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The Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Act, 2015 came into force on 23.10.2015 bringing in their wake certain amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure. In Order V, Rule 1, sub-rule (1), for the second proviso, the following proviso was substituted:

“Provided further that where the defendant fails to file the written statement within the said period of thirty days, he shall be allowed to file the written statement on such other days, as may be specified by the Court, for reasons to be recorded in writing and on payment of such costs as the court deems fit, but which shall not be later than one hundred twenty days from the date of service of summons and on expiry of one hundred and twenty days from the date of service of summons, the defendant shall forfeit the right to file the written statement and the court shall not allow the written statement to be taken on record.” Equally, in Order VIII Rule 1, a new proviso was substituted as follows:

“Provided that where the defendant fails to file the written statement within the said period of thirty days, he shall be allowed to file the written statement on such other day, as may be specified by the court, for reasons to be recorded in writing and on payment of such costs as the Court deems fit, but which shall not be later than one hundred and twenty days from the date of service of summons and on expiry of one hundred and twenty days from the date of service of summons, the defendant shall forfeit the right to file the written statement and the court shall not allow the written statement to be taken on record.” This was re-emphasized by re-inserting yet another proviso in Order VIII Rule 10 CPC, which reads as under:-

“Procedure when party fails to present written statement called for by Court.- Where any party from whom a written statement is required under Rule 1 or Rule 9 fails to present the same within the time permitted or fixed by the Court, as the case may be, the Court shall pronounce judgment against him, or make such order in relation to the suit as it thinks fit and on pronouncement of such judgment a decree shall be drawn up.

Provided further that no Court shall make an order to extend the time provided under Rule 1 of this Order for filing of the written statement.” A perusal of these provisions would show that ordinarily a written statement is to be filed within a period of 30 days.

However, grace period of a further 90 days is granted which the Court may employ for reasons to be recorded in writing and payment of such costs as it deems fit to allow such written statement to come on record. What is of great importance is the fact that beyond 120 days from the date of service of summons, the defendant shall forfeit the right to file the written statement and the Court shall not allow the written statement to be taken on record. This is further buttressed by the proviso in Order VIII Rule 10 also adding that the Court has no further power to extend the time beyond this period of 120 days.

Several High Court judgments on the amended Order VIII Rule 1 have now held that given the consequence of non-filing of written statement, the amended provisions of the CPC will have to be held to be mandatory. [See Oku Tech Private Limited vs. Sangeet Agarwal & Ors. by a learned Single Judge of the Delhi High Court dated 11.08.2016 in CS (OS) No. 3390/2015 as followed by several other judgments including a judgment of the Delhi High Court in Maja Cosmetics vs. Oasis Commercial Pvt. Ltd. 2018 SCC Online Del 6698.

When there is a special provision in the Code of Civil Procedure for dealing with the contingencies of two such suits being instituted, recourse to the inherent powers under s.151 is not justified…” (at page 470) Clearly, the clear, definite and mandatory provisions of Order V read with Order VIII Rule 1 and 10 cannot be circumvented by recourse to the inherent power under Section 151 to do the opposite of what is stated therein.

M/S SCG CONTRACTS INDIA PVT. LTD.

VERSUS

K.S. CHAMANKAR INFRASTRUCTURE PVT. LTD. & ORS

( Supreme Court of India).

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. In several judgments, it has been held that courts ought not to grant injunction to restrain encashment of bank guarantees or letters of credit. Two exceptions have been mentioned – (i) fraud and (ii) irretrievable damage. If the plaintiff is prima facie able to establish that the case comes within these two exceptions, temporary injunction under Order 39, Rule 1 CPC can be issued. It has also been held that the contract of the bank guarantee or the letter of credit is independent of the main contract between the seller and the buyer. This is also clear from Articles 3 and 4 of UCP (1983 Revision). In case of an irrevocable bank guarantee or letter of credit the buyer cannot obtain injunction against the banker on the ground that there was a breach of the contract by the seller. The bank is to honour the demand for encashment if the seller pima facie complies with the terms of the bank guarantee or letter of credit, namely, if the seller produces the documents enumerated in the bank guarantee or the letter of credit. If the bank is satisfied on the face of the documents that they are in conformity with the list of documents mentioned in the bank guarantee or the letter of credit and there is no discrepancy, it is bound to honour the demand of the seller for encashment. While doing so it must take reasonable care. It is not permissible for the bank to refuse payment on the ground that the buyer is claiming that there is a breach of contract. Nor can the bank try to decide this question of breach at that stage and refuse payment to the seller. Its obligation under the document having nothing to do with any dispute as to breach of contract between the seller and the buyer……”

cropped-leges_sqaure_logo-1

(underlining added)

  1. Again in Himadri Chemicals Industries Ltd. v. Coal Tar Refining Co.: (2007) 8 SCC 110, the Supreme Court held as under:-

“14. From the discussions made hereinabove relating to the principles for grant or refusal to grant of injunction to restrain enforcement of a bank guarantee or a letter of credit, we find that the following principles should be noted in the matter of injunction to restrain the encashment of a bank guarantee or a letter of credit :

(i) While dealing with an application for injunction in the course of commercial dealings, and when an unconditional bank guarantee or letter of credit is given or accepted, the beneficiary is entitled to realise such a bank guarantee or a letter of credit in terms thereof irrespective of any pending disputes relating to the terms of the contract.

(ii) The bank giving such guarantee is bound to honour it as per its terms irrespective of any dispute raised by its customer.

(iii) The Courts should be slow in granting an order of injunction to restrain the realization of a bank guarantee or a letter of credit.

(iv) Since a bank guarantee or a letter of credit is an independent and a separate contract and is absolute in nature, the existence of any dispute between the parties to the contract is not a ground for issuing an order of injunction to restrain enforcement of bank guarantees or letters of credit.

(v) Fraud of an egregious nature which would vitiate the very foundation of such a bank guarantee or letter of credit and the beneficiary seeks to take advantage of the situation.

(vi) Allowing encashment of an unconditional bank guarantee or a letter of credit would result in irretrievable harm or injustice to one of the parties concerned.”

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI

+       FAO (OS) 283/2015

M/S ANIL TIMBER PRIVATE LIMITED                                …. Appellant

versus

M/S ING VYASA BANK LIMITED & ORS.                              ….. Respondents

CORAM

HON’BLE MR JUSTICE BADAR DURREZ AHMED

HON’BLE MR JUSTICE SANJEEV SACHDEVA

JUDGMENT

BADAR DURREZ AHMED, J (ORAL) CM No.12426/2015, CM No.9798/2015 & FAO(OS) 283/2015

  1. CM 12426/2015 has been filed on behalf of the State Bank of India, Chicago Branch, USA for vacation of the stay order which was passed by this Court on 22.05.2015, whereby the operation of the order dated 14.05.2015 passed by the learned Single Judge of this Court in IA No.7054/2015, was stayed. The earlier order dated 29.12.2012 passed by the learned Single Judge which had been in operation prior to the order dated 14.05.2015 was revived for the time being.
  2. The appeal is directed against the order dated 14.05.2015 passed by the learned Single Judge in the said IA 7054/2015 which was an application under Order XXXIX Rules 1 & 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 („CPC‟). We had issued notice in the appeal on 22.05.2015 and the returnable date was to be 09.10.2015. However, in view of the fact that the respondent No.6 has filed CM No.12426/2015 for vacation of the stay, we have taken up the hearing of the stay application CM No.9798/2015 filed by the appellant as also the appeal.
  3. The facts of the case are that the appellant (an Indian Company) had entered into an agreement with the respondent No.2 (based in USA) for the purchase of timber. The appellant had, therefore, opened a letter of credit (documentary credit No.503 FLC002413/14). The said letter of credit was for an amount of US $58950. The respondent No.1 was the issuing bank and the respondent No.6 was the advising and negotiating bank.
  4. The said letter of credit, inter alia, stipulated the conditions with regard to the documents required. The documents required were as under:-

“46A: Documents Required

  1. SIGNED COMMERCIAL INVOICES IN 1 ORIGINAL AND 1 COPY CERTIFIFIYG THAT THE GOODS ARE AS PER SALES CONTRACT NOAT/2014-001 DATED 14-JUN-2014
  2. CERTIFICATE OF ORIGIN IN DUPLICATE
  3. FULL SET OF ORIGINAL CLEAN „ON BOARD‟ OCEAN BILLS OF LADING MADE OUT TO ORDER OF ING VYSYA BANK LTD, TRADE FINANCE UNIT, 23 BARAKHAMBA ROAD, NARAINMANZIL, NEW DELHI-

110 001, INDIA MARKED „FREIGHT PREPAID‟ NOTIFY APPLICANT WITH APPLICANT‟S FULL NAME AND ADDRESS.

