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Sakuntala (Died) and ors. Vs. V. Sarangapani Naidu - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty;Civil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1984)1MLJ336
AppellantSakuntala (Died) and ors.
RespondentV. Sarangapani Naidu
Cases ReferredSyed Unnissa v. Rahimuthunnissa
Excerpt:
- .....and the defendant was the mortgagee. the plaintiff claimed that he is entitled to the benefits of tamil nadu debt relief act xxxviii of 1972. the defendant denied this plea of the plaintiff. the plaintiff further claimed deduction of amounts towards property tax. this was also denied by the defendant. the defendant claimed that she is entitled to compensation for improvements. on appropriate issues on the pleadings in the case, the first court came to the conclusion that the plaintiff is entitled to the benefits of tamil nadu act xxxviii of 1972; the deduction claimed by the plaintiff towards property tax is also tenable; and the defendant is not entitled to claim anything towards property tax is also tenable; and the defendant is not entitled to claim anything towards improvements......
Judgment:

S. Nainar Sundaram, J.

1. The defendant in O.S. No. 1070 of 1976 on the file of the District Munsif of Tiruchirapalli, was the original appellant in this second appeal. She died pending the, second appeal and her legal representatives have been brought on record. The respondent herein is the plaintiff in the suit. The suit was laid for redemption of a usufructuary mortgage, dated 6th July, 1966, and for other ancillary reliefs. The plaintiff was the mortgagor and the defendant was the mortgagee. The plaintiff claimed that he is entitled to the benefits of Tamil Nadu Debt Relief Act XXXVIII of 1972. The defendant denied this plea of the plaintiff. The plaintiff further claimed deduction of amounts towards property tax. This Was also denied by the defendant. The defendant claimed that she is entitled to compensation for improvements. On appropriate issues on the pleadings in the case, the first Court came to the conclusion that the plaintiff is entitled to the benefits of Tamil Nadu Act XXXVIII of 1972; the deduction claimed by the plaintiff towards property tax is also tenable; and the defendant is not entitled to claim anything towards property tax is also tenable; and the defendant is not entitled to claim anything towards improvements. Holding that the amount deposited by the plaintiff into Court is sufficient to accord the relief of redemption, it granted a preliminary decree as prayed for and relegated the question of future profits to separate proceedings. The defendant appealed, obviously not accepting the findings of the first Court, including the one relating to the entirement of the plaintiffs to the benefits of Tamil Nadu Act XXXVIII of 1972, for scaling down the question (debt ). It must be pointed out that the judgment of the first Court was rendered on 17th September, 1977. During the pendency of the appeal before the lower appellate Court, namely, the Subordinate Judge of Thiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu Dept Relief Act, XL of 1978, came into effect and, of course, the respondent in the appeal before the lower appellate Court, wanted a declaration that the entire debt has been wiped out by virtue of Section 8 of Tamil Nadu Act XL of 1978, and that he is entitled to possession of the mortgaged property straightway. Section 8(5) of Tamil Nadu Act XL of 1978, states that where the mortgagee is in possession of the property mortgaged to him for an aggregate period of ten years or more, the mortgage debt shall be deemed to have been wholly discharged with effect from the expiry of the period of ten years. There is no doubt that factually this principle would come into play and the plaintiff would normally be entitled to that relief.

2. The defendant, in the appeal before the lower appellate Court, did not appear to have pressed forth her grievance on the question, of compensation for improvements, etc, and had concentrated only to counter-act the new relief claimed by the plaintiff under Tamil Nadu Act XL of 1978, and as a result, (sic) the Court has granted the plaintiff a decree for possession straightway, holding that the debt has been wiped out under Tamil Nadu Art XL of 1978. This second appeal is directed against the judgment and decree of the lower appellate Court.

3. At the time of admission of the second appeal, the following substantial question of law has come to be mooted out for consideration:

Whether the lower appellate Court was right in reducing the amount payable for redemption fixed by the trial Court, in the appeal filed by the defendant.

4. Mr. Hajee P. K. Jamal Mohammed, learned Counsel for the appellants in this second appeal, who are the legal representatives of the original defendant, in expatiation of the substantial question of law, of course, to some extent, developing the point, not strictly in accordance with the substantial question of law, as it stands framed, would first submit that the plaintiff succeeded in obtaining the relief of scaling down under Tamil Nadu Act XXXVIII of 1972, and hence, by virtue of the proviso to Section 6 of Tamil Nadu Act XL of 1978, there could not be a further scaling down. The said proviso does lay down the above limitation when it says that no debt, which was already scaled down under Tamil Nadu Act XXXVIII of 1972, shall again be scaled down under Tamil Nadu Act XL of 1978. This submission is on the assumption that the decree of the first Court, scaling down the mortgage debt under Tamil Nadu Act XXXVIII of .1972, has become final and conclusive. I must straightway point out that this assumption is a misconception in law. It is a well-settled principle that once the decree of the first Court is appealed against, the lis continues and the controversy, subject-matter of the lis, becomes once again sub judice and the appellate Court, as the appropriate forum, has seisin of the entire lis, through for certain purposes like execution, the decree could be regarded as final, and the first Court must be deemed to have retained the requisite jurisdiction, in the absence of any other bar. Though redundant I feel obliged to refer to the judgment of the Federal Court in Lach-meshwar v. Keshawar Lal , wherein this proposition has been countenanced. The defendant, in the present case, had not accepted the scaling down of the decree by the first Court and had chosen to file an appeal and hence, the question involved had not reached any finality and continued to be sub judice.

