explanation is given. No other convincing reason, also, is given to the care taken by the partisans t this deed in ruling it out in pencil when such is not the requirement either normally or otherwise. The way in which the matter has been written up and the close writing which is visible to the naked eye and the effort taken in filling up the same, gives the impression that the recitals therein were written up after it was signed by the contesting parties. Under the caption of 'witnesses' it is usual of the witness to write his name and thereafter fill up his father's name and his residence. But, the manner in which the names of he witnesses have been described in this deed is yet another circumstance which appears to us to be peculiar. Apart from cramping the material into the available stamp paper, the writer of the document takes the precaution of writing his name at the end of it and this is obviously filled up so as to make out a case for the beneficiaries of the document at a future date when an occasion arises. It is in this light that the evidence of P. Ws. 1 to 3 has to be looked into. We are of the view that the document, Ex A-1, was not singed by Veerappa Pillai or Meenakshisundaram in the manner spoken to by the plaintiff. We are, however, not sure whether the story of the third defendant could be accepted. Each party, therefore, his but their cases very high in the instant case in so far as Ex. A-1 is concerned. But, suffice it for us to say that Exhibit A-1 does not appear to e a genuine document written up for the purpose of acknowledging the liability of Veerappa Pillai and the third defendant at or about the time referred to by P.W. 4.

9. We have made the above observation only at the last stage for we are convinced that even assuming that Exhibit A-1. which has been admitted n evidence, contains the said recital to the effect that Veerappa Pillai received Rs. 25,000/-, that by itself not being conclusive and the plaintiff having failed to establish that he made such deposits as claimed by him, he cannot claim the equitable relief of specific performance. The relief of specific performance either under the Common Law or under the Specific Relief Act is always a discretionary relief Act is always a discretionary relief. To exercise such a judicial discretion the party claiming such an equity should be entitle to such an equity. We find that the plaintiff is not entitled to it. The judgment and decree of the trial Court are set aside, and the appeal is allowed. But as both the parties below have not placed the truth before the Court, there will be no order as to costs here and in the lower Court.

10. Appeal allowed.


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