SHORT FORM BILL OF LADING

NOT     ACCEPTABLE.BL   TO

MENTION.”

  1. The case of the appellant is that the respondent No.2 has committed a fraud upon the appellant by (a) not shipping the full quantity of the goods; and (b) by shipping sub-standard goods. For this reason, the appellant had sought an injunction restraining the respondent No.1 from releasing any payment under the said letter of credit to the respondent No.6 (the negotiating bank). It may be pointed out that the documents were presented by the respondent No.2 (beneficiary) to the respondent No.6 (negotiating bank), in the first instance, on 18.07.2014, in respect of one shipment for an amount of US $38,502.77. The documents which were presented to the respondent No.6 on 18.07.2014 were verified against the conditions stipulated in the letter of credit and were found to be in order by the respondent No.6 and the beneficiary (respondent No.2) was paid the said amount by the respondent No.6 on 21.07.2014. The documents in respect of the second shipment for the value of US $18941 were presented to the respondent No.6 on 30.07.2014 and after the respondent No.6 found the said documents to be in order, the payment was released on 31.07.2014.
  2. The suit was filed by the appellant in December 2014 and, as pointed out above, an order was passed on 29.12.2014, whereby the respondent No.1 was injuncted from making the payment under the letter of credit to the respondent No.6. That order was vacated by the impugned order dated 14.05.2015, against which, the appellant is in appeal before us.
  3. The law with regard to letters of credit is quite well settled. The bank negotiating the documents is not concerned with the underlying contract between the seller and the purchaser nor is it concerned with the goods. The bank only has to see whether the documents presented to it are in terms of the letters of credit or not. Once the bank finds that the documents are not discrepant, it is bound to release the payment to the beneficiary.
  4. The Supreme Court, in a recent decision in the case of National Bank Ltd. V. Ghanshaym Das Agarwal: (2015) 4 SCC 228 held as under:-

“7. As we see it, therefore, keeping in perspective that the Importer’s Bank i.e. the appellant before us, should not have certified the documentation, reasonably anticipating or being aware of the possibility that this certification could be abused. Law assures the exporter and its Bank to repose in the expectation, nay, certainty, that the consignment, which is the subject-matter of the letter of credit, is not usurped by the importer/consignee or its agents, without remitting payment to the consignor’s Bank. This is a strict liability cast on the bank which opens the letter of credit, since otherwise international trade and commerce will virtually and indubitably come to a standstill. It is only when irretrievable injury is bound to result and it is plainly evident that there is egregious fraud strictly ascribable to the beneficiary of the LC, that a reason to insulate a party before it against liability and that too, comes about only through the prompt intervention and interdiction of a Court of law. This Court has consistently adhered to this position of law even through the passage of several decades. The LC has the effect of creating a bargain between the banker and the vendor of goods, a deemed nexus between the seller and the issuing Bank, rendering the latter liable to the seller to pay the purchase price or to accept a bill of exchange upon tender of the documents envisaged and stipulated in the LC (See Tarapore and Co. vs. V.O. Tractors Export, [(1969) 1 SCC 233 : AIR 1970 SC 891] where Halsbury’s Law of England have been relied upon). These observations have been repeated in United Commercial Bank vs. Bank of India [(1981) (2) SCC 766] , U.P. Coop. Federation Ltd. vs. Singh Consultants & Engineers (P)Ltd. [(1988) 1 SCC 174], Federal Bank Ltd. vs. V.M. Jog Engg. Ltd. [(2001) 1 SCC 663], Himadri Chemicals Industries Ltd. vs. Coal Tar Refining Co. [(2007) 8 SCC 110]. The opening bank must only look to assure itself that the invocation is in terms of the LC, and the completion of this exercise has consistently been circumscribed to a short period, which in the case in hand is one week as per Article 13-B of UCP, 500.”

  1. In Tarapore & Co. v. V.O. Tractors Export: (1969) 1 SCC 233, the Supreme Court noted scope of an irrevocable letter of credit as explained in Halsbury‟s Laws of England and Chalmers on Bills of Exchange as follows:-

 

“12. The scope of an irrevocable letter of credit is explained thus in Halsbury’s Laws of England (Vol. 34), para 319 at p.185):

“It is often made a condition of a mercantile contract that the buyer shall pay for the goods by means of a confirmed credit, and it is then the duty of the buyer to procure his bank, known as the issuing or originating bank, to issue an irrevocable credit in favour of the seller by which the bank undertakes to the seller, either directly or through another bank in the seller’s country known as the correspondent or negotiating bank, to accept drafts drawn upon it for the price of the goods, against tender by the seller of the shipping documents. The contractual relationship between the issuing bank and the buyer is defined by the terms of the agreement between them under which the letter opening the credit is issued; and as between the seller and the bank, the issue of the credit duly notified to the seller creates a new contractual nexus and renders the bank directly liable to the seller to pay the purchase price or to accept the bill of exchange upon tender of the documents. The contract thus created between the seller and the bank is separate from, although ancillary to, the original contract between the buyer and the seller, by reason of the bank’s undertaking to the seller, which is absolute. Thus the bank is not entitled to rely upon terms of the contract between the buyer and the seller which might permit the buyer to reject the goods and to refuse payment therefor; and, conversely the buyer is not entitled to an injunction restraining the seller from dealing with the letter of credit if the goods are defective.”

“13. Chalmers on “Bills of Exchange” explains the legal position in these words:

“The modern commercial credit serves to interpose between a buyer and seller a third person of unquestioned solvency, almost invariably a banker of international repute; the banker on the instructions of the buyer issues the letter of credit and thereby undertakes to act as paymaster upon the seller performing the conditions set out in it. A letter of credit may be in any one of a number of specified forms and contains the undertaking of the banker to honour all bills of exchange drawn thereunder. It can hardly be overemphasised that the banker is not bound or entitled to honour such bills of exchange unless they, and such accompanying documents as may be required thereunder, are in exact compliance with the terms of the credit. Such documents must be scrutinised with meticulous care, the maxim de minimis non curat lex cannot be invoked where payment is made by letter of credit. If the seller has complied with the terms of the letter of credit, however, there is an absolute obligation upon the banker to pay irrespective of any disputes there may be between the buyer and the seller as to whether the goods are up to contract or not.”

  1. The Supreme Court in Tarapore & Co. (supra) further observed that:-

“There is this to be remembered, too. A vendor of goods selling against a confirmed letter of credit is selling under the assurance that nothing will prevent him from receiving the price. That is of no mean advantage when goods manufactured in one country are being sold in another. It is, further more, to be observed that vendors are often reselling goods brought from third parties. When they are doing that, and when they are being paid by a confirmed letter of credit, their practice is – and I think it was followed by the defendants in this case – to finance the payments necessary to be made to their suppliers against the letter of credit. That system of financing these operations, as I see it, would break down completely if a dispute as between the vendor and the purchaser was to have effect of “freezing”, if I may use that expression, the sum in respect of which the letter of credit was opened.”