5. The mould of the decree gets ripped open by the filing of the appeal to get a fresh mould as per the decision in the appeal. Appeal is nothing but a continuation of the suit and the decree of the first Court is left suspended on the filing of the appeal, and no finality and conclusiveness could be annexed to such a decree with regard to matters decided thereby. The lis is being re-heard and the parties are enabled to plead and prove their case once again and they arc entitled to take advantage of subsequent events of fact as well as of law to have the reliefs moulded suitably, if that is warranted. The scaling down spoken of by the proviso to Section 6(1) of Tamil Nadu Act XL of 1.1978, must be a matter of finality, so as to operate as a bar. When the very scaling down had not been accepted by the defendent and when she filed the appeal, the entire controversy stood reopened and was sub-judice and hence, it will be inappropriate and not in order to invoke the provisions of Tamil Nadu Act XL of 1978. Hence, it is not possible to countenance this proposition put forth by the learned Counsel for the appellants, and in the present case, the debt as such had not already been scaled down once and for all finally and conclusively and rights and obligations worked out and discharged on that basis, so as to rule out the possibility of the application of the relevant provisions of Tamil Nadu Act XL of 1978.

6. In Amarjit Kaur v. Pritam Singh : [1975]1SCR605 , the Supreme Court had occasion to consider the Impact of Section 3 of the Punjab Preemption (Repeal) Act, 1973, which came into force while an appeal was pending before the High Court against a decree in a suit for pre-emption, the said section having imposed a bar to pass a decree in a suit for pre-emption and the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the High Court in allowing the appeal and dismissing the suit for pre-emption. The Supreme Court also referred -to the principle countenanced by the Federal Court in the decision referred to above, while upholding the decision of the High Court.

7. The principle is, the appellate Court shall have the same powers and shall perform as nearly as may be, the same duties as are conferred and imposed by the Code of Civil Procedure, hereinafter referred to as the Code, on Courts of Original Jurisdiction in respect of suits instituted therein. This is adumbrated in Section 107 (2) of the Code.

8. The general rule is that an appellate Court, while adjudicating the rights of parties, will confine its consideration to facts and law as they stood when the lis terminated before the first Court and normally will not take cognizance of facts and change in law, which came in subsequently. But, Courts can, in exceptional cases, venture out of this rule. The Supreme Court in M. Laxmi and Co. v. A.R. Deshpande : [1973]2SCR172 , enumerated as many as six instances where the Court can take notice of subsequent events. They are as follows--

(i) Where the Court finds that because of altered circumstances like devolution of interest it is necessary to shorten litigation.

(ii) Where the original relief had become inappropriate by subsequent events, the Court can take notice of such changes.

(iii) If the Court finds that the judgment of the Court cannot be carried into effect because of change of circumstances the Court takes notice of the same.

(iv) If the Court finds that the matter is no longer in controversy the Court also takes notice of such event.

(v) If the property which is the subject-matter of suit is no longer available the Court will take notice of such event.

(vi) The Court takes, notice of subsequent events to shorten litigation to preserve rights of both the parties.

9. The matter on hand, in my view, can fit in with instances (ii) and (vi). By virtue of the subsequent enactment, namely, Tamil Nadu Act XL of 1978, original relief granted to the plaintiff has become inappropriate in the sense, he gets entitled to larger relief. Equally so, when the Us has not reached a finality and the matter has not left the procedural stage of re-hearing, the appellate Court in a way, shortens the litigation to serve the rights of the plaintiff and accord him the relief, which he is entitled to under the changed law, in respect of the same subject-matter. This will definitely subserve the ends of justice. This power of the appellate Court to mould the relief, taking into account facts and change in law coming in subsequent to the decree of the first Court, is subject to one well accepted qualification, and that is settled, accomplished and worked out rights and discharged obligations and transactions shall not be reopened and disturbed by the exercise of this power. Such a view was also expressed by Krishnaswami Nayudu, J., in Syed Unnissa v. Rahimuthunnissa : AIR1953Mad445 . Such a situation has been, to a very large extent, taken note of by Section 19 of Tamil Nadu Act XL of 1978. Such is not the factual position in the present case. Hence, in my view, the lower appellate Court did nothing wrong in taking note of the subsequent legislation, namely, Tamil Nadu Act XL of 1978, and granting the relief to the plaintiff in accordance therewith.

10. The fact that the appeal was by the defendant would not matter because, the powers of the appellate Court are wide enough to meet such contingencies by virtue or Order 41, Rule 3 of the Code.

11. Learned Counsel for the appellants would next contend that the defendant-appellant before the lower appellate Court had no opportunity to counter-act on merits the case of the plaintiff for reliefs under Tamil Nadu Act XL of 1978, and the learned Counsel would state that the plaintiff could not come within the meaning of a debtor under Tamil Nadu Act XL of 1978. In answer, Mr. B. Kumar, learned Counsel for the plaintiff-respondent herein, submits that such an issue which is a factual one, was not at all raised before the lower appellate Court and he draws my attention to the counter filed by the defendant to the concerned application of the plaintiff before the lower appellate Court. This submission of Mr. B. Kumar is factually correct. It is too late in the day to raise such a factual controversy and that too, in the second appeal.

12. The reasons expressed by me above compel me to reject the contentions put forth by the learned Counsel for the appellants and accordingly the second appeal fails and the same is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.


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