  1. In United Commercial Bank v. Bank of India : (1981) 2 SCC 766, the Supreme Court observed as under:-

“32. Banker’s commercial credits are almost without exception everywhere made subject to the code entitled the “Uniform Customs and Practices for Documentary Credits”, by which the General Provisions and Definitions and the Articles following are to “apply to all documentary credit and binding upon all parties thereto unless expressly agreed”. A banker issuing or confirming an irrevocable credit usually undertakes to honour drafts negotiated, or to reimburse in respect of drafts paid, by the paying or negotiating intermediate banker and the credit is thus in the hands of the beneficiary binding against the banker. The credit contract is independent of the sales contract on which it is based, unless the sales contract is in some measure incorporated. Unless documents tendered under a credit are in accordance with those for which the credit calls and which are embodied in the terms of the paying or negotiating bank, the beneficiary cannot claim against the paying bank and it is the paying bank’s duty to refuse payment.”

  1. In United Commercial Bank (supra), it was also held as under:-

“34. The authorities are uniform to the effect that a letter of credit constitutes the sole contract with the banker, and the bank issuing the letter of credit has no concern with any question that may arise between the seller and the purchaser of the goods, for the purchase price of which the letter of credit was issued. There is also no lack of judicial authority which lay down the necessity of strict compliance both by the seller with the letter of credit and by the banker with his customer’s instructions.”

  1. The Supreme Court, in the case of Federal Bank Ltd. v. V.M. Jog.

Engg. Ltd., (2001) 1 SCC 663 held that:-

“55. In several judgments of this Court, it has been held that courts ought not to grant injunction to restrain encashment of bank guarantees or letters of credit. Two exceptions have been mentioned – (i) fraud and (ii) irretrievable damage. If the plaintiff is prima facie able to establish that the case comes within these two exceptions, temporary injunction under Order 39, Rule 1 CPC can be issued. It has also been held that the contract of the bank guarantee or the letter of credit is independent of the main contract between the seller and the buyer. This is also clear from Articles 3 and 4 of UCP (1983 Revision). In case of an irrevocable bank guarantee or letter of credit the buyer cannot obtain injunction against the banker on the ground that there was a breach of the contract by the seller. The bank is to honour the demand for encashment if the seller pima facie complies with the terms of the bank guarantee or letter of credit, namely, if the seller produces the documents enumerated in the bank guarantee or the letter of credit. If the bank is satisfied on the face of the documents that they are in conformity with the list of documents mentioned in the bank guarantee or the letter of credit and there is no discrepancy, it is bound to honour the demand of the seller for encashment. While doing so it must take reasonable care. It is not permissible for the bank to refuse payment on the ground that the buyer is claiming that there is a breach of contract. Nor can the bank try to decide this question of breach at that stage and refuse payment to the seller. Its obligation under the document having nothing to do with any dispute as to breach of contract between the seller and the buyer……”

(underlining added)

  1. Again in Himadri Chemicals Industries Ltd. v. Coal Tar Refining Co.: (2007) 8 SCC 110, the Supreme Court held as under:-

“14. From the discussions made hereinabove relating to the principles for grant or refusal to grant of injunction to restrain enforcement of a bank guarantee or a letter of credit, we find that the following principles should be noted in the matter of injunction to restrain the encashment of a bank guarantee or a letter of credit :

(i) While dealing with an application for injunction in the course of commercial dealings, and when an unconditional bank guarantee or letter of credit is given or accepted, the beneficiary is entitled to realise such a bank guarantee or a letter of credit in terms thereof irrespective of any pending disputes relating to the terms of the contract.

(ii) The bank giving such guarantee is bound to honour it as per its terms irrespective of any dispute raised by its customer.

(iii) The Courts should be slow in granting an order of injunction to restrain the realization of a bank guarantee or a letter of credit.

(iv) Since a bank guarantee or a letter of credit is an independent and a separate contract and is absolute in nature, the existence of any dispute between the parties to the contract is not a ground for issuing an order of injunction to restrain enforcement of bank guarantees or letters of credit.

(v) Fraud of an egregious nature which would vitiate the very foundation of such a bank guarantee or letter of credit and the beneficiary seeks to take advantage of the situation.

(vi) Allowing encashment of an unconditional bank guarantee or a letter of credit would result in irretrievable harm or injustice to one of the parties concerned.”

(underlining added)

  1. In the present case, we find, prima facie, that the documents which were presented to the respondent No.6 on both occasions were not discrepant and were in conformity with the letters of credit. Therefore, our prima facie view is that the respondent No.6 was not wrong in releasing the payment to the beneficiary. That being the case, the appellant is not in a position, in law, to seek an order restraining the payment by the respondent No.1 to the respondent No.6 and thereby reimbursing the respondent No.6 for the payment made under the letter of credit issued at the instance of the appellant by the respondent No.1. The learned counsel for the respondent No.1 also has no objection to the release of the payment to the respondent No.6 and she states that the only reason why the payment has not been made is because of the injunction order. According to the respondent No.1 Bank also the documents are in order. The banks have no concern with the disputes between the purchaser (the appellant) and the seller (respondent No.2.). The alleged non-supply of the full quantity contracted or the alleged sub-standard quality of goods do not fall within the exception of fraud of an egregious nature and irretrievable injustice.
  2. In these circumstances, we not only vacate the order dated 22.05.2015 passed by us in CM No.9798/2015 but also dismiss the appeal preferred by the appellant. The result is that CM No.12426/2015 is allowed, the order dated 22.05.2015 stands vacated and FAO(OS) 283/2015 and CM No.9798/2015 are dismissed.
  3. The next date (i.e., 09.10.2015), which was fixed in the appeal, stands cancelled. There shall be no order as to costs.

 

BADAR DURREZ AHMED, J SANJEEV SACHDEVA

 

Who Can File  O.A. or Petition before the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT)

  1. Jurisdiction, powers and authority of the Central Administrative Tribunal.—

(1) Save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act, the Central Administrative Tribunal shall exercise, on and from the appointed day, all the jurisdiction, powers and authority exercisable immediately before that day by all courts (except the Supreme Court 39 [***] in relation to—

(a) recruitment, and matters concerning recruitment, to any All-India Service or to any civil service of the Union or a civil post under the Union or to a post connected with defence or in the defence services, being, in either case, a post filled by a civilian;

(b) all service matters concerning—

(i) a member of any All-India Service; or

(ii) a person [not being a member of an All-India Service or a person referred to in clause (c)] appointed to any civil service of the Union or any civil post under the Union; or

(iii) a civilian [not being a member of an All-India Service or a person referred to in clause (c)] appointed to any defence services or a post connected with defence, and pertaining to the service of such member, person or civilian, in connection with the affairs of the Union or of any State or of any local or other authority within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India or of any corporation 40 [or society] owned or controlled by the Government;

(c) all service matters pertaining to service in connection with the affairs of the Union concerning a person appointed to any service or post referred to in sub-clause (ii) or sub-clause (iii) of clause (b), being a person whose services have been placed by a State Government or any local or other authority or any corporation 40 [or society] or other body, at the disposal of the Central Government for such appointment. 40 [Explanation.—For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that references to “Union” in this sub-section shall be construed as including references also to a Union territory.]

(2) The Central Government may, by notification, apply with effect from such date as may be specified in the notification the provisions of sub-section (3) to local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India and to corporations 40 [or societies] owned or controlled by Government, not being a local or other authority or corporation 40 [or society] controlled or owned by a State Government: Provided that if the Central Government considers it expedient so to do for the purpose of facilitating transition to the scheme as envisaged by this Act, different dates may be so specified under this sub-section in respect of different classes of, or different categories under any class of, local or other authorities or corporations 40 [or societies].

(3) Save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act, the Central Administrative Tribunal shall also exercise, on and from the date with effect from which the provisions of this sub-section apply to any local or other authority or corporation 40 [or society], all the jurisdiction, powers and authority exercisable immediately before that date by all courts (except the Supreme Court 39 [***]) in relation to—

(a) recruitment, and matters concerning recruitment, to any service or post in connection with the affairs of such local or other authority or corporation 40 [or society]; and

(b) all service matters concerning a person [other than a person referred to in clause (a) or clause (b) of sub-section (1)] appointed to any service or post in connection with the affairs of such local or other authority or corporation 40 [or society] and pertaining to the service of such person in connection with such affairs.

Section 28 in The Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985

  1. Exclusion of jurisdiction of courts except the Supreme Court under article 136 of the Constitution.—On and from the date from which any jurisdiction, powers and authority becomes exercisable under this Act by a Tribunal in relation to recruitment and matters concerning recruitment to any Service or post or service matters concerning members of any Service or persons appointed to any Service or post, 55 [no court except—

(a) the Supreme Court; or

(b) any Industrial Tribunal, Labour Court or other authority constituted under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (14 of 1947) or any other corresponding law for the time being in force, shall have], or be entitled to exercise any jurisdiction, powers or authority in relation to such recruitment or matters concerning such recruitment or such service matters.

Only Govt. aggrieved persons can approached to the Central Administrative Tribunal ( CAT)

the Orissa Administrative Tribunal in Smt. Amitarani Khuntia Versus State of Orissa 1996. (1) OLR (CSR)-The Tribunal after considering the provisions of    the Act held that a private citizen or a stranger having no existing right to any post and not intrinsically concerned with any service matter is not entitled to approach the Tribunal.              The following passage in the judgement is relevant: “….A reading of the aforesaid provisions would mean that an application for redressal of grievances could be filed only by a ‘person aggrieved’ within the meaning of the Act.

 

 

Sec.25. Power of Supreme Court to transfer suits, etc.

(1) On the application of a party, and after notice  to  the

parties, and after hearing such of  them  as  desire  to  be

heard, the Supreme Court may, at  any  stage,  if  satisfied

that an order under this section is expedient for  the  ends

of justice, direct that any suit, appeal or other proceeding

be transferred from a High Court or other Civil Court in one

State to a High Court or other  Civil  Court  in  any  other

State.

(2) Every application under this section shall be made by  a

motion which shall be supported by an affidavit.

(3) The Court to which such suit, appeal or other proceeding

is transferred shall, subject to any special  directions  in

the order of transfer, either retry it or proceed  from  the

stage at which it was transferred to it.

(4) In dismissing any application under  this  section,  the

Supreme Court may, if it is of opinion that the  application

was frivolous or vexatious, order the applicant  to  pay  by

way of compensation  to  any  person  who  has  opposed  the

application such sum, not exceeding two thousand rupees,  as

it considers appropriate in the circumstances of the case.

(5)  The  law  applicable  to  any  suit,  appeal  or  other

proceeding transferred under this section shall be  the  law

which  the  Court  in  which  the  suit,  appeal  or   other

proceeding was originally instituted ought to  have  applied

to such suit, appeal or proceeding.


 

In the recent judgments the Hon’ble Supreme Court held in the matter of :

Krishna Veni Nagam Vs Harish

“We are thus of the view that it is necessary to issue certain directions which may provide alternative to seeking transfer of proceedings on account of inability of a party to contest proceedings at a place away from their ordinary residence on the ground that if proceedings are not transferred it will result in denial of justice.”

We, therefore, direct that in matrimonial or custody matters or in proceedings between parties to a marriage or arising out of disputes between parties to a marriage, wherever the defendants/respondents are located outside the jurisdiction of the court, the court where proceedings are instituted, may examine whether it is in the interest of justice to incorporate any safeguards for ensuring that summoning of defendant/respondent does not result in denial of justice. Order incorporating such safeguards may be sent along with the summons. The safeguards can be:-

  1. i) Availability of video conferencing facility.
  2. ii) Availability of legal aid service.

iii) Deposit of cost for travel, lodging and boarding in terms of Order XXV CPC.

  1. iv) E-mail address/phone number, if any, at which litigant from out station may communicate.

 

Devolution of interest in coparcenary property.-

supremecourt6

(1) On and from the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (39 of 2005), in a Joint Hindu family governed by the Mitakshara law, the daughter of a coparcener shall,-

(a) by birth become a coparcener in her own right the same manner as the son;

(b) have the same rights in the coparcenery property as she would have had if she had been a son;

(c) be subject to the same liabilities in respect of the said coparcenery property as that of a son, and any reference to a Hindu Mitakshara coparcener shall be deemed to include a reference to a daughter of a coparcener: Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall affect or invalidate any disposition or alienation including any partition or testamentary disposition of property which had taken place before the 20th day of December, 2004.

(2) Any property to which a female Hindu becomes entitled by virtue of sub-section (1) shall be held by her with the incidents of coparcenary ownership and shall be regarded, notwithstanding anything contained in this Act or any other law for the time being in force, as property capable of being disposed of by her by testamentary disposition.

(3) Where a Hindu dies after the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (39 of 2005), his interest in the property of a Joint Hindu family governed by the Mitakshara law, shall devolve by testamentary or intestate succession, as the case may be, under this Act and not by survivorship, and the coparcenery property shall be deemed to have been divided as if a partition had taken place and,-

(a) the daughter is allotted the same share as is allotted to a son;

(b) the share of the pre-deceased son or a pre-deceased daughter, as they would have got had they been alive at the time of partition, shall be allotted to the surviving child of such pre-deceased son or of such pre-deceased daughter; and

(c) the share of the pre-deceased child of a pre-deceased son or of a pre-deceased daughter, as such child would have got had he or she been alive at the time of the partition, shall be allotted to the child of such pre-deceased child of the pre-deceased son or a pre-deceased daughter, as the case may be.

Explanation.-For the purposes of this sub-section, the interest of a Hindu Mitakshara coparcener shall be deemed to be the share in the property that would have been allotted to him if a partition of the property had taken place immediately before his death, irrespective of whether he was entitled to claim partition or not.

(4) After the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (39 of 2005), no court shall recognise any right to proceed against a son, grandson or great-grandson for the recovery of any debt due from his father, grandfather or great-grandfather solely on the ground of the pious obligation under the Hindu law, of such son, grandson or great-grandson to discharge any such debt: Provided that in the case of any debt contracted before the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (39 of 2005), nothing contained in this sub-section shall affect-

(a) the right of any creditor to proceed against the son, grandson or great-grandson, as the case may be; or

(b) any alienation made in respect of or in satisfaction of, any such debt, and any such right or alienation shall be enforceable under the rule of pious obligation in the same manner and to the same extent as it would have been enforceable as if the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (39 of 2005) had not been enacted.

The effect of this amendment has been the subject matter of pronouncements by various High Courts, in particular, the issue as to whether the right would be conferred only upon the daughters who are born after September 9, 2005 when Act came into force or even to those daughters who were born earlier. Bombay High Court in Vaishali Satish Gonarkar v. Satish Keshorao Gonarkar2 had taken the view that the provision cannot be made applicable to all daughters born even prior to the amendment, when the Legislature itself specified the posterior date from which the Act would come into force.

This view was contrary to the view taken by the same High Court in Sadashiv Sakharam Patil v. Chandrakant Gopal Desale3. Matter was referred to the Full Bench and the judgment of the Full Bench is reported as Badrinarayan Shankar Bhandari v. Omprakash Shankar Bhandari4. The Full Bench held that clause (a) of sub-section (1) of Section 6 would be prospective in operation whereas clause (b) and (c) and other parts of sub-section (1) as well as sub-section (2) would be retroactive in operation.

It held that amended Section 6 applied to daughters born 2 AIR 2012 Bom 110 3 2011 (5) Bom CR 726 4 AIR 2014 Bom 151 13 prior to June 17, 1956 (the date on which Hindu Succession Act came into force) or thereafter (between June 17, 1956 and September 8, 2005) provided they are alive on September 9, 2005 i.e. on the date when Amended Act, 2005 came into force. Orissa, Karnataka and Delhi High Court have also held to the same effect.

The controversy now stands settled with the authoritative pronouncement in the case of Prakash & Ors. v. Phulavati & Ors.6 which has approved the view taken by the aforesaid High Courts as well as Full Bench of the Bombay High Court. Following discussion from the said judgment is relevant:

“The text of the amendment itself clearly provides that the right conferred on a “daughter of a coparcener” is “on and from the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005”. Section 6(3) talks of death after the amendment for its applicability. In view of plain language of the statute, there is no scope for a different interpretation than the one suggested by the text of the amendment. An amendment of a substantive provision is always prospective unless either expressly or by necessary intendment it is retrospective. [Shyam Sunder v. Ram Kumar, (2001) 8 SCC 24, paras 22 to 27]


 

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

[Civil Appeal Nos. 188-189 of 2018 @ SLP (C) Nos. 10638-10639 of 2013]

Danamma @ Suman Surpur & ANR. Vs. Amar & Ors.

A.K. SIKRI, J.

  1. The appellants herein, two in number, are the daughters of one, Gurulingappa Savadi, propositus of a Hindu Joint Family. Apart from these two daughters, he had two sons, namely, Arunkumar and Vijay. Gurulingappa Savadi died in the year 2001 leaving behind the aforesaid two daughters, two sons and his widow, Sumitra. After his death, Amar, S/o Arunkumar filed the suit for partition and a separate possession of the suit property described at Schedule B to E in the plaint stating that the two sons and widow were in joint possession of the aforesaid properties as coparceners and properties mentioned in Schedule B was acquired out of the joint family nucleus in the name of Gurulingappa Savadi.

Case set up by him was that the appellants herein were not the coparceners in the said joint family as they were born prior to the enactment of Hindu Succession Act, 1956 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Act’). It was also pleaded that they were married daughters and at the time of their marriage they had received gold and money and had, hence, relinquished their share.

  1. The appellants herein contested the suit by claiming that they were also entitled to share in the joint family properties, being daughters of Gurulingappa Savadi and for the reason that he had died after coming into force the Act of 1950.
  2. The trial court, while decreeing the suit held that the appellants were not entitled to any share as they were born prior to the enactment of the Act and, therefore, could not be considered as coparceners. The trial court also rejected the alternate contention that the appellants had acquired share in the said properties, in any case, after the amendment in the Act vide amendment Act of 2005. This view of the trial court has been upheld by the High Court in the impugned judgement dated January 25, 2012 thereby confirming the decree dated August 09, 2007 passed in the suit filed for partition.
  3. In the aforesaid backdrop, the question of law which arises for consideration in this appeal is as to whether, the appellants, daughters of Gurulingappa Savadi, could be denied their share on the ground that they were born prior to the enactment of the Act and, therefore, cannot be treated as coparceners? Alternate question is as to whether, with the passing of Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, the appellants would become coparcener “by birth” in their “own right in the same manner as the son” and are, therefore, entitled to equal share as that of a son?
  4. Though, we have mentioned the gist of the lis involved in this case along with brief factual background in which it has arisen, some more facts which may be necessary for understanding the genesis of issue involved may also be recapitulated. We may start with the genealogy of the parties, it is as under: “
Guralingappa=Sumitra (Def.8)
Mahandanda (Def. 7) Arunkumar @ Arun (Def.1) (dead) = Sarojini (Def.2) Vijay (Def.5) Danamma (Def. 6)
Sheetal (Def. 3) Amar (Plff) Triveni (Def. 4)
  1. Respondent No. 1 herein (the plaintiff) filed the suit on July 01, 2002 claiming 1/15th share in the suit schedule properties. In the said suit, he mentioned the properties which needed partition.
  2. The plaint schedule C compromised of the house properties belonging to the joint family. The plaint schedule D comprised of the shop properties belonging to the joint family. The plaint schedule E comprised of the machineries and movable belonging to the joint family. The plaintiff averred that the plaint schedule properties belonged to the joint family and that defendant no. 1, the father of the plaintiff was neglecting the plaintiff and his siblings and sought partition of the suit schedule properties.

The plaintiff contended that all the suit schedule properties were the joint family properties. The plaintiff contended in para 5 of the plaint that the propositus, Guralingappa died 1 year prior to the filing of the suit. In para 7 of the plaint, the plaintiff contended that defendant no. 1 had 1/3rd share and defendant no. 5 and 8 had 1/3rd share each in the suit schedule properties. The plaintiff also contended that defendants 6 and 7 did not have any share in the suit schedule properties.

  1. Defendant no. 1 (father of the plaintiff) and son of Guralingappa Savadi did not file any written statement. Defendant nos. 2, 3 and 4 filed their separate written statements supporting the claim of the plaintiff. Defendant no. 5 (respondent no. 5 herein and son of Guralingappa Savadi), however, contested the suit. He, inter alia, contended that after the death of Guralingappa, an oral partition took place between defendant no. 1, defendant no. 5 and others and in the said partition, defendant no. 1 was allotted certain properties and defendant no. 5 was allotted certain other properties and defendant no. 8, Sumitra, wife of Guralingappa Savadi was allotted certain other properties. Defendant 5 no. 5 further contended that defendant nos. 6 and 7 were not allotted any properties in the said alleged oral partition.
  2. Defendant no. 5 further contended that one of the properties, namely, C.T.S. No. 774 and also certain other properties were not joint family properties.
  3. The appellants claimed that they were also entitled to their share in the property. After framing the issues and recording the evidence, the trial court by its judgment and decree dated August 09, 2007 held that the suit schedule properties were joint family properties except CTS No. 774 (one of the house properties in plaint C schedule).
  4. The trial court held that the plaintiff, defendant nos. 2 to 4 were entitled to 1/8th share in the joint family properties. The trial court further noted that defendant no. 8 (wife of Gurulingappa Savadi) died during the pendency of the suit intestate and her share devolved in favour of defendants no. 1 and 5 only and, therefore, defendant nos. 1 and 2 were entitled to 1/2 share in the said share. The trial court passed the following order: “The suit of the plaintiff is decreed holding that the plaintiff is entitled for partition and separate possession of his 1/8th share in the suit ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ schedule properties (except CTS No. 774) and also in respect of the Machinery’s stated in the report of the commissioner. The commissioners report Ex. P16 which contains the list of machinery’s to form part of the decree. 6 The defendants 2 to 4 are each entitled to a/8th share and the 5th defendant is entitled for 4/8 share in the above said properties.”
  5. The trial court, thus, denied any share to the appellants.
  6. Aggrieved by the said judgment and decree of the trial court, the defendant nos. 6 and 7 filed an appeal bearing R.F.A. No. 322 of 2008 before the High Court seeking equal share as that of the sons of the propositus, namely, defendant nos. 1 and 5.
  7. The High Court by its impugned judgment and order dated January 25, 2012 dismissed the appeal. Thereafter, on March 04, 2012 defendant nos. 6 and 7 filed a review petition bearing no. 1533 of 2012 before the High Court, which met the same fate.
  8. We have heard the learned counsel for the parties. Whereas, the learned counsel for the appellants reiterated his submissions which were made before the High Court as well and noted above, learned counsel for the respondents refuted those submissions by relying upon the reason given by the High Court in the impugned judgment.
  9. In the first instance, let us take note of the provisions of Section 6 of the Act, as it stood prior to its amendment by the Amendment Act, 2005. This provision reads as under:

“6. Devolution of interest in coparcenary property.- When a male Hindu dies after the commencement of this Act, having at the time of his death an interest in a Mitakshara coparcenary property, his interest in the property shall devolve by survivorship upon the surviving members of the coparcenary and not in accordance with this Act: Provided that, if the deceased had left him surviving a female relative specified in Class I of the Schedule or a male relative specified in that class who claims through such female relative, the interest of the deceased in the Mitakshara coparcenary property shall devolve by testamentary or intestate succession, as the case may be, under this Act and not by survivorship.

Explanation 1.- For the purposes of this section, the interest of a Hindu Mitakshara coparcener shall be deemed to be the share in the property that would have been allotted to him if a partition of the property had taken place immediately before his death, irrespective of whether he was entitled to claim partition or not.

Explanation 2.- Nothing contained in the proviso to this section shall be construed as enabling a person who had separated himself from the coparcenary before the death of the deceased or any of his heirs to claim on intestacy a share in the interest referred to therein.”

  1. No doubt, Explanation 1 to the aforesaid Section states that the interest of the deceased Mitakshara coparcenary property shall be deemed to be the share in the property that would have been allotted to him if the partition of the property had taken place immediately before his death, irrespective whether he was entitled to claim partition or not. This Explanation came up for interpretation before this Court in Anar Devi & Ors. v. Parmeshwari Devi & Ors.1. The Court quoted, with approval, the following passage from the authoritative treatise of Mulla, Principles of Hindu Law, 17th Edn., Vol. II, p. 250 wherein the learned 1 (2006) 8 SCC 656 8 author made following remarks while interpreting Explanation 1 to Section 6:

“…Explanation 1 defines the expression ‘the interest of the deceased in Mitakshara coparcenary property’ and incorporates into the subject the concept of a notional partition. It is essential to note that this notional partition is for the purpose of enabling succession to and computation of an interest, which was otherwise liable to devolve by survivorship and for the ascertainment of the shares in that interest of the relatives mentioned in Class I of the Schedule.

Subject to such carving out of the interest of the deceased coparcener the other incidents of the coparcenary are left undisturbed and the coparcenary can continue without disruption. A statutory fiction which treats an imaginary state of affairs as real requires that the consequences and incidents of the putative state of affairs must flow from or accompany it as if the putative state of affairs had in fact existed and effect must be given to the inevitable corollaries of that state of affairs.”

  1. The learned author further stated that: “[T]he operation of the notional partition and its inevitable corollaries and incidents is to be only for the purposes of this section, namely, devolution of interest of the deceased in coparcenary property and would not bring about total disruption of the coparcenary as if there had in fact been a regular partition and severance of status among all the surviving coparceners.”
  2. According to the learned author, at pp. 253-54, the undivided interest “of the deceased coparcener for the purpose of giving effect to the rule laid down in the proviso, as already pointed out, is to be ascertained on the footing of a notional partition as of the date of his death.

The determination of that share must depend on the number of persons who would have been entitled to a share in the coparcenary property if a partition had in fact taken place immediately before his death and such person would have to be ascertained according to the law of joint family and partition. The rules of Hindu law on the subject in force at the time of the death of the coparcener must, therefore, govern the question of ascertainment of the persons who would 9 have been entitled to a share on the notional partition”.

  1. Thereafter the Court spelled out the manner in which the statutory fiction is to be construed by referring to certain judgments and summed up the position as follows:

“11. Thus we hold that according to Section 6 of the Act when a coparcener dies leaving behind any female relative specified in Class I of the Schedule to the Act or male relative specified in that class claiming through such female relative, his undivided interest in the Mitakshara coparcenary property would not devolve upon the surviving coparcener, by survivorship but upon his heirs by intestate succession.

Explanation 1 to Section 6 of the Act provides a mechanism under which undivided interest of a deceased coparcener can be ascertained and i.e. that the interest of a Hindu Mitakshara coparcener shall be deemed to be the share in the property that would have been allotted to him if a partition of the property had taken place immediately before his death, irrespective of whether he was entitled to claim partition or not.

It means for the purposes of finding out undivided interest of a deceased coparcener, a notional partition has to be assumed immediately before his death and the same shall devolve upon his heirs by succession which would obviously include the surviving coparcener who, apart from the devolution of the undivided interest of the deceased upon him by succession, would also be entitled to claim his undivided interest in the coparcenary property which he could have got in notional partition.”

  1. This case clearly negates the view taken by the High Court in the impugned judgment.
  2. That apart, we are of the view that amendment to the aforesaid Section vide Amendment Act, 2005 clinches the issue, beyond any pale of doubt, in favour of the appellants. This amendment now confers upon the daughter of the coparcener as well the status of coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son and gives same rights and liabilities in the coparcener properties as she would have had if it had been son. The amended provision reads as under:

“6. Devolution of interest in coparcenary property.-

(1) On and from the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (39 of 2005), in a Joint Hindu family governed by the Mitakshara law, the daughter of a coparcener shall,-

(a) by birth become a coparcener in her own right the same manner as the son;

(b) have the same rights in the coparcenery property as she would have had if she had been a son;

(c) be subject to the same liabilities in respect of the said coparcenery property as that of a son, and any reference to a Hindu Mitakshara coparcener shall be deemed to include a reference to a daughter of a coparcener: Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall affect or invalidate any disposition or alienation including any partition or testamentary disposition of property which had taken place before the 20th day of December, 2004.

(2) Any property to which a female Hindu becomes entitled by virtue of sub-section (1) shall be held by her with the incidents of coparcenary ownership and shall be regarded, notwithstanding anything contained in this Act or any other law for the time being in force, as property capable of being disposed of by her by testamentary disposition.

(3) Where a Hindu dies after the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (39 of 2005), his interest in the property of a Joint Hindu family governed by the Mitakshara law, shall devolve by testamentary or intestate succession, as the case may be, under this Act and not by survivorship, and the coparcenery property shall be deemed to have been divided as if a partition had taken place and,-

(a) the daughter is allotted the same share as is allotted to a son;

(b) the share of the pre-deceased son or a pre-deceased daughter, as they would have got had they been alive at the time of partition, shall be allotted to the surviving child of such pre-deceased son or of such pre-deceased daughter; and

(c) the share of the pre-deceased child of a pre-deceased son or of a pre-deceased daughter, as such child would have got had he or she been alive at the time of the partition, shall be allotted to the child of such pre-deceased child of the pre-deceased son or a pre-deceased daughter, as the case may be.

Explanation.-For the purposes of this sub-section, the interest of a Hindu Mitakshara coparcener shall be deemed to be the share in the property that would have been allotted to him if a partition of the property had taken place immediately before his death, irrespective of whether he was entitled to claim partition or not.

(4) After the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (39 of 2005), no court shall recognise any right to proceed against a son, grandson or great-grandson for the recovery of any debt due from his father, grandfather or great-grandfather solely on the ground of the pious obligation under the Hindu law, of such son, grandson or great-grandson to discharge any such debt: Provided that in the case of any debt contracted before the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (39 of 2005), nothing contained in this sub-section shall affect-

(a) the right of any creditor to proceed against the son, grandson or great-grandson, as the case may be; or

(b) any alienation made in respect of or in satisfaction of, any such debt, and any such right or alienation shall be enforceable under the rule of pious obligation in the same manner and to the same extent as it would have been enforceable as if the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (39 of 2005) had not been enacted.

Explanation.-For the purposes of clause (a), the expression “son”, “grandson” or “great-grandson” shall be deemed to refer to the son, grandson or great-grandson, as the case may be, who was born or adopted prior to the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (39 of 2005).

(5) Nothing contained in this section shall apply to a partition, which has been effected before the 20th day of December, 2004.

Explanation.-For the purposes of this section “partition” means any partition made by execution of a deed of partition duly registered under the Registration Act, 1908 (16 of 1908) or partition effected by a decree of a court.]”

  1. The effect of this amendment has been the subject matter of pronouncements by various High Courts, in particular, the issue as to whether the right would be conferred only upon the daughters who are born after September 9, 2005 when Act came into force or even to those daughters who were born earlier. Bombay High Court in Vaishali Satish Gonarkar v. Satish Keshorao Gonarkar2 had taken the view that the provision cannot be made applicable to all daughters born even prior to the amendment, when the Legislature itself specified the posterior date from which the Act would come into force.

This view was contrary to the view taken by the same High Court in Sadashiv Sakharam Patil v. Chandrakant Gopal Desale3. Matter was referred to the Full Bench and the judgment of the Full Bench is reported as Badrinarayan Shankar Bhandari v. Omprakash Shankar Bhandari4. The Full Bench held that clause (a) of sub-section (1) of Section 6 would be prospective in operation whereas clause (b) and (c) and other parts of sub-section (1) as well as sub-section (2) would be retroactive in operation.

It held that amended Section 6 applied to daughters born 2 AIR 2012 Bom 110 3 2011 (5) Bom CR 726 4 AIR 2014 Bom 151 13 prior to June 17, 1956 (the date on which Hindu Succession Act came into force) or thereafter (between June 17, 1956 and September 8, 2005) provided they are alive on September 9, 2005 i.e. on the date when Amended Act, 2005 came into force. Orissa, Karnataka and Delhi High Court have also held to the same effect5.

  1. The controversy now stands settled with the authoritative pronouncement in the case of Prakash & Ors. v. Phulavati & Ors.6 which has approved the view taken by the aforesaid High Courts as well as Full Bench of the Bombay High Court. Following discussion from the said judgment is relevant:

“17. The text of the amendment itself clearly provides that the right conferred on a “daughter of a coparcener” is “on and from the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005”. Section 6(3) talks of death after the amendment for its applicability. In view of plain language of the statute, there is no scope for a different interpretation than the one suggested by the text of the amendment. An amendment of a substantive provision is always prospective unless either expressly or by necessary intendment it is retrospective. [Shyam Sunder v. Ram Kumar, (2001) 8 SCC 24, paras 22 to 27]

In the present case, there is neither any express provision for giving retrospective effect to the amended provision nor necessary intendment to that effect. Requirement of partition being registered can have no application to statutory notional partition on opening of succession as per unamended provision, having regard to nature of such partition which is by operation of law. The intent and effect of the amendment will be considered a little later. On this finding, the view of the High Court cannot be sustained.

  1. The contention of the respondents that the amendment 5 AIR 2008 Ori 133: Pravat Chandra Pattnaik v. Sarat Chandra Pattnaik; ILR 2007 Kar 4790: Sugalabai v. Gundappa A. Maradi and 197 (2013) DLT 154: Rakhi Gupta v. Zahoor Ahmad 6 (2016) 2 SCC 36 14 should be read as retrospective being a piece of social legislation cannot be accepted. Even a social legislation cannot be given retrospective effect unless so provided for or so intended by the legislature. In the present case, the legislature has expressly made the amendment applicable on and from its commencement and only if death of the coparcener in question is after the amendment.

Thus, no other interpretation is possible in view of the express language of the statute. The proviso keeping dispositions or alienations or partitions prior to 20-12-2004 unaffected can also not lead to the inference that the daughter could be a coparcener prior to the commencement of the Act. The proviso only means that the transactions not covered thereby will not affect the extent of coparcenary property which may be available when the main provision is applicable. Similarly, Explanation has to be read harmoniously with the substantive provision of Section 6(5) by being limited to a transaction of partition effected after 20-12-2004. Notional partition, by its very nature, is not covered either under the proviso or under sub-section (5) or under the Explanation.

  1. Interpretation of a provision depends on the text and the context. [RBI v. Peerless General Finance & Investment Co. Ltd., (1987) 1 SCC 424, p. 450, para 33] Normal rule is to read the words of a statute in ordinary sense. In case of ambiguity, rational meaning has to be given. [Kehar Singh v. State (Delhi Admn.), (1988) 3 SCC 609 : 1988 SCC (Cri) 711] In case of apparent conflict, harmonious meaning to advance the object and intention of legislature has to be given. [District Mining Officerv. TISCO, (2001) 7 SCC 358]
  2. There have been number of occasions when a proviso or an explanation came up for interpretation. Depending on the text, context and the purpose, different rules of interpretation have been applied. [S. Sundaram Pillai v. V.R. Pattabiraman, (1985) 1 SCC 591]
  3. Normal rule is that a proviso excepts something out of the enactment which would otherwise be within the purview of the enactment but if the text, context or purpose so require a different rule may apply. Similarly, an explanation is to explain the meaning of words of the section but if the language or purpose so require, the explanation can be so interpreted. Rules of interpretation of statutes are useful servants but difficult masters. [Keshavji Ravji & Co. v. CIT, (1990) 2 SCC 231 : 1990 SCC (Tax) 268] Object of interpretation is to discover the intention of legislature.
  4. In this background, we find that the proviso to Section 6(1) and sub-section (5) of Section 6 clearly intend to exclude the transactions referred to therein which may have taken place prior to 20-12-2004 on which date the Bill was introduced. Explanation cannot permit reopening of partitions which were valid when effected. Object of giving finality to transactions prior to 20-12-2004 is not to make the main provision retrospective in any manner.

The object is that by fake transactions available property at the introduction of the Bill is not taken away and remains available as and when right conferred by the statute becomes available and is to be enforced. Main provision of the amendment in Sections 6(1) and (3) is not in any manner intended to be affected but strengthened in this way. Settled principles governing such transactions relied upon by the appellants are not intended to be done away with for period prior to 20-12-2004. In no case statutory notional partition even after 20-12-2004 could be covered by the Explanation or the proviso in question.

  1. Accordingly, we hold that the rights under the amendment are applicable to living daughters of living coparceners as on 9-9-2005 irrespective of when such daughters are born. Disposition or alienation including partitions which may have taken place before 20-12-2004 as per law applicable prior to the said date will remain unaffected. Any transaction of partition effected thereafter will be governed by the Explanation.”
  2. The law relating to a joint Hindu family governed by the Mitakshara law has undergone unprecedented changes. The said changes have been brought forward to address the growing need to merit equal treatment to the nearest female relatives, namely daughters of a coparcener. The section stipulates that a daughter would be a coparcener from her birth, and would have the same rights and liabilities as that of a son. The daughter would hold property to which she is entitled as a coparcenary property, which would be construed as property being capable of being disposed of by her either by a will or any other testamentary disposition.

These changes have been sought to be made on the touchstone of equality, thus seeking to remove the perceived disability and prejudice to which a daughter was subjected. The fundamental changes brought forward about in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 by amending it in 2005, are perhaps a realization of the immortal words of Roscoe Pound as appearing in his celebrated treaties, The Ideal Element in Law, that “the law must be stable and yet it cannot stand still. Hence all thinking about law has struggled to reconcile the conflicting demands of the need of stability and the need of change.”

  1. Section 6, as amended, stipulates that on and from the commencement of the amended Act, 2005, the daughter of a coparcener shall by birth become a coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son. It is apparent that the status conferred upon sons under the old section and the old Hindu Law was to treat them as coparceners since birth. The amended provision now statutorily recognizes the rights of coparceners of daughters as well since birth.

The section uses the words in the same manner as the son. It should therefore be apparent that both the sons and the daughters of a coparcener have been conferred the right of becoming coparceners by birth. It is the very factum of birth in a coparcenary that creates the coparcenary, therefore the sons and daughters of a coparcener become coparceners by virtue of birth. Devolution of coparcenary property is the later stage of and a consequence of death of a coparcener. The first stage of a coparcenary is obviously its creation as explained above, and as is well recognized. One of the incidents of coparcenary is the right of a coparcener to seek a severance of status. Hence, the rights of coparceners emanate and flow from birth (now including daughters) as is evident from sub-s (1)(a) and (b).

  1. Reference to the decision of this Court, in the case of State Bank of India v. Ghamandi Ram7 in essential to understand the incidents of coparceneryship as was always inherited in a Hindu Mitakshara coparcenary: “According to the Mitakshara School of Hindu Law all the property of a Hindu joint family is held in collective ownership by all the coparceners in a quasi-corporate capacity. The textual authority of the Mitakshara lays down in express terms that the joint family property is held in trust for the joint family members then living and thereafter to be born (See Mitakshara, Ch. I. 1-27).

The incidents of coparcenership under the Mitakshara law are: first, the lineal male descendants of a person up to the third generation, acquire on birth ownership in the ancestral properties is common; secondly, that such descendants can at any time work out their rights by asking for partition; thirdly, that till partition each member has got ownership extending over the entire property, conjointly with the rest; fourthly, that as a result of such co-ownership the possession and enjoyment of the properties is common; fifthly, that no alienation of the property is possible unless it be for necessity, without the concurrence of the coparceners, and sixthly, that the interest of a deceased member lapses on his death to the survivors.”

  1. Hence, it is clear that the right to partition has not been abrogated. 7 AIR 1969 SC 1330. The right is inherent and can be availed of by any coparcener, now even a daughter who is a coparcener.
  2. In the present case, no doubt, suit for partition was filed in the year 2002. However, during the pendency of this suit, Section 6 of the Act was amended as the decree was passed by the trial court only in the year 2007. Thus, the rights of the appellants got crystallised in the year 2005 and this event should have been kept in mind by the trial court as well as by the High Court. This Court in Ganduri Koteshwaramma & Anr. v. Chakiri Yanadi & Anr.8 held that the rights of daughters in coparcenary property as per the amended S. 6 are not lost merely because a preliminary decree has been passed in a partition suit. So far as partition suits are concerned, the partition becomes final only on the passing of a final decree. Where such situation arises, the preliminary decree would have to be amended taking into account the change in the law by the amendment of 2005.
  3. On facts, there is no dispute that the property which was the subject matter of partition suit belongs to joint family and Gurulingappa Savadi was propositus of the said joint family property. In view of our aforesaid discussion, in the said partition suit, share will devolve upon the appellants as well. Since, Savadi died leaving behind two sons, two daughters and a widow, both the appellants would be entitled to 1/5th 8 (2011) 9 SCC 788 19 share each in the said property. Plaintiff (respondent No.1) is son of Arun Kumar (defendant No.1). Since, Arun Kumar will have 1/5th share, it would be divided into five shares on partition i.e. between defendant No.1 Arun Kumar, his wife defendant No.2, his two daughters defendant Nos.3 and 4 and son/plaintiff (respondent No.1). In this manner, the plaintiff/respondent No.1 would be entitled to 1/25th share in the property.
  4. The appeals are allowed in the aforesaid terms and decree of partition shall be drawn by the trial court accordingly.

No order as to costs.

………………………………………J. (A.K. SIKRI)

………………………………………J. (ASHOK BHUSHAN)

NEW DELHI;

 

  1. Restriction on grant of certificates under this Part.—

(1) A succession certificate (hereinafter in this Part referred to as a certificate) shall not be granted under this Part with respect to any debt or security to which a right is required by section 212 or section 213 to be established by letters of administration or probate: Provided that nothing contained in this section shall be deemed to prevent the grant of a certificate to any person claiming to be entitled to the effects of a deceased Indian Christian, or to any part thereof, with respect to any debt or security, by reason that a right thereto can be established by letters of administration under this Act.

(2) For the purposes of this Part, “security” means—

(a) any promissory note, debenture, stock or other security of the Central Government or of a State Government;

(b) any bond, debenture, or annuity charged by Act of Parliament 1[of the United Kingdom] on the revenues of India;

(c) any stock or debenture of, or share in, a company or other incorporated institution;

(d) any debenture or other security for money issued by, or on behalf of, a local authority;

(e) any other security which the 2[State Government] may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare to be a security for the purposes of this Part.

What is a Succession Certificate for Immovable Property?

Succession certificate is a document issued by a competent court (civil) certifying a rightful person to be the successor of a deceased person. This certificate authorizes successor(s) to realize debts and securities of the deceased person. Issuance of succession certificate does not give “right of succession to the claimed property” of a deceased person, because it does not determine the right, title and interest of the deceased person to a particular property or entire property. However, successor(s) of intestate deceased person is/are entitled to inherit the deceased person’s property (ies).

As per Section 370 of Indian Succession Act, when the deceased person has left a validly executed “Will”, the entire estate of the deceased person under that “will” vests on the executor of the will and in such cases “Succession Certificate” cannot be granted. In eligible cases, the competent court to issue such certificate is the District Court(Section 371 of the said Act) in whose jurisdiction the deceased person generally resided.

  1. Court having jurisdiction to grant certificate.—The District Judge within whose jurisdiction the deceased ordinarily resided at the time of his death, or, if at that time he had no fixed place of residence, the District Judge, within whose jurisdiction any part of the property of the deceased may be found, may grant a certificate under this Part.

372 Application for certificate. —

(1) Application for such a certificate shall be made to the District Judge by a petition signed and verified by or on behalf of the applicant in the manner prescribed by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) for the signing and verification of a plaint by or on behalf of a plaintiff, and setting forth the following particulars, namely:—

(a) the time of the death of the deceased;

(b) the ordinary residence of the deceased at the time of his death and, if such residence was not within the local limits of the jurisdiction of the Judge to whom the application is made, then the property of the deceased within those limits;

(c) the family or other near relatives of the deceased and their respective residences;

(d) the right in which the petitioner claims;

(e) the absence of any impediment under section 370 or under any other provision of this Act or any other enactment, to the grant of the certificate or to the validity thereof if it were granted; and

(f) the debts and securities in respect of which the certificate is applied for.

(2) If the petition contains any averment which the person verifying it knows or believes to be false, or does not believe to be true, that person shall be deemed to have committed an offence under section 198 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (45 of 1860).

56 [(3) Application for such a certificate may be made in respect of any debt or debts due to the deceased creditor or in respect of portions thereof.]

  1. Procedure on application.—

(1) If the District Judge is satisfied that there is ground for entertaining the application, he shall fix a day for the hearing thereof and cause notice of the application and of the day fixed for the hearing—

(a) to be served on any person to whom, in the opinion of the Judge, special notice of the application should be given, and

(b) to be posted on some conspicuous part of the court-house and published in such other manner, if any, as the Judge, subject to any rules made by the High Court in this behalf, thinks fit, and upon the day fixed, or as soon thereafter as may be practicable, shall proceed to decide in a summary manner the right to the certificate.

(2) When the Judge decides the right thereto to belong to the applicant, the Judge shall make an order for the grant of the certificate to him.

(3) If the Judge cannot decide the right to the certificate without determining questions of law or fact which seem to be too intricate and difficult for determination in a summary proceeding, he may nevertheless grant a certificate to the applicant if he appears to be the person having prima facie the best title thereto.

(4) When there are more applicants than one for a certificate, and it appears to the Judge that more than one of such applicants are interested in the estate of the deceased, the Judge may, in deciding to whom the certificate is to be granted, have regard to the extent of interest and the fitness in other respects of the applicants.